Researchers Turn Food Waste into Biodiesel

cincyfoodwasteWaste not, want not. That’s the attitude of University of Cincinnati researchers who are turning food waste into biodiesel. This news release from the school says Timothy C. Keener, PhD, and Drew C. McAvoy, PhD—along with fellow faculty members Pablo Campo-Moreno, PhD, San-Mou Jeng, PhD, and George Sorial, PhD—proposed an innovative Smart Cities Project titled “A Pilot Study to Produce Bioenergy and Fertilizer from UC’s Food Waste.”

The proposal to convert food waste into gaseous fuels, solid fuels, biodiesel and other products was accepted and today, the study flourishes under the direction of Keener and McAvoy. In October 2014, the team launched a pilot plant that has diverted 660 pounds of food waste generated from UC’s Center Court Dining Center for research.

The researchers have since developed a breakthrough synergistic technology that uses anaerobic digestion to turn nutrient-rich organic materials into fuel (biogas), fertilizer, or soil conditioner, while using the carbon dioxide fraction of the biogas to grow algae. Simultaneously, lipid oils in the algae are also extracted and converted to biodiesel.

This novel process, which essentially integrates algae production with anaerobic digestion, allows researchers to almost completely utilize the carbon found in food waste in a renewable manner.

McAvoy explains, “The anaerobic digestion of food waste coupled with algae production seems to be an attractive alternative for not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also for the production of renewable energy.”

The United Nations estimates that “a third of all the food produced in the world is never consumed,” totaling about 1.3 billion tons of waste a year.

France’s Total to Convert Refinery to Biodiesel

totalFrance’s Total is converting its petroleum processor in La Mède to make biodiesel. This news release says the $216 million conversion will make the facility France’s first biorefinery and will stop refinering petroleum by the end of 2016.

“There are three possible responses to the crisis in the European refining industry. The first is to throw in the towel. The second is to do nothing and perish. The third is to innovate and adapt to meet shifting demand trends. The central focus of Total’s plan for our French refining business is to realign our operations and products to changing markets. The plan that we are presenting today offers sustainable solutions for the Donges and La Mède refineries. It gives both facilities a future and strengthens Total’s refining base in France,” commented Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer of Total. “As was the case for the project to secure the future of the Carling plant in eastern France, the master words for the plan’s deployment are: anticipation and consensus. Total will implement this industrial transformation without layoffs or imposed geographical transfers for non-exempt employees.”

Total officials say the move is a response to industry and market trends, as European demand for petroleum products has declined 15 percent since 2008, shrinking outlets for the continent’s refining industry.

Iowa Gov, Lt Gov to Tour Cellulosic Ethanol PLant

QCCPsyngentaQuad County Corn Processors (QCCP) and Syngenta will host Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds for a tour of the cellulosic ethanol production facility in Galva, Iowa, Tuesday, April 21. The QCCP plant is the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state.

QCCP recently passed the 1 million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Cellerate™ process technology. Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of QCCP. Cellerate process technology is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by allowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of additional cellulosic ethanol – all from corn already being processed.

E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $50 Mil Per Year

irfaIowa drivers could save a lot of money if they had better access to E15. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that if the higher blend of ethanol was widely available, Iowa drivers could save more than $50 million per year in fuel costs.

In its annual report on retail fuel sales, Iowa Department of Revenue data shows Iowa motorists purchased more than 1.2 billion gallons of E10. E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), representing more than 80 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S. On average, E15 is typically sold at a 5-cent discount to E10 in Iowa.

An IRFA analysis found that even with abnormally low petroleum prices:

· If only 20 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $12.7 million per year

· If a modest 50 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $31.7 million per year.

· If 80 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans would save $50.7 million per year.

“The economics are simple: the more Iowa motorists that have access to and are able to take advantage of low-cost E15, the more money consumers save,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Price is a big motivator when it comes to buying fuel, and cleaner-burning E15 is consistently priced at a discount to E10. If motorists across the state were able to utilize this safe, economical fuel, Iowa drivers would literally save millions of dollars of their hard-earned money, enabling them to spend it elsewhere in the state.”

IRFA reminds drivers that more than 100 million miles have successfully been driven on E15, and the higher blend of the green fuel is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, as well as flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

New Report Highlights Bioenergy’s Sustainability

SCOPEA new report shows the positive relationship between bioenergy and sustainability. The research from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and developed under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) is based on more than 2,000 references and major studies taking a comprehensive look at the current bioenergy landscape, technologies and practices.

Considering an extensive evaluation of current bioenergy resources status, systems and markets, potential sustainable expansion and wider adoption of this renewable resource the authors highlight recommendations for policy and deployment of bioenergy options: liquid biofuels, bioelectricity, biogas, heat, bio-based chemicals.

This assessment is a collective effort with contributions from more than 130 experts from 24 countries, encompassing scientific studies ranging from land use and feedstocks, to technologies, impacts, benefits and policy.

The authors considered how bioenergy expansion and its impacts perform on energy, food, environmental and climate security, sustainable development and the innovation nexus in both developed and developing regions. The report also highlights numbers, solutions, gaps in knowledge and suggests the science needed to maximize bioenergy benefits.

The panel discussion with the release of the report included experts from academia, industry and NGOs presenting and discussing the current status and trends in biomass production and its possible implications for policy, communication and innovation strategies for a sustainable future.

Biodiesel Use on the Rise in Iowa

irfaBiodiesel continues to be a pretty popular fuel in Iowa. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s revenue department data shows pure biodiesel (B100) sales in 2014 increased by more than 15 percent over 2013 to an all-time-high of 33.3 million gallons and now accounts for 4.6 percent of Iowa’s total diesel supply, up slightly from 2013.

Additionally, biodiesel is blended into almost 50 percent of all diesel sold, with an average blend level that climbed to 9.4 percent. The increased average blend level is largely due to a sizeable shift amongst retailers from B10 (10 percent biodiesel) in 2013 to B20 (20 percent biodiesel) in 2014.

“In the face of severe federal policy uncertainty, Iowa’s retailers and diesel users remained committed to cleaner-burning biodiesel in 2014,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the expiration of the federal biodiesel tax credit and uncertainty over the RFS, the increases in biodiesel sales and blending rates demonstrates the effectiveness of Iowa’s forward-thinking state policies. Policy makers in Iowa have wisely decided that cracking the petroleum monopoly cannot be left to federal policies alone – too much is at stake for Iowa’s economy and consumers. If the feds can reinstate the blenders’ tax credit and reenergize the RFS, Iowa will no doubt see even bigger gains in replacing foreign oil with homegrown biodiesel.”

Iowa has also shown its commitment to biodiesel by providing a tax credit to retailers selling B5 and higher blends, and starting this summer, Iowans buying B11 and higher blends will pay 3 cents per gallon less in state fuel taxes.

Tractor Cab Powered by Propane

2016_Ford_F650_chassis1A new conversion to a truck running on propane is showing just how easy and cost saving the fuel can be. Alliance AutoGas showcased the Ford F-650/F-750 tractor cab featuring a new product innovation – the Bi-Fuel AutoGas System – at the recent AutoGas Pavilion at the NPGA Propane Expo in Atlanta.

Westport’s Prins VSI system “plug and play” conversion on the 2016 Ford F650/F-750 is precedent setting in that no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring is required. The Bi Fuel Autogas system conversion of the F-650/F-750 features these critical components:

Costs less than its diesel or dedicated propane counterparts.

Reduces fleet operating costs by as much as 30%.

The new Bobtail conversion comes in at a lower cost than its diesel counterpart.

Offers increased range while reducing fuel costs.

“Best in Class” warranty of five years or 100,000 miles.

This plug-and-play conversion cuts the propane system’s installation time by half—about six hours—compared to a typical 12 to 14-hour installation time for any predecessor.

RFA Welcomes New California E85 Station

RFANewlogoCalifornia is getting its latest E85 station in Calimesa. The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the partnership between Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company, a station that will be selling E85 for just 85 cents a gallon today (Wednesday, April 15).

Robert White, vice president of industry relations at the Renewable Fuels Association, commented, “It is great to see the second largest flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) market get more E85 stations. RFA congratulates Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company for identifying the need to bring this low-cost, cleaner-burning, alternative fuel throughout California. Consumers are searching for options, and many will now find E85.”

Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company have announced 13 new E85 stations slated for California.

NFU Disturbed by Renewable Energy Funding Cuts

nfu_logo1The National Farmers Union (NFU) is expressing its disappointment in proposed cuts to federal spending on renewable energy. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water spending subcommittee’s voted to reduce funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to building climate resilience, and many of our rural communities experience much-needed reinvestment from renewable energy development.” Johnson said. “Congress should increase, not cut, funds for renewable energy.”

Johnson noted that America’s family farmers and ranchers are already impacted by increased weather volatility related to the changing climate, including fewer workable days, increased potential for soil erosion, and increased crop insurance claims, and without support for renewables, they may have to brace for additional negative consequences.

“Other consequences, including fluctuating access to water resources and increased pest and weed pressure, will impact our efforts to produce sufficient food, fuel and fiber,” Johnson noted. “Renewable energy will also, in the long term, offer protection against volatile rates and contribute to our nation’s energy independence.”

Study Shows Ethanol’s Positive Economic Impact

neethanolboardA new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth over the last 20 years is tenfold. This news release from the Nebraska Ethanol Board says the “Economic Impacts of the Ethanol Industry in Nebraska” also reveals ethanol in the state is producing 2,077 million gallons per year with 1,301 full-time employees at 24 facilities, and with the green fuel and dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) from the ethanol production, it is putting $4 billion to more than $6.6 billion into the economy.

“The quantifiable economic impact of ethanol production on the Nebraska economy is clear,” said Paul Kenney, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “But we should also understand the enormous savings in health and environmental costs associated with displacing toxic petroleum products with cleaner burning biofuels like ethanol. Choosing ethanol fuels brings additional cost savings in terms of our health.”

Nebraska’s large ethanol production results in 96 percent (1.805 billion gallons) being shipped out of state and makes Nebraska one of the largest exporters of bioenergy. In addition, 58 percent of DDGS produced in 2014 were shipped out of state. These out-of-state shipments result in a net positive for the state and represent a direct economic impact by bringing new money into the state economy.

The study noted that Nebraska’s ethanol industry could be affected by emerging trends and at least four are worth watching – the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2), the extraction of corn oil, and world export markets for both ethanol and DDGS.

Many of these upcoming trends will be discussed later this week during the annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 16-17.