California Motorists Fill Up With Cellulosic Ethanol

graphic2In what might be one of the first deals of its kind, Pearson Fuels, a company installing “alternative fuels stations” across the state of California, has inked a deal with AE Biofuels, Inc. to supply cellulosic ethanol for its E85 and other ethanol fuel blends. Pearson Fuels, based in San Diego was the first company to build an E85 station for the public in California six years ago and has since begun expanding north.

aeb_logo_topAE Biofuels, based in Cupertino, California just launched a 9,000 square foot demonstration facility in Butte, Montana that will be producing cellulosic ethanol from various feedstocks. To date, they are utilizing various grasses, wheat straw, corn stover, corn cobs, and bagasse. The company is working with Verenium to develop the enzymes.

Mike Lewis, the owner of Pearson Fuels was quoted in the Union Tribune as saying his would be the first stations selling ethanol not made from food plants. “The reality is that there’s none out there on the market,” he said. “Bringing in any is big news.”

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed; however, AE Biofuels will supply Pearson Fuels with other biofuels, along with cellulosic ethanol, for distribution. AE Biofuels has several corn ethanol production facilities as well as biodiesel facilities. This partnership came at a strategic time as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted 9-1 to pass the low carbon fuel standard yesterday requiring a significant reduction of carbon emissions from fuels over the next decade.

Ethanol Blending in Nebraska

nebraska blender pumpMotorists in Grand Island, Nebraska now have a range of choices at the pump when it comes to ethanol blended gasoline.

Six ethanol blender pumps were unveiled last week providing flexible-fuel vehicle owners with the option of using E85, E30, E20 or the traditional E10 blend of gasoline. “If you drive a flex-fuel vehicle, you don’t have to fill up with E85 all the time,” said Jon Holzfaster, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “You can choose your ethanol blend based on price, performance and availability. That’s why they’re called ‘flexible.’”

A computer sensor automatically compensates for varying levels of ethanol in the gasoline. The pumps were installed at the Bosselman’s station on Allen Drive in Grand Island. Bosselman’s plans to install more blender pumps in the state, with the next planned for stores at Ainsworth and Chappell.

Drive Clean and Green in NC

A caravan of more than than 24 alternative fuel vehicles will leave from Raleigh, NC on April 15 at 3:30 p.m. and travel across the state. The Clean Fuel Advanced Technology program at the NC Solar Center is leading a clean transportation technology drive across North Carolina. The tour will continue with stops in Greensboro and Charlotte on April 16.

driving_clean_green_ncVIP drivers include: Congressman Bob Etheridge, U.S. Ambassador (retired) James Cain, NC Cabinet Secretaries: Gene Conti, Dee Freeman, Britt Cobb and Triangle Transit Authority Director, David King and over 24 alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles including: E85, neighborhood electric, plug in hybrid, natural gas, and propane vehicles.

Sponsors of the tour include: NC Department of Transportation, NC Division of Air Quality, NC State Energy Office, Environmental Defense Fund and Novozymes of North America. More information visit: www.ncmobilecare.org.

First Bentley FFV to be Introduced

bentleyIn 2010, an E85 Bentley will begin production in North America. The Continental GT will be introduced at the Geneva motor show as a production model. Its 630-hp turbocharged W12 will make it the fastest and most-powerful Bentley ever. The vehicle will exceed 200 mph.

The Supersports will be the first of Bentley’s to be E85 compatible. “The changes to make the Supersports run on E85 should not be underestimated,” said Uli Eichhorn, Bentley chief engineer. “As well as re-engineering the fuel system to cope with the corrosive ethanol, all the electronic subsystems had to be reprogrammed and revalidated.”

The main change to the engine to increase power above 600 hp is extra boost from the twin turbos, whose airflow is eased by 10 percent larger intercoolers. Bentley quotes a 0-to-60-mph time of 3.7 seconds and 50 to 70 mph in 2.1 seconds.

FFV/Electric Volt to Offer Smart Charging

voltThis summer, General Motors (GM) will begin testing prototypes of their electric flexible fuel Chevrolet Volt. The company is in discussions on its outreach efforts for the 2011 vehicle on how it will be attractive to buyers.

One of the attractions of the vehicle will allow the consumer to charge the Volt any time through their OnStar communication system.

“We will have a customer-selectable car-charging feature at a minimum,” Vehicle line director of the Volt, Tony Posawatz said. “We don’t have to put in smart meters to get those kinds of features and accommodations.”

Colorado Celebrates Earth Day

aglandEarth Day 2009 is April 22, but Agland Cenex fueling stations in Greeley, Colorado will celebrate the day a bit early with their community on April 17. The sites at 1607 2nd Ave. and at 2449 35th Avenue will sell E85 for 85 cents per gallon from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

co-cornThe first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 with about 20 million people across America. Now Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. government, grassroots organizations, and environmentally caring citizens, what started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a world-wide campaign to protect our global environment.

The Greeley, Colorado Earth Day event is sponsored by Agland, Weld County Garage and Northern Colorado Clean Cities. The E85 stations in Greeley are two of 81 in the state.

DF Cast: Farm Foundation’s Global Conversation

df-logo1The latest edition of Domestic Fuel Cast listens in on some of the conversation at this week’s Farm Foundation “Transition to a Bioeconomy: Global Trade and Policy Issues” conference.

ff-transitiontobioThis is the fourth in a series of conferences looking at the transition to a bioeconomy the Farm Foundation has sponsored. This week’s event brought people from around the world to Washington, DC, where they were able to combine their divergent viewpoints to come up with workable solutions that everyone can live with. Unlike some other conferences where everyone already agrees before they meet, these Farm Foundation meetings put together people with vastly different perspectives. The conversations are lively, they’re maybe a bit pointed, but they work… and they are something we need to have more of in this country: frank, honest discussions where everyone doesn’t have to agree.

Folks like Purdue’s Wally Tyner or the European Commission’s Laurent Javaudin come with ideas that each might believe is best but walk away with more ideas than what they would have had with just yes-men around them. We picked up on part of the conversation regarding how the U.S. and Europe have different approaches to renewable energy mandates: the U.S. choosing to set a number of gallons of biodiesel and ethanol produced, while Europe wants to base its renewable energy goals on a percentage of all energy produced… regardless of the source. And while the Americans and Europeans had plenty to talk about with the recent tariffs being slapped on U.S. biodiesel coming to Europe, our friends like Joel Velasco with the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association reminds us that there are some pretty steep protectionist tariffs America has put on the import of his country’s ethanol. Finally, David Zilberman with the University of California-Berkeley reminds us to keep our eyes on the prize: becoming free from the yoke of OPEC oil.

It’s a unique conversation, and you can hear some of it on this week’s Domestic Fuel Cast here:

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

E85 Challenge Deadline April 3

RFA e85College students work best under pressure – so here’s your deadline to enter and win a MacBook Air laptop in the E85 Challenge 11:59 pm EST April 3rd.

All you have to do is answer the question, “What does renewable mean to you?” Put your answer in the form of a video or photo, and submit it to the E85 Flex Fuel Challenge team.

Once submissions are closed – again, at noon eastern on April 3 – the next step is an on-line voting period with prizes for the voters! So, even if you miss the deadline for submissions, be sure to go and vote for your favorites for a chance to win one of eight weekly drawings for a Passport hard drive.

The contest is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association to get college students engaged in the debate surrounding issues that impact their future: the economy, energy and the environment. Contest details are available here.

NEVC Forms Foundation

nevf_logo1The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) has formed the National Ethanol Vehicle Foundation (NEVF). This foundation was introduced to provide Americans with an opportunity to contribute to advancing the nation’s use of renewable transportation fuels such as E85 and other high level blends of ethanol.

“The proceeds of funds contributed to the NEVF will solely be used to increase awareness of the benefits of using domestically produced ethanol as a form of alternative transportation fuel,” noted NEVC Executive Director Phil Lampert. “The NEVF strongly supports ethanol produced from both agricultural feed stocks and cellulosic materials.”

The NEVF’s mission will be to continue to promote a domestically produced fuel that: Advances jobs for Americans; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and promotes American energy independence.

To make a 100% tax deductible contribution to the NEVF, click here.

E85 Infrastructure Incentives Announced in Michigan

cecThe Clean Energy Coalition (CEC) has announced that it is offering up to $5,000 to install or upgrade an existing pump to dispense E85 in the state of Michigan. This is one of many of the incentives offered in the state.

“The Clean Energy Coalition is dedicated to increasing the number of E85 pumps in Michigan,” said Sean Reed, CEC executive director. “Through a grant from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DeLEG), we are providing infrastructure incentives for E85.”

In addition to the CEC grant, gas station owners can also apply for federal and state tax credits that significantly reduce the installation and qualified equipment costs. “Stations may be eligible for up to an additional $50,000 to be applied towards installation costs from other state and federal incentives,” said Reed. The federal government is offering a 50 percent tax credit of up to $50,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury is offering a 30 percent tax credit up to $20,000.

The DeLEG Energy Office is also offering a $1,500 incentive to assist with the cost of designing and installing a highway exit sign that promotes the E85 pump, as well as paying the first year’s annual fee.

mi-cornIn total, the CEC was awarded $145,000 from the DeLEG and $20,000 from the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan (CMPM) to offer station owners the opportunity to sell E85. “I’m excited to work with the CEC to help bolster Michigan’s ethanol industry and increase the number of E85 pumps available to consumers,” said Pollok-Newsom. “Ethanol reduces our country’s need for foreign oil, supports our rural communities, and helps reduce harmful greenhouse gases.”

For more information or to apply for a grant from the CEC, visit www.cec.mi.org.