McD’s Cooking Oil Biodiesel Runs to Mars and Back

UAEflagBiodiesel made from McDonald’s used cooking oil in the United Arab Emirates hit an impressive milestone: running the equivalent of the distance to Mars and back. This article in the UAE’s The National says McDonald’s UAE fleet completed 5 million kilometres this month fueled entirely by biodiesel. The green fuel is possible thanks to a four-year partnership between Mickey D’s and Dubai-based biodiesel producer Neutral Fuels.

Sixteen vehicles collect cooking oil from McDonald’s 135 outlets up to twice a day, which is then converted into a renewable fuel, or biodiesel.

It is the first quick service restaurant in the Mena region recycling all of its “waste cooking oil for refuelling the company’s logistics fleet to transport its goods throughout the emirates”, said Rafic Fakih, managing director and partner at McDonald’s UAE.

Each litre of cooking oil can make about one litre of biodiesel, according to Karl Feilder, chairman of Neutral Fuels. And the price matches what customers would pay at the pump, although the company declined to comment on wholesale prices and discounts for providing the feedstock.

McDonald’s is not the only company using the alternative fuel. Neutral Fuels says there has been an increase in biodiesel purchased in the UAE, doubling sales each year for the past three years.

This month, the company produced and sold 400,000 litres of biodiesel to hotels, restaurants, transport companies, schools and for power generators.

Neutral Fuels’ one biodiesel refinery in the UAE produces about 120,000 gallons per month.

Researchers Sequence Algae Genome for Biodiesel

chrysochromulinaResearchers at the University of Washington have sequenced the genome for a type of algae and found important information for biodiesel production. This news release from the school says the scientists sequenced the complete genetic makeup of the important and plentiful algae, known as haptophytes.

“Haptophytes are really important in carbon dioxide management and they form a critical link in the aquatic foodchain,” said senior author and UW biology professor Rose Ann Cattolico. “This new genome shows us so much about this group.”

The haptophyte Cattolico and her team studied is Chrysochromulina tobin, and it thrives in oceans across the globe. The researchers spent years on a series of experiments to sequence all of Chrysochromulina‘s genes and understand how this creature turns different genes on and off throughout the day. In the process, they discovered that Chrysochromulina would make an ideal subject for investigating how algae make fat, a process important for nutrition, ecology and biofuel production.

“It turns out that their fat content gets high during the day and goes down during the night,” said Cattolico. “A very simple pattern, and ideal for follow-up.”

She believes that that these extreme changes in fat content — even within the span of a single day — may help ecologists understand when microscopic animals in the water column choose to feast upon these algae. But knowledge of how the algal species regulates its fat stores could also help humans.

“Algae recently became more familiar to the general populace because of biofuel production,” said Cattolico. “We needed a simple alga for looking at fat production and fat regulation.”

The research was published Sept. 23 in the online, open-access journal PLOS Genetics.

On #givingTuesday, Give to Biodiesel’s Future

NBFTomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1, is what is known as Giving Tuesday, a day during this time of year when you are asked to give to charitable causes. The National Biodiesel Foundation asks you consider giving to the future of biodiesel.

Interested in helping young scientists get involved with biodiesel? Your donation to the National Biodiesel Foundation on Giving Tuesday, December 1, will do just that. This year’s proceeds specifically support the Next Generation Scientists/Dallas Hanks Memorial Fund. NBF is proud to announce that your donation on Giving Tuesday will go further through a generous matching donation. Please make this unique opportunity count.

More information on the fund and how to donate to it are available here.

Nanoparticle Helps Harvest Algae, Brew Biodiesel

ntuResearchers in Taiwan have made a magnetic nanoparticle for harvesting microalgae, extracting algae oil and converting the oil’s fatty acids into a methyl ester, used in biodiesel. This article from the Taipei Times says a National Taiwan University (NTU) team led by Wu Chia-wen developed the product.

The team used iron oxide and silicon dioxide to form nanoparticles, which, when applied to algae solution, magnetically attract algae and convert their fat into biodiesel with an alkaline-based catalyst, Wu said.

Traditional algae-harvesting methods require large amounts of energy to break down cell walls, but the team’s nanoparticles effectively convert algae oil to biodiesel with a maximum yield of 97.1 percent of the oil’s fatty acid methyl esters, compared with existing methods, which yield less than 60 percent, Wu said.

Microalgae contain the highest fat content among biomaterials commonly used to produce biofuel, so microalgae has replaced corn and barley as a favored source for the industry.

Referring to the past few years’ food safety and tainted oil scandals, NTU president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) said that nanoparticles can also turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel.

Heating Oil Assoc. Helps Teach About Biodiesel

BronxBioheatThe Big Apple is getting a little smarter on biodiesel heating oil. The New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA) says it’s helped a Bronx teacher get Bioheat into his HVAC training.

Peter Gonzalez is teaching the science of Bioheat® fuel – as well as math, chemistry and English – to 17 Bronx Design and Construction Academy juniors this fall, with NYOHA’s support. In addition to arranging for 150 gallons of pure B100 Bioheat® fuel and equipment to be donated by AMERIgreen Energy and Schildwachter Oil Company, Rocco Lacertosa, NYOHA’s CEO and a member of the school’s HVAC Advisory Board, recently visited the classroom to speak directly to the students.

“New York City has mandated a 2 percent biodiesel blend, and one of the things I’m trying to do is educate the students on Bioheat® fuel and the importance of the industry going green,” Gonzalez said.

During the classroom session, NYOHA helped the students gain insider views of the Bioheat® fuel industry. Lacertosa spoke about work opportunities in Bioheat® fuel companies, and AMERIgreen Energy’s Michael Devine provided an in-depth look at the environmental benefits of Bioheat® fuel as well as the fuel’s appeal to consumers. Peter Schildwachter, of Schildwachter Oil Company, also visited the class and donated new equipment.

“We are very proud to support the excellent work that Peter Gonzalez is doing to help prepare New York City students for a future in the Bioheat® fuel industry,” said Lacertosa.

Gonzalez has devised a curriculum of exploration in which his HVAC class learns through experimentation and reporting. The students are blending small quantities of heating oil and biodiesel and paying careful attention to the blend ratios. They burn various Bioheat® fuel blends up to 99 percent biodiesel in heating equipment and use combustion analysis tools to profile the emissions at each level.

New Exec Committee at Nat’l Biodiesel Foundation

nBBThere’s a new Executive Committee for the National Biodiesel Foundation. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said the group was elected during the NBB’s recent fall directors meeting in Washington, D.C., and the foundation is designed to advanced initiatives important to the commercial biodiesel industry.

Industry representatives elected to the board include:

– President: Mike Cunningham is currently a director on the American Soybean Association Board, representing the state of Illinois. Mike is a corn and soybean farmer from Bismark, Illinois. He has been involved with soybean association work at both the state and national level since 2002.

– Vice President: Mark Caspers is currently serving as a director on the United Soybean Board and recently completed a 12 year stint as a director on the Nebraska Soybean Board. He is a fourth generation family farmer operating a diversified crop operation on 600 acres in southeast Nebraska.

– Secretary/Treasurer: Jeff Lynn is from Oakford, Illinois and is a director for the Illinois Soybean Association as well as a trustee for Chandlerville Township in Cass County, Illinois. He is part of a family farm dating back to 1833 that includes corn, soybeans, and seed soybeans.

John Heisdorffer, Matt Jaeger, and David Womack retired their executive committee positions but will continue to serve on the Foundation board.

“We thank them for their dedication to the Foundation and biodiesel education and research over the years,” NBF Executive Director Tom Verry noted. “Their efforts have significantly impacted the growth of this industry.”

Propane Council Unveils Farm Safety Site for Kids

PERCouramazingfarmA new website is giving kids more information about how to be safe around propane on the farm. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) unveiled the interactive site – – that includes fun and educational videos, science experiments, and activities aimed at children ages 12 and under.

Our Amazing Farm,” the latest addition to the site, features a series of entertaining 5-minute science experiment videos to support PERC’s national agricultural safety initiative. The video series, titled “Science Rocks,” is designed to engage young minds while providing a resource grounded in science to be used by both parents and educators.

The videos explain fundamental principles relating to propane, a ubiquitous energy source in rural America. Other features of “Our Amazing Farm” include hands-on, age-appropriate, interactive activities that teach kids about grain bin safety, fire extinguishers, static electricity management, and other important topics. The videos use common household items – and the site offers printable instructions – to enable teachers and parents to share the lessons at school or home.

Developed by PERC with funding from CHS Inc., the national agricultural safety program promotes the videos and e-learning elements with the aim to improve safety on America’s farms. All components are available free of charge and are directly accessible by educators, the public, and any organization wishing to offer the tools through their own websites.

“We expect these videos to become valuable tools for kids, families, businesses, and schools to help prevent accidents and improve safety around the farm,” said Stuart Flatow, PERC’s vice president of safety and training.

Iowa Biodiesel Plant to Get $38 Mil Expansion

AGPAn Iowa biodiesel plant will get a $38 million expansion that will just about double the refinery’s output. This article from the Sioux City Journal says Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) is moving forward with the project just south of the city with some help from local and state incentives.

“This expansion reflects our commitment to the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers as we continue to invest in this important value-added market,” AGP CEO Keith Spackler said in a statement Friday.

The Port Neal facility was the nation’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant when it opened in 1996. The plant currently produces up to 30 million gallons per year.

The biodiesel expansion is complementary to the co-op’s plans announced early this year to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery at the rural Woodbury location, said chief operating officer Cal Meyer.

At separate meetings Friday, the county and state adopted a package of incentives to help finance the biodiesel expansion, which is expected to create three new jobs.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority in Des Moines approved $308,000 in added incentives, with $24,000 in loans and $280,000 in increased tax credits.

Earlier this year, the state board approved $152,000 in forgivable or interest-free loans and $810,000 in various state tax credits for the vegetable oil plant, which is expected to create 20 new jobs. Friday’s action boosts the state’s total package to $1.27 million.

AGP is the world’s largest farmer-owned soybean processor.

Camelina Serves Biodiesel and Bees

Camelina is pulling double duty as a biodiesel source and a cover crop. And this article from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is also keeping bees well fed.

usda-ars-camelina[S]cientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that its flowering period can provide honey bees and other insects with a critical, early-spring source of nectar and pollen that’s usually unavailable then. This is especially true in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, where about one-third of the nation’s managed bee colonies are kept from May through October.

The researchers observed that fields of winter camelina and winter canola (another alternate oilseed crop) produced about 100 pounds per acre of nectar sugar over the course of a two- to three-week flowering season. That quantity, produced in such a short time, is enough to support the annual energy requirements of a typical bee hive, which is 100-200 pounds of sugar per year, according to Frank Forcella, an agronomist with ARS’ Soil Management Research Unit in Morris, Minnesota. He participated on a team of ARS and university scientists which evaluated the attractiveness of camelina, canola and a third oilseed crop—pennycress—during two years of outdoor field trials.

Highlights of the team’s findings—reported in the June 2015 issue of Industrial Crops and Products—are: Continue reading

Propane Expands Production, Use Options

nafb-15-percPropane is expanding in production and the options for its use. During the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) convention in Kansas City, Missouri, Cindy caught up with Cinch Munson from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) who said that there are 102.4 million barrels of propane in storage right now – a nearly 30 percent increase from a year ago. He credited strong production and a mild grain-drying season for the big inventories right now.

“We’re most of the way through harvest, and most of the grain that has come in is pretty dry,” he said, adding a possibly warm winter ahead could make the situation even better for consumers. “Propane prices right now are very good. So it’s a really good time for rural homeowners and ag operation owners to consider what they should do about this.”

Munson said new propane engines offer lots of advantages, especially in the ag markets. He added the positive supply outlook for propane and its domestic, environmentally friendly profile, as well as more machinery running on the fuel, make propane a great choice. Munson said consumers should talk to their local dealers or go to PERC’s website for more information.

“You really owe it to yourself to look at what’s out there.”

Cinch Munson, Propane Education and Research Council