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

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.

Santorum Visits Quad County Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

qccp-santorumRepublican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum visited the site of the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state of Iowa at Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) Friday.

“One of the things that’s helped rural small towns and farmers, particularly in Iowa, is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Santorum, who met with met with plant representatives, including QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who share how they recently passed the two-million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Syngenta’s Cellerate™ process technology.

“We are excited to have achieved our goal of producing 2 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol, and are on target to continue, or increase, this production level going forward,” Johnson said. “We’re now focusing on growing alliances and relationships within the industry.”

During 2014, QCCP achieved EPA certification to generate D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for cellulosic ethanol. According to Johnson, the generation of D3 RINs helps fulfill advanced and cellulosic requirements set forth by the RFS. QCCP is among the first companies to issue D3 RINs, which has also enabled the company to expand sales into racing and advanced biofuels markets.

Santorum met with Johnson and others at the plant to discuss renewable fuels policy and see first-hand the innovative process technology that has enabled QCCP to become a leader in cellulosic ethanol production. Sen. Santorum also called for investment in flex fuel infrastructure to increase access to biofuels – which he believes would provide consumers with increased access to the fuel marketplace and allow greater market competition.

DuPont Celebrates Opening of Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

dupont-plantDuPont celebrated the opening of its cellulosic biofuel facility in Nevada, Iowa on Friday with a ceremony including industry representatives and many dignitaries. The biorefinery is now officially the world’s largest commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, with the capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year from corn stover – the stalks, leaves and cobs left in a field after harvest.

“Iowa has a rich history of innovation in agriculture,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today we celebrate the next chapter in that story, using agricultural residue as a feedstock for fuel, which brings both tremendous environmental benefits to society and economic benefits to the state. The opening of DuPont’s biorefinery represents a great example of the innovation that is possible when rural communities, their government and private industry work together toward a common goal.”

“Today, we fulfill our promise to the global biofuels industry with the dedication of our Iowa facility,” said William F. Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “And perhaps more significantly, we fulfill our promise to society to bring scientific innovation to the market that positively impacts people’s lives. Cellulosic biofuel is joining ranks with wind and solar as true alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing damaging environmental impacts and increasing our energy security.”

The majority of the fuel produced at the Nevada, Iowa, facility will be bound for California to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.

Novozymes Ranked Best Science Employer

Science Magazine has ranked Novozymes at the top of its Top Employers list. The publication polled employees in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers globally. The key characteristics the magazine was looking for in the ranking were ‘Innovative leader in the industry,’ ‘Treats employees with respect’ and ‘Is socially responsible’.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.57.47 AM“We are very proud to be recognized as the best employer by this leading scientific journal,” said Per Falholt, chief science officer at Novozymes. “We develop biological answers to some of the greatest challenges of our time. Our growing world needs more food, better farming, renewable energy, and clean air and water. Our products really make a difference, and I believe that is a great motivation for everyone at Novozymes.”

Novozymes has been a major player in the field since the 1940s. One in five of its 6,500 employees work in research and development (R&D), with the company’s main research centers located in Denmark, China, U.S. and India. Novozymes invests 13-14% of its total revenue into R&D each year. The company is the largest maker of industrial enzymes and microorganisms, and their biotechnology is used by companies around the world to save energy, water and raw materials in the production of a wide range of products from laundry detergents, textiles and beer, to biofuels, animal feed and crops. Earlier this week, Novozymes launched their next gen enzyme product Avantec Amp.

New Poll Shows Iowans Support RFS

“We wanted a poll to tell us the truth about where caucus voters stand. This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. This is an American thing. This represents the future,” said Eric Branstad the Iowa State Director of America’s Renewable Future (ARF) during a press call to release the results of a new poll.

Dupont_ARF_Infographic_FinalThe results find that a majority of caucus-goers from both political parties would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and biofuels, specifically ethanol. The poll also found that 61 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats would be more likely to support a candidate who supports progress in these areas. The poll was commissioned by ARF and DuPont and conducted by Selzer & Company who is best known for their Iowa Poll on behalf of the Des Moines Register.

“The idea behind this poll was to get clean reads on what people are thinking in this space very generally and then unpack the rationale behind some of the feelings they have,” said Anne Selzer, president of Selzer & Company when discussing the poll methodology.

In addition to Selzer and Branstad, comments were also made from Brooke Coleman, founder and executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council and Jan Koninckx, global business director, biofuels for DuPont.

Listen to the press conference here: Iowa Caucus Voters RFS Poll Press Conference

After being asked their views on the RFS without introducing any information about the policy, the poll delved in a bit more as a means to understand how caucus goers viewed renewable fuels and the RFS specifically. Results show several reasons why voters believe the RFS should continue: Continue reading

DuPont & Quad County Sign Enzyme Contract

DuPont Industrial Biosciences will continue to supply the enzymes that enable Quad County Corn Processors’ (QCCP) Cellerate process in the production of cellulosic biofuel from corn kernel fiber.  The ethanol plant developed the process and was the first in the country to produce cellulosic ethanol gallons from the corn kernel fiber. QCCP uses DuPont Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.24.19 AMOPTIMASH suite of enzymes from the DuPont Accellerase portfolio of cellulosic enzymes. The OPTIMASH enzymes are specifically formulated for use in the corn fiber cellulosic application.

The process was developed using DuPont’s enzymes. Over the last year of production, QCCP Chief Engineer Travis Brotherson has seen a marked difference in value between DuPont’s enzymes and its competitors’ offering. “DuPont’s enzymes have consistently outperformed other products in driving cellulosic ethanol and corn oil yield in our Cellerate process,” said Brotherson.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.24.24 AMQCCP currently produces 2 million gallons of biofuel per year from cellulose conversion, but anticipates production of an additional 2 million gallons of biofuel per year once a C5 yeast is approved. The benefits of adding second-generation biofuel production to an existing dry grind ethanol facility are substantial – from additional ethanol, Cellulosic RINs1 to additional distiller’s corn oil. QCCP further estimates that their technology has the potential to enable grain ethanol plants in the United States to produce over 1 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually based on total corn kernel fiber conversion in the dry grind industry.

“DuPont’s goal is to enable the bioeconomy through science,” said Jan Koninckx, global business director for advanced biofuel at DuPont. “To reach that goal, we offer multiple solutions, from our full advanced biofuels technology licensing to delivering customized solutions in both enzyme technology and co-product production for ethanol producers. We’re proud to be a partner with QCCP, enabling the growth and success of advanced biofuels here in the United States.”

DuPont is commissioning its cellulosic biofuel facility in Nevada on October 30, 2015. The plant is fueled by corn stover and will produce 30 millions gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

Illinois Teen’s Cellulosic Ethanol Wins Science Prize

TavisReedAn Illinois teen is being recognized for his efforts to make cellulosic ethanol. This article from the Chicago-area Daily Herald says 17-year-old Tavis Reed, a senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, won the 2015 gold medal in the chemistry/biochemistry division of the National Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics competition, besting more than 700 students from 150 ACT-SO chapters across the nation.

He did so by developing a process — for which he has a provisional patent — for the production of cellulosic ethanol, a “next-generation biofuel” made from cellulose, the structural part of plants.

The process uses bacteria to make ethanol as a potential fuel source in a cheaper and more environmentally conscious manner. He’s now working to find a way to scale up his research and make sure its results can be repeated in large quantities.

“That’s really important to me,” he said. “I feel like for my generation, the environmental impact that humans have on the world is a lot more evident than it has been in earlier decades.”

Tavis is unfailingly enthusiastic about science, said Sarah Soltau, his mentor through Argonne National Laboratory’s ACT-SO high school research program.

“He’s got many more ideas than I’d expect as a high school student,” she said. “He’s gone above and beyond anyone else I’ve seen at the high school level — and some even in college.”

Tavis’ teacher admits she had to learn a lot, just to keep up with the teenager.

The ACT-SO award was announced in July at the 106th Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, held in Philadelphia, which Tavis actually had to leave early to tutor some incoming students.