Italy Makes a Biofuel Breakthrough
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  • wigwag

    I’m not sure its fair to give too much credit to the Italians; yes the plant will be built there, but the technology was pioneered by a Danish company, Novo-Nordisk. The Copenhagen based giant is one of the biggest pharmaceutical and chemical companies in the world. The plant is in Italy because Denmark is too cold and dark to efficiently grow the bamboo that’s needed.

    Novo-Nordisk is an interesting company (their U.S. headquarters is in Princeton, NJ). No one is better at making industrial enzymes than they are. In the 1970s most insulin-requiring diabetics took insulin that was harvested from pig pancreas collected from slaughterhouses. In the 1980s, human insulin became available for diabetics.

    The largest insulin manufacturer, Indianapolis based Eli Lily, made it by inserting the human insulin gene into bacteria thus coaxing the bacteria to make human insulin. Novo-Nordisk, the second largest insulin producer in the world invented an even more clever approach. The company used proprietary enzymes to cleave animal insulin into human insulin; it was an extraordinary achievement at the time.

    If anyone can figure out how to make cellulosic ethanol it’s the Danes who run Novo-Nordisk.

    By the way, the Company is jointly owned by the Danish Government and a Danish based non-profit. It is highly unionized. Denmark is as “blue” as blue gets. Yet both the Company and the country are thriving.

    Perhaps Professor Mead can explain how the bluest of the blue continues to innovate and continues to thrive. I won’t hold my breath while I wait though.

  • bigfire

    Bamboo may be fast growing. It certainly doesn’t grow in all climate. The reason why it’s used so extensively in Asia is due to the climate there. Take it out of its natural element, and it stop being commercial viable.

  • Corlyss

    I welcome this news of another green boutique fuel breakthrough – just in time for nat gas and fracking to destroy it’s usefulness. I hope the AGW scientists are beavering away to bring forth ALL of their co8ckamamie ideas for saving the planet from CO2, so all of the ideas can be neutered by expanding bounties of nat gas.

  • Vick Medel

    Biodiesel – referred to Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) or mono-alkyl esters derived from
    vegetable oils or animal fats and other biomass-derived oils that shall be technically proven and approved by the DOE for use in diesel engines, with quality specifications in accordance with the Product Standards.

    Bioethanol – referred to hydrous or anhydrous bioethanol suitably denatured for use as motor fuel, with quality specifications in accordance with similar product standards.

    Biofuels are used to blend only to petroleum based fuels.

    Bio-fuels are nothing but an additives to petroleum based fuels!

    FATTY ACID METHYL ESTER [FAME] IFICATION or Trans [ester] ification


    In organic chemistry, transesterification is the process of exchanging the alkoxy group of an ester compound by another alcohol. These reactions are often catalyzed by the addition of an acid or base.

    Rancidification is the decomposition of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis and/or oxidation. Hydrolysis will split fatty acid chains away from the glycerol backbone in glycerides. These free fatty acids can then undergo further auto-oxidation. Oxidation primarily occurs with unsaturated fats by a free radical-mediated process.

    Redox (Redirected from Oxidation)
    Redox reactions include all chemical processes in which atoms have their oxidation number (oxidation state) changed.

    This can be a simple redox process, such as the oxidation of carbon to yield carbon dioxide, it could be the reduction of carbon by hydrogen to yield methane (CH4), or a complex process such as the oxidation of sugar in the human body, through a series of very complex electron transfer processes.

    The term redox comes from the two concepts of reduction and oxidation. It can be explained in simple terms:

    Oxidation describes the loss of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion
    Reduction describes the gain of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion

    Combustion of hydrocarbons, e.g. in an internal combustion engine, produces water, carbon dioxide, some partially oxidized forms such as carbon monoxide and heat energy. Complete oxidation of materials containing carbon produces carbon dioxide.

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