San Francisco to Use Renewable Diesel in City Fleet

leeSan Francisco is converting its city fleet to renewable diesel. This news release from Mayor Edwin Lee’s office says the city expects great savings on harmful emissions as it phases out petroleum diesel.

“By changing our fleet’s fuel from petroleum to renewable diesel, we’re taking action that is good for the global climate, and at the same time promotes environmental justice in our community by leading to cleaner, healthier air for some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lee. “And, because of the State and Federal governments’ incentives to producers to manufacture low carbon fuels, this switch can potentially reduce our City’s fuel costs. The City of Saint Francis is answering the Pope’s call for local action on global climate change.”

Mayor Lee made the announcement in Vatican City at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences’ Modern Slavery & Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities conference, joining Pope Francis, Governor Jerry Brown, representatives of the United Nations and mayors and local governors from around the world to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery – two pressing, interconnected issues highlighted in the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’.

“By switching to renewable diesel for the entire municipal fleet, the City is providing real solutions to climate change that helps San Francisco reach our ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable future,” said City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

San Francisco started on the path of transitioning away from petroleum diesel and using cleaner forms of diesel fuel a half-dozen years ago by transitioning to a blend of biodiesel. Currently, most of the municipal fleet uses B20, 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel.

Bi-Partisan Group of Senators Want Biodiesel Growth

nBBThirty-six U.S. senators from both sides of the political aisle urged the Obama administration to strengthen biodiesel volumes in a pending Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal from the EPA. The National Biodiesel Board welcomed the call.

“While the proposal is a positive step for biodiesel, we remain concerned that the proposed biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 fail to adequately recognize the domestic biodiesel industry’s production capacity and its ability to increase production,” the senators wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials. “Biodiesel is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial scale production nationwide. It is exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support in 2005, while creating jobs, generating tax revenues, reducing pollution, and improving energy security. We urge you to support continued growth in the domestic biodiesel industry by making reasonable and sustainable increases in the biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 in the final rule.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) led the letter, which was signed by Democrats and Republicans from 24 states.

“We want to thank Sens. Grassley, Murray, Blunt and Heitkamp for their leadership on this effort, as well as all of the senators who supported it,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs. “It’s not every day that you have Republicans and Democrats from such a diverse group of states uniting around an issue like this. We hope the EPA and the White House will listen and improve this proposal before it is finalized later this year.”

The current RFS proposal calls for a gradual rise in biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.

Renewable Tax Credits Before Committee

grassley-head1A Senate committee will consider a package of tax credits for wind, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa included the tax incentives in the bipartisan tax extenders bill the Finance Committee will consider today.

“Certainty and predictability in tax policy are both important for retaining and creating jobs,” Grassley said. “The Finance Committee leaders deserve credit for getting an early start on extending tax provisions. The energy items not only help support jobs. They also support the renewable energy that consumers want for a cleaner environment and energy independence. The higher education deduction helps families and students afford college.”

The inclusion of the wind energy provision comes after Grassley urged the committee chairman to include it, noting it deserves a fair shake compared to many long-standing tax provisions benefiting non-renewable energy sources. Grassley authored and won enactment of the first-ever wind energy production tax credit in 1992. The incentive was designed to give wind energy the ability to compete against coal-fired and nuclear energy and helped to launch the wind energy industry. He has worked to extend the credit ever since.

Renewable production tax credit. Under the provision, taxpayers can claim a 2.3 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit for wind and other renewable electricity produced for a 10-year period from a facility that has commenced construction by the end of 2014 (the production tax credit). They can also elect to take a 30 percent investment tax credit instead of the production tax credit. The bill extends these credits through December 31, 2016.

Cellulosic biofuels producer tax credit. Under the provision, facilities producing cellulosic biofuels can claim a $1.01 per gallon production tax credit on fuel produced before the end of 2014. The bill would extend this production tax credit for two additional years, for cellulosic biofuels produced through 2016.

Incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel. The bill extends for two years, through 2016, the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel, as well as the small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill also extends through 2016 the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass.

REG Upgrading Illinois Biodiesel Plant

REGRenewable Energy Group is investing $31 million to upgrade and enhance the company’s Danville, Illinois biodiesel refinery. This company news release says the improvements will add biodiesel distillation capabilities to the 45-million gallon nameplate capacity biorefinery, as well as making pretreat capacity improvements, along with storage, logistics and other optimization enhancements.

“REG Danville already has a proven record of success as part of our network of multi-feedstock biorefineries,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and CEO. “Enhancing the capabilities here, as we have done at several of our other plants, can allow REG to provide greater volumes of lower cost, lower carbon, higher quality advanced biofuel to our customers that increases energy security, food security and environmental benefits for North America.”

The distillation process removes impurities and leaves behind a pure form of biomass-based diesel that far exceeds industry quality standards, while meeting REG’s more rigorous REG-9000™ specifications. The fuel also performs better in colder temperatures.

“These upgrades increase this biorefinery’s strong and healthy appetite for lower cost, waste feedstocks which are sourced locally and regionally from our supply chain partners,” said Brad Albin, Vice President, Manufacturing.

REG bought the Danville biorefinery in 2010. During the upgrade, 80-100 full-time contract workers will add to the current 34 full-time workers at the plant.

This is the sixth major biorefinery enhancement REG has undertaken since late 2012, following completed upgrades at their Albert Lea, Minnesota, Seneca, Ilinois, Mason City and Newton, Iowa biodiesel plants and ongoing improvements at the Company’s renewable hydrocarbon diesel biorefinery in Geismar, Louisiana.

Santa Monica Converts Buses to Natural Gas

bigbluebus1The City of Santa Monica, California, is the one of the first municipal transit systems to convert its fleet to renewable natural gas (RNG). This news release from Clean Energy says it is supplying the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the Big Blue Bus fleet.

Big Blue Bus has been fueling its LNG and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet of motor coaches with fuel supplied by Clean Energy since 2012. The process of harvesting and processing Redeem™ provides a product that has fewer impurities than conventional natural gas and is a cleaner burning fuel source.

“City Council has voiced its support for non-fracked, sustainable sources of fuel, and Redeem™ delivers a fuel made entirely of waste; a more sustainable product at an equal cost. This makes BBB’s partnership with Clean Energy to use the Redeem™ fuel a win-win solution,” said BBB’s Transit Director, Ed King.

“Big Blue Bus is a leader in sustainability and our ability to partner with it and provide a completely recyclable natural gas fueling option helps reduce emissions locally and shows other cities the power in using Redeem™ renewable fuel,” said Peter Grace, Clean Energy’s senior vice president for sales and finance.

Enogen Corn for Ethanol Growers to Get Rebates

syngentaGrowers of Syngenta‘s Enogen corn, especially designed for ethanol production, will get rebates on some of their agricultural equipment. Chief Agri/Industrial Division will provide Enogen corn growers rebates on grain bins and other equipment.

A growing demand for high ethanol-yielding grain is creating the potential for corn growers to increase their income per acre. Earlier this year, Syngenta introduced the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution (EGQS), an initiative that includes agronomic protocols and best practices specifically designed to contribute to higher yields, improved grain quality and more ethanol per bushel.

“Grain quality requires attention to detail,” said Roger Townsend, President of Chief Agri/Industrial Division. “The goal should be to minimize quality deterioration at each step of production and during postharvest. We look forward to working with Enogen growers to help them maximize grain quality and return on investment.”

“Corn is the single biggest input cost for an ethanol plant, and ethanol yield per bushel is one of the biggest drivers of plant profitability,” said Guy Hartwig, head of Enogen grain operations at Syngenta. “Increasingly, ethanol plants are seeking not just clean, dry corn with little or no damage and foreign material, but also grain with quality characteristics that can maximize ethanol production per bushel, including more accessible starch. Chief’s industry-leading grain-handling technology and best-in-class customer service will help Enogen growers maximize profitability, while helping to support the ethanol industry.”

Chief’s stiffened bins have a great reputation for superior strength, durability and ease of installation. Greater access to technology and expertise from Chief will enable Enogen growers to provide ethanol plants with more high-quality corn.

DuPont Signs Cellulosic Ethanol Deal with Chinese Co.

dupontchina1DuPont and Chinese company New Tianlong Industry Co. (NTL) have signed an historic deal that will bring cellulosic ethanol to China. This DuPont news release says the agreement allows NTL to license DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol technology and use DuPont Accellerase enzymes to produce renewable biofuel from the leftover biomass on Jilin Province’s highly productive corn farms.

Combining NTL’s ethanol production expertise with processing technology, technical support and world-class enzymes supplied by DuPont, NTL will be able to produce cellulosic renewable fuel for the rapidly growing Chinese liquid biofuel market, which is projected to exceed 1.7 billion gallons per year by 2020.

“As we bring online the largest and most sophisticated cellulosic facility in the world in the State of Iowa in the United States, we are simultaneously working with leaders who share the same vision of producing the next generation of clean renewable fuels in their region,” said Jan Koninckx, global biofuels leader for DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “We are honored to have found such a strong partner in NTL. The company’s reputation for producing world-class grain ethanol makes it a superior candidate to put DuPont’s advanced technology to work to realize the additional economic and environmental benefits of cellulosic biofuel in China.”

“With its history of scientific innovation, collaboration and commitment to the ethanol industry, DuPont is an ideal partner for New Tianlong in our quest to bring the cleanest renewable fuel on the planet to China,” said SUN Guojing, general manager of NTL. “We look forward to working with DuPont over the coming years as we develop the biomass supply chain, construct a world-class facility, and produce fuel that delivers on the promise of reduced pollution and greenhouse gases. This project will augment our current excellent grade ethanol offerings and business and will make NTL the preeminent biofuel product supplier in China.”

This deal is expected to fill China’s aggressive goals for renewable energy, cutting its reliance on foreign oil and increasing employment opportunities for its large rural population.

UNICA: Ethanol Cut 300 Mil Tons of CO2

unicaEthanol has cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million over the last 12 years. Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol industry group UNICA says to get the same results from growing trees, it would be necessary to plant and maintain over 20 years more than 2.1 billion native plants.

Hosted on the site ‘ Verde Ethanol ‘, the Carbonômetro indicates the high potential of sugarcane biofuel helped the country to mitigate CO2 more than the sum of the annual emissions of Argentina (190 million tonnes), Peru (53.1 million tons ), Ecuador (35.7 million tons), Uruguay (7.8 million tonnes) and Paraguay (5.3 million tons).

For the consultant on emissions and Technology of UNICA, Alfred Szwarc, the result shows that sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil is one of the cleanest energy alternatives commercially available worldwide.

“The reduction is quite significant. The data are of the same order of magnitude as the annual emission of CO2 from Poland (317 million tons), country considered one of the major global emitters of greenhouse gases, “says Szwarc.

The consultant notes that, despite its benefits, the global promotion of ethanol is still limited and needs more incentives, especially in Europe.

Alliance Autogas Obtains first EPA certification

AllianceAutoGasAlliance Autogas has obtained the first EPA certification for the new Ford Transit.

“Our order queue has been off the charts even when the certification was pending,” notes Ed Hoffman, president of Blossman Services. “The Ford Transit 3.7L Bi-Fuel autogas system conversion by far and away, is Alliances’ largest and most popular platform yet. The number of conversion requests exponentially exceed all prior platform conversion requests we’ve ever seen,” add Hoffman.

The Bi-Fuel system conversion on the Transit is precedent-setting in that no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring is required. The Ford Transit is the first engine to employ the “Plug and Play” technology, reducing installation time in half, and ensuring consistent performance.

Significant fuel cost savings of 35% or more are achieved without buying a new vehicle. The Bi-Fuel autogas system allows a fleet owner to operate wherever the fleet needs to be and eliminates range anxiety. Multiple tank options are available to meet all range requirements.

The Transit conversion is backed by the Alliance AutoGas 5-year,100,000 mile warranty. New conversions additionally come with the ultra-low emissions Staubli refueling nozzle, the safest and most efficient in the market.

Bacteria Can Help Boost Ethanol Production

noguera1Microbes play an important role in ethanol production, and researchers in the Midwest are finding a way to get more out of the little bugs to get the most green fuel out of feedstocks, especially waste materials. This news release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison says scientists there teamed up with Michigan State University researchers to create a process for making the work environment less toxic — literally — for the organisms that do the heavy lifting in turning biomass into cellulosic ethanol.

When industrious bacteria like Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Zymomonas mobilis and Escherichia coli go to work converting the sugar in corn stover and other plant-derived materials into ethanol, they also run into aromatic compounds, which, for these particular organisms, are toxic. This slows down the conversion process, a big problem in a field that needs to economize as much as possible to compete with fossil fuels.

“There’s about a billion tons of that biomass material that the U.S. could produce in a year, separate from food production,” says Daniel Noguera, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW-Madison. “If that material could be converted to just glucose, that would be perfect. But there are other materials that are part of the plants.”

Noguera — along with a team of chemists, microbiologists and engineers associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW-Madison — proposes sending in a sort of microbial cleanup crew to make things safer for the glucose-eaters.

The plan relies on Rhodopseudomonas palustris, a versatile bacterium that feeds on the aromatics but isn’t interested in the sugars. This offers an advantage over currently available chemical processes for removing the aromatics, which also remove some of the valuable glucose.