Fuel Marketer: Fed Tax Break Helps Biodiesel Price

An Indiana-based oil exploration, production, refining and marketing company (including biodiesel) says reinstatement of the federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel blenders credit is helping make the green fuels competitive with non-renewable petroleum products.

CountryMark of Indianapolis says biodiesel blended fuel prices at the farmer-owned cooperative are reflecting the difference the credit is making:

“The biodiesel blender tax credit of a dollar per gallon has biodiesel blended fuels very competitive in the marketplace,” says Jon Lantz, CountryMark Vice President of Marketing. “In light of this change, we encourage fuel buyers to talk with their local cooperative about biodiesel-blended fuels.”

Biodiesel-blended fuels reduce dependency on foreign oil and are good for the environment. These are benefits and values consumers have been looking for and with the change in the tax credits, these fuels and associated benefits are available at a competitive price. We, in the CountryMark system, are looking forward to delivering these all-American biodiesel blended fuels, Lantz added.

CountryMark Member Cooperatives will be working diligently to reach out to school transportation directors, municipalities, county highway departments, fire departments and emergency vehicle managers in the coming weeks to talk about the benefits of B20 and the new prices which have been reduced by the passage of the biodiesel blenders tax credit.

Last year, CountryMark bought 750,000 gallons of biodiesel for blending and hopes to blend 3 million gallons of B100 into diesel fuel this year.

USDA Matches Biofuels Facilities with Feedstocks

The USDA is working on matching the best places to build biofuel refineries with the areas that have the best feedstocks to produce the green fuels.

This Agricultural Research Service article says they’ve been looking at the potential in the Pacific Northwest:

[ARS] agronomist George Mueller-Warrant, plant physiologist Gary Banowetz, and hydrologist Jerry Whittaker calculated that the 6.2 million tons of straw left over from the production of Pacific Northwest cash crops could be used to produce more than 430 million gallons of biofuel. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

The scientists, who work at the ARS Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit in Corvallis, Ore., revised a statistical approach that had been developed by other site analysts to identify the best locations for commercial and public facilities.

Then the team used the revised program to calculate the number of biofuel conversion facilities that could be supplied by the average annual straw yield, and identified the best locations for the conversion facilities so that the costs of transporting straw could be minimized. Straw is a high-bulk, low-density commodity, which adds to the expense of moving it from field to market.

The team ran its calculations for facilities that had three different scales of annual production. Small-scale facilities could process 1,100 tons of straw, medium-sized facilities could process 11,000 tons of straw, or large-scale facilities could process 110,000 tons of straw.

Even discounting the amount of straw needed to be left on the fields, ARS researchers’ results found there would be enough feedstock for 6,200 small facilities, 660 medium facilities, or 64 large biofuels facilities.

New Energy Technologies Finds Power IN the Roads

Usually we talk about alternative energy being used on the roads, but this time, I’d like to introduce you to a technology that harvests energy FROM the roads.

Continuing my conversation from yesterday with New Energy Technologies’ President and CEO John Conklin, he tells us today about MotionPower, that captures the kinetic energy produced by moving vehicles.

“If solar and wind energy can be used to generate electricity for commercial and residential use, we began to wonder, ‘why can’t automobiles and trucks?'”

Conklin says more than 250 million vehicles drive about 6 billion miles each day on this nation’s roadways, providing a great feedstock for this new technology. Only about 15 percent of the energy in transportation fuels actually moves the vehicle; the rest is lost to the moving parts of the engine. And of the 15 percent, 10 percent of that is lost to the rolling resistance known as braking. Capturing that lost energy is the basis of the MotionPower technology.

He adds that MotionPower is really divided into two types of energy-capturing technologies: one that uses a mechanical treadal-type of system that generates the electricity from a deceleration area, such as an off-ramp or a low-speed road area; and the other that uses a peristaltic system that pushes a fluid through the mechanism to take advantage of wave motion energy generation (which would be used more commonly with heavy-duty trucks).

“With kinetic energy being related to mass and velocity, we can develop systems to target low-speed automobiles, high-speed automobiles and heavy trucks,” Conklin explains.

Conklin says these technologies are very close to being installed in our roads and sees 2011 as key to his company’s commercialization efforts.

Listen to more of my conversation with Conklin here: John Conklin, New Energy Technologies, part 2

WI Biodieseler Putting in 24-Hour Pumps, Hybrid Truck

As part of a bigger expansion plan, a biodiesel maker from Wisconsin is adding a 24-hour biodiesel fueling station, as well as using a truck that runs on biodiesel with an electric backup.

SunPower Premium Cold Flow Biodiesel‘s Cumberland, Wisconsin station will have B11, B20 and B99 blends available plus a winter additive to increase engine performance:

“The owners of SunPower Biodiesel are ecstatic that the dream of locally grown fuel – available to the public – is now a reality for the people of Northwest Wisconsin,” said SunPower CEO Ron Ruppel. “We welcome all consumers to try our fuel, and are confident that all will agree that locally grown diesel fuel is superior to all the other available diesel fuels in our marketing area. We envision the day when none of us in rural America will be held hostage to imported oil!“

Any equipment, machinery or vehicle that normally runs on traditional diesel fuel can run on biodiesel, a cleaner-burning and renewable form of fuel. SunPower’s biodiesel has a higher cetane rating, has 10 times the lubrication properties, and produces up to 50% less emissions than petroleum diesel fuel–making it a greener fuel alternative that is just as efficient as petroleum diesel. In a 60,000 gallon market test, SunPower’s biodiesel users reported more power, cooler-running engines and increased mileage. SunPower also uses biodiesel in its fleet, and recently added a hybrid diesel truck that uses biodiesel and an electric-back up. The new hybrid truck has an increased fuel economy of 20-30 percent, and meets emissions, anti-idling and noise regulations. The purchase of the truck and fueling station equipment was made possible with substantial funding from the Wisconsin Clean Transportation Program and is the first of its kind in the state from the Wisconsin Kenworth dealership.

Company officials say the new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) is helping SunPower move forward with this expansion.

Farm-based Missouri Oil Company to Grow Biomass

Missouri-based MFA Oil Company, a farmer-owned cooperative, has partnered with Aloterra Energy to form a biomass venture.

This MFA press release says the new company, MFA Oil Biomass LLC, will pay about 1,700 family farmers to grow miscanthus for use as a biomass fuel and possibly ethanol in the future:

[T]he 2008 Federal Farm Bill created the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), a federally‐funded initiative that encourages the development of renewable energy sources. MFA Oil Biomass will synergistically combine the benefits of growing miscanthus as a renewable energy source with the BCAP incentives that encourage farmers to grow a biomass crop.

“After researching several biomass crops, including switch grass and giant reed, we decided Miscanthus giganteus provided the best opportunity for creating a viable energy source,” explains MFA Oil Co. President Jerry Taylor. “As good fortune would have it, Aloterra had done its own research and had come to the same conclusion.”

“Initially, we plan to pelletize the miscanthus output for power generation,” says Scott Coye‐Huhn, director of business development for Aloterra Energy. “However, the possibility of using it to produce ethanol in the future is vast, since it is projected to produce three times more gallons of ethanol per
acre than corn.”

The first priority for MFA Oil Biomass is to secure BCAP funding. Under current guidelines, BCAP will reimburse farmers up to 75 percent of planting costs and pay an annual rent payment while farmers wait for their crops to mature. Once the crops mature, farmers will be eligible to receive two years of matching payments for their tonnage, up to $45 per ton beyond the selling price. Land that is currently in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is excluded from the program.

So far, MFA has signed up about 250 farmers to grow more than 12,000 acres of miscanthus and hopes to eventually have that number up to 150,000 acres.

National Biodiesel Foundation Silent Auction Raises $50K

Biodiesel outreach, education, research and demonstration activities have gotten a big boost as the National Biodiesel Foundation‘s 3rd Annual Silent Auction netted nearly $50,000 during last week’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Phoenix.

The Foundation is also recognizing Cima Green Energy Services for a very generous $25,000 donation at the opening of the auction:

Executive Director of the National Biodiesel Foundation (NBF) Tom Verry was pleased with the auction results. “The generosity of both donors and bidders this year shows the level of commitment and optimism of the future of the biodiesel industry,” said Verry. “We are thrilled to see the auction grow each year. With donations like those from Cima Green Energy Services and our other donors, we are now able to contribute significantly toward industry goals.”

Funds raised by the 2011 Silent Auction will support Foundation goals and activities for the coming year such as Biodiesel Sustainability Awareness. This program includes vital research contributing to the fuel’s long-term sustainability, such as lifecycle analysis, land use analysis, and water usage. Other programs it supports include Bioheat Education and Infrastructure Development. The Bioheat market alone represents potentially seven million biodiesel gallons annually. Infrastructure Development is another program supported by the NBF. This program includes jet aircraft testing, installing 150 biodiesel terminals nationwide and environmental certifications.

To make a donation or for more information about the National Biodiesel Foundation, check out its website: www.biodieselfoundation.org.

Air Force C-17s Certified for Unlimited Use of Biofuels

The big, beautiful cargo plane you see here is the C-17 Globemaster III, capable of bringing in everything from beans to bullets, as well as taking to war and bringing back home the men and women who serve our country so proudly. And U.S. Air Force officials have certified it for unlimited usage of biofuels, more specifically, hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuels, the first aircraft to receive such a certification.

“This certification marks the Air Force’s first platform to be fully certified using an HRJ blend,” said Dr. Kevin Geiss, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy. “This marks a significant achievement for the Air Force, our alternative fuel certification office and our partners in both industry and across the Department of Defense.”

The certification for usage of HRJ biofuel blended with petroleum-based JP-8 fuel represents part of ongoing efforts by Air Force officials to certify and test biofuels from non-petroleum sources.

The move to certify the fleet using the HRJ blend of fuel represents the Air Force’s commitment to assuring the supply, no matter the source, meets the service’s required standards, and demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to reducing its dependency on foreign sources of oil, Dr. Geiss added.

“We’re very proud of this certification,” said Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. “By using a ‘pathfinder’ approach, we’ve taken the success of our processes developed in our previous alternative fuel certifications work and learned how to efficiently streamline our HRJ certification efforts, while guaranteeing the fuel blend will work without notable difference to the pilots.”

According to Jeff Braun, the Air Force’s alternative fuel certification office chief, the blended fuel evaluation that combined additional analyses from Boeing, Parker ESD and Pratt & Whitney resulted in no significant differences in engine stability, thrust response or engine steady-state performance.

This means that C-17s will be able to fly on a 50 percent mix of the biofuel when using JP-8, the military’s long-time standard fuel for aircraft and a 25 percent blend of HRJ when mixed with synthetic paraffinic kerosene fuel (25 percent) and JP-8 (50 percent). Officials say there will be no need for any aircraft modifications or special handling with the blends.

New Energy Tech. Debuts SolarWindow Application

A Maryland company has taken a big technological step forward in the solar power generation field. New Energy Technologies has announced it has moved up to a 12″x12″ square of a spray-on type of coating, known as SolarWindow. While a 12″x12″ square doesn’t sound very big, it wasn’t very long ago the company was working with areas smaller than a grain of rice and hopes to soon be able to use SolarWindow on a large scale, such as an office building.

In the first in a two-part series with New Energy Technologies (tomorrow, we’ll talk about the company’s MotionPower technology to get energy from the movement of cars and trucks on highways), I talk with John Conklin, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies about this breakthrough. He says this milestone is part of their road map toward commercializing this new technology.

“Part of that road map was our committment to not only commercializing but also expanding the way by which we are going to be applying the types of solar window we are going to be installing,” says Conklin. To that end, New Energy has spray applied the coating and produced the 12″x12″ working array. He said that coating should help eliminate some of the more brittle, and expensive materials usually used for solar energy. The lower cost liquid is see-through and can be applied to a window at room temperature without the use of high-vacuum, important to making it commercially viable.

Conklin says this electricity-generating coating works in natural, artificial and low-light conditions, making the solar array much more flexible. “Under very low-light conditions, such as an early morning or late day, it gives us the ability to produce electricity,” giving them the option of placing the photovoltaic material on east and west faces of structures, as well as the interior light in the entire building envelope, increasing the area on a building able to produce electricity.

Conklin can’t give specifics about when they hope this technology will be commercially viable, but he says 2011 will be a very productive year for New Energy.

You can hear more of Conklin’s remarks here: John Conklin, New Energy Technologies.

Plus, I’ll have part two of my conversation with him about New Energy’s MotionPower right here tomorrow.

HyperSolar Makes Thin Solar Concentrator Prototype

Innovative solar cell maker HyperSolar has completed a prototype design of its new thin solar concentrator.

As you might remember from my post from Oct. 26, 2010, the company is focusing increasing solar cell output by magnifying the sun’s rays:

Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar, commented, “Our ultimate goal is to develop an inexpensive and thin solar concentrator for use in replacing expensive solar cells in conventional flat solar panels. After a year of intense research and development, we are excited to report that we have finally achieved a prototype design that we believe can be refined into a commercial product. While this initial prototype is designed to provide 300% light magnification, we are aiming for at least 400% in our final commercial product.”

The company anticipates the commercial version of the HyperSolar concentrator will be approximately 1 centimeter thick and will be applied as the top sheet on flat solar panels. The initial prototype will be a single micro-concentrator module fabricated at a larger size to facilitate testing and validation of its real-life performance. Once the photonic and optical characteristics of the micro-concentrator module are validated and refined, the design can be easily miniaturized for use in the mass production of the commercial version HyperSolar concentrator.

HyperSolar officials say their concentrator will reduce the number of solar cells necessary in a panel by 75 percent.

Biodiesel Board Offers RFS2 Webinars

The new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) will require at least 800 million gallons of biodiesel are used this year … and how petroleum refiners and importers and distillate distributors get to that number will be the subject of a series of free webinars offered by the National Biodiesel Board.

NBB officials say the 90-minute webinars, entitled “RFS2 Ready: Biodiesel Producers Ready to Meet 2011 RFS2 Requirements,” will offer information on how to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 volume requirements and will be tailored for each region of the country:

Exclusive biodiesel market analysis will also include:
• Month-by-month, gallon-by-gallon outlook for 2011 biodiesel supply and demand
• Risk management and pricing strategies utilized for RINs compliance
• Federal, state and PADD-specific legislative policies driving biodiesel demand
• New end-user markets pushing biodiesel sales

New England, Central Atlantic, and Lower Atlantic
Date: April 7, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Date: February 24, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. CST

PAD District 3: Gulf Coast
Date: March 31, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. CST

PAD District 4: Rocky Mountain
Date: March 24, 2011, Thursday
Time:10:00 a.m. MT

PAD District 5: West Coast
Date: March 10, 2011
Time: 10:00 a.m. PT