Car Clinic Expert Dispels Ethanol Myths

likis-smallA recent attack on ethanol by a so-called automobile expert has been answered by a true car maestro who knows the value of the green fuel. Bobby Likis of the Car Clinic Car-Talk Network blasted Lauren Fix and her claims against ethanol.

Yes, something needs to be fixed. And it’s not ethanol. What needs to be fixed is the egregiously incorrect perception of ethanol like that perpetuated by Lauren Fix, whether spurred by naiveté, ignorance or special interest. Ms. Fix’s mutations of the truth are analogous to clinging to “the world is flat” and are so insidiously woven through her interview that extracting and correcting all of the fallacies would take more than Columbus and his three little ships…

Likis stakes his 44 years of experience as an award-winning automotive service shop owner with more than 200,000 vehicles (from classics to hybrids) rolling through the bays; rear-end dragster / engine builder; car-talk host answering more than 100,000 car questions live on radio, television, web & social media against Fix’s spurious claims.

1. Perception / Myth / Ms. Fix:
Corn was not designed to run through engines; ethanol-blended fuels must have fuel additives to ensure burn (mentioning three brands specifically and stating that car owners need to add one of these additives to every tankful of E10); ethanol is so damaging that it is not used in race cars.

These overwhelming no-merit statements are not based on fact. Henry Ford’s first car “1896 Quadricycle” ran on E100 (100% ethanol). And Mr. Ford’s 1908 Model-T was America’s first Flex-Fuel car. E15 is the most tested fuel ever…to the tune of the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon (6 million miles). No discernable difference was found in engine wear between E15 and other test fuels in the tested model years (2001 and later). NASCAR powers its cars with E15 fuel (85% gasoline with 15% ethanol). Indy racecars run E98. Why 98% rather than 100%? Glad you asked. By adding 2% gasoline, pit crews would be able to see smoke in case there’s a fire. Ethanol burns so cleanly that 100% would be all but invisible to spot if a fire did break out, which can happen when cars going 225 mph run into each other or the wall.

Speaking of clean burning, ethanol replaced MTBE (which replaced lead in gasoline) as an oxygenate. By adding 10% ethanol to gasoline, many cities are able to reach clean air requirements that otherwise would not be possible. Ford’s EcoBoost and GM’s Ecotec engines thirst for high octane, and ethanol delivers. Thousands of car owners across America who drive high-performance (but non-flex-fuel) vehicles on the street want an E85 option. One example is my General Manager who owns a 2015 Subaru WRX STI diligently searched for E85. Why? E85 adds another 70 HP and 100 lbft torque to the existing 346 HP, all-wheel vehicle. Ethanol – with its 113 octane rating – is an enabler of power & performance.

Likis goes on to destroy Fix’s claims that ethanol destroys Air Mass Sensors and O2 Sensors, that the green fuel causes free-standing water in fuel, and that ethanol destroys engines.

So, the world is not flat. And egregiously incorrect perceptions of ethanol need to be fixed. We as a country need to be power-moving toward economic independence, superior engine design, cleaner air and fuel economy. A future which Facts show that Ethanol enables.

Ohio Biodiesel Plant Moves Forward

agro biofuels1A new biodiesel plant in Ohio is moving forward. This article from the Dayton Daily News says the planning commission in Carlisle approved zoning changes for Agro BioFuels and BioEnergy Inc. to build the refinery.

Gerry Smith, of Miller Valentine Group, said the more than $10 million project includes building the 6,800-square-foot plant on 10 acres near the end of Business Parkway. He said it will be the first facility of its kind in Ohio and at full capacity, it would be able to produce about 15 million gallons of biofuel a year…

He said Miller Valentine Group will design and build the facility.

“The property purchase is pending regulatory reviews, but the goal is to open by next summer,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be a great project.”

Village Manager Sherry Callahan told this news outlet that the Carlisle Business Park’s proximity to the Norfolk Southern rail line was an important factor that attracted Agro to that site in the village.

Callahan said the project’s re-zoning will be considered by Carlisle Village Council at an upcoming meeting. She said the bioenergy production plant will create 25 to 30 new jobs and a $1.5 million payroll.

Agro Biofuels and BioEnergy is a joint venture between Sim Agro Inc. and JatroDiesel along with other individual investors.

Algae Biomass Summit to Highlight Comm’l Potential

ABOScientists and industry innovators will be talking about the commercial potential of algae at the upcoming 9th Annual Algae Biomass Summit, taking place in Washington, DC. This news release from the Algae Biomass Organization says the summit happens Sept. 30th-Oct. 2nd and features nearly 30 oral presentations on the business strategies, technologies and sustainable production methods that are bringing to market algae-based products, such as fuels.

“The leaders of the algae industry and research community are gathering in Washington, DC for the very first time at this year’s Algae Biomass Summit to highlight the unprecedented progress we have seen in algae’s potential to impact a number of multi-billion dollar markets,” said Al Darzins, Program Chair for the Algae Biomass Summit. “Companies from around the nation, and the world, are unveiling new production and process technologies, new facilities, new purchase agreements and other milestones. The commercial potential of these projects in terms of revenues, jobs and production yields will be hot topics at this year’s summit.”

The summit will have four tracks and more than 100 live presentations.

More information is available here.

Missouri Biodiesel Plant Coming to Life, Finally

lakeviewenergyAfter too many years languishing empty, a Missouri biodiesel plant is finally coming to life. This article from Moberly (MO) Monitor-Index says Chicago-based Lakeview Energy, LLC is re-opening what started as the Producer’s Choice Soy Energy biodiesel facility and will now be known in the northern Missouri town as Lakeview Biodiesel, LLC.

The new project will not come cheap for Lakeview. The company is estimated to devote $5 million to upgrade the facility.

Lakeview Energy, LLC CEO Jim Galvin mentioned that the Moberly Area offers a significant workforce pool to pull from including many people with work experience in the biofuels sector.

Galvin went on to say, “After looking at various locations, we decided to expand in Moberly due in part to the availability of the PCSE facility but also the abundance of quality employees in the area. We are excited about the opportunity to rapidly expand our operations and the necessary work on the Moberly facility has already begun. We have enjoyed working with the City of Moberly and MAEDC and look forward to a long and rewarding relationship in Moberly.”

Last month, Lakeview Energy got some help in the form of a U.S. Department of Agriculture $3.3 million loan guarantee to help acquire this Missouri biodiesel plant and make improvements to bring it online to produce enough biodiesel to run approximately 16,500 vehicles annually.

Swedish Mill Dumps LPG to Put in Biomass Boiler

Waggeryd1A pulp mill in Sweden is ending its use of non-renewable LPG in favor of a biomass boiler. This news release from Waggeryd Cell says it will invest about $7 million to run the flash dryer on biomass, expected to be up and running next March and reducing the mill’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions by 85 percent.

Waggeryd Cell produces bleached CTMP and ever since start-up in 1989 the whole production has been flash dried using LPG as heat source. When the new boiler has started in September 2016, LPG will be totally replaced by bioenergy. It is a grate boiler with an effect of about 12 MW. The supplier is Urbas, an Austrian company specialising in systems designed to extract energy from wet and coarse wood fuels from sawmills, woodworking factories and general forestry thinning. It is a turnkey project and Urbas is responsible for the whole delivery, including projecting, mounting and start-up.

“This is yet another of the environmental investments we have done since we began modernising the mill fifteen years ago,” says Ulf Karlsson, MD Waggeryd Cell. “By replacing LPG for our flash dryer with heat from the new biomass boiler we will reduce our emissions of fossil carbon dioxide by 85 % at the same time as we reduce our costs. The boiler will be fuelled by sawdust, oversized wood chips and fibre residuals from our process as well as bark and fuel wood mainly supplied from our owner ATA Group’s sawmills.”

Urbas has been designing, building and pioneering energy systems for use of biomass fuels for more than 20 years.

USDA Report Shows Importance of Int’l Biofuel Trade

USDA logoA new government report says that while the U.S. is a major exporter of biofuels, it still imports biofuels in order to meet government mandates. The study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says some other countries are major exporters and domestic users, thanks to laws there that allow greater blending amounts.

The ethanol blend wall in the United States, and an increase in demand for biofuels from other countries, helped the United States emerge as a net exporter of ethanol for the first time in 2010, with net exports positive each year since. Indeed, the United States has become the world’s largest exporter of ethanol. U.S. ethanol production and exports both remained strong in the face of falling gasoline prices in 2014 due to interactions of supply- and demand-side factors; production capacity beyond domestic policy requirements and strong export markets helped make high exports possible. In addition, U.S. imports of ethanol in 2014 fell to their lowest amounts in years.

Along with market forces, policies can affect future U.S. biofuel trade. If the blending rate in Brazil continues to increase (as it has recently), less Brazilian ethanol will be available to compete with the United States on the global market. At the same time, Brazil could continue to import U.S. ethanol to help meet its mandate. In addition, U.S. biofuel policies could affect the future of U.S. biofuel trade. For example, reducing the amount of ethanol that can be derived from corn in the U.S. renewal fuel mandate could potentially lead to reduction in U.S. ethanol production infrastructure in the long run, which could limit the availability of ethanol for exports.

The study also indicates some grave implications for the U.S.’ biofuel producers if the federal government continues to ignore the requirements under the law that created the Renewable Fuel Standard.

If the scheduled future increases in the U.S. mandate for advanced biofuel are not met by increased domestic production of advanced biofuels (and are not waived), the increase in the mandate amounts will need to be met with imports, such as sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil.

Boise State Wants to Run Baja 1000 on Biodiesel

gsr_racing1A Boise State University non-profit wants to run an off-road race in Mexico on biodiesel, which the group believes will give them an edge for the win. This article from KMVT-TV says Greenspeed Research is building a biodiesel trophy truck to compete in the Baja 1000, an off-road race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in the third week of November.

“Right now, we’re preparing for our next vehicle, which is a biodiesel powered trophy truck. And we’re shooting for racing at the Baja 1000,” said Dave Schenker, co-founder of Greenspeed.

“A biodiesel powered trophy truck is pretty much the top tier of off-road racing that usually has a big gas guzzling V-8 powered engine in it. But we’re bringing a new fuel and a new engine technology to that event,” said Schenker.

What does going green mean, as far as performance is concerned?

“Performance is the same. The gas mileage is different. The regular trophy truck drivers brag about getting 2.5 to 3 miles per gallon. We should be getting 7 to 8, 9. So that means, when they’re pitting twice, and take 5, 10, 8 minutes to pit, we’ve driven by them. So, yes, biodiesel is a game changers in the off road world, for sure,” said Paul Robinson, an off-road racer who is set to drive Greenspeed’s truck in the Baja 1000.

Greenspeed officials say the biggest challenge in building their first biodiesel trophy truck is the price tag. If you’d like to support their efforts, check them out at

Ethanol-Powered Boat Hits 208 MPH

amethanolboat1For some of my fishermen friends who claim that ethanol damages their engines, I’d just like to know, How fast do you want to get to your favorite spot? An ethanol-powered speed boat could get you there at a cool 208 MPH clip. This article from says a super-powered catamaran running on ethanol made the run during a shootout race at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Don Onken’s American Ethanol, an ethanol-powered Mystic catamaran, reached 208 mph during a run on Saturday, Aug. 30 — it was the day’s highest speed, and it set the bar high for other racers returning to the course on Sunday.

The Shootout was held for years at Shooters 21, where the event record was set by Dave Callan and John Cosker in 2007, at 209 miles per hour. The next year, the event moved to Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. Dave Scott and John Tomlinson set the course record of 208 there, in 2010, and Bill Tomlinson and Ken Kehoe tied it in 2011. Tomlinson and Kehoe returned in 2013 to post a formidable 224 mph new course and event record. Many thought it would be years before that was broken, but in 2014, Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis soared past Tomlinson and Kehoe, hitting 244 miles per hour in Al Adaa’am 96 Spirit of Qatar.

A Toast to Making Ethanol from Grape Biomass

univofadelaideRaise your glass in a toast to some researchers from Down Under, as they have figured out how to make ethanol out of some of the leftovers from wine-making. University of Adelaide researchers in Australia showed they could make about 100 gallons of ethanol by fermenting a ton of grape marc – the leftover skins, stalks and seeds from wine-making.

Global wine production leaves an estimated 13 million tonnes of grape marc waste each year. Nationally it is estimated that several hundred thousand tonnes are generated annually and it is generally disposed of at a cost to the winery.

“This is a potentially economic use for what is largely a waste product,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton, Program Leader with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

PhD candidate Kendall Corbin analysed the composition of grape marc from two grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. She also investigated pre-treatment of the grape marc with acid and enzymes.

Ms Corbin found that the majority of the carbohydrates found in grape marc could be converted directly to ethanol through fermentation with a yield of up to 270 litres per tonne of grape marc.

What was leftover from this ethanol-making process is suitable as an animal feed or fertilizer.

U of North Dakota Gets Biomass Research Funding

My Approved PortraitsFederal funding to the tune of $250,000 is headed to the University of North Dakota for research to study biomass as a biofuel and solar energy absorption by nanoparticles. North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp welcomed the research dollars.

“North Dakota has a rich heritage of conservation and we must continue to develop and use our natural resources responsibly,” said Heitkamp. “That also means continuing to invest in new technologies and supporting North Dakota’s renewable energy potential including wind, solar, and advanced biofuels, and these federal funds will help UND continue such critical research.”

The funding is made available through the National Science Foundation to work with their International Research Experience for Students for Technologies to Mitigate Global Climate Change.