EcoPAS Ethanol PAS-100 Exceeds Expectations

The California wine industry is seeing growing concern of ethanol vapor released into the atmosphere from large fermentation tanks, an issue that can lead to the formation of smog. Fermentation is a necessary step in the production of wine; therefore to address the concern, EcoPAS invented the Passive Alcohol System (PAS-100) that captures the alcohol vapor that escapes from wine tank vents during fermentation.

EcoPAS-100To test the technology, EcoPAS partnered with Greenbelt Resources Corporation who fabricated the first commercial scale PAS-100 and its complementary manifold system. The system was installed in a southern Californian wine services facility and used for the first time during the recently completed 2015 crush. The company has announced the fabricated system has exceeded performance expectations.

“Leveraging the manufacturing expertise of the Greenbelt team enables our own team to focus on continued performance improvements,” said Patrick Thompson, CEO of EcoPAS. “Now that the full-scale PAS system has been achieved in practice, we expect to see an increase in demand for Greenbelt fabrication of additional PAS systems.”

According to EcoPAS, both its own engineers as well as winemakers, of whom are EcoPAS target customers and end users, were pleased with all aspects of the operation. Utilizing the PAS-100 manufactured by Greenbelt Resources for EcoPAS, the winery was able to claim credit for enough captured volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to stay below mandated daily emissions rates. Thus, says EcoPAS, deployment of the PAS is not only good for the environment, it’s good business.

Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources added, “The PAS is an impressive invention requiring no active energy input. “We look forward to growing our two complimentary companies side-by-side. Once the market adoption of the PAS hits a critical mass, the aggregated by-product of local PAS’s will be an excellent feedstock for the typical modular distillation-and-dehydration systems for which Greenbelt Resources is known.”

Fuels America Launches RFS Climate Ad Campaign

Leading up to COP21 in Paris in a couple of weeks Fuels America has launched a climate campaign targeted at President Obama. The campaign encourages him to tout the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the climate talks. Fuels America is calling on the administration to get the RFS back on track. During the call biofuel industry representatives discussed how the decision on the RFS will be critical in determining if the U.S. will lead by example on climate action. The campaign includes full page ad in the New York Times and digital ads in the Beltway.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.57.22 AM“If the President doesn’t reverse course on the disastrous proposal, he will effectively be letting the oil industry and climate deniers in Congress dictate our climate policy,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, during the press call. “It will upend America’s most successful policy cutting greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change, and stifle investment in advanced biofuels in America.”

Speakers noted the threat to the advanced biofuels industry is significant with $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels currently frozen according to a report from BIO. Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at Abengoa Bioenergy, noted during the call that Abengoa is looking to deploy its cellulosic ethanol technology overseas due to the uncertainty caused by the current state of the RFS. The company’s first cellulosic ethanol plant went online last October in Hugoton, Kansas.

“This Administration’s proposal inserts a loophole into the RFS—our country’s most aggressive climate policy in force today—and allows oil companies to continue ignoring their obligations under the law,” explained Standlee. “Our industry has fought and won this battle before—this waiver was sought for years by the oil industry and would allow them to control the RFS and restrict the deployment of the lowest carbon fuels in the world.”

Listen to the presser here: Fuels America Launches Biofuel Climate Ad Campaign Presser Continue reading

HERO BX Purchases Alabama Biodiesel Plant

Erie, Pennsylvania- based HERO BX has purchased the assets of the former Veros Energy biodiesel refinery located in Moundville, Alabama. The plant will be renamed HERO BX Alabama LLC. The Moundville facility currently employs 17 full-time staff who will remain on as HERO BX Alabama employees. In addition, HERO BX plans to hire and train an additional 10-12 employees as it gears up for recommissioning the facility.

HEROBXHERO BX Chairman and CEO Samuel “Pat” Black III said, “We are excited to be expanding into Alabama. This acquisition allows us to serve a new market outside the reach of our Erie facility and will enable our company to follow through on its growth mission. The preliminary Renewable Fuel Standard volumes are growing and as they do, the Moundville facilities will too.”

According to a press release HERO BX has plans to capitalize on its strong technical and operational expertise to upgrade and expand the 15 MGPY facility, which is slated to come on line in the first quarter of 2016.

HERO BX President Mike Noble, added, “Our technical staff is among the world’s finest. We will take everything that we have learned in almost a decade of producing great biodiesel in Erie and apply it to the Moundville plant. Our quality standards will remain the same. Customers who are familiar with our high quality can again count on biodiesel produced in Moundville to be BQ 9000 certified ASTM D-6751 and Q-RIN approved.”

Renewable Diesel Use High at Propel Fuels’ Stations

Earlier this year, Propel Fuel launched its Diesel HPR (High Performance Renewable) across Southern California in August 2015. The company has announced that consumer adoption of the product has risen 300 percent compared to its former biodiesel product (B20).

Propel’s Diesel HPR features several performance features including a 75 cetane rating, 40 percent higher than regular diesel. The company cites Diesel HPR provides cleaner and more efficient combustion for more power and a smoother ride at a cost similar to or lower than petroleum diesel.

HPR_SoCal copy“Diesel HPR is an affordable way for fleets and consumers to reduce emissions and improve local air quality while seeing better engine performance,” said Rob Elam, CEO of Propel. “As new diesel models hit the market, drivers across California are moving towards low carbon fuel options such as Diesel HPR.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, renewable diesel’s high combustion quality results in similar or better vehicle performance compared to conventional diesel, while California Air Resources Board studies show that renewable diesel can reach up to 70 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared to petroleum diesel. Studies show that Diesel HPR improves local air quality due to the reduction of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate (PM 2.5) emissions. NOx and particulate emissions are directly linked to air quality in California, negatively impacting children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work outside.

Propel is the largest retailer of low-carbon fuels in California with 32 public stations across the state selling Diesel HPR. There is a Propel Android app and Apple app that identifies alt fuel locations and real-time pricing. Propel also provides Diesel HPR commercial and bulk availability for business and government fleets statewide.

Joule, Red Rock Biofuels to Merge

joule logoCO2 liquid fuels pioneer Joule will merge with biofuel refinery maker Red Rock Biofuels. This news release from Joule says the merger will help them create an industry-leading carbon-neutral fuel production platform.

In association with this merger, after a year of important service at a critical transition phase for the company, Joule also announced that President and CEO, industry veteran Mr. Serge Tchuruk, will return to his previous board role. Dr. Brian Baynes, a current board member of both Joule and Red Rock and partner at Flagship Ventures, will succeed Tchuruk and will lead Joule as it enters a commercial deployment phase.

Red Rock Biofuels leverages a commercially proven Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert sustainably harvested biomass residues from forests and sawmills into jet fuel and diesel products. The company is poised to begin construction of its first refinery located in Lakeview, Oregon in early 2016. The project is supported by a $70 million grant from the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Navy and Energy, and the company has entered into substantial offtake agreements with Southwest Airlines and FedEx for the fuel that will be produced.

“By merging Red Rock Biofuels with Joule, we intend to accelerate the commercialization of carbon-neutral fuels and continue to build a world leading company,” said Tchuruk, outgoing President and CEO of Joule. He added, “Joule’s proprietary platform provides a path towards carbon-neutral mobility and Red Rock Biofuels will add an immediate commercial capability to produce renewable diesel and jet fuel, complementing our unique direct pathway through direct conversion of CO2 to drop-in fuels. I am very proud to have been part of this important transformation of Joule, which will now significantly speed up our commercialization. Red Rock’s Lakeview project will continue as planned with its current management team, beginning construction in 2016 and producing at a scale of 15 million gallons of renewable diesel and jet fuel when completed.”

“The world’s need for low carbon transportation fuels has never been greater. Having worked closely with both Joule and Red Rock, I am very pleased to be able to combine Red Rock’s near-term, commercial supply of drop-in low carbon fuels, with Joule’s novel and highly scalable low carbon fuel production platform,” said Baynes, incoming President and CEO. ”The Red Rock team also adds significant strength in project development and operations to Joule’s R&D expertise. We are seeing continued acceleration of our direct CO2 to fuel technology development, and the Red Rock platform will increase project opportunities worldwide.”

Today in Energy Report Reviews Renewable Diesel

A recent Today in Energy report looked at the future of the renewable diesel. Unlike other biofuels, which do not share identical properties of the fuel they are replacing, renewable diesel fuels, or hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) are virtually indistinguishable from their petroleum counterparts. In 2014, more than one billion gallons of drop-in fuels were produced globally and the volume is expected to increase in the coming years in part in the U.S. as the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) are increased for this category within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.22.20 AMAccording to the article, the most common HEFA biofuel production is a a diesel replacement fuel alternately marketed as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) abroad, or as renewable diesel in the United States. HEFA fuels are produced by reacting vegetable oil or animal fat with hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst. There are currently 10 plants worldwide that produce renewable diesel with Finnish Neste as the world’s largest producer who is currently working with Boeing on fuel testing. Other major producers are Italy’s ENI, U.S.-based Diamond Green Diesel, and Swedish refiner Preem.

Another outlet for HEFA fuels using similar technology is biojet fuel, which can currently be blended with petroleum jet fuel in proportions up to 50 percent. Many global airlines have begun conducting test flights using various biofuel fuels produced from a multitude of feedstocks including camelina. In the U.S. the Department of Defense is testing these fuels as well with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force leading the way.

Where or Where Will Cellulosic Ethanol Go?

The world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery went online Friday, October 30, 2015 in Nevada, Iowa marked by a commissioning celebration featuring several Iowa dignitaries. The day was kicked off with a welcome reception where DuPont Industrial Biosciences President William Feehery spoke about how the company is committed to reforming how energy is produced. Yet despite the jovial mood, there was talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the EPA’s lack of commitment to advanced biofuels and the concern of where the increasing cellulosic biofuels will go? (More than likely, California).

In Iowa, support for renewable energy is a bipartisan issue. Governor Terry Branstad took the stage calling on the EPA to “support the Iowa way”, which is “together in a bipartisan way, recognizing the benefits of renewable fuels and not being afraid to continue to move forward with these advancements”. He thanked DuPont for having the “courage and tenacity” to build the biorefinery in Iowa, noting cellulosic ethanol was a long-time coming, “but we’re proud the day is finally here and that it’s happening”.

Branstad, among other legislators, took the momentous occasion to call out the EPA for its lack of commitment to supporting the RFS. The agency is expected to publish the 2014, 2015 and 2016 final rules by November 30, 2015 and the agency transmitted the rules to the Office of Management and Budget this week.

Steve Kings signs first bale

IA Representative Steve Kings signs the biomass bale that will be the first bale used to produce cellulosic ethanol. Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

When Congressman Steve King took the stage, he focused his remarks on the future of biofuels. “We’re in the beginnings of this, not the end.” He applauded not only the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the project but also the intellectual investment it took to create the technology. Yet he too took the opportunity to champion the success of the RFS.

“And I wanted to point out also, that yes, we do have a battle in Congress and maybe it starts before this day is over,” said Rep. King. “It ticks me off when they go after the RFS. They [fellow Representatives] came to me on the floor the other day and said what happens if we bring a bill to repeal the RFS to the floor of the House of Representatives. And I looked at them with the dirtiest look I could give and I said that would be a holy war because the RFS is the Holy Grail. It’s market access and without market access they shut us out and we can’t sell this product.”

Another long-standing and vocal supporter of homegrown renewable fuels, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, called DuPont’s achievement revolutionary when he took the platform. “From conception to commercialization, this biorefinery is a byproduct of Iowa ingenuity, innovation and investment,” he said stressing that what has been achieved here is what Congress hoped. Yet once again, he seized the moment to share his frustration over the battle of the RFS and let the audience know that he will continue to fight to ensure the legislation gets back on track and there remains a legislative commitment behind the advanced biofuels industry.

“Defending and maintaining the program is critical, especially for advanced and cellulosic biofuel producers. We can not pull the rug out and we won’t pull the rug out from under you,” said Sen. Grassley who called on the Congress and EPA to reject efforts to undermine the a successful program and encourage them to do whatever they can to encourage the investment in the development of the advanced biofuels industry.

“Yes, is it a day of celebration, but tomorrow is a day for us to continue to fight,” added Grassley. “The fight to show people that everything about ethanol is good. Nothing bad, from this standpoint!”

Cellulosic Biofuels Celebrated at DuPont Plant Opening

DuPont cellulosic grand openingNevada, Iowa is officially home to the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery with the official plant commissioning. When the DuPont facility is at full production, in about a year, it will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as corn stover.

The celebration was kicked off with the National Anthem sung by music legend Simon Estes followed by nearly a dozen speakers. The first to take the stage was William Freehery, president, DuPont Industrial Sciences who discussed the theme of DuPont’s advanced biofuels production: “RE. FORM. ENERGY”. Freehery focused his remarks on how the company is changing the way the world thinks about biofuels. He explained how their technology is “reforming” how energy is produced and in the future and how they will “reform” ways to create new materials, “reform” new ways to use them and “reform” new ways to produce them.

“What is significant about today is that we’ve reinvented manufacturing itself,” said Feehery. “Feeding renewable biomass into a commercial scale industrial facility. We’ve also reinvented how we think of and supply energy, and our next act will be reinventing how we turn those same agricultural feedstocks into to new types of materials that people use everyday.”

Also speaking was an individual who came to Nevada to turn the dream of cellulosic ethanol production into reality: Terraun Jones, operations manager. He was lured to Iowa on the platform of his fascination of turning agricultural waste, something Iowa has too much of, into biofuel and bioproducts. When he arrived, his first task was to create the foundation for the plant -the pouring of concrete and adding steel. “It was not just the foundation of our facility, but it was the foundation of an entirely new industry and renewable energy,” said Jones.

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Event speakers included: Host: Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director, DuPont Biofuels; Simon Estes; William Feehery, President, DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Honorable Terry Branstad, Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator, State of Iowa; Honorable Steve King, U.S. Representative, State of Iowa; Honorable Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture, State of Iowa; Terraun Jones, DuPont Employee Representative; Honorable Lynn Lathrop, Mayor, City of Nevada; Dr. Johnathan Male, U.S. Department of Energy;  and Brian Sampson, Grower Harvest Program.

Listen to the full program here: DuPont Cellulosic Biorefinery Welcome Program

EPA Submits Final RFS Rules to OMB for Review

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has transmitted its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review as one of the final steps before publishing the final 2014, 2015 and 2016 final RFS rules for renewable volume obligations (RVOs). While the details are not public, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is calling on the EPA to correct its course and stop undermining the goals and requirements of the statute. The uncertainty, the organization said, is undercutting much needed investments in advanced and cellulosic biofuels as well as raising greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation fuel sector.

bio-logoMany cellulosic and advanced biofuel companies are members of the organization including several companies who have brought commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries online in the past year including Abengoa Bioenergies in Hugoton, Kansas; DuPont in Nevada, Iowa; and POET-DSM in Emmetsburg, Iowa. In addition, several leading advanced biofuels companies focused on waste feedstocks have also seen commercial scale success including INEOS Bio in Vero Beach, Florida; Enerkem in Alberta, Canada; GranBio in Alagoas, Brazil; and ZeaChem in Boardman, Oregon. All of these companies, along with those companies still in development stages, have a significant vested interest in achieving increased mandated volumes for second generation biofuels.

According to BIO, its members are improving conventional biofuel processes, commercializing advanced and cellulosic biofuel production technologies and speeding the development of new bioenergy dedicated crops.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said after hearing the news that the final rules were sent to OMB for review, “The RFS has been a critical piece of our nation’s energy and climate policy. It has driven the investment of billions of dollars in the development and commercial deployment of ultra-low-carbon biofuels. It has spurred innovation beyond biofuels to the development of greener technologies and manufacturing processes while curbing our dependence on foreign oil.”

“Unfortunately, Erickson continued, “as we explained in our official comments on the proposed rule, EPA’s new interpretation of its statutory authority to waive the requirements of the RFS statute has already chilled investment for advanced biofuels and has increased U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. If EPA issues a final rule that adopts the approach set forth in the proposed rule, the result will be continued market uncertainty and market constraints that will further undermine sustained investment in advanced biofuels.”

The deadline for the release of the final RFS rules in November 30, 2015. Should the RVO’s not be returned to at minimum, mandated levels, the biofuels industry has voiced intent to sue the EPA.

CBC to EPA: Commit to the RFS

Congressional Black Caucus LogoSixteen members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today calling on the agency to get back on track with the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and strengthen the biofuels volume requirements. The rules are due to be finalized on November 30, 2015 and the biofuels industry is calling on the EPA to uphold the law and bring the RFS back into compliance with renewable volume obligations (RVOs).

The CBC members point out in the letter the benefits of the RFS to the environment and economy, as well as how renewable fuel including cellulosic and advanced biofuels are reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As Politico points out, there is dissension among the Congressional Black Caucus ranks. Last year the Caucus sent a letter urging the EPA to lower the amount of corn-based ethanol. Today, 16 members have broken from their group and are now calling on more renewable fuel to be blended under the RFS. The members include: Rep. Payne; Rep. Clarke; Rep. Holmes Norton; Rep. Hastings; Rep. Bishop; Rep. Lee; Rep. Brown; Rep. Davis; Rep. Cleaver; Rep. Rangel; Rep. Johnson; Rep. Adams; Rep. Kelly; Rep. Butterfield; Rep. Carson; and Rep. Clyburn.

Click here to read the letter.