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The latest products, services and cleantech applications and how they are tackling some of our most pressing social and environmental issues.

Abengoa Opens First Commercial-Scale, Next-Generation Biorefinery

Abengoa Bioenergy has announced the official grand opening of its second-generation cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas, roughly 90 miles southwest of Dodge City. The biorefinery finished construction in mid-August and began producing cellulosic ethanol at the end of September with the capacity to produce up to 25 million gallons per year.

Swedish Scientists Develop Renewable, Recyclable Battery from Alfalfa and Pine Resin

Rechargeable lithium batteries, used in everything from portable electronic devices to electric cars to large-scale energy storage, are convenient and efficient but less than stellar when it comes to resource and environmental impacts. Now researchers at Uppsala University’s Ångström Laboratory have come up with an entirely new battery concept based on recovery and renewable biological material, with an energy content corresponding to that of current lithium-ion batteries.

B Lab Announces First Nationwide Clean Energy B Corporation

Washington, D.C.-based clean energy company Arcadia Power has become the first nationwide clean energy B Corporation after meeting the rigorous social, environmental and legal standards of B Lab.Driven by a mission to democratize clean energy, Arcadia Power allows businesses and individuals to upgrade their offices or homes to 100 percent clean energy without any additional equipment, for just a 1.5 cents per kWh premium. The company’s proprietary software connects online utility accounts with a clean energy purchasing platform, imports all the energy data, and displays it in a web dashboard with information on rewards, savings and impact.

New LED Lighting at Ford Manufacturing Plants Expected to Save $7M a Year

Ford Motor Company has begun installing 25,000 new LED fixtures to replace traditional high-intensity discharge and fluorescent lights, at its manufacturing facilities across the globe. The new fixtures, valued at over $25 million, are expected to reduce Ford’s energy use at manufacturing facilities by 56 million kilowatt-hours annually – enough to power more than 6,000 average-sized homes per year, and an up to 70 percent reduction in lighting energy consumption compared to traditional technologies. Annual energy costs are expected to be reduced by approximately $7 million.

Southwest Agrees to Purchase 3 Million Gallons of Biofuels Annually

Southwest Airlines has signed an agreement with Red Rock Biofuels (RRB) to purchase approximately three million gallons of low carbon renewable jet fuel per year.The biofuels are made using forest residues that will help reduce the risk of destructive wildfires in the Western United States. RRB’s first plant will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass feedstock into at least 12 million gallons per year of renewable jet, diesel and naphtha fuels.The blended product will be used in Southwest’s San Francisco Bay Area operations with first delivery expected in 2016.

CO2 Solutions Testing Carbon-Capture Technology

CO2 Solutions, an enzyme-enabled carbon capture technology company, has partnered with the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to test its technology at EERC’s testing facility using natural gas and coal flue gas in December.The program's goal is to evaluate several CO2 capture technologies that are among the most advanced systems under development for power and steam-generation plants.

Report: $1.6 Trillion Opportunity for Small Cleantech Businesses in Developing Countries

Over the next decade, investments in clean technologies in emerging markets are estimated to exceed $6 trillion, of which $1.6 trillion represent business opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to a new report by infoDev/World Bank Group in collaboration with the Carbon Trust.

Cisco, 3M, JFW Commit to White House Plan to Promote Solar Power and Energy Efficiency

Cisco, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and Jackson Family Wines have announced commitments to deploy onsite solar energy and improve energy efficiency as part of an Obama Administration call to action.In total, 50 companies, states, communities and multifamily housing leaders from across the country have announced commitments representing more than 35 megawatts of solar deployed – enough energy to power thousands of homes – as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower energy bills for more than 400 million square feet of buildings.

Vermont’s Largest City Now 100% Powered by Renewables

Burlington, Vermont now acquires all of its energy from renewable sources, including wind, hydro, and biomass, after the recent purchase of 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project.The city of 42,000 people, through the Burlington Electric Department, will get around one-third of its power from a biomass facility that primarily uses wood chips from logging residue; one-third from wind energy contracts; and one-third from the hydroelectric stations Winooski One and Hydro-Québec.Vermont has a statewide goal of securing 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, which includes electricity, heating, and transportation.

Shell Unveils First Soccer Field Powered by Players' Footsteps

Shell and Brazilian soccer player Pelé this week showcased a first-of-its-kind soccer field capable of capturing kinetic energy created by players' movement and combining it with nearby solar power to generate renewable electricity.Located in the heart of Morro da Mineira, a Rio de Janeiro favela, the soccer field uses 200 high-tech, underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. The energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the field to convert into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving everyone in the favela a safe and secure community space at night.

Anheuser-Busch's New CNG-Powered Truck Fleet Will Save 2,000 Tons of CO2 Per Year

Anheuser-Busch has announced it is replacing its 66 diesel tractor fleet in Houston with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered tractors. This marks the beer company’s first conversion of an entire brewery fleet and represents a significant milestone in achieving its goal to reduce carbon emissions.“The next-generation CNG engine technology paired with support from state incentive programs contributed to our ability to take such a significant step in fully converting our Houston fleet,” said James Sembrot, Senior Director of Transportation at Anheuser-Busch. “Houston is a strategic choice due to the central location to our facilities and distribution radius, as well as its proximity to fueling stations.”

Apple Voted 'Greenest Gadget' Company in New Greenpeace Report

Apple has topped the electronics sector in addressing its environmental footprint, according to a new report released by Greenpeace. In the same week that Berlin will gather some of the world’s biggest technology companies for its IFA 2014 technology show, Greenpeace has released a new report, Green Gadgets: Designing the future, evaluating which of these products wins the award for having the lowest environmental impact.

First Commercial-Scale Biofuel Facility Opens in US

The first commercial-scale biofuel plant in the United States is now open and will eventually produce more than 25 million gallons of fuel a year from corn waste.Project LIBERTY converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. The $272 million plant, located in Emmetsburg, Iowa, has officially started up, processing its first batch of biomass into cellulosic ethanol and is moving forward toward continuous operation. At full capacity, the facility will convert 770 tons of biomass per day to produce ethanol at a rate of 20 million gallons per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year.

Macallan Distillery Cleans Up Its Act with £74M Clean Energy Investment

The Macallan, one of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries, has launched a new £74m clean energy project at its facility in Speyside, Scotland, which is expected to produce enough energy to heat the plant as well as power 20,000 local homes.The project was launched in a collaboration between John Laing and the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB). The new plant, developed by Estover Energy, is a biomass combined heat and power facility. According to GIB, the plant will be fuelled with sustainable forestry by-product sourced locally from one of the UK’s most productive forestry areas.

Algae Powering World’s First Electric Grand Prix

The world soon will see its first electric Grand Prix series with cars powered with electricity derived from algae as part of an effort to showcase the best in new zero emission technologies, BusinessGreen reports.The racing organization, Formula E, has signed a deal with UK start-up Aquafuel to supply generators powered by glycerine, a byproduct of biodiesel that also can be produced from salt-water algae. The fuel is biodegradable, non-toxic and can be used in modified diesel generators to generate power. The compound comes from algae and has zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. When it burns, there is no smoke, smell, or even sound.

New Algae Process Turns Sewage Into Biofuel and Drinking Water

Nevada-based Algae Systems says it has developed a way to make algae-based biofuel profitable by transforming raw sewage into fuel and clean drinking water.The company says it has a pilot plant in Alabama that can profitably produces diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously making clean water from municipal sewage, utilizing the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels. Using a “hydrothermal liquefaction” system, algae and other solids in the sewage are heated to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, creating a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well. Scientists then add hydrogen to produce diesel fuel.

GEMI Launches Tool to Help Companies Adopt Renewable Energy Tech

The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) has announced the availability of a new tool designed to provide insight into how corporations assess and implement renewable and alternative energy technologies.The GEMI Quick Guide on Renewable and Alternative Energy assists companies in evaluating their renewable and alternative energy options, helping them to define a strategy that makes sense for them. To help companies learn by example, the guide also includes mini-case studies to share with users attributes that made their renewable and alternative energy technology project and strategy successful.

Boeing, South African Airways Turning Tobacco into Jet Fuel

Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG have announced a collaboration to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant.This initiative builds on cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa's goals for public health as well as economic and rural development.

VW Offering Holistic Approach to Electric Mobility with e-Golf, Carbon-Reduction Projects

In the drive to engage US consumers on the wonders of electric-vehicle mobility, the ante was upped once again on Tuesday when Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VW) announced the latest in its holistic approach to e-mobility. Starting with the launch of its zero-tailpipe emissions 2015 e-Golf later this year, Volkswagen will invest in carbon-reduction projects to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and up to approximately 36,000 miles of driving.

Certification Systems Can Help Fuel Buyers Source Sustainable Biofuels

Strong certification systems can allow fuel buyers to support biofuels producers that take steps to protect the environment and help grow a biofuels industry that provides environmental benefits, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).