Company to Get Biodiesel Boost from End of License

inventurelogoUsually, a licensing agreement opens up the door for companies to prosper in the biotech and biofuels world. But an Alabama-based biotechnology company says it is getting a boost from the end of one of its agreements. Inventure Renewables says the mutual termination of its agreement with Alchimia, Inc. for exclusive licensing rights in North and South America will open up Inventure’s patented process technologies possibilities with American agricultural processors and traditional biodiesel manufacturers.

“We’re really motivated for the rapid expansion the retention of our licensing rights will allow,” said John Brown, Inventure Renewables’ Chief Operating Officer. “The extensive corn and soybean processing facilities in the United States will be obvious partners for Inventure, as our technologies will allow them to convert waste streams into revenue streams by turning low or no value biomass into carbon-neutral biofuels, biochemical and biomaterials. The same opportunities will be present in South America, where vast amounts of soy beans and sugar cane are processed.”

Inventure Renewables is currently negotiating with several leading agricultural processors.

Justice Cracks Down on Biodiesel RIN Defrauders

scalesofjustice1To maintain the integrity of government incentives for biodiesel, the feds are cracking down on defrauders. This news release from the U.S. Department of Justice says four individuals have been sentenced for their part in the $23 million scheme.

Dean Daniels, 52, Richard Smith, 57, Brenda Daniels, 45 and William Bradley, 58, all of Florida, pleaded guilty and were sentenced today in U.S. district court for charges related to a scheme involving the false production of biodiesel.

Dean Daniels was sentenced to 63 months incarceration, Bradley was sentenced to 51 months incarceration, Smith was sentenced to 41 months incarceration and Brenda Daniels was sentenced to 366 days incarceration.

According to court documents, the defendants profited by unjustly generating and selling biodiesel credits (RINs) and unjustly claiming biodiesel tax credits for the production and blending of fuel that was not actually biodiesel.

“Congress enacted incentives for the production of biofuels to make the United States stronger and more energy independent and to move our energy economy into the 21st century,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The fraud perpetrated by the defendants threatens these important public policies. The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute those seeking to line their pockets using scams like this one.”

The defendants were all employees and officers of New Energy Fuels LLC, a business in Waller, Texas, that claimed to process animal fats and vegetable oils into biodiesel. The defendants subsequently relocated, operating a similar scheme at Chieftain Biofuels LLC in Logan, Ohio.

The defendants produced a low-grade fuel that was not biodiesel, however, the defendants would represent to the EPA that they had produced biodiesel. They would generate fraudulent biodiesel RINs and sell them to various third parties.

Olleco Acquisition Expands Biodiesel Abilities

ollecoc2gUK-based Olleco has acquired another company that also converts used cooking oil and food waste into biodiesel. This company news release says it bought Convert2Green Ltd.

Bringing together Convert2Green and Olleco increases our number of depots to 17 across the UK and enables us to improve efficiencies and coverage to enhance the used cooking oil collection service offered to our customers. The work done by Convert2Green on producing carbon efficient fuels is an exciting addition to Olleco’s range of low carbon bio-liquid fuels and they look forward to developing the possibilities of these fuels in the future.

Commercial Director Adam Baisley said: “We are delighted to welcome Convert2Green customers and staff to Olleco. We aim to build on the strong foundation they have established and extend our reliable and award winning services to our new customers.”

Olleco is fully committed to helping its customers waste nothing from their foodservice business. Olleco ensures that all of the organic waste it collects is converted into renewable energy and compost; nothing goes to landfill.

Michigan State IDs Water Usage by Biomass Crops

Researchers at Michigan State University have identified the amount of water used by some key biomass crops. This article from the school says the study, titled, “Comparative water use by maize, perennial crops, restored prairie and poplar trees in the U.S. Midwest,” recently published by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), lead authored by Michigan State University professor Steve Hamilton, provides a new perspective on how planting different biomass crop species might impact terrestrial water balances.
There were six biofuel species in this study including corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, a five species grass mix, an 18 species restored prairie mix and hybrid poplar. Four years of data are reported, which include a drought year (2012) and three years of near normal rainfall.

The climate and soils of rain-fed systems in the upper Midwest may limit crop productivity based on water availability. Two key questions were answered with this study:

How much water does each crop use?
Which crops are most efficient in converting water to biomass?

Water use

Average [evapotranspiration] (ET) over the four-year period showed the perennial cropping systems were not much different from the annual crop of corn. Mean growing-season ET increased in the following order: miscanthus < poplar < corn < prairie < switchgrass < native grass (Table 1), although the range of values was only about 4.5 inches. Notice that miscanthus and poplar trees had the lowest ET during the drought year of 2012. Previously, it was expected that perennial crops would require significantly more water, which could have deleterious effects at the watershed scale. This data disputes that theory and shows that planting perennial crops in the landscape with our climate and soils would not have significant adverse impacts.

USDA Offers Incentives for Biomass for Energy

usda-logoEnrollment is underway for farmers and forest landowners to get financial assistance for growing new sources of biomass for energy or biobased products. This U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release says the money comes from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

Biomass energy facilities or groups of producers may submit proposals for new BCAP project areas. Proposals will be accepted on through Nov. 6, 2015. USDA will also allocate $7.7 million towards four existing BCAP project areas in New York, North Carolina, Ohio/Pennsylvania and Kansas/Oklahoma, targeting the establishment of an additional 10,500 acres of shrub willow, giant miscanthus, and switchgrass for energy. Project area sponsors include Chemtex International, Aloterra Energy LLC, Abengoa Biomass LLC and ReEnergy Holdings LLC. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these four sites through Sept. 25, 2015.

In June, USDA began accepting applications from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance for removing biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities; the deadline for those applications is Sept. 4, 2015. The retrieval payments are provided at a cost-share match of $1 for $1 up to $20 per dry ton with eligible crops including corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop, and deliveries to the facilities can continue until Dec. 11, 2015.

So far, BCAP has provided incentives for producers across more than 48,000 acres in 71 counties and 11 different project areas.

Biomass to Grow in Biofuels & Other Sectors

taiyouresearchRight now, most producers of power from biomass are struggling to become cost competitive compared to non-renewable resources including coal and natural gas. But that could soon change. A new analysis by Taiyou Research says biomass energy production, as well as bioproduct production, will grow, thanks to benefits from national level programs, energy efficiency incentives, and financial incentives targeting the expansion of the renewables market that will create demand for additional biomass power capacity globally between 2013 and 2035.

The markets of biomass for energy are developing rapidly and becoming more international. A remarkable increase in the use of biomass for energy needs parallel and positive development in several areas and there will be plenty of challenges to overcome. Currently, only a limited number of modern bioenergy technologies are viable at market prices, which include Brazilian sugar-based ethanol and wood based heating in Northern Europe, and industrial applications such as cogeneration technology based on residues from production processes, including those in sugar factories and timber mills.

As biomass power projects are largely very capital-intensive, this remains a significant challenge for a number of utilities in entering countries with abundant feedstock availability. Going forward, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) program and availability of carbon credits for renewable energy projects will drive the growth of the biomass power market.

You can read the complete report here.

Brazil Sets Record for Ethanol Consumption

unicaBrazil hit a record high in ethanol consumption in July. The country’s ethanol industry group, the Union of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), says Brazilians used 1.55 billion liters, or about 400 million gallons, breaking a previous record of 1.51 billion liters in December 2009.

The national demand for light fuels increased 3.4% compared with July 2014 and 2.75% as compared to the previous month (June / 2015). Meanwhile, C gasoline consumption increased only 2.3% between June and July 2015.

According to UNICA Technical Director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, this continued expansion of biofuel consumption reflects the competitive price of the renewable front of its fossil competitor, gasoline.

“In many states, the price parity between hydrous ethanol and gasoline follows at levels lower than the technical ratio of 70% of vehicle efficiency. I draw attention to São Paulo, where the parity stood at around 62% and Mato Grosso with 60%, “noted Rodrigues.

POET Shows Economic Impact of Its Ethanol

POETEthanol made by POET is big in U.S. economic growth, cutting dependence on foreign oil, and reducing greenhouse gases. The South Dakota-based ethanol maker has released its first-ever economic impact study that shows the company made significant contributions, including:

– Generating a total of $13.5 billion in sales for U.S. businesses;
– Adding $5.4 billion in national gross domestic product;
– Supporting an estimated 39,978 full time jobs; and
– Contributing $3.1 billion in income for American families.

The report further details POET’s contribution to the economic prosperity in each of the seven states where it operates – South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. POET, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., operates a total of 27 dry mill corn ethanol plants with an annual capacity of 1.7 billion gallons – more than 11 percent of the total U.S. ethanol output.

“Ethanol provides us the means to produce our own clean fuel and keep the enormous economic benefits within America’s borders,” POET CEO Jeff Lautt said. “The impact flows from the plants to farmers, communities, throughout the states in which they operate and across the nation.”

In addition, the report cites POET’s impact on reducing foreign oil dependence. According to the study, POET’s production of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol displaces nearly 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline, which requires 61 million barrels of crude oil to produce. This displacement potentially reduces the outflow of money to foreign producers of oil by nearly $5.5 billion.

The use of POET ethanol also reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline. Burning a gallon of ethanol opposed to gasoline results in a 35 percent reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Reflecting this, the production of 1.7 billion gallons of POET ethanol cuts CO2 emissions by approximately 874,000 metric tons.

The full report is available here.

Ethanol-Ready Dispensers Offered at 0% Interest

patriotprotecFuel retailers will have an easier path to being able to offer ethanol. Patriot Capital Corporation and Protec Fuel have teamed up to offer 0 percent financing for retailers who install dispensing equipment for E15, E85 and higher ethanol fuel blends.

The rate – available on terms of up to 60 months – is available to qualified retailers who install dedicated dispensing equipment and sign a supply agreement with Protec, a leader in turnkey ethanol solutions. Protec works closely with its C-store and fuel-marketing clients to manage and implement a complete alternative fuel solution, with services that include:

– Equipment expertise in E15, mid-level blends and E85 systems, dispensers and stations.
– Project-management or co-management of infrastructure installations, storage tank conversions or installs.
– Assistance with permit applications and filings.
– Station site promotion, target marketing, and advertisement.

“Protec has developed a solid reputation for providing C-store operators with an expanded range of fuel options, ranging from E15 to E85,” said Chris Santy, managing director, Patriot Capital Corporation. “We are excited about expanding our partnership with Protec Fuel. This partnership would include financing options for dispensers, price signs, underground storage tanks and other equipment work that will support the expansion of alternative fuels.”

“Patriot Capital Corporation is well regarded as the industry’s leader in providing financing to the fueling industry,” said Todd Garner, managing member and CEO of Protec Fuel. “We are excited to expand upon the expertise that Patriot has in providing hassle free financing to our customers. This will enable Protec to achieve our mission of broadening the footprint of ethanol availability for consumers and commercial fleets.”

College Works on Bio-Inspired Fuel Cell

Koylu-UmitResearchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are working on developing fuel cells made from natural, biological sources. This article from the school says Dr. Umit Koylu, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has received a six-month $50,000 Innovation Corps Teams (I Corps) Program grant from the National Science Foundation to accelerate tech-transfer and explore commercialization of a biology-inspired polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

“Nature perfected its natural delivery system,” Koylu says, glancing out his window. “Our team of researchers came up with an engineering version of it.”

The technology was developed during four years of research led by Dr. Ming Leu, the Keith and Pat Bailey Missouri Distinguished Professor of Integrated Product Manufacturing and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T.

Koylu currently works with Dr. John W. Sheffield, visiting associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, who is professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T; and post-doctoral Missouri S&T researcher Dr. Warren Vaz.

To get useable energy out of fuel cells, they have to be stacked together, which takes up a lot of space to produce minimal results. However, the bio-inspired fuel cells are expected to increase peak power density by up to 30 percent over conventional fuel cells, Koylu says. That means bio-inspired cells would take up less space than current models, or more could be stacked in the same amount of space, increasing power.

The research is set to end in December.