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Biofuels beneficial to human health - UC Berkeley - June, 2009

Biofuels beneficial to human health, says UC Berkeley

Source: Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), June 5, 2009

University of California Berkeley


In the recent fervor to quantify the impact of biofuels on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the other public health benefits of ethanol have often been overlooked. In ongoing research at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), researchers are finding that “a biofuel eliminating even 10-percent of current gasoline pollutant emissions would have a substantial impact on human health in this country, especially in urban areas.”

EBI is a collaboration of UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois, and BP. Today, the biofuel ethanol represents approximately 8% of the nation’s gasoline supply.

Researchers note that understanding health impacts are equally important as calculating environmental impacts. The researchers underscore this importance related to our reliance on petroleum-based gasoline.

“Just think, if we had done a life cycle impact assessment on the human health effects of gasoline years ago we might not be in the situation we’re facing today,” said one of the lead researchers, Thomas McKone, an expert on health risk assessments who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

For years, ethanol has been used in urban areas and other geographic locations to reduce smog-forming and other dangerous pollutants as a result of gasoline combustion. Research comparing ethanol and gasoline emissions of dangerous pollutants such as carbon monoxide and benzene demonstrates a clear health benefit when using ethanol.

“Understanding the importance of biofuels and the dangers of continued oil dependence requires a holistic approach,” said Geoff Cooper, Vice President of Research for the Renewable Fuels Association, the nation’s leading ethanol trade group. “The current debate over ethanol’s benefits often fails to see the forest through the trees. Taken in totality, the economic, environmental, and health benefits of biofuels make a compelling case for accelerated production and use of these renewable fuels.”

Ethanol in gasoline can favorably impact mobile source emissions in at least four main air quality areas: fine particulate matter (e.g., PM2.5), carbon monoxide, toxics, and global warming.

Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): A Colorado study finds that with 3.5 percent oxygen (the amount found in E10 blends), the PM reduction is 36 percent for the normal fleet and 64.6 percent for the high emitters studied.

Carbon Monoxide (CO): A statistical analysis of ambient CO concentrations in areas using oxyfuels (those containing an oxygenate such as ethanol) indicates that these fuels appear to reduce local CO by an average of 14 percent nationally.

Toxics: Benzene appears to be the most significant toxic compound emitted from vehicles. EPA models indicate that a 10 percent ethanol blend can reduce benzene by 25 percent compared to conventional gasoline. In addition to a 25 percent benzene reduction, the use of 10 percent ethanol is shown by the EPA to reduce total toxic mass emissions by 13 percent.

Global Warming Emissions: According to a 2009 study by the University of Nebraska, direct effect greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be equivalent to a 48% to 59% reduction compared to gasoline, a twofold to threefold greater reduction than reported in previous studies.

Eberhardt School of Business University of the Pacific

- Excerpts from a presentation by Dr. Willard Price, Eberhardt School of Business, University of the Pacific
Stockton, California

International Journal Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005

University of Pacific


“GPV by GeneSyst International is a technology that treats solid wastes, sewage, sludge and hazardous/toxic wastes by converting organics and toxics into environmentally harmless substances via wet oxidation technology with a closed vessel that emits no emissions or hazardous by-products.

GPV was selected from a list of viable technologies identified by fellow researchers at the University of the Pacific, who evaluated potential cases with applicability to West Virginia (Kaur 2002). GPV scored high on the list of those technologies with a greater chance of providing value to environmental resources.” – Dr. Willard Price

The University of Texas at Austin

- Excerpts from a report by Dr. Ernest F. Gloyna, Bettie Margaret Chair in Environmental Health Engineering, at the University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin


“The Deep Well, SCWO process is inherently safe and odorless; requires small surface area, permits the use of an economical regenerative heat exchanger, utilizes state of the art oil field technology, and offers minimum exposure to the public.”

“The temperature, pressure, amount of oxidant, and reaction time can be controlled to accomplish the desired level of treatment.”

“The Deep Well, subcritical water oxidation process is proven technology for sludge destruction.”

The University of Texas

- Excerpt from The University of Texas – Pan American, Manufacturing Engineering Department
December 2006, Jianzhi (James) Li, Ph.D.

University of Texas - Pan American


“I am very impressed with the environmental and economic outlook of this project and would strongly recommend continuing our effort in further analysis of this wonderful project in both technological and operational aspects.

As you may already be aware of, sustainability and green engineering are critical to development of any community in the world. Proper handling of the Municipal Solid Waste is believed to be important in this regard. The system developed by GeneSyst looks like a proven technology and can benefit the community both ecologically and economically.”

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto

– Excerpt from “Environmental Implications of Municipal Solid Waste-Derived Ethanol," Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
October 2006, Youssouf Kalogo, Shiva Habibi, Heather L. MacLean, and Satish V. Joshi -

University of Toronto


"We model a municipal solid waste (MSW)-to-ethanol facility that employs dilute acid hydrolysis and gravity pressure vessel technology and estimate life cycle energy use and air emissions. We compare our results, assuming the ethanol is utilized as E85 (blended with 15% gasoline) in a light-duty vehicle, with extant life cycle assessments of gasoline, corn-ethanol, and energy crop-cellulosic-ethanol fueled vehicles.

MSW-ethanol use in vehicles reduces net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 65% compared to gasoline, and by 58% when compared to corn-ethanol."

City College of New York

- Excerpt from City College of New York, CHE496:  CHEMICAL ENGINEERING DESIGN PROJECT, Conversion of Municipal Solid Waste, Ethanol, TASK 3:  Developmental Design, ChunKeung (Arnold) Wong, Giselle Acco, Djenane Fleurentin, Vishal Ishmail
May 26, 2006

City College of New York


"This [GPV] is a remarkable way of converting material (MSW) that has been deemed by everyone as a problem.  The final product (ethanol) is also one that has captivated the interests of everyone since there are looming problems of depleting natural resources, national security, greenhouse emissions and dependence on OPEC for crude oil.  In summary, we think that this is an extremely innovative and valid process which will be productive.  We think the price of ethanol will increase over the coming years and technology for increased productivity will become apparent and thus we will promote this process."

Michigan State University

- Excerpt from The Financial Feasibility Analysis of Municipal Solid Waste to Ethanol Conversion
By Osamu Sakamoto, Plan B Master Reason Paper, Michigan State University, 2004

Michigan State University


“Since enzymatic process is not yet ripe technology and cost reduction is not yet achieved, taking this present state into consideration, acid hydrolysis is currently the most economically and technologically applicable hydrolysis process. GPV technology appears to have significant economic and environmental advantages in making commercial scale MSW ethanol production feasible.

Even under different market prices and different technologies, profitability proves to be robust.”

Plan B Master Reason Paper - complete text - Adobe PDF

The Blue Ribbon Panel Report

- Extract from the Blue Ribbon Panel Report to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority

Michigan State University


“In our opinion, there is sufficient promise for expanded use of the process to justify bench and pilot scale testing which could lead to development of a working model or a full-scale prototype unit”

Dr. Earnest F. Gloyna, P.E., Chairman, Dean of Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Phillip Closman, Dr. Keith Johnston, Dr. Harry Deans, University of Texas, Houston, Dr. Riki Kobayashi, Rice University, Dr. Norman Hackerman.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Excerpt from a presentation by Dr. Michael Modell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


“The recognized advantages of Gravity Pressure Vessel wet oxidation technology includes the use of the hydrostatic head, the combined reactor and heat exchanger, the natural earth insulating and thermal gradient, greater thermal efficiency control of fouling potential, control of erosion and corrosion, broad operating range, construction simplicity, safety and cost savings.”

University of Limerick

- Excerpt from GeneSyst Summary and Questions, University of Limerick, Ireland

University of Limerick


“Other advantages of the GeneSyst process includes the fact that it is not hampered by a high moisture content feed stock (providing moisture content is not much higher than 90%) and it is claimed that there are no emissions or odors.”

Dartmouth University, Thayer School of Engineering

- Extract from the letters of Dr. Alvin O. Converse, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth:



Overall, the process appears to be workable. The reactor is very innovative but based on sound principle, and my simulation, based on experimentally established kinetics, indicates that it will work as indicated above. The rest of the process is less innovative; the individual steps have all been done in other processes.


R. W. Armstrong and Associates, Inc. - October, 2006

Presentation to the Lake County Solid Waste Management District, by Jim Wade, CEO and Chairman. R. W. Armstrong and Associates, Indianapolis, Indiana

“You will find what we present to you today to be a powerful solution for disposal of municipal waste in Lake County. The process we present to you today does not pollute air and water. It does use a combination of proven technologies. It yields an important by product, ethanol.”

Dr. G. Roelof Niezen - September 2006

Dr. G. Roelof Niezen
Industrial Storage Systems Presentation

“Having been in responsible charge of persons who were involved in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the commercial size gravity pressure vessel style facilities executed at Apeldoom, The Netherlands. I wish to express my confidence in the potential for success of this apparatus when executed using professional engineering design, qualified contractor execution and correct staff training. By following proper procedures and with adequate supervision, each installation of this style of processing apparatus will have every expectation for a successful business investment.” – Dr. G. Roelof Niezen

Oak Ridge National Laboratory - June, 2008

Materials Science & Technology Division

“Thus, this appears to be a good idea that has the potential to develop into a waste “refinery” capable of producing Ethanol or a wide range of products.” – James Reafsnyder and Dr. Ian G. Wright

Gerald C. Rappe, ScD. - January, 2007

Aspen Environmental Services
Assurances Presentation

“Based upon my experiences for the Gravity Pressure Vessel (GPV) at Longmont, Colorado as being in responsible charge of persons who participated in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of this GPV, I can assure you that with professional engineering design, qualified execution by contractors and adequate employee-staff training, each installation utilizing this type of processing equipment will have every expectation for a successful operation.” – Gerald C. Rappe, Sc.D.

Federal Ministry of Environment

J.J. Enemari P.E.
Presentation for the Honorable Minister

“Based on the discussions that followed, the technology was considered against the background of our present Solid Waste Management Systems which is mainly dumping with its attendant consequences.

The government appreciates your concern and effort to compliment her in providing the citizenry a clean environment.

Your technology no doubt has the potential as a Waste management option and your proposal is in line with government resolve to involve the Private Sector in Waste Management.”

Wijnia - Noorman - Partners B.V.

Wijnia–Noorman - Partners B.V.
Raadgevende Ingeniers

“Aanmeldingsnotitie m.e.r. voor het oprichten van een inrichting voor het produceren van bio-enthanol uit  cellulosehoudend material aan de Norwegenweg te Hardenberg

De risico’s brand worden tegen aanrijden beveiligd. Eventuele cumulative effecten met overidge activiteiten op het terrain de direct omgeving worden niet verwacht.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory

R.B. Kidman and T.S. Tsuji
Los Alamos, NM

“The Gravity Pressure Vessel can accommodate large changes (>100%) in waste strength or flow rate which allows it to treat the largest identified U.S. market, low volume, high strength wastes.”

“The major advantage of this process is that contaminants are destroyed on site with no toxins emitted to the atmosphere or absorbed onto media which require landfill disposal or regeneration … Toxic compounds are not concentrated as with reverse osmosis. It is a safe process. It can be used over a wide pH range, concentrations of toxins (1 to 1,000), and flow-rate. It can effectively attack a wide range of organic chemicals including many of the EPA’s priority pollutant list.”

Malcolm Pirnie

Independent Consultant in Support of Capital Funding
Presentation to the Houston
Metropolitan Area
Houston, TX

An independent evaluation by Malcolm Pirnie, for the Houston metropolitan area as an independent consultant in support of capital funding

“Based on our experience, the above referenced material, and subject to the assumptions expressed herein, we are of the opinion that: The sludge treatment technology proposed to be utilized in the facility is technically feasible.”

Halcrow Group Limited - November 2004

Department for Environment & Rural Affairs
Presentation to the United Kingdom
Swindon, UK

Halcrow Group Ltd. Swindon, UK, to the United Kingdom Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, November 2004

The process offers the opportunity to make significant inroads in the UK targets for both the landfill and Biofuel Directive. Significant reduction of Biological Municipal Waste destined for landfill or thermal destruction. Emissions to air, land or water are minimal compared to thermal and other processes. The plant is also visually less obtrusive. Local resistance to planning applications is likely to be reduced.


The Wall Street Journal - MarketWatch.com - April 2008

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and
John Clark, Director

Excerpt from MarketWatch.com    April 2, 2008

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Daniels, Indiana has long been on the forefront of alternative energy. This technology provides yet another source of alternative energy for our state and secures Indiana as a leader in the industry. Lake County has been making strides to become a leader in new economic development opportunities while dealing with a transitioning economy. We are happy to support the county’s efforts to bring this cutting-edge technology to our state.” – Lt. Governor Becky Skillman

“This type of cutting-edge technology will be the first of its kind in the United States, making Lake County a leader in waste management technology."

Ethanol Power Business Summary - 2006

David A. Noyes and Company
Indianapolis, IN

Ethanol Power Business Summary 2006, David A. Noyes & Company, Investment Banking, Indianapolis, Indiana

“Two decades ago a breakthrough occurred in the creation of a continuous pressure cooker that operated with extremely high thermal and mechanical efficiency coupled with industry setting records for on line availability, which is now known as the GPV [Gravity Pressure Vessel]. The key element was to accept and process solid wastes in water. This also brought the experience and reliability of the wastewater processing of incoming raw materials with on site inventories, a necessary adjunct to a successful and odor free operation.”

Alternative Resources, Inc.

Alternative Resources, Inc.
A Third Party Consultant for
Investor Purposes
Concord, MA

Alternative Resources, Inc. of Concord, Massachusetts, a third party consultant for investor purposes

“While the project carries the risk inherent to any prototype project, it offers potential attractive benefits, including:

  1. A Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) recycling facility that is inexpensive to build, profitable to operate, and that converts almost 100 percent of incoming waste to marketable products.
  2. Favorable market competitiveness, because [its] waste-disposal tipping fees are below market prices.
  3. A recycling system whose major product, ethanol, has a well-established market with a documented price history.
  4. A process that manages MSW without waste combustion and without the long-term environmental liabilities of land filling MSW or large quantities of solid residue.


Questor, Cluster Newsletter

Queens University, Belfast Northern Ireland, Questor, Cluster Newsletter
- June 2009

Queens Civil Engineering


"Bioethanol Production: Steps involved in Production

There are several options for hydrolysis of the biomass to obtain sugars:

- concentrated acid,
- dilute acid
- enzymatic hydrolysis.

The disadvantages of enzymatic hydrolysis are that the enzyme is very expensive and the process is still in a development stage. Toxicity and corrosion are issues in using concentrated acid hydrolysis.

QUESTOR’s research in the production of bioethanol has used dilute acid hydrolysis (with phosphoric acid), because of the advantages of this technique, which include decreased equipment corrosion problems, simplicity and efficiency."

Queen's University Belfast
The QUESTOR Centre, Cluster Newsletter - complete article -
Adobe PDF

The Chemical Engineer

The Chemical Engineer
- March 2008

TCE Today


“GPV for dilute-acid hydrolysis to alcohol – Using MSW to make ethanol betters all existing and projected environmental targets for treatment. It eliminates land filling and cuts out the greenhouse gases that would otherwise be emitted from landfill or from the treatment process. The process is entirely carbon negative and qualifies for carbon credits.”

The Chemical Engineer, March 2008 - complete article - Adobe PDF


ECN - Biomass Coals and Evironmental Research, The Netherlands

Dr. Jan R. Pels, ECN - Biomass. Coals and Environmental Research, The Netherlands. Eerste bevindingen t.a.v. Genesyst

“Technisch lljkt alles in orde an haalbaar. Ook da diepe buis-reactor (GPV) lijkt ons een realiseerbaar concept. De meeste beoogde processtappen zijn al eerder toegepast. De combinatie met de GPV unit is echter nieuw.”

“The technology is established and manageable. The Gravity Pressure Vessel (GPV) is based on a realizable concept. Most of the process is based on traditional methods. The combination with the GPV unit is unique."

”ECN, the leading Dutch energy research institute, is at the cutting edge of European efforts in the development of new technologies that meet tomorrow’s energy demand. ECN conducts research and development over a large range of energy technologies, carefully selected by impact over the next decades."

Dunelands Sierra Club - June 2008

Dunelands Sierra Club
Position Paper    June 2008

“Indiana Ethanol Power, a GeneSyst Licensee, has a much more environmentally friendly, more reliable water-based process that can handle all of Lake County’s residential garbage in a small plant with no waste processing emissions. They have an efficient water sorting system to get out the recyclables and batteries. What’s left gets processed in an energy efficient, underground pressure cooker, looped into sugars, which yeast turns into ethanol. This is the greener deal, healthier for residents with less greenhouse gases and pollution.” – Sandy O’Brien, Conservation Chair of the Dunelands Sierra Club