Renewable Diesel Maker Neste Teams with Boeing

Neste_logo_pmsA leading producer of renewable diesel is teaming up with the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer to move forward the green fuel for aviation. This news release from Neste says it and Boeing will work toward American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) fuel standard approval allowing the commercial use of high freezing point renewable aviation fuel by airlines.

Neste anticipates that its high-quality renewable aviation fuel could help the aviation industry to achieve its greenhouse gas saving targets: carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a net reduction in carbon emissions of 50% by 2050 compared to 2005.

“Airlines and airplane manufacturers are undertaking several initiatives to lower the industry’s carbon footprint, and renewable aviation fuel will be a key part of their long-term environmental solution,” says Kaisa Hietala, Neste’s Executive Vice President of Renewable Products. “We are very excited to work with Boeing, in order to help create a commercially viable market for renewable aviation fuels”.

“Boeing is proud to collaborate with Neste, a global leader in renewable fuel production, to meet our shared goals of expanding the supply and reducing the cost of sustainable aviation biofuel,” says Julie Felgar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Managing Director of Environmental Strategy & Integration. “The aviation industry is committed to making air travel more sustainable.”

In 2014, Boeing successfully tested Neste’s renewable aviation fuel in a 15% blend with petroleum jet fuel in the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787, a test airplane that assesses technologies that can reduce aviation’s environmental footprint. The 787 made an initial flight with this biofuel blend in one engine, followed by several flights with the biofuel blend in both engines. Based on its test flights, Boeing reported that “the airplane performed as designed with the renewable jet blend, just as it does with conventional jet fuel”.

Texas A&M Developing Biofuel, Forage Crop

jessupamResearchers at Texas A&M University are developing a crop that will double as a bioenergy and livestock forage source. This news release from the school says Dr. Russ Jessup, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research perennial grass breeder in College Station, is introducing a new biofuel-biomass feedstock hybrid that is a hybrid “similar to seedless watermelons, seedless grapes and other sterile triploid crops.”

Jessup is utilizing two grass species: pearl millet, a grain crop, and Napier grass, which is a very high-biomass crop that can be crossed to make progeny that are sterile triploids in the field.

“This is a dual-use crop with a low seed cost, high yield potential and quality perennial biomass suitable for both forage and dedicated biofuels,” he said. “So in light of current downtrends in oil prices, this crop can stand on its own as a forage crop in the interim, until that reverses.”

As a high-quality forage crop, Jessup said, it is sterile in the field but has seeded parents, unlike sugarcane that has to be planted from stocks.

To produce this hybrid he started with the larger seeded but shorter pearl millet to give it quality, large seeds and drought tolerance. Pearl millet is native to Africa and can be more drought tolerant than even sorghum, he said.

Then he crossed it with Napier grass, a closely related cousin of pearl millet that is grown in Africa for cut-and-carry silage and high biomass fodder.

“You can cross these two species and get ample seed off of the pearl millet parent,” Jessup said.

Canadian Province Puts in More Biomass Burners

canada flagThe government of a Canadian province is putting in more biomass burners at government facilities. This article from The Guardian says Prince Edward Island will have seven more biomass installations to go along with the 13 already in place at government properties.

“Biomass heat is a local, renewable, carbon neutral resource, and government is leading the way for biomass heat,” said [Energy Minister Paula Biggar].

Prince Edward Island’s total energy mix is made up of approximately 10 per cent biomass energy.

Biggar says Island biomass installations have displaced 2.4 million litres of fuel oil, which resulted in a reduction of 6,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas and cost-savings of more than $200,000 since 2012.

The installations planned for 2016 could result in a further reduction of 2.6 million litres of fuel oil and 7,200 tonnes of green house gas, per year.

One tonne of biomass chips can produce up to four megawatt hours of heat, which displaces approximately 580 litres of fuel oil.

The biomass is harvested through selective thinning of forests.

Gevo, ValvTect Bring Isobutanol to Marinas

gevoAfter September’s announcement that Gevo would be selling isoubutanol for boats on a lake in Missouri, Gevo now says it will collaborate with marine fuel additive supplier ValvTect to bring the renewable fuel to ValvTect branded marinas.

With a distribution network of over 700 marinas, believed to represent more than half of the marinas in the U.S., this collaboration provides Gevo with access to marinas that currently utilize ValvTect additives. In addition, this partnership is expected to open the door for Gevo and ValvTect to continue the expansion into additional marinas, which will look to provide high-performance gasoline blends comprising Gevo’s renewable isobutanol and ValvTect’s additives.

Gevo’s announcement comes after a series of tests were run using clear (ethanol-free) gasoline that was combined with 16 percent isobutanol and ValvTect’s marine fuel additive. The results proved the compatibility of the combination.

When used in marine fuel, the tests indicate that Gevo’s isobutanol provides higher energy content than ethanol blends, prevents moisture absorption and phase separation and reduces engine corrosion. In addition, Gevo’s isobutanol was recently endorsed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). ValvTect marine fuel additives are formulated to improve fuel quality, enhance engine performance and extend engine life.

“We are impressed with the quality of Gevo’s isobutanol fuel blend,” said Marvin Griffin, President of ValvTect. “When combined with ValvTect’s marine fuel additive, you’re looking at a final product that we believe is a superior fuel for boat engines. This is a winning scenario for all parties – ValvTect, Gevo, marinas and boating enthusiasts alike.”

US Biodiesel Maker Looks to Build Jamaican Plant

HEROBXAn American biodiesel producer is looking at building a refinery in Jamaica. This article from Caribbean News Now says if HERO BX is able to make its ambition come true, it could be the Caribbean’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant.

The plant would be a boost for Jamaica’s renewable energy programme and would have a multi-industry impact, as biodiesel uses feedstock such as waste oils from the Hospitality Industry and plant feedstock from the agricultural industry. The investment would also be a significant source of employment and could empower the government to benefit from the sale of biodiesel produced on the island, which would operate as the hub of HERO BX’s Caribbean operations.

Glen F. Garth, native-born son of Jamaica and executive vice president of US consulting firm, Garth Solutions Inc., is representing HERO BX. He said that Jamaica has received top billing for the development of the plant due to the country’s strategic location, amongst other factors.

“The location of Jamaica strategically in the Caribbean basin, the access to a quality, educated labour force, the access to all of the benefits that are available due to commitments made by the Jamaican government to encourage foreign direct investment are all factors. Those attributes are what first attracted our attention and have further strengthened our interest in siting a biodiesel hub in Jamaica,” he said.

Garth also praised the country’s strong national energy policy and renewable energy sub-policy, saying those components were seen as favourable and increased the company’s interest in Jamaica.

Minister of industry, investment and commerce, Anthony Hylton said that Jamaica has been receiving more investment interest due to steps being taken by the government to improve Jamaica’s economy and business environment.

Hylton said, “This robust investment climate and investment in a variety of sectors in the economy is the result of work across government to improve the business environment, facilitate economic growth and create opportunities for job creation.”

HERO BX is based out of Erie, Pennsylvania and has the largest biodiesel plants east of the Mississippi River, producing 50 million gallons per year.

Maryland Students Off to School with Propane

Jubbs Blue Bird ROUSH CleanTech Bus1Some students in Maryland are making their way to school on a bus fueled by propane autogas. Anne Arundel County students boarded the first school bus fueled by propane autogas in the state of Maryland when the Blue Bird Vision Propane bus, from contractor Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc., went into operation.

“With the rising costs of diesel maintenance and our interest in incorporating green technologies, it was time to explore our options,” said Randall Jubb, president of Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc. “We are the first contractor in Maryland to offer a school bus fueled by emissions-reducing propane autogas to an area school district — and we have plans to transition 20 percent of our fleet to autogas in the future.”

The new Blue Bird Type C bus, equipped with a Ford 6.8L V10 engine, replaces an older diesel bus. A propane autogas fuel system manufactured by ROUSH CleanTech powers the bus.

Historically, propane autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-operating properties. Currently, Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc., pays almost 45 percent less for propane autogas compared with diesel.

Sharp Energy installed an onsite autogas fuel station with 1,000-gallon capacity. The infrastructure can expand to 4,000 gallons as the need arises.

“We are proud to partner with a forward-thinking company like Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc.,” said Brian Carney, group account director for ROUSH CleanTech. “They’re joining over 500 other school districts nationwide experiencing the benefits of propane autogas technology: lowering operating costs, maintenance costs and emissions.”

The bus is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 1,200 pounds and more than 30 pounds of particulate matter each year compared with the diesel bus it is replacing.

Biofuels Groups Blast House Hearing on RFS

uscapitolBiofuels backers say a U.S. House Science Committee had very little to do with science in regards to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Congressional committee met on the 10th anniversary of the RFS, and Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, said the committee has a history of misrepresenting biofuels, relying on misinformation and outright lies to cast a negative light on an American success story.

“Today’s hearing was nothing more than a coordinated attack against biofuels. Minus a few open-minded individuals who examined this issue based on facts, not pre-determined bias, this hearing did nothing to reflect the overwhelming contributions of the RFS…

“With regards to the environmental benefits of ethanol, the facts are clear. According to Argonne National Laboratory, – an objective national laboratory – ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when the highly controversial and disputed theory on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) is factored into the modeling. Furthermore, Argonne has found that without ILUC included, ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 57 percent compared to gasoline.

“It is unfortunate that the Science Committee missed an opportunity to provide an unbiased examination of the RFS. Instead, the Committee – which has no jurisdiction over this policy – continued to present a misguided agenda to smear biofuels, hosting several witnesses that fabricated information on the impact biofuels have on food prices, the environment and the American economy. This treatment of homegrown American fuels is insulting to the hardworking Americans across our country who are helping fuel our energy independence.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said “Big Oil’s narrative opposing the RFS no longer has any currency.” Continue reading

Indy Zoo Cages Oil Beast with Biodiesel

Student feeds giraffe1Petroleum can be a real beast for consumers and the environment, but a place that knows a bit about keeping wild beasts in check is using biodiesel to cage its oil usage. This story from WFYI says the Indianapolis Zoo is turning leftover cooking oil into the green fuel.

At the Zoo’s café, Manager Pat Cummings drops an order of fries into the deep fryer. “The oil we actually use, we turn into the zoo and they use to power their vehicles,” Cummings said.

That’s the gist of a new program that’s fueling the zoo’s conservation mission. It has been working with Cummins for about five years to create the biodiesel initiative, and just recently produced its first couple batches to fuel the small utility vehicles it uses.

Nora Fletchall, supervising VP of operations for the Indianapolis Zoo, says the project is in line with the zoo’s mission to encourage people to live greener lives.

“We want to be a model for that, so this is a program that helps us to talk to the public about what we are doing but also engage them in conversations about what they can do as well,” Fletchall said.

Behind the scene’s at the zoo’s fuel station, Jack Bow, Indy Zoo’s director of facilities, says the process is pretty simple.

“We’ll pump it into our processor, we’ll add our catalyst to go with it, basically methanol and potassium hydroxide, it’s heated up and then eventually it will turn into the biofuel we’re using,” Bow said.

The zoo uses about 4,000 gallons of diesel right now. The project could replace 500 gallons of that with biodiesel.

Vertimass Gets US Gov’t OK for Biofuel Tech

vertimass1A California company received U.S. government approval for its technology that will be able to blend more biofuels with gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. This news release from Vertimass says the technology validation allows the company to get a new award of $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office.

Vertimass technology was originated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists invented novel catalysts that convert a wide range of alcohols including ethanol and butanol into hydrocarbon blend stocks that can be used in existing gasoline, diesel and jet engines without modifications. Additionally, this process can produce renewable chemicals including benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX). Thus, Vertimass technology offers a new pathway that can enhance use of biomass-derived renewable fuels that lower greenhouse gas emissions and decrease U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil. Co-production of BTX and other chemicals can enhance profitability.

“We are excited to clear this critical milestone with the Department of Energy and can now take the next step toward scaling up this novel technology,” said Dr. Charles Wyman, Vertimass president and chief executive officer. “This technology validation further proves the effectiveness and novelty of this technology, and through this DOE award, we intend to work with Technip to ready the technology for introduction into existing and emerging ethanol facilities within two years, thereby significantly expanding the market for renewable transportation fuels.”

“We are very pleased to receive third-party validation of this technology as part of the DOE award so we can now rapidly move to commercialization,” said Bill Shopoff, Vertimass chairman. “We believe this technology will have significant impacts in the renewable plastics and fuels spaces, especially in contributing to attaining Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) targets for advanced fuels and Federal Aviation Administration goals of one billion gallons of renewable jet fuel by 2018.”

Vertimass officials point out their simple, one-step process can be easily bolted onto existing ethanol production facilities, resulting in low capital costs.

Ethanol Producer Green Plains to Buy Texas Refinery

greenplainsNebraska-based ethanol producer Green Plains says it will buy an ethanol refinery in Texas owned by fuel retailer Murphy USA. This news release from Green Plains says it will pay Hereford Renewable Energy, LLC approximately $93.8 million, including $78.5 million for the ethanol production facility with the balance for working capital.

The facility is a Lurgi-designed, ICM-modified ethanol plant with approximately 100 million gallons per year of production capacity, a corn oil extraction system and other related assets.

“The Hereford facility has many strategic and financial advantages over other destination plants because of its location, leading to both export and domestic market opportunities for ethanol and distillers grains,” commented Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains. “Because it is located near the largest concentration of cattle in the world, with over a million head of cattle fed within a 50-mile radius, the plant can produce a low carbon intensity fuel which is typically sold for a premium to ethanol produced at most other plants.”

Andrew Clyde, president and CEO of Murphy USA, added, “The Hereford facility has become a high-performing facility and we want to recognize the commitment of the Hereford employees who executed the two-year turnaround plan and established a track record of consistent, strong performance. Their commitment created the opportunity for us to attract a prominent, long-term focused buyer such as Green Plains who can build on the progress demonstrated to date at Hereford. This transaction reinforces Murphy USA’s strategic intent of selling our non-core assets in a manner that captures the most value for our shareholders.”

The facility uses a shuttle unload technique that can unload 40,000 bushels of corn per hour, a double-loop track that holds two unit trains at a time and a grain handling system with more than 4.8 million bushels of storage. The plant also has 4.5 million gallons of ethanol storage capacity.