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152 inform March 2009, Vol. 20 (3) to the company press release, cavitation in fluids provides superior mixing and may significantly accelerate rates of chemi- cal reactions and processes. The company claims its process can accept vegetable oils containing less than 4.5% free fatty acids and increase the velocity of the continuous flow esterification reaction and the quality of the resultant biodiesel. Sodium methy- late is the catalyst used, and the reaction can take place at ambient pressures and a low temperature (60°C). Operating and maintenance costs are low, according to the company. Valcent lays off half its staff Airlines test aviation biofuel Valcent Products Inc. (El Paso, Texas, On January 8, 2009, Continental Airlines became the first North American airline USA) has been developing a vertical growth system for algae intended to serve as feed- to test biofuels in one of its planes. One of its Boeing 737 airliners took off from stock for biodiesel (see inform 19:432– Houston, Texas, operating one engine on a B50 (50% biodiesel, 50% Jet A) blend 437, 2008). In mid-January, 19 people, during a two-hour flight. UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Illinois, USA) created the biofuel or about half of the company’s staff, were for the flight, comprising 94% jatropha oil, provided by Terasol Energy (Texas, USA), laid off as part of cost-cutting and restruc- and 6% algae oil, supplied by Sapphire Energy (San Diego, California, USA). Prelimi- turing. The El Paso Times quoted Gerry nary data indicated the engine performed as predicted. No problems were encoun- Jardine, a member of the board of direc- tered during the flight. tors, as saying, “The general economic UOP anticipates licensing its fuel technology by mid-2009, according to Biofuels downturn has affected us like a lot of other Digest. companies, and we had to make some hard On January 30, Japan Airlines also tested a biofuel blend (50% traditional Jet A fuel, choices.” He added, “We are not shutting 50% biofuel) in a Boeing 747-300 aircraft powered by a Pratt & Whitney engine; 84% down the company.” No executive changes of the biofuel came from camelina seed oil, under 16% from jatropha oil, and under were made. 1% from algal oil. Camelina was selected because the plant can grow in dry areas and at high latitudes; these characteristics make the plant less competitive with food crops German biodiesel and thus more sustainable. Sustainable Oils Inc. (Bozeman, Montana, USA) provided the camelina fuel, Terasol Energy the jatropha oil, and Sapphire Energy the algae oil. plants face closure Johannes Lackmann, chief executive of VDB (Verband der Deutschen Biokraft- original increase was to be 6 eurocents per Although passage of these changes stoffindustrie), the lobbying association liter on January 1, 2009. However, in late by the German parliament was expected, for German biofuel producers, told news 2008 the government yielded to industry with backdating to January 1, Lackmann agency Reuters that the government’s deci- protests that this increase was making bio- told Reuters the uncertainty was contrib- sion to raise taxes on green fuels and to fuels too expensive in comparison with uting to declines in the German green fuel scale back a mandated increase in biofuel fossil fuels and cut the increase to 3 euro- industry. blending with fossil fuels would force cents. As of January 19, the change had closure of some of the country’s biodie- sel plants in 2009, particularly small- and still not become law, leaving the question in limbo. Biodiesel tested in medium-sized ones. He anticipated that increased taxes, which were to have taken The government also cut the mandated biofuel percentage, originally set for 6.25% Atlas rocket engine effect January 1, would reduce demand for for 2009, to 5.25% in October 2008. The In late January announcement was made the fuel in Germany, and predicted that VDB estimated this change would reduce that biodiesel had been used to power a larger plants would be able to export their biodiesel demand for 2009 by 600,000 Rocketdyne LR-101 engine. This engine product to the European Union and eastern tons—equivalent to the output from six had originally been designed for use on the Europe. biodiesel plants. However, this change too General Dynamics/Convair Atlas missile. There was uncertainty as to when the had not been implemented by mid-January, Liquid oxygen and B100 (i.e., 100% bio- tax increase would actually take effect. The leaving blending levels unclear. diesel) were compared with US Air Force- MAR 09 INFORM.indd 152 3/17/09 3:11:06 PM inform March 2009, Vol. 20 (3) 153 supplied RP-1 grade kerosene. Based on a 6-second burn, B100 produced 820 lb (3.64 Corn oil biodiesel
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