Nanoparticle Helps Harvest Algae, Brew Biodiesel

ntuResearchers in Taiwan have made a magnetic nanoparticle for harvesting microalgae, extracting algae oil and converting the oil’s fatty acids into a methyl ester, used in biodiesel. This article from the Taipei Times says a National Taiwan University (NTU) team led by Wu Chia-wen developed the product.

The team used iron oxide and silicon dioxide to form nanoparticles, which, when applied to algae solution, magnetically attract algae and convert their fat into biodiesel with an alkaline-based catalyst, Wu said.

Traditional algae-harvesting methods require large amounts of energy to break down cell walls, but the team’s nanoparticles effectively convert algae oil to biodiesel with a maximum yield of 97.1 percent of the oil’s fatty acid methyl esters, compared with existing methods, which yield less than 60 percent, Wu said.

Microalgae contain the highest fat content among biomaterials commonly used to produce biofuel, so microalgae has replaced corn and barley as a favored source for the industry.

Referring to the past few years’ food safety and tainted oil scandals, NTU president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) said that nanoparticles can also turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel.

Heating Oil Assoc. Helps Teach About Biodiesel

BronxBioheatThe Big Apple is getting a little smarter on biodiesel heating oil. The New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA) says it’s helped a Bronx teacher get Bioheat into his HVAC training.

Peter Gonzalez is teaching the science of Bioheat® fuel – as well as math, chemistry and English – to 17 Bronx Design and Construction Academy juniors this fall, with NYOHA’s support. In addition to arranging for 150 gallons of pure B100 Bioheat® fuel and equipment to be donated by AMERIgreen Energy and Schildwachter Oil Company, Rocco Lacertosa, NYOHA’s CEO and a member of the school’s HVAC Advisory Board, recently visited the classroom to speak directly to the students.

“New York City has mandated a 2 percent biodiesel blend, and one of the things I’m trying to do is educate the students on Bioheat® fuel and the importance of the industry going green,” Gonzalez said.

During the classroom session, NYOHA helped the students gain insider views of the Bioheat® fuel industry. Lacertosa spoke about work opportunities in Bioheat® fuel companies, and AMERIgreen Energy’s Michael Devine provided an in-depth look at the environmental benefits of Bioheat® fuel as well as the fuel’s appeal to consumers. Peter Schildwachter, of Schildwachter Oil Company, also visited the class and donated new equipment.

“We are very proud to support the excellent work that Peter Gonzalez is doing to help prepare New York City students for a future in the Bioheat® fuel industry,” said Lacertosa.

Gonzalez has devised a curriculum of exploration in which his HVAC class learns through experimentation and reporting. The students are blending small quantities of heating oil and biodiesel and paying careful attention to the blend ratios. They burn various Bioheat® fuel blends up to 99 percent biodiesel in heating equipment and use combustion analysis tools to profile the emissions at each level.

New Exec Committee at Nat’l Biodiesel Foundation

nBBThere’s a new Executive Committee for the National Biodiesel Foundation. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said the group was elected during the NBB’s recent fall directors meeting in Washington, D.C., and the foundation is designed to advanced initiatives important to the commercial biodiesel industry.

Industry representatives elected to the board include:

– President: Mike Cunningham is currently a director on the American Soybean Association Board, representing the state of Illinois. Mike is a corn and soybean farmer from Bismark, Illinois. He has been involved with soybean association work at both the state and national level since 2002.

– Vice President: Mark Caspers is currently serving as a director on the United Soybean Board and recently completed a 12 year stint as a director on the Nebraska Soybean Board. He is a fourth generation family farmer operating a diversified crop operation on 600 acres in southeast Nebraska.

– Secretary/Treasurer: Jeff Lynn is from Oakford, Illinois and is a director for the Illinois Soybean Association as well as a trustee for Chandlerville Township in Cass County, Illinois. He is part of a family farm dating back to 1833 that includes corn, soybeans, and seed soybeans.

John Heisdorffer, Matt Jaeger, and David Womack retired their executive committee positions but will continue to serve on the Foundation board.

“We thank them for their dedication to the Foundation and biodiesel education and research over the years,” NBF Executive Director Tom Verry noted. “Their efforts have significantly impacted the growth of this industry.”

Iowa Biodiesel Plant to Get $38 Mil Expansion

AGPAn Iowa biodiesel plant will get a $38 million expansion that will just about double the refinery’s output. This article from the Sioux City Journal says Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) is moving forward with the project just south of the city with some help from local and state incentives.

“This expansion reflects our commitment to the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers as we continue to invest in this important value-added market,” AGP CEO Keith Spackler said in a statement Friday.

The Port Neal facility was the nation’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant when it opened in 1996. The plant currently produces up to 30 million gallons per year.

The biodiesel expansion is complementary to the co-op’s plans announced early this year to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery at the rural Woodbury location, said chief operating officer Cal Meyer.

At separate meetings Friday, the county and state adopted a package of incentives to help finance the biodiesel expansion, which is expected to create three new jobs.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority in Des Moines approved $308,000 in added incentives, with $24,000 in loans and $280,000 in increased tax credits.

Earlier this year, the state board approved $152,000 in forgivable or interest-free loans and $810,000 in various state tax credits for the vegetable oil plant, which is expected to create 20 new jobs. Friday’s action boosts the state’s total package to $1.27 million.

AGP is the world’s largest farmer-owned soybean processor.

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

Camelina Serves Biodiesel and Bees

Camelina is pulling double duty as a biodiesel source and a cover crop. And this article from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is also keeping bees well fed.

usda-ars-camelina[S]cientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that its flowering period can provide honey bees and other insects with a critical, early-spring source of nectar and pollen that’s usually unavailable then. This is especially true in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, where about one-third of the nation’s managed bee colonies are kept from May through October.

The researchers observed that fields of winter camelina and winter canola (another alternate oilseed crop) produced about 100 pounds per acre of nectar sugar over the course of a two- to three-week flowering season. That quantity, produced in such a short time, is enough to support the annual energy requirements of a typical bee hive, which is 100-200 pounds of sugar per year, according to Frank Forcella, an agronomist with ARS’ Soil Management Research Unit in Morris, Minnesota. He participated on a team of ARS and university scientists which evaluated the attractiveness of camelina, canola and a third oilseed crop—pennycress—during two years of outdoor field trials.

Highlights of the team’s findings—reported in the June 2015 issue of Industrial Crops and Products—are: Continue reading

New Leadership at National Biodiesel Board

nBBThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has four new members and four returning members on its governing board. This news release from NBB says the group was elected during NBB’s latest annual fall membership meeting in Washington, D.C., this week.

“Biodiesel faces many challenges but we have strong leadership from among all sectors of the industry and we are in a position as an organization to face those challenges head on,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “This industry has reached nearly two billion gallons for a third consecutive year and will continue to grow into the future under the direction of the board.”

NBB members voted to fill eight board member spots:

– Kent Engelbrecht, ADM
– Ron Heck, Iowa Soybean Association
– Ed Hegland, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
– Ron Marr, Minnesota Soybean Processors
– Steve Nogel, AGP
– Amy Sigg Davis, Ohio Soybean Council
– Robert Stobaugh, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board
– Chad Stone, Renewable Energy Group

Steven Levy, Mike Cunningham, Greg Anderson, Jennifer Case, Timothy Keaveney, Robert Morton, and Ben Wootton also continue to serve on the Governing Board. Four long-time board members retired their positions this year including two past chairs Bob Metz, South Dakota Soybean, and Gary Haer, Renewable Energy Group. Also retiring their positions were Ed Ulch, Iowa Soybean Association, and Todd Ellis, Imperium Renewables.

The meeting also saw discussions on the current state of federal policies impacting the industry, held meetings of standing committees, and began the annual program planning process.

Vancouver Gets First ‘Green & Go’ Biodiesel Station

cowichanMotorists on Vancouver Island in Canada will get more choice in their biodiesel blends. Cowichan Energy Alternatives (CEA), the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op (Co-op) and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) are opening the island’s first “Green & Go” biodiesel station, which could pump 5, 20 or 50 percent blends.

The new biodiesel blending pump and Point of Sale (PoS) technology will provide drivers with an easy and secure way to access clean, renewable biodiesel after they create a user account at Biodiesel is a proven fossil-fuel-alternative that reduces harmful pollution while increasing a vehicle’s engine life. The pump’s PoS will provide each member with a transaction record that shows greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions with every fill up.

‘Sustainable Solution in Action’ – The Cowichan Biofuel Facility is a homegrown centre for recycling commercial and residential waste cooking oil into environmentally-friendly biodiesel for local use as a petroleum diesel substitute. This demonstration facility is the first of its kind in North America and a model for communities seeking sustainable solutions that support the development of a local, low-carbon economy. It is the result of a unique partnership between the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op and Cowichan Energy Alternatives, and is part of the growing BC Biofuel Network. Financial support was provided in part by Vancity.

Officials will hold an official ceremony later this afternoon at the Cowichan Biofuel Facility, 3900 Drinkwater Road, North Cowichan, British Columbia. The public and media are invited to the event.

Iowa Biodiesel Makers Take to DC

nafb15-nbb-grantIowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) members joined their National Biodiesel Board colleagues in lobbying lawmakers to renew and restructure the federal $1-per-gallon credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel. IBB pointed to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s proposal that would correct a loophole in the existing program and save U.S. taxpayers $90 million.

“Nowhere is the success of the tax credit more evident than in Iowa. Our state’s 13 plants produced more than a quarter of a billion gallons of biodiesel last year, supporting jobs and economic development while replacing foreign oil and diversifying our fuel supply. The federal tax incentive has played a key role in enabling those plants to stay operating and profitable, benefiting all levels of our economy,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

But Kimberley isn’t just looking at the benefits for Iowa. During an interview with the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, he said that Iowa biodiesel can be a real help to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

“California … wants to have all of their transportation fuels fit under the [LCFS], where it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is better for the environment,” said Kimberley. “Renewable fuels, including biodiesel, can play a key role in that.”

He said biodiesel producers have had to educate California officials just how good biodiesel can be. Initially, California scored biodiesel just above conventional diesel. But education efforts improved that score.

“Now they’ve moved that score higher, so now it’s up to 50-80 percent better than petroleum-based diesel, which means biodiesel can play a really strong role in the [LCFS]. It could be up to 600 million gallons of biodiesel per year that could be utilized in California,” said Kimberley.

He also pointed out that since California doesn’t produce much of the green fuel, it opens up many possibilities for Midwest producers.

Listen to all of Cindy’s conversation with Kimberley here: Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board

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.”