USDA Turning Wildfire Fuel into Biofuels

usda-logoThe fuel for wildfires is being converted to biofuels. This posting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blog says the agency is tackling the issue of what to do with the trees killed by bark beetles, a source of fuel for forest fires. While the huge bioenergy resource (projected to be 46 million acres) has potential, it faces some real challenges, including access to industrial centers able to process it into biofuel. Several USDA programs look to overcome that issue.

One such program, the Sustainable Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR), is led by Colorado State University. BANR brings together scientists, educators, and extension specialists from universities and government agencies to work with industry partners to address the major challenges that impact economical and sustainable utilization of insect-killed trees for the production of biofuels and biochar.

Because collecting beetle-killed trees is more of a salvage operation than a harvest, BANR has created teams to address the various challenges. The first order of business is locating the feedstock, which BANR does through various sensing approaches. They will also develop models to predict future beetle infestations. Another team is tackling the logistical problems of harvesting, collecting, transporting, and storing the raw biomass without negatively impacting natural forest regeneration and water resources. Specifically, goals for this aspect of the operation include benchmarking the performance of equipment used to harvest, process, and deliver beetle-killed trees, and then optimize the logistics for site conditions, specific end uses, and facility locations.

USDA also wants to educate youth by developing middle and high school science units that focus on bioenergy; professional development for K-12 teachers; research opportunities for K-12 teachers and undergraduate students; and online coursework for undergrads, graduate students, and K-12 teachers.

Massachusetts Town Preps for $4 Mil Biodiesel Plant

co-op powerA Massachusetts town is making final preparations for a $4 million biodiesel plant. This story from WWLP 22News says hundreds of families in the town of Greenfield have invested in the Co-op Power project.

The plant will be able to collect and recycle used cooking oil to produce 3 and half million gallons of biodiesel fuel per year. That fuel will then be used for heating, construction equipment and transportation.

However, Co-op Power, which is the company building the plant, says they need to raise about 850,000 dollars more to make this plant a reality.

The CEO of the company told 22News, the inspiration behind this plant is the need for sustainable energy production, “Yea, this plant here is owned by hundreds of families in the region and we got together and decided that a biodiesel plant was one of the most important things we could do to help us transition to a more sustainable future,” said Lynn Benander, Northeast Biodiesel Company.

Co-op Power will have an update on the project later this week. The company hopes to raise all the money it needs by June 1st.

Report Details Use of Biodiesel in Heating Oil

noraA new report details how biodiesel could play a significant role in heating oil in the U.S. The congressionally mandated report, titled, “Developing a Renewable Biofuel Option for the Home Heating Sector” from the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) says ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) has been one of the biggest transitions in heating oil, and biodiesel blends at 20 percent (B-20) with ULSHO are lower in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) than natural gas when evaluated over 100 years, while blends of 2 percent (B-2) or more are lower in GHG than natural gas when evaluated over twenty years.

Other key findings in the report include:

– Biodiesel blended at 5 percent would require approximately 300 million gallons of biodiesel produced per year. Assuming the biodiesel industry average of 50 million gallons per year per plant. Bioheat® would be responsible for 6 plants built and continuously operated. Thus, nearly 270 full time jobs can be directly attributed to Bioheat®.
– Studies on the operation of Bioheat® on the basic burner operation with biodiesel blends at B-20 (at least) is the same as with unblended heating oil.
– NORA (the Alliance) and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) have communicated the value of using biodiesel and selling Bioheat®. The Alliance features information about Bioheat® on its consumer website, OilheatAmerican.com. The NBB has a webpage, Bioheatonline.com that describes the advantages of Bioheat®. Further, the Alliance and its affiliated state associations have worked to provide education on this product to consumers and retail oil companies through the use of mass media and informational brochures.
– State and local governments have utilized a number of strategies to encourage the use of biofuels in their communities. It is often necessary to encourage its use with incentives or mandates to develop the infrastructure and overall market acceptance for a new fuel.

Novozymes Talks Flexibility for Ethanol at FEW

Novozymes_logo_leftNovozymes, our sponsor for coverage at the upcoming Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), June 1 – 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be talking about the company’s flexible solutions to increase ethanol plant profitability and achieve operational goals during FEW. Novozymes invites everyone to stop by its booth #1021 and chat with its knowledgeable team.

Get a sneak peek at Novozymes Bioenergy University – an online training platform to help you boost your operators’ competencies
Play Ethanol Challenge – our fun, interactive new game that explores ethanol production (each day’s top scorer wins an iPad, and everybody who plays gets a prize!)
Fuel your own engine at the Common Ground Cafe – our coffee bar

We also encourage you to join Novozymes in the following FEW sessions:

Yield maximization: propagation and fermentation optimization
Presenter: Derek Payne, Research Associate

Tues., June 2, 1:30-3 p.m.
Track 1: Production and operations
Exploring best practices for yield maximization Continue reading

Making More Sustainable Ethanol at FEW

celleratesyngentaAttendees of the upcoming Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), June 1 – 4, will have the chance to learn about the next leap forward for ethanol production, as Syngenta presents: Cellerate – a revolutionary ethanol process technology that converts corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol.

Quad County Corn Processors CEO Delayne Johnson will discuss Cellerate as part of, “Grabbing that Next Rung: Advanced Ethanol Production for Existing Starch Producers.” Don’t miss his presentation:

When: Tuesday June 2, 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Where: Room 101 DEFG

Syngenta also invites you to stop by booth 701 at FEW to learn how Syngenta is making ethanol more sustainable by integrating Cellerate process technology and Enogen corn enzyme technology.

E15 Comes to Orlando

protecfuelThe Orlando, Florida area is getting its first offering of the higher blend of ethanol, E15. Biofuels distributor Protec Fuel and Kissimmee Citgo have teamed up to launch the 88-octane fuel at the station at 3297 S. John Young Pkwy in Kissimmee, which already sells E85 and B20 biodiesel fuel.

“We are extremely excited to be the first in Central Florida to offer this additional grade of alternative fuel,” said Ken Allen, president of Mid-State Energy, Inc., “and offer our customers more choices as it comes to fueling. This vacation destination is especially prime with all the rental cars that can run on E15, and even E85.” Mid-State Energy, Inc. owns and provides fuel for this station.

These are part of Protec Fuel’s station rollout of dozens of E15 sites to metropolitan areas that include various cities in the South and Southeast. This is the fourth location under Protec to open in Florida.

The news was also welcomed by ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate Protec for bringing higher performing, lower cost fuel options to more consumers in Florida. Protec recognizes that E15 is a win for both retailers and consumers, and its ongoing efforts to find new locations to offer the homegrown renewable fuel shows that it is a leader in the marketplace.

“The demand for E15 is strong, and it is great to see E15 expand its footprint in Florida. It is clear, with the growing presence of E15 that when consumers are given the choice, they will choose the less expensive fuel that is better for their engines and our environment – one that creates jobs in America and reduces our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

Buis pointed out that E15 is compatible with more than 80 percent of the cars on the road today, as millions of miles have been driven on E15 without a single issue.

Biodiesel Board Ad Campaign Showcases Success

nBBA new ad campaign from the National Biodiesel Board is showcasing the success of the green fuel from coast to coast. The “Biodiesel is Getting Us Where We Need to Go” campaign celebrates biodiesel’s benefits that touch cities and towns, fields and farms, water and air.

“Biodiesel shows that forward-looking energy initiatives work to promote new ideas and innovation that deliver results,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “We have a lot to be proud of and want to showcase to leaders in Washington and around the nation the environmental, economic, and energy benefits biodiesel brings right to their communities.”

The 30 second commercial will air on national television networks, as well as on select local broadcast outlets and cable news programs throughout the summer.

The digital campaign includes banner advertising and a 15 second version of the television commercial presented as a pre-roll to programming on news platforms and as openers to videos on YouTube. Radio and print focused on target areas will round out the comprehensive campaign, anchored by a re-launched website (www.americasadvancedbiofuel.com) that provides videos featuring how biodiesel is making a difference in from coast to coast.

The campaign complements NBB’s efforts to support biodiesel growth through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and is funded by the United Soybean Board, State Soybean Checkoff Boards, U.S. Canola Association, and the National Biodiesel Board.

Biofuels, Nat Gas Boost Nonpetroleum Usage Levels

Petroleum is still tops in transportation fuels, but biodiesel, ethanol and natural gas have taken the biggest bite out of its share since 1954. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says the numbers harken back to when coal-fired steam locomotives were declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.
nonpetroleumconsumption
After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.

Military Adds Biodiesel Quality to Fuel Contracts

nBBThe U.S. military has added a quality requirement to its biodiesel buys. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says the Defense Logistics Agency is letting suppliers know that biodiesel must be certified as coming from either BQ-9000 producers or BQ-9000 marketers.

“As the US military continues to move towards more sustainable, American-made fuels, it’s extremely important that they purchase the highest quality fuel possible,” said National Biodiesel Board Technical Director Scott Fenwick. “The inclusion of the BQ-9000 requirement ensures our military bases and others DLA supplies will be able to use biodiesel seamlessly in their operations.”

As America’s combat logistics support agency, DLA provides the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, other federal agencies and partner nation armed forces with a full spectrum of logistics, acquisition and technical services. DLA sources and provides nearly all of the consumable items America’s military forces need to operate – from food, fuel and energy to uniforms, medical supplies and construction material. In 2014, they supplied 100 million barrels of fuel.

The BQ-9000 program is a unique combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

AF Academy Candidates Test Their Biodiesel

AFAThose who one day will go off into the wild blue yonder had a chance to test some green fuel – biodiesel. During the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School’s Dean’s Challenge, cadet candidates tested their biodiesel to learn the applied chemistry of making and using the fuel.

During the Biodiesel Run off, 49 teams tested their alternative fuel made of vegetable oil by racing model cars providing by faculty.

“It’s a practical application of chemistry,” said Kevin McGregor, Prep School Science department head. “Students learned crucial concepts throughout the year on alternative fuels and had a week to prepare their own fuel.”

The competition included 13 preliminary rounds, a semi-final and final round. The winning team crossed the 55-yard course in seven seconds, according to McGregor.

“The cars were identical but the teams loaded their fuel,” he said.

Other activities during the Dean’s Challenge included a Poetry Slam and a Knowledge Bowl.