NREL Releases E15 & Infrastructure Report

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a paper addressing the compatibility of E15 with gas station equipment. “E15 and Infrastructure” looks at compatibility of E15 through a literature review of published works by refueling equipment manufacturers, industry groups and federal agencies. The paper also includes a summary of applicable codes and standards, review of equipment manufacturer products, and verification with manufacturers regarding which ethanol blends work
with their products.

NREL logoThe report also addresses several misperceptions about E15 including that it is safe to store the ethanol blend in tanks. The paper states that for many decades, underground storage tank manufacturers have approved their tanks for blends up to E100, more specifically, all steal tanks and double-walled fiberglass tanks since the year 1990.

As part of the study all fuel and vapor handling equipment was reviewed to determine if it was certified by a third-party (such as UL) and if it was listed for specific ethanol blends. The aggregated list confirms there are UL testing standards available now for all gasoline–ethanol blends from 0% to 85% ethanol. The appendices includes a full list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment. The literature review also finds that there were no incidents of E10 causing releases from UST systems were identified.

The study concludes, “There are future opportunities for retailers to remove or replace their current equipment not necessarily related to continuous changes in motor fuel composition. Credit card companies are requiring retail fueling stations to update their dispensers to accept new chip and PIN secure credit cards by October 2017, at which time fraud liability would switch to station owners if they have not updated their equipment. This presents an opportunity to increase E25 UL-listed equipment through a retrofit kit if electronics are being upgraded to accommodate the new credit cards, or if a station owner must purchase a new dispenser, it could pay a minimal amount more for an E25 dispenser. If a new dispenser is purchased, this may also present an opportunity to
upgrade to an E85 dispenser, but at significant additional cost.”

USDA Turning Wildfire Fuel into Biofuels

usda-logoThe fuel for wildfires is being converted to biofuels. This posting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blog says the agency is tackling the issue of what to do with the trees killed by bark beetles, a source of fuel for forest fires. While the huge bioenergy resource (projected to be 46 million acres) has potential, it faces some real challenges, including access to industrial centers able to process it into biofuel. Several USDA programs look to overcome that issue.

One such program, the Sustainable Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR), is led by Colorado State University. BANR brings together scientists, educators, and extension specialists from universities and government agencies to work with industry partners to address the major challenges that impact economical and sustainable utilization of insect-killed trees for the production of biofuels and biochar.

Because collecting beetle-killed trees is more of a salvage operation than a harvest, BANR has created teams to address the various challenges. The first order of business is locating the feedstock, which BANR does through various sensing approaches. They will also develop models to predict future beetle infestations. Another team is tackling the logistical problems of harvesting, collecting, transporting, and storing the raw biomass without negatively impacting natural forest regeneration and water resources. Specifically, goals for this aspect of the operation include benchmarking the performance of equipment used to harvest, process, and deliver beetle-killed trees, and then optimize the logistics for site conditions, specific end uses, and facility locations.

USDA also wants to educate youth by developing middle and high school science units that focus on bioenergy; professional development for K-12 teachers; research opportunities for K-12 teachers and undergraduate students; and online coursework for undergrads, graduate students, and K-12 teachers.

Novozymes Part of Global Bioenergy Initiative

sustainableA new UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative was announced this week with the goal of “doubling the global use of renewable energy and ensuring universal energy access by 2030.”

Co-chaired by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the initiative includes Novozymes, a global technology provider for the biofuels industry, as a partner in the project to scale up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

novozymes“With this initiative, we help bring together a diverse range of global frontrunners to advance the development and use of sustainable bioenergy in countries where the environmental and socio-economic benefits are greatest,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President for Business Development with Novozymes. “It is a unique chance to involve governments, industry, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to identify opportunities where action on sustainable bioenergy can be accelerated.”

Accounting for nearly half of the global enzyme market, Novozymes has been a major player in the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol. “We produce the enzymes that help break down starch and make sugar available for first generation ethanol and we are working on a number of projects to help breakdown cellulosic material,” said Videbæk in an interview today with DomesticFuel.

Videbæk says next generation biofuels are considered “sustainable bioenergy” under the initiative’s High Impact Opportunity (HIO) goals. “I look at the biofuel area, be it first or second generation, as very sustainable forms of energy,” said Videbæk. “We certainly hope to see that continues going forward.”

Which is one of the reasons Novozymes wanted to be part of this initiative that they hope will help get some regulatory clarity regarding sustainable bioenergy around the world, including the United States. “And we can get politicians to commit to mandates and targets for this type of energy, because we believe that is for the best of the planet’s future,” Videbæk said.

In this interview, Videbæk explains much more about the new initiative and Novozymes’ role in it. Interview with Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes

Ethanol Producers Manage Growth, Change

The 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference is right around the corner. This year’s theme is “Managing Expectations” and will focus on ways the successful biofuels facilities are watching for ways to manage capital, reinvest profits and help their plants evolve says John Christianson, CPA and Partner at Christianson & Associates, PLLP, based in Willmar, MN. The Biofuels Financial Conference is taking place June 24-25, 2015 in Minneapolis, MN at the Bloomington Embassy Suites.

Christianson and A logoSpeakers will discuss various aspects of creating a well-managed plan for growth and change, and ways to help investors understand the essential components of future success. Christianson says that his company, which is both a CPA firm and a consulting firm that has worked in the biofuels industry for 20 years, understands the importance of providing services and products that can help ensure financial success for a biofuels plant. This year’s Biofuels Financial Conference will focus on creating a financial plan that maximizes profitability while ensuring future stability and meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.

“It’s important for board members and financial decision-makers to understand the opportunities in the current liquid fuels marketplace,” Christianson added. “What is the impact of the latest legislation changes, what are the marketplace opportunities, what are the technology investments that will bring a plant successfully into the next generation?”

Registration is still open but space is limited. Learn more about the Biofuels Financial Conference and register by clicking here.

Biofuels, Nat Gas Boost Nonpetroleum Usage Levels

Petroleum is still tops in transportation fuels, but biodiesel, ethanol and natural gas have taken the biggest bite out of its share since 1954. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says the numbers harken back to when coal-fired steam locomotives were declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.
nonpetroleumconsumption
After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.

Ecuador Rolls Out Ethanol Program

Gasolina EcopaisPresident Rafael Correa of Ecuador has issued a decree that orders the gradual national roll out of a 10pc ethanol blend in gasoline, using a price index published by Argus Americas Biofuels. The country is branding the ethanol-blend “Ecopais” and the goal is aimed at reducing the country’s growing high-octane gas imports that are blended with locally produced low-octane gas to make 87 octane and 92 octane.

“We are delighted that Ecuador has chosen to base its new ethanol mandate on Argus price assessments, in recognition of our clear methodology and benchmark status in global biofuels markets,” Argus Media Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Binks said.

A number of Latin American countries have adopted Argus-related pricing in oil and energy markets. The Ecopais announcement follows last year’s decision by state-owned oil company PetroEcuador to price its crude exports against the ASCI benchmark — Argus’ volume-weighted average of US deepwater sour crude deals.

Pricing will be calculated based on the Argus ethanol price plus delivery costs from the U.S. Gulf coast to Ecuador plus a K factor of 18 cents per liter.

Wash. State Researchers Make Biofuels from Fungus

Researchers at Washington State University are making a biofuel for jets from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. This news release from the school says they hope to have a viable aviation biofuel in the next five years.

washstfungusbiofuel1The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

Led by Birgitte Ahring, director and Battelle distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities, the researchers published their work in the April edition of Fungal Biology.

The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production.

Fungi have been of interest for about a decade within biofuels production as the key producer of enzymes necessary for converting biomass to sugars. Some researchers further showed that fungi could create hydrocarbons, but the research was limited to a specific fungus living within a specific tree in the rainforest, and the actual hydrocarbon concentrations were not reported.

Ahring’s group has previously been successful in using standard Aspergillus fungi to produce enzymes and other useful products, which have been patented and are under commercialization, so they decided to look into A. carbonarius ITEM 5010’s potential for biofuels.

The researchers got help from Kenneth Bruno, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who developed a method essential for the genetic manipulation of A. carbonarius. The research received funding from the Danish Council for Strategic Research under the program for Energy and Environment.

MN Ethanol Industry Contributed $2.3B in 2014

According to a new study, “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of Minnesota,” found that Minnesota’s ethanol industry accounted for $2.34 billion of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2014. The report was published by ABF Economics and found that the industry generated $7 billion in gross sales for state businesses and supported 18,630 full-time jobs. This in turn, cites the report, generated $1.74 billion in household income in Minnesota in 2014 as well as $132 million to state and local government tax rolls.

“This study by ABF Economics clearly shows how significant the ethanol industry is to Minnesota’s economy, especially in rural areas where it supports other industries,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association who commissioned the study.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.19.05 PMFor the study, ABF Economics estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on Minnesota’s economy by applying expenditures by the relevant supplying industry to the final demand multipliers for value added output, earnings and employment.

“In this study, ABF used the IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) economic model to construct a model of the Minnesota economy including the sectors that support the ethanol industry, the links between them, and the level of economic activity,” noted John Urbanchuk, managing partner for ABF Economics, in the study.

The IMPLAN model evaluated the gross output, value added (GDP), household earnings and employment generated by the ethanol industry in 2014.

In 2014, the study notes, Minnesota’s ethanol industry spent $2.7 billion to produce 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol, 3.3 million tons of dried distiller’s grains (DDGs) and 184 million pounds of corn oil.The ethanol industry’s expenditure included corn, industrial chemicals, electricity, natural gas, water, labor and services such as maintenance, insurance and general overheads. Spending for these goods and services represented the purchase of output of other industries that operate in Minnesota, ABF Economics said. Continue reading

FEW Set to Break Records

The International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW), is taking place June 1-4, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is set to have the largest number of ethanol producers ever FEW14-color-web-NoYeargathered at an industry event with more than 600 producers. During the course of the event, they’ll discuss issues categorized into four tracks: Track 1: Production and Operations; Track 2: Leadership and Financial Management; Track 3: Coproducts and Product. Diversification; and Track 4: Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol.

BBI Marketing Director John Nelson notes that the event will “create an unprecedented opportunity for industry supplier and supporters to network with ethanol producers and share their products or services.” He also said they are attendees registered from 25 countries. Registration is still open.

There are 194 operational ethanol plants in the U.S. today producing more than 15 million gallons of ethanol per year including several advanced ethanol production facilities.

energy.agwired.com will be onsite covering this event with special thanks from our sponsor Novozymes.

Poll Says Americans Support RFS

More than six in 10 Americans support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) according to a new national poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The RFS mandates the amount of renewable fuels to be used in the U.S. transportation fuel supply.

The poll finds that the RFS garners broad, bipartisan support from Democrats (65%), Independents (61%) and Republicans (57%) alike. Nearly two in three registered voters overall (62%) support the RFS. Less than two in 10 voters (18%) oppose the standard and two in 10 have no opinion (20%).

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.34.07 AMOther key findings include that two-thirds of voters (65%) support Federal tax incentives on cellulosic ethanol expansion. Fifty-one percent Fifty-one percent of voters oppose tax incentives given by the federal government to oil companies in order to help pay for such things as equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Only about one-third of voters (34%) support such government assistance to oil companies and 15 percent have no opinion.

In terms of mandating automakers to produce alternative vehicles, 69 percent of registered voters support requiring automakers to build cars that use “fuel” other than oil including electric vehicles, natural gas and biofuels.

“This poll clearly shows that the oil industry’s misinformation, hyperbole, and manufactured angst against the RFS is not resonating with an American public that wants competition for the pump, relief for their wallet, and lower carbon fuels for the planet,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “More than six in ten Americans understand the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of the RFS. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency should take note of the high level of support for the program and allow the RFS to work at the levels Congress envisioned in 2007. Failure to do so only rewards the recalcitrant incumbent industry, jeopardizes investment in new innovative technologies, and ignores an American public intent upon moving our nation’s energy future forward.”