E15 Update at #ACE15

ace15-lambertySteve Jobs once said “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” and American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty believes that applies to E15 (15% ethanol blended gasoline) and other higher blends.

“What we’ve seen in the places where E15, E30, E85 have been shown to people, they like them,” said Lamberty during his industry update at the annual ACE conference this week in Omaha. “We need to keep doing what we’re doing and keep showing people the light.”

Lamberty talked about the experiences of some successful higher ethanol blend retailers like Charlie Good in Iowa and Bruce Vollan in South Dakota.

Listen to Ron’s update at the ACE conference here: Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior VP

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

ACE Chairman Optimistic About Ethanol Future

ace15-alversonThe chairman of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is encouraged about the future for the ethanol industry, despite the continued challenges.

Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol says a lot has happened in the 10 years since the first Renewable Fuel Standard became law. “There were three legs of support for the RFS. It was cheap corn, high priced and scarce fuel, and the better environmental footprint of renewable fuels – we’ve had ups and downs since then,” said Alverson. Ultimately he thinks ethanol will keep moving forward because “we’ve got a really great product and a really great priced product.”

Listen to my interview with Ron here: Interview with ACE chairman Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

#ACE15 Annual Celebrates Ethanol Ingenuity

ace15-1The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is meeting this week in Omaha, Nebraska to celebrate the people, ingenuity and advancements of the ethanol industry.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings talked about the success of the industry, despite the roadblocks that have come up over the past decade since passage of the first Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “In the face of adversity you don’t give up,” said Jennings. “You quietly and calmly roll up your sleeves and you go about fixing the problems.”

Jennings compared the trajectory of success, with its ups and downs, to the way implementation of the RFS has evolved. “Under EPA’s recent supervision, the RFS has been messy, it’s been slow going and it’s been hard work,” said Jennings, asking what the industry should do if EPA keeps “riding the brakes” on the RFS. “Maintain pressure on them to keep it on track? Absolutely!”

Jennings also left open the option of legal action if EPA makes no change in the proposed RFS. “What are we to do if EPA drives the RFS in the ditch?,” asked Jennings. “Do we take them to court? Maybe. We’ll have to see.”

The final rule from EPA is expected by November and Jennings says in meantime, ACE is planning a new promotional and social media campaign to keep up the pressure. “ACE plans to launch a new round of Power by People ads, in the Beltway and around the country, to highlighting the benefits of the RFS to everyday people,” said Jennings.

Listen to Brian’s industry address here: ACE Executive VP Brian Jennings, 2015 annual meeting

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

EIA: Outage Increased Midwest Gas Prices

eia-outageNew data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that the unplanned outage earlier this month of a 240,000-barrels-per-day unit at a refinery in Whiting, Indiana, caused gas prices to spike throughout the Midwest.

The outage occurred on August 8 and EIA notes that regular gasoline prices in the Midwest increased by 32 cents a gallon within the following week, from $2.47 the week of the outage to $2.79 a gallon on August 17. EIA says it was “the largest weekly increase for Midwest gasoline prices since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

“The EIA data show that the refinery outage made a serious dent in the wallets of consumers,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, which released a statement in response to the unplanned shutdown. “The Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration have all the tools they need at their disposal to assist in blunting the consumer impacts of the refinery outage. We, once again, call on EPA to immediately waive RVP requirements for E15 and also allow E12 blending in the Midwest region.”

According to EIA, it can take markets days or weeks to adjust to the sudden loss of production during unplanned outages, often resulting in sudden price increases. The severity and duration of the higher prices depend on how quickly the refinery problem can be resolved, how soon alternative sources of supply can arrive, and the marginal cost to bring alternative supply to the region.

Louis Dreyfus Adding Glycerin to Biodiesel Plant

dreyfus-biodiesel-indLouis Dreyfus Commodities plans to add a glycerin refinery to its soybean crushing and biodiesel plant in Claypool, Indiana, with construction expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The new refinery will be the second largest in the nation producing USP-grade Kosher refined glycerin, with a capacity of 80 million pounds per year. “The refinery in Claypool is being built with the best technology available,” said Tommy Malone, Louis Dreyfus Commodities’ head of North America. “We expect our plant to produce the highest-quality refined glycerin, meeting the needs of our growing customer network.”

Louis Dreyfus Commodities has been marketing crude glycerin, a co-product of the biodiesel process at Claypool, since the facility began operations in 2007. The addition of the refinery should allow the plant to process up to 100% of its crude glycerin production into USP-grade Kosher refined glycerin, which is used in a variety of industries including personal care, pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, chemical and textiles.

ICM Completes Cellulose Ethanol Performance Runs

icm-20ICM Inc. has successfully completed two 1,000-hour performance runs of its patent-pending Generation 2.0 Co-Located Cellulose Ethanol process at the company’s pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The runs were designed to prove performance of the co-located technology design for the conversion of cellulosic biomass feedstocks, including energy crops such as switchgrass and energy sorghum, agricultural crop residues, and forestry residues, to cellulosic ethanol and co-products.

The first performance run, which ran from March to late April, focused on switchgrass while the second run from early June to late July, focused on energy sorghum. Both runs were similar in nature, but with a few minor operational modifications included to allow for smoother operation between the two runs. The 1,000+ hours of continuous production in each run are a significant achievement, as it qualifies these data sets for federal loan guarantee programs.

“This achievement is important because it provides operational confidence at a commercially relevant scale. We used all commercial-type equipment for these performance runs that processed 10 dry tons of feedstock per day. At that scale, we were able to achieve continuous operations throughout both performance runs to generate key data required to move forward to commercialization as the market provides demand for Gen. 2.0 Cellulosic Ethanol and co-products.” said Dr. Doug Rivers, ICM’s Director of Research and Development.

ICM believes that the success with each of these three 1,000-hour runs comes from the dedicated individuals and extensive testing of various feedstocks at the pilot scale for next generation conversion technology to produce renewable fuels that meet low carbon fuel standards.

Propane Autogas Revs Up the FS System

fs-growmarkBusinesses and organizations are recognizing the benefits of switching from gasoline or diesel fuel to propane autogas.

The GROWMARK FS System is enjoying the benefits firsthand through the use of propane powered vehicles and supplying and servicing customers such as school districts and municipalities.

fs-propane-truckBecky Borkgren, GROWMARK’s Propane marketing and technical services manager, is a vocal advocate in her new propane powered pickup truck. “I love this truck. It is bi-fuel and is equipped to run on gasoline or propane,” said Borkgren. “We worked with Hendrix Industrial Gastrux located in Wauconda, IL to install an Icom North America liquid injection system. It’s all “plug and play,” meaning this system eliminates “splicing and dicing” of parts and minimizes the risk of errors.”

The industry refers to overall savings as “total cost of ownership” because fuel expense is only one component affecting the bottom line. Savings can be attributed to less fuel consumed, less maintenance, reduced oil consumption, less electricity to plug in diesel engines, and no diesel exhaust fluid.

Visit www.fspropane.com to learn more about the FS System and Propane Autogas.

USDA Predicts Big Corn and Soybean Crops

USDAUSDA is forecasting the third largest corn crop on record and the second largest soybean crop in a new planted acreage update released today.

U.S. growers are forecast to produce 13.7 billion bushels of corn this year, according to the report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That is actually a four percent decrease from last year’s production, but if realized will be the third largest production on record. The numbers are up 156 million from the July projection, with the season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast at 168.8 bushels per acre, 2.0 bushels higher than last month’s projection.

Overall, the report says that growers nationwide planted 88.9 million acres to corn, unchanged from the June estimate. As of August 2, 70 percent of U.S. corn was reported to be in good or excellent condition, three percentage points below the same time last year.

U.S. soybean growers are now forecast produce the second largest crop on record although one percent less than last year. NASS forecasts U.S. soybean production of 3.92 billion bushels with a yield of 46.9 bushels per acre, which would also be the second largest on record, down 0.9 bushels per acre from the record set in 2014. Growers are expected to set new record-highs in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Virginia.

The new World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimate also released today increased usage of corn for ethanol from 5.225 million bushels to 5.250 million and lowered the average corn price estimate for the year five cents to $3.35-3.95 per bushel. “With the lower prices, domestic demand should kick up,” said analyst Jack Scoville of the PRICE Futures Group during the Minneapolis Grain Exchange call on the report. “Which will make ethanol that much more attractive in the corn … definitely should help biofuels consumption.”

MGEX Crop Call with Jack Scoville

Celebrating a Decade of Success with the RFS

2005-energy-billAugust 8, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) containing the original Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) being signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The signing ceremony took place at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where President Bush noted that the bill he was signing into law would “…lead to greater diversity of fuels for cars and trucks. The bill includes tax incentives for producers of ethanol and biodiesel. The bill includes a flexible, cost-effective renewable fuel standard that will double the amount of ethanol and biodiesel in our fuel supply over the next seven years. Using ethanol and biodiesel will leave our air cleaner. And every time we use home-grown fuel, particularly these, we’re going to be helping our farmers, and at the same time, be less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

ethanol-report-adRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen remembers that day very well, particularly the support that the new law had from the oil industry. “It would not have happened without the support of the American Petroleum Institute,” said Dinneen. “They wanted out of MTBE, they wanted to have an argument in court that would protect them from the lawsuits against MTBE, so they were supportive of a growing market for renewable fuels.”

However, Dinneen notes that the oil industry underestimated the ability of farmers and the ethanol industry to gear up and produce such significant quantities of the domestic fuel that they surpassed the original goal of 7.5 billion gallons for 2012 six years early. “The program was an immediate and overwhelming success … and it led to RFS2 being passed in 2007,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen recounts the success of the RFS over the past decade and how it has changed energy, economic, and rural policy in this edition of The Ethanol Report. Ethanol Report on RFS 10th Anniversary

Bikers Line Up for Free 10% Ethanol

sturgis-15-bikersFrom the Midwest to Mexico, the west coast to the east coast, every state and various countries – bikers of all stars and stripes love the word free, especially when it comes to fuel for their rides. That made the fourth annual Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) “Free Fuel Happy Hours” a big draw at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground this week.

RFA pumped 1,872 gallons of 93 octane, 10 percent ethanol in four days this week for bikers in town for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Many bikers came back every day to fill their tanks, as they spent their days traveling through the beautiful Black Hills. RFA also gave away lots of free t-shirts, coozies, and information about how E10 is approved for use in any motorcycle – not any higher blends.

We talked to a few of the bikers who came through to fill up, including a guy from Mexico City, a farmer from Wisconsin, and others from Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Interviews with bikers filling up with E10

2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos