RFA Wants Oregon to Treat All Fuels Fairly

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) wants the state of Oregon to treat all fuels fairly. This news release from the group says RFA submitted comments to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in response to the agency’s September proposed rule for the state’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP). RFA wants the department to use standards that “support performance-based low carbon fuel programs that are grounded in the principles of fairness, sound science, and consistent analytical boundaries.” However, RFA stated that it could not support DEQ’s proposal because by introducing “concepts that lack scientific integrity and balance into the regulatory framework,” the agency was only creating “stakeholder division and controversy.”

Among other amendments, DEQ proposes to add indirect land use change (ILUC) penalties to the carbon intensity (CI) scores for corn ethanol and other crop-based biofuels. RFA contends that by adding flawed ILUC factors developed by the California Air Resources Board, and ignoring indirect effects for other fuels, the DEQ proposal tips the scales in favor of certain fuels and effectively results in the policy choosing winners and losers. RFA’s comments underscore the fact that the “inclusion of highly uncertain and prescriptive ILUC factors creates an asymmetrical and discriminatory framework for the CFP.”

You can read the entire RFA letter to the Oregon DEQ here.

SG Preston to Build Renewable Diesel Plants

sgprestonA Philadelphia-based bioenergy company has inked a deal to build renewable diesel plants. This news release from SG Preston says it and Houston-based engineering firm IHI E&C agreed to develop and construct a series of commercial volume, advanced biofuels manufacturing plants, initially in the U.S. Midwest and Canada.

The plants will use proven, commercial scale technologies for the production of renewable diesel and jet fuel targeting U.S. and global industries seeking a volume-based, competitively priced solution to their environmental sustainability mandates.

“IHI E&C is a perfect fit for our U.S. and global strategic vision,” said R. Delbert LeTang, SG Preston President and Chief Executive Officer. “The need to drive thought leadership and momentum toward tangible solutions in the U.S. alternative energy market has become a strategic imperative that we intend to lead in alliance with global blue chip partners in engineering and construction, technology and manufacturing.”

IHI E&C will serve as turnkey EPC to SG Preston’s biofuels initiative, delivering “lump sum,” fixed price engineering and construction, a first in the renewable diesel and jet fuels landscape at commercial scale.

“We have maintained our commitment to focused execution of our volume-based advanced biofuels plan,” LeTang said. “We are extremely pleased to launch this industry-changing initiative in coordination with IHI E&C as a part of our integrated system of global, blue chip partners to rapidly take strategy and concept into design, engineering and execution at commercial scale.”

SG Preston will put its technology at five plants in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, each with an initial capacity to produce 120 million gallons of renewable diesel and jet fuel annually.

Young Scientists Can Apply for Biodiesel Scholarship

next_gen_scientists_logoCollege science students are being invited to apply for scholarships to attend the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Jan. 25 – 28 in Tampa, Florida. The National Biodiesel Board, the United Soybean Board and the National Biodiesel Foundation are offering a $500 travel scholarship with the application deadline of Nov. 12.

Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel is an NBB program intended to foster professional relationships between budding and established scientists, share accurate information and increase collaboration with academia and the biodiesel industry.

Student opportunities include a poster session and breakout session to present their research, a preconference biodiesel educational overview and a mentoring lunch with prominent biodiesel scientists.

Last year, more than 30 students attended the event from schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado – Boulder, the University of California – Davis and Appalachian State University, among others.

Many of the students, who came from a wide range of disciplines, noted the intellectual impact the event made on them.

“By communicating with people directly involved in the biodiesel industry, I learned more about biodiesel than I ever would from reading an article or watching a video,” said Courtney Swink, an undergraduate marine science major at the University of South Carolina. “I had no idea that the biodiesel industry was so huge and rapidly expanding, from the farmers producing feedstock to the engineers selling pumps to the owners of production plants and the transportation of fuel.”

Pittsburgh Expands Optimus Tech’s Biodiesel Solution

optimustechThe City of Pittsburgh is expanding its use of Optimus Technologies’ solution that will allow the city to use more biodiesel in the city’s vehicles. This news release from Optimus says its EPA‐approved technology will be put in 20 public works trucks, as well as deploying an Optimus-designed, 5,000-gallon storage/refilling station at the city’s main garage that supports over 100 trucks.

Through Optimus’ solution, which reduces lifecycle emissions over 80% and fuel costs up to 25%, the city will reduce their overall emissions as required in its Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan version 2.0. The plan targets to reduce overall greenhouse gases generated by the city by 20 percent between 2003 and 2023.

The city tested Optimus’ Vector biofuel conversion system for an extensive 18 month evaluation on five of its International trucks. The trucks were used for road maintenance and snow‐removal operations. The vehicles ran more than three-quarters of the time, even on the coldest of days, on pure biodiesel. After a trouble‐free field trial, the city decided to take the next step.

“The city has a significant goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years,” said GrantErvin, sustainability manager for the city. “Since Optimus’ solution significantly reduces our emissions footprint ‐‐ while also reducing our fuel costs with their new, sustainable biofuel ‐‐ it was an easy decision to increase the number of trucks we wanted to convert.”

Ervin’s team conducted an inventory of the city’s truck fleet and prioritized the vehicles, in part, by the amount of emissions they generate. They found garbage and recycling trucks are the biggest emission contributors due to their fuel consumption and their low gas mileage – both impacted by the trucks’ many stops, idling, and restarts throughout each work day.

“Our garbage and recycling trucks are driven hard every day and any solution has to be very rugged,” said Mike Gable, Director of Public Works for the city. “We are pleased to see a purpose‐built solution for medium‐ and heavy‐duty trucks that, relative to other alternative fuel solutions, is easy to add to our trucks, minimizes changes to our maintenance operations, and minimizes any changes our fueling infrastructure.”

Biomass Powers Military Base to Self Reliance

FtdrumA military installation in Upstate New York is now being powered by its own biomass power plant. This article from the Watertown Daily Times says Fort Drum is now officially connected to its on-post ReEnergy biomass plant.

“We’re the only post in the Army that’s self-reliant for energy right now,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, the 10th Mountain Division’s commander, said during a media round-table on post Thursday.

He noted the plant was one area in which the post relied on the community to be more cost-efficient.

The direct connection work, ensuring that all power systems interacted correctly, was estimated to cost about $12 million. ReEnergy CEO Larry D. Richardson said the project was a complex effort that required coordination among the Army, the post, National Grid and its own engineers.

“This is not a typical project that’s done every day,” Mr. Richardson said.

He said the direct connection from the plant to the post’s substation was a milestone for the company.

A year ago, the military inked a 20-year, nearly $300 million contract with ReEnergy, the largest such deal in Army history. The biomass plant replaced a coal-fired plant on the post.

Scania Offers Biodiesel-Hybrid Truck

scaniaSwedish truck maker Scania is adding to its lineup of biodiesel-friendly options in its trucks. After giving the OK for a line of trucks to run on renewable diesel and having an Australian company declare it would brew its own biodiesel to use in its fleet of Scania trucks, the company has now announced a Scania-developed hybrid truck for urban distribution combining electric and biodiesel operation, enhancing the company’s position as the manufacturer with the widest range of alternative fuels.

“No matter what driving conditions are like or what local circumstances are, there is probably always an alternative solution available from Scania, right here and now,” claims Magnus Höglund, responsible for alternative fuels and powertrains at Scania Trucks. “This launch lets us demonstrate to all types of transport players that they can reduce their CO2 foot­print very simply, without giving up anything or incurring significantly higher costs.”

The newest and most spectacular item in Scania’s offer is the hybrid truck now premiering and being test-driven by European trucking and environmental journa­lists. The hybrid solution, developed by Scania itself, allows an 18-tonne distribution truck to operate solely on electric power for up to two kilometres.

Electric operation is primarily intended for situations where other solutions don’t measure up, for example, city distribution at night in noise sensitive areas or driving through warehouses and car parks where one doesn’t want any exhaust fumes at all. Electric power is combined with Scania’s 9-litre Euro 6 engine with 320 hp, which can be operated on 100 percent biodiesel, such as FAME or HVO. With this latter fuel, CO2 can be reduced by as much as 92 percent.

“It’s a very special experience to drive a heavy truck when the only sound comes from the hissing of tires against asphalt and a mild breeze,” explains Höglund. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a revolution that will make a big difference. Soundless and partly exhaust-free trucks can do a better job in cities at night with goods distribution, cleaning, waste collection and other city maintenance tasks. Hybridisation can also lead to a higher utilisation of every single vehicle when the range of uses expands.”

Oakland Fills Up Fleet with Renewable Diesel

Neste_logo_pmsOakland, California, is the first major U.S. city to convert its entire fleet to renewable diesel. This news release from Neste Oil says the company’s NEXBTL renewable diesel is the fuel of choice for the municipality.

Reduced emissions resulting from the use of renewable diesel will allow the City of Oakland to decrease its carbon footprint and help meet ambitious Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets established by the City. Oakland operates 250 diesel-powered vehicles, which include street sweepers, dump trucks, tractors, construction equipment, and mowers. The City consumes about 230,000 gallons of renewable diesel per year.

“The switch to renewable diesel supports our efforts to make Oakland a more sustainable, innovative, and vibrant City,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “The significant reduction in emissions provided by renewable diesel will create a healthier and safer environment for all of us.”

“NEXBTL renewable diesel is a solution to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe emissions, which municipalities can greatly benefit from. NEXBTL doesn’t require any change in logistics and it can be used by all diesel engines without modifications. Thus, fleets can be switched to renewable literally overnight,” says Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President, Renewable Products, Neste Corporation. “When we are helping cities like Oakland to reach their emission reduction targets, we are doing our job well. That’s also our business target,” continues Hietala.

Earlier this year, San Francisco announced it will switch all of its diesel fleet to renewable diesel by the end of this year.

NFU Adds Voice to Displeasure Over RFS Report

National Farmers Union logoThe National Farmers Union (NFU) is the latest to voice its displeasure over a new report critical of the Renewable Fuel Standard. This news release from the group says the recommendations made in the “10-Year Review of the Renewable Fuels Standard: Impacts to the Environment, The Economy, and Advanced Biofuels Development,” by the University of Tennessee that calls for dismantling the RFS are “shortsighted and irresponsible,” and urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to simply implement the current law. The report was commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) who the ethanol industry is saying is in the front pocket of Big Oil.

“The recommendations issued by this study are shortsided and irresponsible, and would only serve the interests of its financiers – Big Oil,” said [NFU President Roger] Johnson. “EPA should stick with the targets provided in the current law that have already made measurable gains in climate change resiliency, energy independence, and the rejuvenation of rural economies across the United States.”

Johnson said that the study calls for striking the RFS and to start over with a new program focused exclusively on advanced biofuels.

“The study glosses over greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved through corn ethanol production – reductions that continue to grow as climate-smart practices become more popular among producers,” said Johnson. “Its analysis of corn ethanol’s GHG advantages makes too many assumptions about land use changes and neglects to account for other factors like market shifts and conservation programs that may also affect producers’ land use decisions.”

Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association have also expressed their displeasure with the report.

Penn State, Ernst Biomass to Hold Open House

PennStateextMore information on growing switchgrass and turning biomass into energy will be available today as Penn State Extension, Ernst Biomass, and the PA Biomass Energy Association hold a free open house and tour of the biomass production and pelleting facility at Ernst Biomass in Meadville, Pennsylvania, starting at 12:30 pm today.

– See new varieties of switchgrass being tested for this region.
– Visit the largest grass-pellet plant in the Northeast.
– Tour the seed processing and storage facilities used for over 400 varieties of biomass and conservation plants.
– Check out educational displays on biomass and energy.
– Have a cup of coffee and share your questions and ideas with renewable energy specialists.

More information is available here.

Washington City Goes Green, Saves with Biodiesel

bellevuelogoA Washington state city’s conversion to biodiesel will keep the environment green while saving the municipality some green, too. This story from the Bellevue Reporter says a new contract the city has to run biodiesel in its fleet is expected to save more than $25,000 a year.

“Our new biodiesel contract is a big win for Bellevue’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative,” said Emma Johnson, the city’s resource conversation manager. “Not only is the city being a good steward of our environment, but we’re saving taxpayers a substantial amount of money.”

The city’s new mixture, a biodiesel blend of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel, is purported to reduce vehicle life-cycle emissions by 16.5 percent compared to petroleum diesel-only vehicles. Bellevue has 240 diesel vehicles out of a fleet of 694, all of which are using the new blend, referred to as a “B20” blend.

They were previously using a 15 percent biodiesel blend, and will save 28 cents a gallon by switching to a slightly higher biodiesel cocktail.

This batch of biodiesel is made from used cooking oil, saving that waste from going into a landfill as well.