Gevo has announced that Express Lube of Fredericksburg, Texas, is the first U.S. service station to sell gasoline blended with Gevo’s renewable isobutanol at the pump. Gevo said this is anticipated to be the first of many retail locations to offer Gevo’s product as the company rolls out its isobutanol to the marina, outdoor equipment and off-road gasoline markets.
According to Express Lube owner Adam Sheffield, he decided to sell isobutanol-blended gasoline because its moisture resistance and capacity to reduce engine corrosion are ideal for equipment and vehicles that are used intermittently. Sheffield learned about Gevo’s renewable isobutanol from Kino Oil, a local distributor that sells the product in drums. Kino began to offer the fuel made with isobutanol after finding that it is ethanol-free and is excellent for use with marine and off-road engines. Today the station is selling its fuel at over a 50 percent premium in comparison to local E10 gasoline blends that contain 10 percent ethanol.
“Isobutanol is great for weed eaters, mowers and farm or ranch equipment that sits unused for long periods of time – because it does not cause carburetors to gum up the way ethanol does,” said Sheffield. “I tried it myself after discovering that the ethanol-blended gasoline sitting in my riding mower over the winter had ruined the carburetor. It cost me $700 to replace. That’s when I switched to isobutanol.”
According to Gevo, its isobutanol is blended with gasoline to help meet renewable fuel
and clean air standards, and after several years of work and testing, has successfully obtained registration with the U.S. EPA as a fuel additive. Recently, the National Marine Manufacturers Association officially endorsed isobutanol as a drop-in fuel for marine and recreational boat engines. Gevo believes that retail sales of isobutanol-blended gasoline by Express Lube will help establish the value proposition for other fuel retailers.
Dr. Patrick Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo, added, “We welcome Express Lube as the very first retail service station to sell gasoline made with our isobutanol. It’s only a matter of time before other distributors and gas stations across the U.S. and in other parts of the world discover the benefits of isobutanol, and begin to offer our product commercially as well.”
On Friday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts rallied for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in Blair, Nebraska at Novozymes’ biofuel enzyme facility. Also in attendance was Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson and Kyle Nixon, Novozymes general manager. According to speakers, should the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule that slashes the required volumes of corn ethanol by more than one million gallons move forward, it will threaten thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investments by ethanol producers in Nebraska and Iowa.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks about the RFS during a rally held at Novozyme’s enzyme facility in Blair, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Novozymes.
“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and ethanol is one of the key agricultural growth industries that have added billions in revenue and thousands of jobs over the past decade to our state,” said Gov. Ricketts. “These efforts were undertaken in expectation that such efforts would meet the commitment of this nation to renewable fuels established by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Nebraskans have cause for concern because the EPA’s proposal to slash billions of gallons of biofuels from the RFS has the potential to negatively impact the future growth of our state. The RFS is an achievable and ambitious target and must be maintained.”
Today is the last day for public comment on the rule and more than 200,000 comments alone were submitted today by Fuels America. Earlier this year the association released an economic study citing the RFS driving $184 billion in economic activity, 850,000 jobs and $46 billion in wages across the country. This activity, found the report, creates a ripple effect as supplier firms and employees re-spend throughout the economy. The local impact for Nebraska is $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.
Today the U.S. biofuels industry produces 14 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel.
According to Nixon, enzymes from Novozyme’s Blair, Nebraska plant allow agricultural products like corn starch and corn stover to be converted into conventional and advanced biofuels. He noted the facility has helped realize two of the Obama Administration’s key goals for renewable energy; creating short-term construction and long-term professional jobs; and helping move the U.S. away from foreign oil and towards homegrown renewable fuel, energizing the economy and increasing domestic security. Continue reading →
President Roger Johnson sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writing, “The volume standards issued in EPA’s proposed rule for RFS target levels are unacceptable and will further hurt investment in a renewable fuel sector that has already been damaged by significant delays in issuing the standards,” said Johnson. “NFU strongly urges the administration to comply with the RFS levels already provided in the popular, bipartisan EISA statute.”
Johnson noted that the volume standards in the proposed rule do not match the goals EPA claims to pursue through its execution of the RFS, and that EPA needs to set volume standards to those provided in the EISA in order to alleviate this problem.
“The proposed, lower volume standards demonstrate to industry that taking steps to increase consumer choice and pursue worthwhile environmental goals can be avoided, even when mandated by Congress,” wrote Johnson. “Instead, holding industry to the proposed targets would demonstrate the Administration’s stable, reliable commitment to biofuels and allow the biofuels and transportation fuels industries the certainty required to attract capital investment and build out the infrastructure needed to offer consumers higher-level ethanol blends.”
Johnson said the proposed rule hurts the administration’s goals for climate resiliency – important steps that mitigate the threats climate change poses to family agriculture. He said that transportation fuels promoted by the RFS have immense potential to reduce climate-influencing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.
“EPA should pursue GHG emission reductions at every opportunity to try to mitigate climate change as much as possible,” Johnson’s letter continued. “The RFS offers tremendous capacity to reduce GHGs by encouraging the use of transportation fuels that emit fewer GHGs than petroleum-based transportation fuels.”
The letter concluded, “NFU respectfully asks EPA to issue a final rule implementing volume standards that match those Congress set in EISA. Those standards will drive investment in advanced biofuel production and rural communities and contribute to climate resiliency. NFU stands ready to offer any support and assistance EPA may find helpful regarding these matters.”
“Brazil is truly a trailblazer in the global biofuels industry, not only as one of the world’s largest producers of biofuels, but one of the first,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA. “As the largest ethanol producer in Brazil, we are honoured to have UNICA join our ranks to represent the industry on the world stage.”
UNICA is the largest organization in Brazil representing sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity producers. UNICA members represent more than 50% of all ethanol produced in Brazil and 60% of overall sugar production.
“As a global leader in ethanol production, UNICA is proud to be a member of the GRFA,” said Ms. Farina. “We look forward to working with the other members of over 44 biofuel producing countries to collectively promote the expanded use of renewable fuels throughout the world and advocate for sound public policy and responsible research.”
The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting biofuel friendly policies internationally. Alliance members now represent over 90% of the global biofuels production from 45 countries.
A broad group of companies supporting the renewable fuels industry sent a letter urging members of Congress to reject proposals that ‘amend, repeal, defund or otherwise modify or interfere with the Renewable Fuel Standard‘(RFS). This included the amendment from Rep. Barry Loudermilk that would defund the RFS.
The letter compares renewable fuel favorably to gasoline on environmental measures and argues that renewable fuel breaks the oil monopoly on gasoline. The letter also cites that in 2013, 33 percent of the petroleum consumed in the United States came from foreign sources, the lowest level since 1985.
“The biodiesel industry can do much more to make the whole program stronger,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe in an interview at the hearing. “Biodiesel is the only domestic, fully commercialized, advanced biofuel and we’ve helped the advanced biofuel category meet its goals nearly every year of the program.”
Biodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. Because of biodiesel’s higher energy content, this would count as 2.95 billion ethanol equivalent gallons under the RFS. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion ethanol equivalent gallons in 2016. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.
The EPA recently released a new proposal for biofuels volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard – one that has made no one happy but particularly corn farmers and ethanol producers who note that the agency is not implementing the law as intended. EPA held a public hearing to get comments on the proposal but will it lead to a change? Half of those who took our recent poll believe that the EPA won’t change RFS volumes. Time will tell.
Here are the poll results:
No – 50%
Yes – 29%
Maybe – 21%
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What’s on your grill this 4th of July?
Beyond fireworks, grilling seems to be a top priority when families and friends gather to celebrate Independence Day. July is also known as National Hot Dog Month. So, will you be joining the tradition by eating hot dogs on the 4th or will you be grilling up something else?
The public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard was a who’s who of the biofuels industry and then some.
A total of 254 people on 43 panels testified in two different rooms for about seven and a half hours. It was over twice as many people who testified at a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia in December 2013 on EPA’s first proposed RVO for 2014 that was ultimately withdrawn.
The vast majority of those testifying at the hearing were biofuels supporters, less than a dozen represented the oil industry or others opposed to increasing use of biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel producers, corn growers, agribusiness interests and fuel retailers from across the nation testified, in addition to several state lawmakers, two governors and their agriculture secretaries.
RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations.
“We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”
The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) has released a study that finds ethanol free gasoline blends actually increase the wear and tear on engines including hoses, seals and fuel tanks. In other words, the data supports ethanol blends lead to cleaner engines. The findings were presented at the semi-annual meeting of ASTM by Steve Vander Griend, technical director for UAI who also works for ICM.
The report demonstrated that high aromatic content of gasoline, including toxic aromatics like benzene and toluene, negatively impact engine parts. Vander Griend explained in his presentation that the toxic aromatics create a significant increase in the escape of harmful emissions that can have a devastating impact on public health as these are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency has known and suspected carcinogens.
“What we are seeing is that benzene and toluene are increasing permeation, which means increasing the amount of fuel vapors that seep from a vehicle. For anyone who has a garage at home and smells gasoline, vapors are escaping through the vehicles fuel system or small engine gas tank,” said Vander Griend.
Also during his presentation Vander Griend explained that extensive testing was conducted on fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components. The materials were each soaked in straight gasoline (E0) and a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10) for extended periods of time. In every case, said Vander Griend, the ethanol free gasoline increased the damage to fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components, while the materials soaked in E10 were impacted less. Continue reading →
Minnesota’s governor has signed into law a measure that will help fuel retailers sell the 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15. This news release from the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association says the new law kicks in on July 1 and will provide funds for the retailers to convert their pumps to handle the higher blend.
The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association played a key role in getting the E15 Dispenser Bill included in the Agriculture and Environment bill and generated support for it from members of the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives.
Under the bill, $500,000 in grants will be disbursed over a two-year period to help fuel retailers make simple upgrades to their fuel dispensers so that they can offer E15.
These upgrades include simple calibrations, meters, valve assembles, seals, hanging hardware and in some limited cases, a new dispenser.
The measure is part of a larger piece of legislation that has the state setting a goal to reduce GHG emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. E15 produces fewer GHG emissions and could save the state 358,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, the equivalent of removing 75,368 cars from the road.