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Archive for the ‘Biotechnology’ Category

2010 Goldman Sachs Making Up To $1B Investment in Renewable Energy

In agriculture, biofuel, Biotechnology, cleantech, construction, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, Solar, Sustainable, Venture Capital on February 11, 2010 at 3:36 am

Goldman Sachs Environmental Policy Framework

In mid- January (see Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said that shortages will reappear in the crude oil market as supply fails to keep pace with a recovery in demand. Global oil consumption will return to levels seen before the financial crisis by the third quarter of this year, Goldman analyst Jeffrey Currie said in a presentation in London.  At the same time, projects to bring new oil to consumers are still lagging as a result of the credit crunch, he said. By 2011, the market is back to capacity constraints…The financial crisis created a collapse in company returns which has significantly interrupted the investment phase.”

Goldman Sachs is aggressively seeking market making opportunities in environmental markets. The policy framework that they have laid out explains both their investment strategy and an underlying commitment to protect the environment and indigenous populations. Their specific interests in wind, water, solar, alternative biofuels and sustainable forestry related products are detailed below along with references to existing partnerships and hints of future commitments.

Goldman Sachs “seeks to make a significant positive contribution to climate change, sustainable forestry and ecosystem services through market-based solutions.”

In their own words-  Goldman Sachs’ core competencies include

Goldman Sachs will aggressively seek market making and investment opportunities in the environmental markets described below.

These are Goldman Sachs’ stated objectives:

  1. They intend to be  a leading U.S. wind energy developer and generator through their recently acquired subsidiary, Horizon Wind Energy (f.k.a. Zilkha Renewable Energy).
  2. They will make available up to $1 billion to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  3. They will evaluate opportunities and, where appropriate, encourage the development of and participate in markets for water, biodiversity, forest management, forest-based ecosystems, and other ecosystem features and services.
  4. They will continue to devise investment structures for renewable energy and invest alongside our energy clients, such as our wind energy partnership with Shell Wind Energy and our solar energy fund with BP Solar.
  5. They will explore investment opportunities in renewable and/or cleaner burning alternative fuels such as renewable diesel (such as our investment in Changing World Technologies), ethanol and biomass.
  6. They will seek to make investments in, and create financing structures to assist in the development and commercialization of, other environmentally friendly technologies.

Equator Principles

The Equator Principles serve as a framework for determining, assessing, and managing environmental and social risk in project financing, based on the policies of the World Bank and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation. Goldman Sachs will seek to apply the general guidelines to debt and equity underwriting transactions, to the initiation of loans and to investment banking advisory assignments where the use of proceeds is specified to be used for potentially

Goldman Sachs says that they will not knowingly finance

  • Any project or initiate loans where the specified use of proceeds would significantly convert or degrade a critical natural habitat.
  • Extractive projects or commercial logging in World Heritage sites.ii
  • Companies or projects that collude with or are knowingly engaged in illegal logging
  • Projects that contravene any relevant international environmental agreement which has been enacted into the law of, or otherwise has the force of law in, the country in which the project is located.

Goldman Sachs prefers to

  • Only finance preservation and light, nonextractive use of forest resources for projects in forests whose high conservation values are endangered.iii
  • Develop due diligence procedures around key environmental issues for use in evaluating potential financings.
  • Protect the highest conservation values in forests with respect to its execution of financings in the logging and forest products industries.
  • Use a Forest Stewardship Council or a comparable certification when they finance forestry projects that impact high conservation value forests.
  • Examine whether clients process, purchase, or trade wood products from high risk countries and will encourage such clients to have certifiable systems in place to ensure that the wood they process, purchase or trade comes from legal sources.
  • Provide training, as appropriate, to our employees on environmental issues and practices.
  • Develop training sessions and provide the tools necessary to make informed decisions.
  • Finance projects in indigenous areas where free, prior informed consultation results in support of the project by the affected indigenous peoples.
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China’s Power Sources & Clean Energy Technologies Are Expanding: Some Companies to Know About

In agriculture, biofuel, Biotechnology, china, cleantech, Energy, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, maintech, Power Grid, Science, Sustainable, Technology, Venture Capital on February 11, 2010 at 2:23 am

China, the world’s largest polluting nation, is working with international organizations and private industry to develop cleaner energy models to combat climate change and meet demand for power in an economy that expanded 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter 2009.

By 2020, China aims to use 10 million tons of bioethanol and 2 million tons of biodiesel, replacing 10 million tons a year of petroleum-based fuel, Chen Deming, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference.

The companies described here are not meant to be a complete list of Chinese companies engaged in clean energy nor is Bolton Hill Consulting, Ltd. making any specific recommendations with respect to these companies. The descriptions are provided here for information purposes only to help companies unfamiliar with China’s clean energy interests to better understand the rapidly changing landscape and some of the pivotal players in China.

The companies described below are powerful in China or have shown rapid growth. They may be working with American and European companies or they are likely to do so in the near future. These companies are acquiring foreign companies, setting up subsidiaries, developing new technologies and making innovative use of existing technologies.

A Large Scale Demonstration Project: China Renewable Energy Scale-up Program (CRESP)

The CRESP program was developed by the Government of China (GOC) in cooperation with the World Bank (WB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Together, these entities have been implementing the Renewable Energy Scale-up program for China which aims to create a legal, regulatory, and institutional environment conducive to large-scale, renewable-based electricity generation in two Chinese provinces. The Institutional Development and Capacity Building component includes: Mandated Market Policy MMP research and implementation support; technology improvement for wind and biomass; and long-term capacity building.

  • In Fujian, a 100 MW wind farm at Changjiang’ao, Pingtan Island. The Pingtan wind farm will consist of wind turbines, associated civil and electrical works, an extension to an existing control room, a switchyard, and a 15 km, 110 kV transmission line from the wind farm to the Beicuo substation, which will be upgraded to meet the evacuation needs of the wind farm. In Jiangsu, a 25 MW straw-fired biomass power plant at Mabei Village, Rudong County.
  • The Rudong power plant will consist of one 110 ton per hour, high-temperature, high-pressure strawfired boiler, one 25 MW steam turbine, and associated mechanical, electrical, and civil works.

Get to Know These Companies:


1. China Huaneng Group Corp, China’s Largest Power Producer

  • The company may be planning to take its wind power unit public in a Hong Kong share sale this year worth at least $1 billion, said people familiar with the plan.

2. China Power Engineering Consulting Group Corporation or “The Group”

  • “The Group” is active in developing new clean technologies and leads the country not only in design of conventional thermal power plants, transmission and substations.
  • The Group Corporation has also carried out widespread international exchange and cooperation with many foreign enterprises groups and engineering companies.
  • The Group Corporation plays leading role in scientific research, standardization and technical information for power survey and design, undertakes new technological research and development, introduces, assimilates and innovates new technologies.

3. China Southern Power Grid Corporation Ltd.: Managing China’s Grid

China Southern Power Gird Corporation is administered by the central government,with independent budgetary status.The total assets of the new power gird operator surpass 203.8 billion yuan(US$24.10billion) and its registered capital is 60 billion yuan (US$7.23billion).Its main responsibilities are:to operate and manage power gird according to the law,ensure reliable power supply,plan the development of regional power gird,foster regional power market,manage power dispatching and trading center,and carry out power dispatching according to power gird operation laws and the market regulations.

4. China SDIC Power: Received Largest Capital Injection of Power Assets ever

China SDIC Power’ takeover of power assets from its controlling shareholder, State Development and Investment Company, for a consideration of RMB 7.69 Bn. After the transaction, SDIC power assets achieved a whole listing. This deal was the largest capital injection to a listed company by its controlling shareholder in 2009, and the largest capital injection of power assets ever. Along with the commission of a number of key power projects, such as cascade hydropower stations in the Yalong River Valley and Tianjin million-kilowatt extra supercritical thermal power station-a pilot project of circular economy, the total installed capacity of SDIC will reach 50000 MW by 2012, with total assets of SDIC’s power business exceeding RMB 140 billion.

Wind Power in China

  • Chinese wind power capacity doubled for the fifth time by end of 2009, to 25.1 gW by the end of 2009, a third of the global additions in the previous 12 months, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

5. China Longyuan Power Group Corp, China’s Biggest Wind-Power Producer in December raised HK$20.1 billion in the world’s second-largest alternative energy initial public offering (IPO) since at least 1999, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

6. Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co 002202.SZ,: Growing Chinese Wind Generator Manufacturer- The Group’s principal activities are manufacturing, marketing and selling large-sized wind generator sets. Other activities include introducing and applying wind generating technology; manufacturing and selling parts of wind generating sets; providing consulting services in building and operating wind generating plants; building and operating middle-sized wind generating plants. This company is already listed in Shenzhen, aims to raise $1.5 billion from a Hong Kong IPO in the first half of this year, sources told Reuters earlier.


Biofuel in China:


By 2020, China aims to use 10 million tons of bioethanol and 2 million tons of biodiesel, replacing 10 million tons a year of petroleum-based fuel, Chen Deming, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference. “In the future, all the biofuel production will use non-grain crops,” Chen said.

7. China Clean Energy (OTCBB:CCGY) : develops and manufactures biodiesel and environmentally-friendly specialty chemical products made from renewable resources through its subsidiaries, Fujian Zhongde Technology and Fujian Zhongde Energy. It’s new plant (Oct. 2009)  has been designed to produce up to 100,000 tons of biodiesel annually or a combination of as much as 40,000 tons of biodiesel and 30,000 tons of specialty chemicals.

8. Novozymes in China: laboratory and research facilities have now doubled in size Novozymes has a total of around 200 employees in Beijing, including 100 or so working in research and development. Lykke Friis, the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy:“The idea behind the extension is to strengthen our research into biomass for advanced biofuels, made from waste materials such as straw. Here in China we’ve entered into partnerships with two important players in the field, namely COFCO and Sinopec.” Novozymes to Announce Details on Cellulosic Ethanol Technology February 16, 2010 at NEC Conference

9. China Biodiesel Holding Corporation: leading product is Biodiesel, while the sideline-products are oleic acid methyl ester,C16C18 fatty acid methyl ester, coconut oil methyl ester. The main market is located in mainland China, but abroad channels are maturing, including Europe, East Asia, and North America.  They report that their current total capacity is now 100,000 tons per annum (Feb 2010)

SDIC’s Hydropower Projects


Along with the commission of a number of key power projects, such as cascade hydropower stations in the Yalong River Valley and Tianjin million-kilowatt extra supercritical thermal power station-a pilot project of circular economy, the total installed capacity of SDIC will reach 50000 MW by 2012, with total assets of SDIC’s power business exceeding RMB 140 billion.
Investment Projects
10. SDIC HUAJING POWER HOLDINGS CO.,LTD.
11. ERTAN HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT COMPANY,LTD.
12. SDIC YUNNAN DACHAOSHAN HYDROPOWER CO,LTD.
13. SDIC QINZHOU ELECTRIC POWER CO.,LTD.
14. JINGYUAN SECOND POWER CO.,LTD.
15. GANSU XIAOSANXIA HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT CO.LTD.

Video: Pentagon commits to use biofuels- Secretaries Vilsack and Mabus Onboard

In agriculture, biofuel, Biotechnology, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, maintech, Power Grid, Science, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on February 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm

The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Navy were at the Pentagon in January 2010, showing their commitment to going green. Secretaries Vilsack and Mabus signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing the two departments to work together to develop biofuels.

In November of 2009- Rear Admiral Phil Cullom spoke plainly at the MIT Innovations Journal event co-organized by Bolton Hill Consulting at the National Academies of Science. The message was clear. The U.S. Navy has a long-standing commitment to the use of biofuels because it makes economic sense. The Navy is the largest consumer of biofuel in the United States. Rear Admiral Cullom controls a 21 Billion dollar budget. He attests that the Navy has used cutting edge clean technology for a long time to save money, increase access to domestic fuel sources and promote American innovation. The talk he gave at this event was riveting because not only is he interested in the topic- he is extremely well-educated (nuclear engineer & Harvard business graduate among other things), well spoken and highly committed to the use of biofuels in multiple contexts. Listen to him in his own words below.

Video provided by Allan Tone at ProVDN

Eye on Algae making biofuel: LS9, Algenol, Algae Systems, Martek Biosciences, Solozyme

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, cleantech, Energy, Environment, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Venture Capital on February 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

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Five companies we should watch on the development of biofuel from Algae: LS9 and Solazyme in S. San Francisco, Algae Systems, Algenol in Florida and Martek Biosciences in Maryland. These companies are partnering with government and private industry to make strides in plant based fuels that can be produced locally with no toxic emissions.

1) LS9

Biofuels startup LS9 Inc. bought its first demonstration facility to create renewable petroleum.

The South San Francisco-based startup said Wednesday 2-3-10 that it bought the Okeechobee, Fla., factory for $2 million out of bankruptcy though it had been valued at $80 million. The plant, which was formerly used to convert animal waste into feed, will be retrofitted over 6 months to accommodate LS9’s production process, which produces fuel from raw materials in a one-step fermentation process.

CEO Bill Haywood said the company explored several options including renting existing facilities with fermentation equipment and building a new plant and intended to try and purchase fermenting equipment when it stumbled on the factory.

The company said it can produce 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of renewable diesel for its demonstration phase, but could also retrofit the factory into a full-scale commercial plant. “The real thing I’m most excited about is speed — our ability to scale up quickly and bring this incredible technology to the market very quickly,” Haywood said.

Finding facilities to demonstrate fuel technology at commercial scale is challenging and expensive for biofuels startups. Companies including Solazyme, Zeachem and Amyris Biotechnologies got a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which doled $600 million in biofuels grants. But LS9 was excluded.

2) Algae Systems in cooperation with NASA

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Algae Systems is a new company dedicated to commercializing a novel method for growing microalgae offshore as a biofuel feedstock. This approach, developed by a diverse team of scientists and engineers at the NASA Ames Research Center, is called the Algae OMEGA System.

NASA invented an algae photo-bioreactor that grows algae in municipal wastewater to produce biofuel and a variety of other products. The NASA bioreactor is an Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (OMEGA), which won’t compete with agriculture for land, fertilizer, or freshwater.
NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., licensed the patent pending algae photo-bioreactor to Algae Systems, LLC, Carson City, Nev., which plans to develop and pilot the technology in Tampa Bay, Florida. The company plans to refine and integrate the NASA technology into biorefineries to produce renewable energy products, including diesel and jet fuel.

“NASA has a long history of developing very successful energy conversion devices and novel life support systems,” said Lisa Lockyer, deputy director of the New Ventures and Communication Directorate at NASA Ames. “NASA is excited to support the commercialization of an algae bioreactor with potential for providing renewable energy here on Earth.”

The OMEGA system consists of large plastic bags with inserts of forward-osmosis membranes that grow freshwater algae in processed wastewater by photosynthesis. Using energy from the sun, the algae absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nutrients from the wastewater to produce biomass and oxygen. As the algae grow, the nutrients are contained in the enclosures, while the cleansed freshwater is released into the surrounding ocean through the forward-osmosis membranes.

“The OMEGA technology has transformational powers. It can convert sewage and carbon dioxide into abundant and inexpensive fuels,” said Matthew Atwood, president and founder of Algae Systems. “The technology is simple and scalable enough to create an inexpensive, local energy supply that also creates jobs to sustain it.”

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3) Martek Biosciences in cooperation with BP:

Martek Biosciences is applying its expertise in developing nutritional products from algae and other microbial sources to produce biofuels.

The Columbia company announced a multiyear agreement with British global energy giant BP to convert sugar into biodiesel. Martek and BP plan to establish proof-of-concept for large-scale, cost-effective microbial biodiesel production through fermentation. BP committed to spending up to $10 million on the collaboration’s first phase.

“Martek is pleased to partner with BP’s Alternative Energy team, to combine our unique algae-based technologies and intellectual property for the creation of sustainable and affordable technology for microbial biofuel production,” said Steve Dubin, Martek CEO, in statement. “BP’s global leadership and commitment to alternative energy solutions complements Martek’s own commitment to responsible and sustainable products and production.”

“As an alternative to conventional vegetable oils, we believe sugar to diesel technology has the potential to deliver economic, sustainable and scaleable biodiesel supplies,” said Philip New, CEO of BP Biofuels. “In partnering with Martek, we combine the world’s leading know-how in microbial lipid production with our expertise in fuels markets and applications, and our more recent experience in biofuels production and commercialization.”

4. Solazyme in cooperation with Chevron

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Solazyme, Inc. is the leading renewable oil and bioproducts company. It was rated as the #1 Hot Company by Biofuels Digest for 2009 – 2010.  The company uses algal biotechnology to renewably produce clean fuels, chemicals, foods and health science products. Solazyme’s advanced and proprietary technology uses algae to produce oils and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities quickly, cleanly, cost effectively and at large scale.

Solazyme And Chevron Technology Ventures Have a Biodiesel Feedstock Development And Testing Agreement

South San Francisco, Calif – January 22, 2008 – Solazyme, a synthetic biology company pioneering the clean and sustainable bioproduction of fuels, industrial chemicals and specialty ingredients from marine microbes, today announced that it has signed a biodiesel feedstock development and testing agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

“Building a relationship with Chevron Technology Ventures is an important step toward commercialization of Solazyme’s technology which fits cleanly into Chevron’s existing refining and fuels distribution infrastructure.” said Jonathan Wolfson, chief executive officer of Solazyme.

Using a proprietary protected process that optimizes algal oil production, Solazyme is producing high-value, functional oils that can be leveraged across a wide variety of industries and applications including biodiesel, biojet and other biofuels. Solazyme has developed an industrial scale fermentation process currently capable of producing thousands of gallons of algal oil using standard industrial equipment. In addition, Solazyme has plans to dramatically expand production in 2008.

Solazyme has produced a variety of renewable algal oil and materials based products including:

  • biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751, EN 14214, and U.S. Military specifications
  • renewable diesel that meets ASTM D975
  • renewable jet fuel that meets all 11 key tested criteria for ASTM D1655 (Jet-A1)

5. Algenol Biofuels

Algenol’s prototype production strains can produce ethanol at a rate of 6,000 gallons/acre/year, and are expected to improve to 10,000 gallons/acre/year by the end of 2009. With further refinement, the algae cells have the potential to increase production rates to 20,000 gallons/acre/year in the future. There are over 100,000 species of blue-green algae useable with rapid growth cycles, high photosynthesis efficiency, large sugar storage attributes that Algenol has access to in refining algae with its Direct to EthanolTM process. The algae are metabolically enhanced to produce ethanol while being resistant to high temperature, high salinity, and high ethanol levels, which were previous barriers to ramping to commercial scale volumes.

Algenol only uses algae strains that do not produce human toxins. In addition, the specific algae cells used cannot live in the environment found outside their Capture TechnologyTM contained sealed bioreactor.

Algenol will now move into a 43,000 square foot facility near Fort Myers, that in addition to serving as company headquarters will serve as a pilot production plant, producing 300,000 gallons of ethanol per year, or three times the production at the pilot plant being built in Freeport, Texas in partnership with Dow (a project which recently was awarded a $25 million grant by the DOE as one of 19 integrated biorefinery pilot and demonstration projects). CEO Paul Woods told local media that the company will move into its new facility by May and will commence production of ethanol by August. The project will bring 100 new jobs to Florida, including 50 transferred from the company’s labs in Baltimore.

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JBEI and LS9 Biotechnology of SF converting Biomass to fuel with microbes: huge money saving potential

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, Power Grid, Science, Sustainable, Technology, Venture Capital on January 31, 2010 at 10:59 am

The secret to cheap, sustainable fuel from waste is near and natural. We have microbes that can get the job done without expensive chemical conversions.

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Read about it in Science Daily.

ScienceDaily (Jan. 31, 2010) — A collaboration led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has developed a microbe that can produce an advanced biofuel directly from biomass. Deploying the tools of synthetic biology, the JBEI researchers engineered a strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria to produce biodiesel fuel and other important chemicals derived from fatty acids.
See Also:
Plants & Animals
Food
Bacteria
Matter & Energy
Fossil Fuels
Energy Policy
Earth & Climate
Energy and the Environment
Renewable Energy
Reference
Biomass
Biomass (ecology)
Biodiesel
Distributed generation
“The fact that our microbes can produce a diesel fuel directly from biomass with no additional chemical modifications is exciting and important,” says Jay Keasling, the Chief Executive Officer for JBEI, and a leading scientific authority on synthetic biology. “Given that the costs of recovering biodiesel are nowhere near the costs required to distill ethanol, we believe our results can significantly contribute to the ultimate goal of producing scalable and cost effective advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals.”
Keasling led the collaboration, which was was made up of a team from JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division that included Eric Steen, Yisheng Kang and Gregory Bokinsky, and a team from LS9, a privately-held industrial biotechnology firm based in South San Francisco. The LS9 team was headed by Stephen del Cardayre and included Zhihao Hu, Andreas Schirmer and Amy McClure. The collaboration has published the results of their research in the January 28, 2010 edition of the journal Nature. The paper is titled, “Microbial Production of Fatty Acid-Derived Fuels and Chemicals from Plant Biomass.”
A combination of ever-increasing energy costs and global warming concerns has created an international imperative for new transportation fuels that are renewable and can be produced in a sustainable fashion. Scientific studies have consistently shown that liquid fuels derived from plant biomass are one of the best alternatives if a cost-effective means of commercial production can be found. Major research efforts to this end are focused on fatty acids — the energy-rich molecules in living cells that have been dubbed nature’s petroleum.
Fuels and chemicals have been produced from the fatty acids in plant and animal oils for more than a century. These oils now serve as the raw materials not only for biodiesel fuel, but also for a wide range of important chemical products including surfactants, solvents and lubricants.
“The increased demand and limited supply of these oils has resulted in competition with food, higher prices, questionable land-use practices and environmental concerns associated with their production,” Keasling says. “A more scalable, controllable, and economic alternative route to these fuels and chemicals would be through the microbial conversion of renewable feedstocks, such as biomass-derived carbohydrates.”
E. coli isa well-studied microorganism whose natural ability to synthesize fatty acids and exceptional amenability to genetic manipulation make it an ideal target for biofuels research. The combination of E. coli with new biochemical reactions realized through synthetic biology, enabled Keasling, Steen and their colleagues to produce structurally tailored fatty esters (biodiesel), alcohols and waxes directly from simple sugars.
“Biosynthesis of microbial fatty acids produces fatty acids bound to a carrier protein, the accumulation of which inhibits the making of additional fatty acids,” Steen says. “Normally E. coli doesn’t waste energy making excess fat, but by cleaving fatty acids from their carrier proteins, we’re able to unlock the natural regulation and make an abundance of fatty acids that can be converted into a number of valuable products. Further, we engineered our E. coli to no longer eat fatty acids or use them for energy.”
After successfully diverting fatty acid metabolism toward the production of fuels and other chemicals from glucose, the JBEI researchers engineered their new strain of E. coli to produce hemicellulases — enzymes that are able to ferment hemicellulose, the complex sugars that are a major constituent of cellulosic biomass and a prime repository for the energy locked within plant cell walls.
“Engineering E. coli to produce hemicellulases enables the microbes to produce fuels directly from the biomass of plants that are not used as food for humans or feed for animals,” Steen says. “Currently, biochemical processing of cellulosic biomass requires costly enzymes for sugar liberation. By giving the E. coli the capacity to ferment both cellulose and hemicellulose without the addition of expensive enzymes, we can improve the economics of cellulosic biofuels.”
The JBEI team is now working on maximizing the efficiency and the speed by which their engineered strain of E. coli can directly convert biomass into biodiesel. They are also looking into ways of maximizing the total amount of biodiesel that can be produced from a single fermentation.
“Productivity, titer and efficient conversion of feedstock into fuelare the three most important factors for engineering microbes that can produce biofuels on an industrial scale,” Steen says. “There is still much more research to do before this process becomes commercially feasible.”
This research was supported by funds from LS9, Inc., and the UC Discovery Grant program. LS9 is using synthetic biology techniques to develop patent-pending UltraClean™ fuels and sustainable chemicals. The UC Discovery Grant program is a three-way partnership between the University of California, private industry and the state of California that is aimed at strengthening and expanding California’s economy through targeted fields of research.

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World Bank Development Marketplace Climate Adaptation Grant Recipients to be Announced November 10-13, 2009

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, cleantech, Environment, greentech, Science, Sustainable, Technology on October 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program administered by the World Bank. The 2009 global competition is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and additional DM partners. It aims to identify 20 to 25 innovative, early-stage projects addressing climate adaptation.

Open to the public: this year’s Climate Adaptation Grant Recipients will be announced on Nov 10-13, 2009

Development Marketplace – DM2009 – Climate Adaptation.

In 2008- twenty-two project winners collected their crystal awards and grant checks in the 2008 Global Development Marketplace: Sustainable Agriculture for Development:

The winners came from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  India, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Cambodia, and Vietnam were each the home of two award winners.  Altogether, 15 countries and Sub-Saharan Africa as a region were represented.

The projects that made the final cut — from 1,800 applications that were winnowed down to 100 from 42 countries — promise to deliver a number of objectives and innovations to increase agricultural productivity, give farmers more land rights and link them to global markets, and, overall, reduce the deep poverty of rural regions in developing countries.

All the grants are $200,000 or less — but the World Bank Group and other funders of DM2008 see even the smallest projects having a catalyst effect on lagging agricultural development that has been undercutting gains in the global fight against poverty.

In her opening remarks, Katherine Sierra, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, a DM2008 partner, complimented the winners on their “ambition and drive,” and said their innovation comes when it’s especially needed — amid the crisis of rising commodity prices.

“Today we meet to celebrate innovation,” said second speaker Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, a competition partner.  “And the projects we are recognizing here do just that by supporting communities struggling with the agricultural challenges of the food price crisis.”

More compliments came from other speakers representing other partners — Mercy Karanja, Senior Program Officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Albert Engel, Head, Division for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food at GTZ.

The winners that used technology are listed below: (listed by project, country, sponsoring organization, and objective):

1. Using Cassava Waste to Raise Goats, Nigeria, University of Agricultural, Abeokuta. To create a new market linking cassava producers and goat keepers through the introduction of a simple drying technology that will turn cassava waste into goat feed.  As a result, the project will increase farming incomes and reduce carbon dioxide wastes by eliminating the need to burn cassava waste.

2. Converting Rice Fields into Green Fertilizer Factories, Ecuador, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). To increase rice yields and reduce dependency on imported artificial nitrogen fertilizers through the re-introduction and cultivation of the Azolla Anabena plant as a biofertilizer.

3. Linking Coffee Farmers to Markets via Traceable Coffee, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pachama Coffee Cooperative of Small-scale coffee producers. To support small farmers to obtain a greater share of the value-added in coffee production through the introduction of an online tracking system that will allow end consumers to trace a specific coffee back to the level of the actual farm.

4. Mini Cold Storage Ventures, India, Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College- Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park. To establish cold chain enterprises among trained youth using the latest technology in refrigeration adapted to the needs of small farmers.

5. Renewable Energy-Powered Milk Coolers, Uganda, University of Georgia, To test a reengineered milk cooling system to match the needs of smallholder dairy farmers, resulting in reduced post-harvest losses and increased farm income.

6. Micro-Franchising Scheme for Agricultural Services, Cambodia, International Development Enterprises Cambodia. To develop a sustainable micro-franchise enterprise to provide affordable horticulture services through private extension agents.

7. Açaí Production for Income Generation and Forest Protection, Brazil, Centro Ecológico. To provide technical services to a local cooperative of small scale farmers in the biodiversity-rich Atlantic Forests to harvest and market the açaí berry.

8. Value Chain Development for Textile Products, Mongolia, VSO. To increase the domestic value of livestock production through better marketing opportunities and services to raw material producers and processors.

9. Organoleptic Analysis to Improve Market Access for Cacao Growers, Ecuador, Conservación y Desarrollo. To equip cacao growers with access to chocolate making machinery so that they can better serve differentiated markets and improve the quality of their product.

10. Ancient Cocoa: Modern Genomics Methods Benefiting Small Farmers, Trinida and Tobago, Bioversity International. To enhance the cocoa value chain by facilitating the identification of more profitable trace cocoa cultivars using modern genomics methods.

11. Riverbed Farming for Landless Households in Nepal, Nepal, Helvetas. To facilitate the use of leasing arrangements for landless households to gain access to unused dry riverbeds for off-season cultivation of horticultural produce.

12. Collective Land Ownership Model for Women, India, Manav Seva Sansthan “SEVA.” To demonstrate the effectiveness of a collective land ownership model that provides women secured land holdings necessary for them to adopt more profitable modern farming practices.

13. Legal Aid for Farmers’ Land Rights, China, Rural Development Institute. To create the first legal aid center in China devoted to farmers’ agricultural land rights.

14. Land Ownership for the Rural Poor in Mexico, Mexico, Agros International.To create two sustainable farming communities in Chiapas through the long-term lease of land and provision of integrated technical services to landless farmers.

15. Producing Biofuel from Indigenous Non-Edible Nuts, Tanazania, Africa Biofuel and Emission Reduction Ltd. To cultivate and sell an indigenous oil-seed for biofuel from the Croton tree, creating a new, sustainable cash crop for smallholder farmers.

16. Locally Produced Biofuel Outboard Motor, Senegal, Mission Goorgoorlu. To introduce along Senegal’s waterways an affordable and environmentally friendly mode to transport agriculture products to market. The project is using traditional vessels powered by a locally produced biofuel outboard motor fueled by processed indigenous oil seeds.

17. Agricultural Cooperatives for Biodiversity Conservation, Cambodia, Wildlife Conservation Society. To pilot Cambodia’s first market for payment for environmental services generated from agriculture using a “Wildlife-friendly” branding and marketing strategy.

18. Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity, Mexico, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda. To pilot a payment scheme for a “gourmet” menu of integrated environmental services generated from intensive cattle operations in the biodiversity-rich area of San Antonio Tancoyol.

19. Sustaining Nitrogen-Efficient Rice Production, Vietnam, University of Sydney. To establish an integrated production-supply-extension chain to ensure a reliable biofertilizer product that reduces chemical contamination and increases yields.

20. Low-Cost Housing: Waste Rice Straw Construction Panels, Vietnam, Vinh Sang Ltd. To create a sustainable enterprise that manufactures kits for affordable environmentally sustainable housing made from recycled straw waste in the Mekong Delta.

22. Payment for Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Agriculture, Paraguay, Organization of American States. To implement in three pilot sites a menu of agro-forestry practices combined with a scheme of Payments for Ecosystem Services. This will be the first application of Paraguay’s Law of Ecosystem Services in the context of a rural farm economy.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Sustainable Agricultural Development through Science & Technology

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology on October 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

The following is taken from parts of the Gates Foundation’s website

Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Development – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support programs that will enable small farmers to break the cycle of hunger and poverty—to sell what they grow or raise, increase their incomes, and make their farms more productive and sustainable.
“We fund projects with partners who”:
  • Employ a collaborative and comprehensive approach.
  • Provide small farmers with the supplies and support they need to succeed.
  • Put women at the center of their work.
  • Help small farmers profit from their crops.
  • Use science and technology to develop crops that can thrive.

Updates on Funded Projects
During the original Green Revolution, overuse of fertilizer led to unanticipated environmental consequences. Today, we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking, and are committed to a sustainable model of agriculture that takes into account the needs of both farmers and the environment. So while Africa’s severely depleted soils require fertilizer, we promote judicious and efficient uses of fertilizer, and more intensive use of organic matter. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

Another unanticipated consequence of the original Green Revolution was increased inequity in some areas. Our work is focused on providing small farmers living on less than a dollar a day—most of whom are women—with tools and opportunities to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. We and our grantees work to involve small farmers in the design and evaluation of our projects, to ensure that our work meets their needs and addresses the realities they face in their local areas.

Another difference is that the original Green Revolution focused primarily on raising the yields of two staple crops: rice and wheat. Africa’s diverse agroecological zones and varied conditions will require a much greater range of approaches, from boosting productivity in a wider range of crops to developing crops that are resistant to drought, disease, and pests. We are working to carefully understand the different needs of small farmers throughout the continent and are designing our efforts to respond to their specific circumstances.

This new Green Revolution is broad based and includes significant African leadership on a number of levels. We are working with a wide range of partners to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress is sustainable over the long-term. We are also working to involve and empower women—who are integral to success in agriculture—at every level of our work.

Q: Do you pay attention to the environmental impact of your agricultural grantmaking?

A: Yes—we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking. Our approach is to support both poor farmers and the environment.Population growth and poor soil health in Africa have forced farmers to clear and cultivate more marginal lands, often leading to erosion, deforestation, and sometimes desertification. In Asia, the misuse of fertilizers and irrigation has caused large areas of land to be lost to acidification and salinization.

We understand these are not sustainable ways to produce food or preserve the environment. In revitalizing small-scale farm production we are funding approaches that support small farmers and are ecologically sound.

Q: Does the foundation promote the use of fertilizers?

A: Healthy soil is critical to farm productivity, and the judicious use of organic and mineral fertilizers can help small farmers prosper while preserving their land.We support AGRA’s Soil Health Program, which focuses on integrated soil fertility management as well as the use of fertilizers where necessary to provide important plant nutrients missing from the soil and from organic materials available to the farmer. We invest in information and knowledge-sharing to assist small farmers in using the right fertilizers in the right way to nourish their soil. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

We are committed to sustainable agriculture, using farming supplies that farmers can afford and that take environmental needs into account.

Q: What is the foundation doing about climate change?

A: The foundation believes that climate change is a major issue facing all of us, particularly poor people in developing countries, and we applaud the work that many are doing to help find solutions in this area. While the foundation does not fund efforts specifically aimed at reducing carbon emissions, many of our Agricultural Development grants directly address problems that climate change creates or exacerbates. For example, we have made several grants to help small farmers who live on less than $1 per day adapt to increased drought and flooding through the development of drought and flood resistant crops, improved irrigation efficiency, and other means.