Making Energy More Environmentally Friendly

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally sponsor Interstate Batteries likes seeing ethanol as a sponsor too since both companies are energy oriented.

According to Mike Ragan there’s also a tie through the fact that both are working on more environmentally friendly means of producing energy. In my interview with him he describes how they’re changing some very old technology. He also made a point of saying that batteries are the most recyclable part of a car. He says eighty percent of a battery can be recycled including the casing.

Interstate Batteries sets up a battery testing tent at the Buffalo Chip in which they stock some of the most popular battery sizes. While we talked a bike rolled in, got its battery tested and replaced.

Listen to my interview with Mike here: Interstate Battery Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Honoring Our Fallen Military and Veterans

The Traveling Wall by AVTT was on display at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This wall contains names of those who have lost their life in service to our country, defending our freedom. I met Charlie Weatherly and John Barron both of whom work for AVTT and travel with the exhibit. Outside of the interview with them which you can listen to below John told me that he’s been using ethanol mixed fuel in his motorcycle for years and has never had any problems with it.

AVTT ( is a veteran-owned project that travels the USA to provide a forum for communities to HONOR-RESPECT-REMEMBER all who have sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom. In so doing, AVTT also honors all Veterans and those currently serving, by letting them know they will never be forgotten. AVTT is funded through sponsorship fees, donations, and sale of merchandise at events. Donations to support AVTT’s mission are qualified charitable tax deductions through The Traveling Wall Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

Learn more about the Traveling Wall in my interview: Traveling Wall Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Ethanol is Small Part of The Andersons Business

The Andersons has an ethanol division that operates three ethanol plants in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio that are collectively capable of producing 300 million gallons of ethanol, but that is just a small part of the 60-year-old company’s diverse business interests

I learned a lot about The Andersons this week on the Conservation Technology Information Center 2011 Conservation in Action Tour in northwest Ohio. The diversified company, which was started in the late 1940’s by Harold Anderson, has various business divisions including the grain and ethanol, plant nutrients, railcar leasing and repair, turf products production, and consumer retailing industries.

Al Bensch, vice president of northern operations for The Andersons Plant Nutrient Group, spoke on one of the three tour buses as we drove past much of the company’s Maumee, Ohio operations. “We’re basic in commodity markets, grain and fertilizer,” he said. The Grain Division operates grain terminals in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska with storage capacity of 107 million bushels.

They got into the ethanol business as a natural extension of the grain division back in 2005, starting with a joint venture in Michigan, then adding the Clymers, Indiana plant and finally the one in Greenville, Ohio. “We are not the majority owner of those (plants), we’re a minority,” said Bensch. “Marathon is a partner in one and I think that was the first time a major oil company got involved in the ethanol business.” (See our post from November 2006)

Listen to some of Al’s comments here: Al Bensch, The Andersons

Mrs. South Dakota Knows Ethanol’s Importance

Here’s Lori Visker, Mrs. South Dakota, with two of the guys on the team that’s promoting Ethanol, Fueled with Pride, at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I met Lori last night during an industry partners reception and we chatted about her participation in the rally and ethanol. Like me Lori is a first timer at Sturgis and she brought her own bike to ride.

When it comes to ethanol she knows that it is important to the economy, especially in rural America. She says it helps us take care of ourselves and the environment.

Listen to my interview with Lori here: Interview with Mrs. South Dakota

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Buffalo Chip Owner Runs His Vehicles on Ethanol

The owner of the Buffalo Chip Campground is Rod “Woody” Woodruff, seen here at a press conference during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The focus of the concerts and events is The Chip as it’s called.

I visited with Woody in his office and learned how he got this event started out here on the property that’s just three miles outside the city of Sturgis. Woody was born in South Dakota but had moved to San Francisco. He came back and wound up staying. He says the city fathers were kind of fed up with the Rally and he thought it would be “just like throwing a keg party in high school,” so he started one just outside of town.

Woody says the relationship with the Renewable Fuels Association as a sponsor of the Rally was a natural fit. He says that a long time ago a local co-op told him he should use the fuel. “I’ve been using it in my own vehicles for however long that’s been and exclusively.” He says he even notices getting better fuel economy!

Listen to my interview with Woody here: Interview with Woody at The Chip

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Rupert Loves Home Grown Fuel

His name is Rupert Boneham but everyone knows him as Rupert, winner of Survivor. Rupert is one of the folks I’ve had the pleasure to meet here at the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. In the photo he’s being interviewed on the street before the Legends Ride. I ran into him again out here where I’m staying at the Buffalo Chip Campground.

Rupert has a charitable organization called, “Rupert’s Kids” which is “dedicated to serving an easily overlooked population of youth: those that have become too old for the youth social service system, but are not old enough for the adult social service system. We teach these youth valuable skills and trades, while also empowering them to discover their inner strengths, passions and interests.” I heard him speak about the work his organization is doing and the fact that they’ve never taken any government money. That message alone was well worth bringing to your attention. With donations lagging due to the economy he’s turned to some very creative ways to create funding that includes his own branded video games.

Rupert is from Indiana and is also a big supporter of home grown fuel like ethanol!

Listen to my interview with Rupert here: Interview with Rupert

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Sturgis Legends Press Conference

During the Legends Ride activities here at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a press conference was held. The lineup of speakers included personalities like Rupert, one of the winners of Survivor. Also on the list was Robert White, Renewable Fuels Association.

I recorded Robert speaking to the standing room only filled room of media. You can listen to Robert’s statement here: Robert White Press Conference

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Sturgis Rally Ethanol Street Interview

The opening event for the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the Legends Ride that starts in Deadwood, SD and ends at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis. Here’s RFA’s Robert White (right) being interviewed on the street over the Legends event PA.

I recorded him describing the importance of this renewable fuel to America. You can listen to the interview here: Robert White Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Diversifying The Ethanol Industry With Biodiesel

An ethanol plant that stops looking for ways to diversify its business and improve its profits is an ethanol plant that will drown faster in bad weather. A new option for the ethanol industry to diversify is to add a biodiesel plant to the end of its corn oil extraction technology. This idea lends itself one step closer to a true biorefinery.

So what is the value proposition of doing this? Profits, as Mark Fashian, president of Ethanol Analytical Solutions (EAS) and Biodiesel Analytical Solutions (BAS) explained to me during a Skype interview following the Fuel Ethanol Workshop recently held in Indianapolis, Indiana. For example, Fashian said a 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant will sell 100 million RINS. By adding a 3 million gallon biodiesel plant you’ll make your plant more valuable because each of these gallons is worth 1.5 RINS, or an additional 4.5 million in total.

With demand for biodiesel increasing and the need for more gallons (the biodiesel industry is still ramping up after the one year loss of the $1 per gallon tax credit in 2009), Fashian said this is the perfect storm for the ethanol industry.

You can listen to my full interview with Mark Fashian here: Diversifying the Ethanol Industry with Biodiesel

He also noted that one drawback to using corn oil for biodiesel is that it has a high acidic content, around 27.5 percent, and because of this it is hard to convert. Most plants use a two-step process to achieve this.

“It’s a lot of redo a batch, do a batch again because we didn’t get it just right, and that’s not what the ethanol industry is looking for,” said Fashian. “They’re looking for the silver bullet where you can take that corn oil right from the extractor and put it right in to another process to make biodiesel without having to mess with a second or third run to get the biodiesel to make ASTM grade. And that’s exactly what the McGyan process does. It’s patented for the corn oil process and with their everlasting catalyst you just pump the sample in with either ethanol or methanol and out the other end comes beautiful biodiesel.”

If a plant doesn’t have extraction technology, when all expenses are factored in, the return on investment (ROI) is less than one year, and this includes the lab. I should note that Fashian is also a director of Mcgyan and both EAS/BAS represent the technology. So their team would not only work with the ethanol plant on the biodiesel installation, but also help them update the lab for all the extra tests required for biodiesel and the proper equipment to achieve specs. For those plants who already have extraction technology, the ROI is less than 2 years.

It takes between 12-18 months to get the Mcgyan technology up and running and its already designed to be a perfect fit for an ethanol plant. Oh, and if you decide to sell your corn oil on the market rather than produce biodiesel, you can still produce biodiesel with other feedstocks.

DFCast: Biofuels Take Flight

In the past few months, biofuels have taken to the skies with a multitude of successful flights conducted by both the military and the commercial airline industry. This news has been even more welcome with the achievements taking place during the aftermath of the Rand report predicting that aviation biofuels would not play a role in the next few decades. But where biofuels really took flight was during the Paris airshow, which kicked off with the transatlantic flight from North America to Paris using a 50/50 biofuel blend derived from camelina.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack attended the Paris Air Show and told the audience that “extraordinary progress has been made in the last 12 months.” He continued by saying, “I think we’re nearing a tipping point” in terms of building momentum toward use of biofuel on commercial flights. I think [biofuel powering airline flights is] not long-term. In the short term you’ll see the benefits.”

To further spur the development of biojet fuels, the European Commission launched the Biofuels Flightpath, a roadmap to achieve the goal of using 2 million tonnes of aviation biofuels per year by 2020. Prior to this announcement, back in the U.S., Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest released a comprehensive report to speed up the commercialization and use of aviation biofuels in the Northwest. In addition, ASTM officially approved renewable jet fuel standards.

The region has been a leader in the U.S. in the movement to more sustainable airport practices as well as in the movement to adopt renewable fuels. Lawrence J. Krauter, CEO of the Spokane International Airport, one of dozens of entities participating in the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest initiative, noted, “The course is clear that aviation biofuels are key to the future of sustainable air travel. We can no longer base our future on imported petroleum, especially if the United States wants to remain an aviation leader. The SAFN study proves domestic biofuels are feasible and offers an economic opportunity for us to remain competitive as an industry and move toward a sustainable, domestic fuel supply.”

Learn more about the flight of biofuels here: Domestic Fuel Cast

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