Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has proclaimed May “Renewable Fuels Month”. The aim is to recognize the benefits the ethanol and biodiesel industries have provide the state. Nebraska is home to 25 ethanol plants making it the country’s second largest ethanol producing state behind Iowa. There is currently one biodiesel plant producing 50 million gallons with a second plant located in Beatrice, Nebraska expected to go online this year.
“Renewable biofuels have absolutely transformed the economic landscape in Nebraska,” said Ron Pavelka, a farmer from Glenvil and chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board. “The additional demand for Nebraska commodities created by renewable fuels production has created a new market for farmers, generated significant investment and tax revenue in rural communities, and created good paying jobs in areas of the state that really need them.”
David Merrell, a farmer from St. Edward and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, noted, “The growth of renewable biofuels has helped reduce our nation’s dependence on imported petroleum, reduced prices at the pump and provided greater choice for consumers. But perhaps the most important benefit of these fuels is their dramatically positive impact on the environment and on human health.”
For example, Merrell says adding biodiesel to the tank reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent and reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 86 percent compared to diesel fuel. The 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel used in 2015 reduced the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by 18.2 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 3.8 million cars from the road or planting 466 million trees. In addition, Merrell explains that ethanol is a non-toxic, clean-burning fuel that dramatically reduces the level of toxics added to gasoline to increase octane, including proven and suspected carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and xylene.
“Since these toxics do not completely combust in the engine, they enter the atmosphere through exhaust emissions and are directly connected to cancer, heart disease and asthma in humans,” Merrell added. “The more ethanol we add to gasoline, the lower the levels of these harmful toxics in the air we breathe.”
Argent Energy’s new biodiesel plant located in Cheshire, UK will be adding new wastewater treatment technology. Once in production, the biorefinery will use waste fats, oils and greases (FOG) to produce biodiesel. By adding the WPL Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) wastewater treatment system, WPL says the plant will be able to reclaim more of the waste fats for conversion to biodiesel while producing less waste. Today Argent Energy supplies biodiesel to thousands of buses across the UK.
The new biorefinery is being built in an industrial area where the facility will be close to its feedstock – waste from food and wastewater industries. the DAF technology will enable more FOG feedstock to be removed from the wastewater stream.
Andrew Haywood, utility and industrial sales manager of WPL said, “The WPL DAF system will become an integrated part of this brand new biofuel processing plant which is being built on a brownfield site. One of the exciting things about being part of this project is that the fats, oils and grease, which are separated from the wastewater by the WPL DAF system, will be channelled back into the biofuel plant – so the solid waste will effectively be recycled.”
Haywood added that utilizing waste greases, oils and fats is becoming a trend whereas rather than seeing it as waste, it is now being viewed as a resource. He also noted that while the DAF system is typically used in water treatment plants, the technology is also beneficial in other industries such as the biodiesel industry.
Tequila CAZADORES, part of the Bacardi portfolio, is now using a biomass boiler to produce biofuels in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Surrounded by spiky blue-leaved agave plants, they are used to make the liquid and power the distillery. The new boiler is 100 percent biomass fueled and the company says its a model of forward-thinking, eco-conscious ingenuity. The “waste” from the production of the top-shelf spirits is used in the boiler. The ashes produced during the burning process are then used for composting, a sustainable means of improving soil quality.
In some regards, the term “biofuel” is a bit misleading. Prior to its final stages, biofuels are actually liquor such as vodka or in this case tequila. In the Tequila CAZADORES distillery, about 60 percent of the biofuel is used to produce the tequila. This creates about 11,000 tons a year of spent agave fibers. The remaining 40 percent the biomass is comprised of nearly 8,000 tons of carbon-neutral, renewable fuel sources such as clean waste wood, biomass briquettes, sawdust, coconut shell, and tree cuttings.
“Global climate changes have the potential to affect Bacardi and the production of our brands. Understanding these realities, we are continuing our focus to minimize environmental impacts companywide,” said Eduardo Vallado, vice president of supply chain and manufacturing for Bacardi in the Americas. “Our Good Spirited initiative is part of our legacy, vital to our growth and sustainability, and this biomass boiler changeover in Mexico, one of many to come, represents our steadfast commitment to our customers and consumers to make the best quality spirits in the most responsible ways.”
The new biomass boiler replaced two fossil-fuel dependent boilers that used 2,000 tons of heavy fuel oil each year. This move is just one element of Barcardi’s “Good Spirited” philosophy of producing the highest quality products in the most sustainable ways.
Advanced renewable fuels companies Aemetis and Edeniq have entered into a definitive agreement for Aemetis to acquire all of Edeniq’s outstanding shares in a stock plus cash merger transaction. Under the terms of the agreement, Aemetis expects to issue between one and two million shares of its common stock plus cash to be paid over the next five years in an amount of up to $20 million in exchange for all of the issued and outstanding shares of Edeniq.
“The acquisition of Edeniq will further Aemetis’ plan to lead the deployment of technology to transition traditional biofuels plants into the production of valuable advanced biofuels, upgrading the existing infrastructure found at the 210 ethanol production facilities operating throughout the United States,” said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, Inc. “Edeniq has commercially deployed its patented cellulosic ethanol technology at a number of leading US ethanol companies, and coupled with Aemetis’ extensive biorefinery operating expertise, we expect to enhance this technology to expand cellulosic feedstocks and to increase yields. We believe Edeniq’s technology offers compelling advantages to existing ethanol operators to increase profitability without purchasing additional feedstock.”
According to Edeniq, it’s patented technology is commercially proven, with 29 of its Cellunators installed in 6 US ethanol plants. The company has also signed several license agreements for its Pathway technology, which integrates the mechanical Cellunator equipment with cellulase enzymes to convert corn kernel fiber to cellulosic ethanol.
“We believe that joining with Aemetis will enable Edeniq to accelerate the deployment of the Pathway technology to the ethanol industry,” said Brian Thome, president and CEO of Edeniq. “The Edeniq team is also excited to be able to work day-to-day alongside the Aemetis team to enhance our technology through optimization and innovation at the Aemetis ethanol plant.”
Upon completion of the transaction, Edeniq will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aemetis. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur during the second quarter.
National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe has left the organization to pursue new opportunities. Jobe had been with the organization for nearly 20 years. He started with NBB in 1997 and was named CEO in 1999. In that time, he helped lead the industry from 200,000 gallons of biodiesel use to over 2 billion gallons projected in 2016. The NBB Board of Directors thanked Jobe for his years of service, and wished him best in his future endeavors.
“I want to thank the National Biodiesel Board for giving me the opportunity to work in an industry that is helping to change the world,” said Jobe. “I love this industry – the hard working people, the visionary leaders, and the product that I will continue to use every day. Now is a good time for me to pursue a different path. Biodiesel is positioned to lead the carbon reduction goals of the nation and I can’t wait to see what biodiesel does next.”
NBB says they stand ready to continue to advance their members’ interests by creating sustainable biodiesel industry growth – as they have been doing for over twenty years.
It’s never too early to share the benefits of ethanol with children and to get them interested and excited in science. Guardian Energy is doing just this and recently hosted a Take Your Child to Work Day. The activity intentionally took place on national Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work day.
“What a terrific way to have our staff engage with their kids and actually show them what it is they do every day. In addition, we are all very proud of the work we do to provide a clean, efficient, alternative to petroleum-based fuel and this event offered a great educational opportunity as well,” said Mike Jerke, CEO of Guardian Energy.
The Guardian Energy plant, with a nameplate capacity of 130 million gallons per year and located in Janesville, Minnesota, is a locally-owned ethanol plant and is one of three ethanol plants operated by Guardian Energy Management. The other two plants are in Hankinson, North Dakota and Lima, Ohio. Guardian Energy’s Take Your Child To Work Day was held concurrently at the Hankinson and Lima plants.
Among the activities at its first Take Your Child To Work Day included a briefing on Guardian Energy’s operations, a tour of the ethanol production facility, experiments to understand ethanol as well as some games.
For Jeremy Staloch, the wide-array of activities planned for the children were impressive. A shift leader at Guardian Energy, Staloch brought his son, Riley, 13, and daughter, Destiney, 7. “I personally thought it was great and really liked how it all went. There was a little something for everyone. I myself enjoyed giving the tour to the kids and tried to find as much hands on stuff as possible,” Staloch added, I was surprised at the questions I got from some of the younger kids.”
Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa, has produced and shipped several tank cars of cellulosic ethanol even as the plant is ramping up to its full 20 million gallon-per-year capacity. Last year’s startup phase yielded great experience that will benefit subsequent plants and the learning continues each day as POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels works to make cellulosic ethanol in the most efficient way possible.
According to POET, the start-up phase that lasted more than a year, has yielded good experience that will benefit future plants. This learning, the company says, continues daily as the POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels team work to make cellulosic ethanol even more efficient.
POET-DSM’s process uses corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk as the feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. The feedstock is harvested by local farmers and transported to the plant for processing. Besides ethanol, Project LIBERTY produces biogas from its anaerobic digester and steam from its solid-fuel boiler to produce power to run its own processes and export energy to the adjacent grain-based ethanol plant.
The unofficial first day of summer is fast approaching, Memorial Day, and people around the country will begin to hit the beaches and boats. To educate people about the safety of using E10 in marine craft, the Renewable Fuels Association has launched a boating campaign. The first ad appeared in the latest issue of Mariana Dock Age, which is delivered to most marina around the country. Going forward the campaign will include educational outreach and additional ad placements.
“There has been a lot of misinformation perpetuated by biofuel opponents surrounding boating and ethanol,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “For nearly 30 years, 10 percent ethanol (E10) has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers, including Honda, Mercury Marine, Kawasaki and Johnson/Evinrude. As a bonus, ethanol’s higher octane ratings increase engine performance, in addition to it also being the lowest-cost, cleanest-burning fuel on the planet.
“E10 is safe for marine engines. Period. Any organizations that say otherwise are not telling the truth,” Dinneen added.
RFA is also cautioning that while E10 is approved for use in all marine engines, higher ethanol blends, such as E15, are not – E15 is only approved for vehicles 2001 or newer. EPA requires E15 and higher ethanol blends to be clearly labeled at the pump, and mandates that E10 also be available at any station offering E15. So aware boaters need not be concerned. Through more than four years of E15 sales, there has not been a single case of E15 misfueling in a marine engine.
National 4-H participants had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to discuss the role of #bioenergy in a global, sustainable energy system.
The roundtable discussion included three key bioenergy areas:
- The potential of algal biofuels.
- Hydrogen production from biomass for use in fuel cells.
- Utilizing biogas (primarily a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial decomposition of organic materials in the absence of oxygen) systems to produce electricity, heat, and vehicle fuels.
The roundtable participants also shared perspectives on the importance of bioenergy in their local communities and offered suggestions on how BETO could engage more with youth in the community.
The group emphasized the importance and need for energy literacy in helping people make informed decisions on energy use through an understanding of impacts and consequences. One recommendation from the students is to use social media as a platform to engage the public on these topics—a goal the students are already working towards by developing a video short entitled “Bioenergy Grows Here,” which is intended to provide an overview about the use of bioenergy in a changing energy landscape. Overall, the DOE says the roundtable provided a great opportunity for the students to share their ideas and perspectives with a group of federal decision makers.
The.U.S. has become a #MillionSolarStrong. According to a new report from the George Washington Solar Institute the solar industry has installed more than a million solar projects and is on an accelerated path toward 2 million. In tandem with the report, the solar industry has launched a #MillionSolarStrong and recognizes rooftop and utility-scale reports alike.
“The idea that we are celebrating a million solar installations in this country is remarkable, given we had just a couple thousand when I started here a dozen years ago,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This accomplishment is made all the more stunning with the projections indicating we will hit 2 million installations before the end of 2018. Our meteoric growth is driven by the fact that solar is one of the lowest cost options for electricity and it has been embraced by people who care about the environment and want to choose where their energy is coming from.”
Key points from the George Washington Solar Institute report are that:
- Installation costs for solar have dropped more than 70 percent in the last decade;
- Solar jobs have grown more than 123 percent in the last five years, making solar one of the bright spots in the economy; and
- The million installations have cut enough carbon to equal all of Oregon’s emissions.
The #MillionSolarStrong social media campaign features photos and videos from people throughout the state who are involved and support solar power.