GROWMARK Studying E15 Retailer Handbook

As a leader in fuels produced by farmer cooperative members, GROWMARK is studying how to best implement 15% ethanol and upgrading its biodiesel quality program for marketing through the FS Brand system.

There are over 300 locally and independently operated FS FAST STOP and FAST STOP Express locations so GROWMARK Renewable Fuels Product Manager Brigette Harlan says they are carefully researching all the steps that need to be taken to offer E15 to guide them. “We’re working very closely with the Renewable Fuels Association in reviewing their E15 Retailer Handbook,” she explained. “We’re very supportive of this moving forward but we really want to ensure it’s done properly.”

Harlan says they recently updated their Biodiesel Quality Program, which has been in place since 2007. “It includes a specification that we require of all of our suppliers that’s tighter than the ASTM specifications, and also includes storage and handling and appropriate blending guidelines,” she said. “We just want to make sure that we are putting out there the best quality product that we can.”

GROWMARK FS Energy offers full truckloads of pure ethanol, various ethanol blends, pure biodiesel and blends with ultra sulfur diesel. “We try to offer whatever is needed by our customers,” said Harlan.

Listen to or download interview with Brigette Harlan here: GROWMARK Renewable Fuels Product Manager Brigette Harlan

Cellulosic Ethanol From Corn Kernels

Researchers at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) recently announced the successful production of ethanol from the cellulosic portion of the corn kernel.

“This research is demonstrated proof of the viability of ‘generation 2.0 ethanol,’” NCERC Director John Caupert said. “By utilizing existing technologies readily available in the commercial marketplace, the Center was able to produce a biofuel that builds upon the strengths of conventional corn ethanol and the promise of cellulosic ethanol, thus making bolt-on cellulosic ethanol a reality.”

Caupert added that the potential for cellulosic ethanol has significant immediate and long-term impacts on the biofuels industry generally and the ethanol industry specifically. “Any of the 211 existing ethanol plants in the United States could be retrofitted with existing bolt-on technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn without the need to build new facilities,” Caupert said. “This translates into opportunities for jobs and economic development, particularly in rural areas.”

On average, 8 to 9.5% of the corn kernel is fiber, of which about 5% is in the pericarp. NCERC Assistant Director of Biological Research Sabrina Trupia will be presenting more information about the new development at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop June 4-7 in Minneapolis.

The NCERC at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville is a nationally-recognized research center established through federal and state initiatives, with support from the Illinois and National Corn Growers associations, and dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals, and other renewable compounds.

Subcommittee Hears Support for Energy Programs

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry was urged to reauthorize Farm Bill energy programs and provide them with mandatory funding during a hearing on “Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Energy and Forestry Programs” on Friday.

“American agriculture is the key to the successful development and commercialization of clean, abundant, renewable, domestic energy and biobased products in this country, and the ‘core’ Farm Bill energy programs provide American farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make it happen,” testified Ryan Stroschein, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC).

“Although relatively new, the Farm Bill energy programs already have had a tremendous positive impact on economic and job growth in rural America, and they can do so much more,” said Stroschein. “USDA estimates that the BCAP and Biorefinery Assistance programs alone have the potential to create more than 700,000 new jobs as a result of increased cellulosic feedstock production and the construction and operation of new biorefineries.”

National Biodiesel Board chairman Gary Haer with the Renewable Energy Group highlighted the biodiesel industry’s growth and diversity, pointing out that more than half of the lawmakers on the panel have at least one biodiesel production plant in their districts.

“NBB estimates that those plants and others like them across the country supported more than 39,000 jobs in all sectors of the U.S. economy in 2011,” Haer testified. “Most of the more than 200 biodiesel production facilities in the U.S. are located in rural areas, and a majority of the feedstock used to produce biodiesel is grown or originates in rural areas.”

Haer specifically called for the committee to continue funding for the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, programs that are critical to raising awareness of biodiesel and stimulating new production. The programs are succeeding, he noted, pointing out that they helped the industry produce a record of nearly 1.1 billion gallons of fuel last year.

DOE Questions Petroleum Funded E15 Study

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today challenged test results released by the American Petroleum Institute claiming that 15% ethanol-blended gasoline (E15) can harm vehicle engines.

In a post on the blog
, DOE Vehicle Technologies Program Manager Patrick Davis said the study done by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) failed on a number of counts. “We believe the study is significantly flawed,” said Davis. “The CRC failed to establish a proper control group, a standard component of scientific, data-driven testing and a necessity to determine statistical significance for any results.”

Most importantly, Davis noted that no engines in the study were tested with E10 fuel, “the de facto standard gasoline for all grades, which represents more than 90 percent of gasoline available in the U.S. market.” In addition, “only three out of the eight engines were tested with straight gasoline containing no ethanol (E0), and one of those three failed the CRC’s test.”

Ethanol industry organizations were also quick to point out the flaws in the study and note that E15 has been tested more than any other automotive fuel in history. “The reality is they are completely dismissing the fact that E15 is the most tested fuel to date, with extensive testing done by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with results showing no significant difference between gasoline without any ethanol and an E15 blend,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

Renewable Fuels Association
president Bob Dinneen noted that the government has tested E15 “the equivalent of 12 round trips to the Moon” and found no problems with the use of E15 in vehicles made since model year 2001. “This study, and continued efforts aimed at confusing rather than informing consumers, impede this progress and do little to address the nation’s need for clean, renewable fuel that lowers the price at the pump and creates jobs here at home,” said Dinneen.

ISU Professor Explains Ethanol/Gas Price Study

The Iowa State University professor who co-authored a new study on ethanol and gasoline prices released this week says the impact of the growing use of the domestically-produced fuel is significant.

hayesThe new analysis from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), an update to a 2009 peer-reviewed paper published in Energy Policy by professors Dermot Hayes of ISU and Xiaodong Du of the University of Wisconsin, found that the growing use of American ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, up from an average impact of $0.89 per gallon in 2010. The study also found the between 2000 and 2011, gasoline prices have been reduced by an average of $0.29 per gallon, thanks to ethanol.

“Those numbers are large,” said Professor Hayes during a conference call on Tuesday during which he explained his hypotheses for the big impact of ethanol. “Think about the world before ethanol occurred. Every time a gasoline refinery would shut down, the price of gasoline would go up 10-20 cents because the U.S. was at its refinery capacity. What ethanol has done is increased refinery capacity.”

Hayes calls ethanol a “magic bullet that can squeeze ten percent more gasoline out of a barrel of crude oil.”

The original study was the result of a dissertation by Professor Du, while the Renewable Fuels Association funded the update.

Listen to Hayes’ explanation of the study here: ISU Professor Dermot Hayes

Report Shows Ethanol Kept Gas Prices Lower in 2011

rfaAn update to a 2009 report from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) on the impact of ethanol on domestic gasoline prices was released today, showing that ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon nationally last year. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says this peer-reviewed study shows how ethanol is keeping gas prices lower than they might otherwise be.

“The results are significant,” Dinneen said. “It reflects the fact that ethanol is less expensive than gasoline today and is displacing ten percent of liquid transportation fuel today and has a huge impact on the price of crude oil.” The $1.09 per gallon impact is 20 cents more than the previous year.

Dinneen explains that the $1.09 a gallon savings means that ethanol reduced the average American household’s spending on gasoline by more
than $1,200 last year, based on average gasoline consumption data. “Since 2000, ethanol has helped save $39.8 billion annually in excess gasoline costs – or roughly $349 per household per year,” he said.

Ethanol Report PodcastSince the study is based on just 10% ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply, Dinneen notes that increasing that under the E15 waiver approved by EPA can only result in more savings. “If you’re going to be adding 50% more of a product that is less expensive than gasoline to the overall blend, you’d be providing consumers an even more significant benefit,” he said. “We believe the economics of ethanol are going to drive E15 into the marketplace this summer.”

Listen to Dinneen talk about the new report in this edition of “The Ethanol Report.” Bob Dinneen Discusses Impact of Ethanol on Gas Prices Report

Congressmen Defend Ethanol

Members of Congress are exchanging dueling fact sheets about corn ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) sent an email last month to members of the House Commerce, and Agriculture and Energy Committees calling the RFS “a de facto mandate for corn ethanol” and urging members of the House Commerce, and Agriculture and Energy Committees to provide relief from alleged “unintended consequences” of the RFS. The email included a “fact sheet” blaming the RFS and corn ethanol for “wasting taxpayer money and harming consumers,” “driving more people into hunger and poverty domestically and abroad” and failing to make any progress toward energy independence for the nation.

In response, Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) sent out their own email and their own fact sheet citing the successes of the RFS and disputing claims in the Goodlatte letter.

Noting that the intent of the RFS is to “enhance energy security, reduce consumer fuel prices by diversifying our energy portfolio, create jobs and stimulate economic activity, and improve the environment” the congressmen said that “by any measure, the RFS is achieving these goals and providing tangible benefits to the American public.”

The Shimkus-Peterson fact sheet takes on each claim in the Goodlatte letter, referring to them as “abusrd” and “false and misleading” and “red herrings.” In particular, they dispute the notion that the RFS has done nothing to increase energy independence.

“In 2011, ethanol displaced the need for an amount of gasoline refined from 477 million barrels of crude oil—that’s more oil than the U.S. imported from Saudi Arabia,” they wrote. “Indeed, as a result of the RFS and increased ethanol use, U.S. oil import dependence has fallen below 50% for the first time since 1997. In 2005, the year the first RFS was passed by Congress, U.S. oil import dependence peaked at 60.3%. Subsequently, as ethanol production has ramped up, oil import dependence has fallen steadily and hit 45% in 2011, the lowest since 1994.9 Oil imports from the Persian Gulf have dropped by some 300 million barrels since 2001, while ethanol production has grown by 300 million barrels during that same period.”

National Corn Growers Association president Garry Niemeyer thanked Representatives Shimkus and Peterson for working to disseminate factual, accurate information about corn ethanol. “These distinguished Representatives demonstrated that they understand what corn growers have long known; corn ethanol provides important benefits to our economy, our energy security and to our environment,” he said.

Flex Fuel Fishermen Can Land E85 Savings

Anglers heading to the 2012 Fishing Opener this weekend in Coon Rapids, Minnesota can catch a deal Friday afternoon on 85% ethanol (E85).

The new Holiday station off Highway 10 near Hanson Blvd. in Coon Rapids is kicking off the weekend by offering E85 for an 85¢ per gallon discount on Friday, May 11 from 3-5 p.m. Those lucky enough to be one of the first 20 flex fuel vehicles in line will get E85 for just $1.85 per gallon.

“The new Holiday station in Coon Rapids is one of many stations in Minnesota that offer their customers a Clean Air Choice at the pump,” said Kelly Marczak, environmental programs director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “More than a quarter million Minnesotans have flex fuel vehicles that can use E85, and I encourage them to use this cleaner burning fuel whenever possible.”

E85 is for flex fuel vehicles only, and there is a 20-gallon limit per customer during the promotion. Fishing licenses are available at the station, and there will be other in-store specials during the event which is being sponsored by The Linn Companies, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the American Lung Association in Minnesota, and the Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team. Installation of the E85 dispensing equipment at the site was supported, in part, by funding from a U.S. Department of Energy program.

For those wanting to use a GPS to locate the Holiday station, the address is 1855 Gateway Drive, Coon Rapids.

Ethanol Report Analyzes USDA Corn Numbers

Ethanol Report PodcastThe first guess of corn production for the new year in USDA’s May 10 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report is even higher than many in the industry expected.

“By all accounts, it could be a monster,” says Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Vice President of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper who did an analysis of the numbers that came out this morning.

rfaBesides a record projected corn crop for 2012 of 14.8 billion bushels, Cooper says there are a number of interesting points to be made about the report, like the fact that use for ethanol is expected to remain steady, while usage for exports and animal feed are increased. “This report shows the increases in demand would not be coming from ethanol,” Cooper says. “So all this rhetoric we hear about ethanol diverting corn away from the feed market, what we’re seeing in this report is that isn’t the case.”

In addition, Cooper says adding in the use of the ethanol co-product distillers grains for livestock feed, “you end up with the equivalent of almost seven billion bushels of corn and co-products going into feed use and that’s an all time record.”

Listen to Cooper’s analysis of the numbers in this edition of “The Ethanol Report.” Geoff Cooper Analyzes USDA WASDE Report

USDA Offers Optimistic Outlook for Corn Crop

The first U.S. Department of Agriculture outlook for this year’s corn crop is calling for record yields and record production, while corn use for ethanol is expected to remain the same.

The May 10 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report projects U.S. feed grain supplies for 2012/13 at a record 416.3 million tons, up 16 percent from 2011/12 at a record 416.3 million tons, with corn production called at a record 14.8 billion bushels, up 2.4 billion from 2011/12.

A projected 5.1-million acre increase in harvested area and higher expected yields, compared with 2011/12, sharply boost production prospects. The 2012/13 corn yield is projected at a record 166.0 bushels per acre, 2.0 bushels above the 1990-2010 trend reflecting the rapid pace of planting and emergence. Despite the lowest expected carry-in in 16 years, corn supplies for 2012/13 are projected at a record 15.7 billion bushels, up 2.2 billion from 2011/12. Total U.S. corn use for 2012/13 is projected up 9 percent from 2011/12 on higher feed and residual disappearance, increased use for sweeteners and starch, and larger exports.

The report kept projected corn use for ethanol unchanged at 5 billion bushels for this year on weak gasoline consumption limiting domestic blending opportunities. In an analysis of the report this morning, the Renewable Fuels Association said, “While still just an estimate, the confidence USDA is displaying in American farmers underscores their unique ability to feed the world and help renewably fuel the nation. There is a lot of growing season left, and these numbers could change by the fall. But, with normal growing conditions it is clear that farmers will continue to meet the bell and provide safe, reliable food and clean, domestic fuel and silence those ‘chicken littles’ that perpetually predict a shortage of corn and catastrophe in the grocery aisle.”