Bacteria to Help Grow Better Algae for Biodiesel

rotifer1We hear a lot about probiotics when it comes to nutrition for people. But research in California is developing probiotic bacteria that will help protect algae that can be turned into biodiesel. This article from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says scientists there have received an additional $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the bacteria to combat pond infestation and increase ecosystem function and resilience.

Annual productivity is a key metric for algal biofuel production that, if optimized, could significantly decrease and stabilize biofuel price per gallon. Since grazers can result in a 30 percent loss in annual biomass productivity, a consistent mechanism for preventing predators will increase productivity and in turn decrease biofuel cost per gallon.

“We are only just beginning to understand that the pond microbiome is not only an indicator of health but also a tool for crop protection,” said Rhona Stuart, one of the team members from LLNL.

The goal of the project is to identify and employ “probiotic” bacteria to increase microalgal survival by two-fold when under attack by rotifers or chytrids in mass algal cultures.

Rotifers and chytrids are common culprits of algae grazing. By using probiotic bacteria to increase algal resistance against these grazers, the team estimates at minimum a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in annual productivity. The proposed tool has several advantages over the baseline, including minimal risk of pest evolution, tailored microbiome diversity to increase ecosystem resilience and productivity, and probiotics that can increase algal productivity and outgrow pests.

The lab says this work will help overcome the barrier that exists in translating laboratory success to open pond success.

Biodiesel Essay Contest Winners Announced

CleanairchoicelogoWinners of the 2015 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay Scholarship have been announced. The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest in Minnesota says Brianna Bredeson, a recent graduate of Willmar Senior High School, is the first place recipient of the 2015 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay Scholarship, winning a $1,000 scholarship.

“Biodiesel is a much more efficient, healthy and renewable option to become less dependent on foreign oil as a fuel source,” she wrote in her winning essay. “It also creates more jobs and keeps the American economy growing.” See her entire essay .

The second place winner is Sydney Benson of Burnsville. A recent graduate of Apple Valley High School, Benson wrote “…there are numerous benefits to using biodiesel, as opposed to petroleum diesel, within Minnesota and the rest of the world.” Benson will receive a $500 scholarship for her essay.

There were more than 100 submissions to the contest, which is sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and administered by the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

Midwest AgEnergy Starts Making Ethanol, Corn Oil

MidwestAg EnergyMidwest AgEnergy Group has started producing ethanol and corn oil for biodiesel at its Jamestown, North Dakota, refinery. This article from AreaDevelopment.com says the 65 million-gallon-per-year Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery uses steam from the combined heat and power plant and corn from local farmers to produce ethanol, distillers grains and fuel-grade corn oil.

The ethanol produced at Dakota Spirit AgEnergy amounts to about 20 percent of North Dakota’s annual fuel demand. The biorefinery will purchase 23 million bushels of corn annually from farmers and employs 38 people. The cost of the project was $155 million.

As an incentive, the state provided nearly $40 million in grants and loans for the renewable fuel project, including funding for feasibility studies, construction and jobs training. The state’s investment includes loans from the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Development Fund, along with grants from the North Dakota Industrial Commission and the NDDOC’s Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and Community Development Block Grant programs. Funding for new jobs training was provided by Job Service North Dakota.

“The Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery is an important investment for North Dakota because it adds value to the state’s production agriculture industry, expands our renewable energy offerings, and creates jobs and economic opportunities for our people,” said Governor Jack Dalrymple. “Congratulations to Midwest AgEnergy Group and its many local and state partners as they celebrate the beginning of operations for this unique biorefinery and its impact on both the local and statewide economies.”

Biodiesel Helps Dutch Terminal Hit 1/2 Million Tons

btt_logoA Dutch tank terminal has handled half a million tons of oil by rail, thanks in part to biodiesel. This TankTerminal.com story say the Botlek Tank Terminal (BTT) in the Netherlands is part of the company’s vision to provide all modes of transport and is a response to growing customer demand for rail transport.

The rack will initially be used to handle block trains with biodiesel but also palm and soybean oil have already been loaded from BTT’s tanks. The facility can also be used for other vegetable oils like sunflower and rapeseed oil. In future the facility can also be expanded to handle other oil products such as aviation fuels, gasoline and diesel.

The train loading/unloading station has two rail tracks with a length of 340 metres. A block train of 24 wagons can be handled with expansion possibilities up to 30 wagons. With a capacity of 400 tonnes per hour, six wagons can simultaneously be loaded or discharged. BTT offers a 24 hours a day, seven days a week service to their customers and accordingly two block trains per day can be handled.

BTT has 34 storage tanks, with a total storage capacity of 200.000 cubic metre (cbm). Of this capacity 130.000 cbm is suitable for the storage of clean fuels and 70.000 for biodiesel and vegetable oils. The current occupancy of the storage capacity is high. BTT can expand the storage capacity to 750.000 cbm on the new reclaimed land that has been completed last year.

Utah Company Offers New Biodiesel Processor

argofuelslogoA Utah-based company is offering a better biodiesel processor. Argo Fuels has developed the NanoCatalyst fuel processor, which that improves air quality while reducing the economic and environmental costs of petroleum.

Unlike traditional refineries, this process is scalable and portable with an ultra-low carbon footprint. An entire processor with an eight million gallon-per-year output capacity can be packed into a single forty-foot shipping container.

Cutting energy costs in half, this processor can reach full reaction in four minutes, a significant reduction compared to existing processes (which take up to two hours). As one of only a few companies able to rely wholly upon second generation feedstocks, Argo Fuels can efficiently create fuel from otherwise unusable wastes. Synthetic diesel produced in this way burns ninety percent cleaner than petroleum diesel; even a twenty percent blend with petroleum diesel reduces C02 emissions alone by fifteen percent.

Ray Dellinger, inventor of the NanoCatalyst™ Processor, is the founder and CEO of Argo Fuels. He is confident that these innovations can improve air quality along the Wasatch Front.

“The potential benefits from the NanoCatalyst™ are incredible,” Dellinger explains. “If consumers want a safe, high-quality alternative to petroleum-based diesel, this project paves the way for clean fuel, cleaner air, and sustainable energy that doesn’t break the bank.”

RFA Sponsors Ethanol-Powered Boat Race

RFAboats1Boat racers were able to show the power of ethanol recently. This news release from the Renewable Fuels Association says the group, along with East Kansas Agri-Energy and the Kansas Corn Commission, sponsored the National Boat Racing Association’s (NBRA) annual Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout in Garnett, Kansas, running on Lake Garnett with ethanol-powered hydroplanes.

The Shootout is a popular family attraction that also demonstrates the benefits that ethanol brings to the performance of a marine engine. E10 is approved for use by all boat manufacturers for their engines. The NBRA, which represents more than 250 drivers in 30 states, has used E10 as its primary fuel source for years and has a long history of breaking records with the fuel blend.

“We were happy to again sponsor this event to help dispel any myths boat owners might have had about using ethanol in their engines,” said Robert White, RFA’s vice president of industry relations. “E15 has become a negative buzzword in the marine world, but it is a fuel not approved for boats. Many people still don’t know that E10 is a perfectly safe fuel for boats, and this event by the NBRA demonstrates that. We always tell boaters to review their owner’s manuals and to read fuel dispenser labels — hopefully the same practice they have with their cars, trucks and SUVs. Consumers can have the same high performance outcome as these racers if they just follow this advice.”

“EKAE is a proud supporter of this national event. The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout proves to ethanol newcomers that E10 is great not only for the average motorboat, but for high-performance marine engines like the ones showcased on Lake Garnett,” said Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy. “These races cast an important spotlight onto an industry significant to both the state of Kansas and our entire nation. Ethanol and boats do mix, and we’re excited so many people turned out to witness it for themselves.”

Lagosur to Export Biodiesel to Latin America

Florida-based Lagosur says it will export biodiesel to Latin America. The company says it has aligned with customers in Peru, Bolivia and Chile to receive shipments of biodiesel and is working to launch various initiatives to bring state-of-the-art biodiesel generation technology to Latin America countries.

“We are proud to extend Lagosur’s business and thought leadership by exporting badly needed biodiesel to parts of Latin America not currently able to generate their own supply,” said Jorge Abukhalil, Lagosur’s Executive Vice President Business Development for Latin American Business. “We look forward to providing further value to our customers across Latin America by helping them to meet the growing energy demands for their business in a way that is both economical as well as environmentally responsible. “

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.