Recharge Wrap-up: Valero's ethanol, Algenol's EPA award

DOE Funds Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Projects

Valero plans to export ethanol for the first time. With uncertainty over the status of ethanol in the US, Valero, the country's third largest ethanol producer, will join its two larger competitors in finding fortune overseas. Demand for ethanol is more consistent in countries with government mandates, while the future of biofuel policy in the US remains unclear. For now, the company will sell its ethanol on a freight-on-board basis, with plans to eventually sell directly to buyers in foreign markets. Read more at Reuters.

Algenol Biofuels has received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the EPA. The company uses blue-green algae to produce biofuels like ethanol from CO2, sunlight and saltwater. It offers a smaller carbon footprint than other biofuels, uses less water and doesn't require food crops as feed stock, which the EPA calls "a win-win for the company, the public and the environment." The EPA uses the award to honor technologies that turn environmental and climate issues into positive business opportunities. Another honoree, LanzaTech, was recognized for using waste gas to produce fuels like ethanol and other useful chemicals. Read more at News Press, and from the EPA.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is funding 16 solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology projects. While the conversion of hydrocarbons into electrical energy with SOFCs is much cleaner than combustion, the costs can be prohibitive. Through the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, these projects will get money to research, develop and work toward the deployment of SOFCs. One of the projects involves field testing a natural gas SOFC prototype that could be commercially deployed by 2020. The rest of the projects are focused on reducing costs and improving the technology in order to work toward commercially viability. Read more from the DOE, and at Green Car Congress.

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