of Evofuel’s castor varieties in Brazil. The trials demonstrated
the suitability and economic benefits of growing Evofuel’s proprietary castor varieties as a second crop with soybean for production of oil feedstock for biofuels and other industrial uses.
negative effects of
biodiesel from canola oil
New research suggests that exhaust from canola oil-based biodiesel may be more harmful to human epithelial cells than exhaust
from traditional diesel. Epithelial cells line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, providing the body’s
first line of defense against viruses and particles capable of invading the body.
Research co-led by Benjamin J. Mullins and Anthony Kicic
of Curtin University and the University of Western Australia,
respectively, found that the ultrafine size of fuel exhaust particles from refined and blended canola oil could lead to respiratory health problems. The researchers examined how cultured
epithelial cells react to exhaust from four fuels: standard ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), unprocessed canola oil, 100% canola
biodiesel (B100), and a 20/80% blend of canola biodiesel and
B100 exhaust contained significantly more carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide than
the others as well as the lowest amount of nitric oxide (NO).
Further, cultured epithelial cells exposed to pure canola
oil exhaust were significantly less viable 24 hours after exposure
than cells exposed to any other exhaust 24 hours after exposure,
the authors note in their abstract. In addition, B100 and B20
contained the greatest number of very small particles of all the
The study appeared in Environmental Toxicology (http://
Turning waste from
whisky-making into fuel
A start-up company in Scotland is working to capitalize on the
tons of waste produced by one of the country’s most valued
industries and to turn the dregs of whisky-making into fuel.
Celtic Renewables, formed in 2011, has refined its process based
on a century-old fermentation technique and is now taking the
next step toward a commercial plant, according to an article
in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) magazine (http://
Ann M. Thayer, a senior correspondent with C&EN, points
out that making whisky requires three ingredients: water, yeast,
and a grain, primarily barley. But only 10% of the output is
whisky, and the rest is waste. Each year, the industry produces
500,000 metric tons of residual solids called draff and 1.6 billion
liters of a yeasty liquid known as pot ale. These byproducts are
usually spread on agricultural lands, turned into low-grade
animal feed, or discharged into the sea.
Rather than letting these materials go to waste, Celtic
Renewables has taken an old industrial process developed to
turn molasses and other sugars into chemicals and fine-tuned it
to convert draff and pot ale into acetone, 1-butanol, and ethanol.
The latter two can be used as fuel. The company is scaling up
its process with the help of the UK Department of Energy &
Climate Change, private funds, and Bio Base Europe. If all goes
well, a commercial facility could be next, according to the report.
exxonmobil partners with
iowa State University
ExxonMobil Corp. (Irving, Texas, USA) is establishing an
advanced biofuels research program at Iowa State University
(ISU; Ames, USA).
The ExxonMobil Biofuels Program will initially focus on
two research projects. Both studies are related to the fast pyrolysis of biomass—rapidly heating biomass (including corn stalks,
switchgrass, or wood chips) without oxygen to produce liquid
bio-oil, which can then be upgraded into transportation fuels.
Iowa State researchers have been studying fast pyrolysis for
more than 15 years and have recently upgraded a fast pyrolysis
pilot plant at the university’s BioCentury Research Farm (see
“The ExxonMobil Biofuels Program at Iowa State University focuses on fundamental scientific and engineering questions
about the chemical and physical processes that occur during the
pyrolysis of biomass,” said Robert C. Brown, who is the director of the new research program as well as an ISU professor and
director of ISU’s Bioeconomy Institute.
According to ExxonMobil’s The Outlook for Energy: A View
to 2040, the need for energy will continue to grow as economies
expand, living standards rise, and the world’s population grows
by more than 25% through 2040. Global demand for energy
is projected to rise by about 35% from 2010 to 2040. The full
report is available at http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/