Based on information released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
and the Federal Register (Vol. 76, No. 196, p. 62869, Oct. 11, 2001) the Obama Administration is developing a far reaching plan to phase down use of petroleum in favor of domestic bio raw materials.
The target is to gain new U.S. jobs and economic activity with, environmental gains, plus freedom from costly military action to protect imported oil supply lines. The program is aimed at virtually all uses for biomaterials in place of petroleum wherever and to the degree possible including fuel, chemicals, plastics, food and other products.
Requests for comment on the program termed National Bioeconomy Blueprint,
went out in early October from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, seeking responses by December 6, 2011, aimed at introduction of the Blueprint at the end of January or early February, 2012. Coincidental with this, the White House has indicated its intention to help advance a variety of measures to assist development of biotechnology including fast patent processing and assistance from research organizations.
Notwithstanding negative publicity given to emerging green technologies, numerous bio technologies have matured and gone forward with major funding and industry and government support. The BIO lists cellulosic (non-food) operating and near term biofuel projects. Numerous successfully demonstrated systems go well beyond problems associated with corn ethanol, other food crop based bio products and some early cellulosic attempts. The list, provided by BIO spokesman, Paul Winters, follows:
Abengoa Mascoma Agresti Fulcrum
Aemetis Poet Alpena Ineos
Coskata Renmatix Bluefire Lignol
DuPont Danisco Terrabon Comet Primus Green
Enerkem Thermoche Coskata Pure Vision
Fiber Right Vercipia EdeniQ/Logos Qteros
Gulf Coast Energy Zea Chem Enerkem Rentech
Iogen Abengoa Flambeau River Wooodland
KiOR ADM Frontier ZeaChem
KL Energy Aemetis
The following advanced drop-in biofuel refineries are listed separately.
Altair Dynamotive SunDrop
Amyris Gevo Virent
Cobalt Lanza Tech
Diamond Green LS9
Dynamic South Hampton
BIO also lists the following renewable chemical biorefineries.
Bio Amber Myriant Telles
Blue Marble Nature Works Verdezyne
DuPont Tate & Lyle Novozymes
Elevance Rivertop Renewables
Other developers in the news.
AlgaeTec Total (with Amyris)
BP Valero (with Mascoma)
Cool Planet (with BP, GE, Conoco Philips)
An example of new technology is unique hybrid gasoline made from a combination of cellulosic and natural gas raw material. Abundant supplies of new U.S. natural gas at low cost is a principal driver of this approach. Chesapeake Energy, the 2nd largest U.S. natural gas supplier has acquired SunDrop Energy which has a unique cellulosic technology for the combined hybrid fuel product. Subsidies are said to be not needed to compete in the overall market for gasoline comparable to Petroleum.
Cool Planet has carried gasoline carbon emissions from vehicles to the 0% level by extracting much of the carbon from raw material for sequestration in the ground as fertilizer; effectively offsetting remaining carbon in the fuel. This fuel is rated N100
(100% carbon neutral) and is now being tested in California as a gasoline additive to
achieve the State’s 10% targeted carbon reduction from use of gasoline in 2020.
Another biofuel source widely considered for its ideal fast growth is algae. AlgaeTec, a pioneer with this technology is now constructing modular production systems that will define how algae, cultivated in salt water with waste CO2, can produce fuel at low cost at scale in limited space.
Adding dimension to the issue, the authoritative publication BiofuelsDigest has
developed a list of eight biotechnology firms it believes will answer the question
in 2012 about the ongoing potential for biotechnology in general.
Taken together, it is evident that while fuel from food crops, notably corn, soybeans & palm oil, have cast biofuel in a negative light, the main event, although delayed, is still on track additionally pushed by recent threats of petroleum energy supply problems.
The real opportunity now comes into focus for U.S. escape from high level of energy security risk and economic loss from use of imported petroleum without use of food crop raw material for a broad spectrum of bio applications. This has now reached a level of urgency the Obama administration is ready to support with its National Bioeconomy Blueprint.