American Ethanol “Top Gun” at Lake Ozark Shootout

Photo credit - george denny, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout

Photo credit – george denny, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout

American Ethanol made a big splash at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout held in central Missouri recently.

More than 100,000 spectators gathered to watch nearly 100 boats race along the one-mile course, and the boat crowned as the “Top Gun” was the American Ethanol 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran. The boat, named after its fuel, logged a top speed of 208 mph.

“The American Ethanol catamaran definitively proved that ethanol and marine engines are more than compatible,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “The team chose to run on ethanol because the fuel performs better and burns cooler than regular gasoline. Unsurprisingly, the second place boat was also powered by homegrown American ethanol,” Buis said.

The driver of the boat, Myrick Coil, said, “This boat accelerated harder than any boat I have ever been in. It was also the biggest boat I have ever driven. Those two things usually don’t go together!”

John Cosker, owner of Mystic Powerboats, added, “All of our hard work leading up to the event paid off when the boat came alive off of the start line and rocketed to a clocked speed of 208 mph. It showed America the power behind American Ethanol.”

The owner of the boat, Don Onken, echoed these sentiments and noted that, “We showcased the potential of American Ethanol at this event, and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish together. There’s only one thing left to do—figure out how to go faster next year.”

USDA Announces Funding for Biofuel Infrastructure

USDA logoAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to help provide access to more renewable fuels for America’s drivers.

“The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one approach USDA is using to aggressively pursue investments in American-grown renewable energy to create new markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, help Americans save money on their energy bills, support America’s clean energy economy, cut carbon pollution and reduce dependence on foreign oil and costly fossil fuels,” said Vilsack.

USDA estimates that the BIP grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations across the country. “Our investment will nearly double the number of pumping systems available across the U.S.,” Vilsack said. According to the list of estimated numbers of pumps that could be installed per state, Florida and Texas will be the biggest beneficiaries with 892 in Florida and 763 in Texas. Minnesota at 620 and Illinois at 428 are the largest recipients in the Midwest.

Secretary Vilsack also challenged conclusions in the American Petroleum Institute report out yesterday that he called “preposterous.”

Listen to Vilsack’s announcement here: USDA Secretary Vilsack biofuels investment

Q and A with reporters: Vilsack answers BIP questions

Ethanol Groups Attack API Report

Ethanol organizations responded Wednesday to what they say is a “flawed study” released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that concludes “statutory biofuel mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are infeasible to achieve in 2015 and beyond and could cause severe harm to consumers and the U.S. economy.”

rfalogo1Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the talking points in the study commissioned by NERA Economic Consulting (NERA) are nothing new from the oil industry.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Dinneen. “This study is virtually identical to a study that NERA published for API in 2012. The conclusions of both analyses are completely divorced from reality… API was wrong in 2012, and it’s wrong in 2015.”

“This newest API study contains many of the same fatal flaws that plagued the 2012 study. This study claims that gas prices will rise by $90 a gallon and diesel will rise by $100 per gallon. It foolishly assumes EPA will not ever utilize its cellulosic waiver authority to partially reduce the advanced and total RFS volume requirements. And it also assumes obligated parties would purchase a RIN credit at any price rather than making modest infrastructure investments to expand renewable fuel distribution.”

growth-energy-logo1Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says that API is “repackaging stale, false talking points” about the RFS. “(D)espite what API claims, over 84 percent of cars on the road today are approved to use E15,” said Buis. “Regardless of what API claims, the bottom line is that ethanol blends help clean the environment, are higher performing, less expensive and directly benefit the consumer by providing a choice and savings.”

Fuels America stressed that API doesn’t speak for fuel retailers who tell a story about the benefits of higher blend fuels. “When consumers have a choice, there is no blend wall,” said Dave Sovereign, owner and operator of the Cresco Fast Stop.

“We need to be supporting homegrown renewables. We need to be blending more ethanol into our fuel supply, not less,” said Cheryl Near, owner of Jump Start gas station in Wichita, Kansas. “We need blender pumps, we need to buy direct from the ethanol plants, and then we can pass our savings on to the consumers.”

Car Clinic Expert Dispels Ethanol Myths

likis-smallA recent attack on ethanol by a so-called automobile expert has been answered by a true car maestro who knows the value of the green fuel. Bobby Likis of the Car Clinic Car-Talk Network blasted Lauren Fix and her claims against ethanol.

Yes, something needs to be fixed. And it’s not ethanol. What needs to be fixed is the egregiously incorrect perception of ethanol like that perpetuated by Lauren Fix, whether spurred by naiveté, ignorance or special interest. Ms. Fix’s mutations of the truth are analogous to clinging to “the world is flat” and are so insidiously woven through her interview that extracting and correcting all of the fallacies would take more than Columbus and his three little ships…

Likis stakes his 44 years of experience as an award-winning automotive service shop owner with more than 200,000 vehicles (from classics to hybrids) rolling through the bays; rear-end dragster / engine builder; car-talk host answering more than 100,000 car questions live on radio, television, web & social media against Fix’s spurious claims.

1. Perception / Myth / Ms. Fix:
Corn was not designed to run through engines; ethanol-blended fuels must have fuel additives to ensure burn (mentioning three brands specifically and stating that car owners need to add one of these additives to every tankful of E10); ethanol is so damaging that it is not used in race cars.

These overwhelming no-merit statements are not based on fact. Henry Ford’s first car “1896 Quadricycle” ran on E100 (100% ethanol). And Mr. Ford’s 1908 Model-T was America’s first Flex-Fuel car. E15 is the most tested fuel ever…to the tune of the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon (6 million miles). No discernable difference was found in engine wear between E15 and other test fuels in the tested model years (2001 and later). NASCAR powers its cars with E15 fuel (85% gasoline with 15% ethanol). Indy racecars run E98. Why 98% rather than 100%? Glad you asked. By adding 2% gasoline, pit crews would be able to see smoke in case there’s a fire. Ethanol burns so cleanly that 100% would be all but invisible to spot if a fire did break out, which can happen when cars going 225 mph run into each other or the wall.

Speaking of clean burning, ethanol replaced MTBE (which replaced lead in gasoline) as an oxygenate. By adding 10% ethanol to gasoline, many cities are able to reach clean air requirements that otherwise would not be possible. Ford’s EcoBoost and GM’s Ecotec engines thirst for high octane, and ethanol delivers. Thousands of car owners across America who drive high-performance (but non-flex-fuel) vehicles on the street want an E85 option. One example is my General Manager who owns a 2015 Subaru WRX STI diligently searched for E85. Why? E85 adds another 70 HP and 100 lbft torque to the existing 346 HP, all-wheel vehicle. Ethanol – with its 113 octane rating – is an enabler of power & performance.

Likis goes on to destroy Fix’s claims that ethanol destroys Air Mass Sensors and O2 Sensors, that the green fuel causes free-standing water in fuel, and that ethanol destroys engines.

So, the world is not flat. And egregiously incorrect perceptions of ethanol need to be fixed. We as a country need to be power-moving toward economic independence, superior engine design, cleaner air and fuel economy. A future which Facts show that Ethanol enables.

RFA Responds to Anti-Ethanol Boat Campaign

This weekend marks the end of “summer” and boaters are expected to hit the waters for one last hurrah. In an effort to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and growth of biofuels, the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) released a survey of Fueled with Pride - Boat Safe Fuel Rightits members that show half of them say ethanol free gas is not available to them at marinas and gas stations. In addition, the survey found that 91 percent of boaters want ethanol-free gas for their boat and more than half of the respondents claimed to have had to replace or repair their boat engine or fuel system parts due to suspected ethanol damage.

Interestingly, this past weekend, an ethanol-powered speed boat reached speeds of 208 MPH in an annual shootout.

In response, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), stated:

“The poll results are, unfortunately, a clear indication that the myths surrounding boating and ethanol continue to exist,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The National Marine Manufacturers Association has engaged in a relentless misinformation campaign regarding E15 and, in doing so, has confused the issue. It is simply not true that ethanol and boat engines do not mix. E10 is safe for boat engines. In fact, every boat manufacturer warrants the use of ethanol-blended fuel with up to 10 percent ethanol. So boaters should not have any worries about filling their engines with E10 over the Labor Day holiday.”

RFA has made available information related to ethanol use in boats. Click here to learn more.

USDA Report Shows Importance of Int’l Biofuel Trade

USDA logoA new government report says that while the U.S. is a major exporter of biofuels, it still imports biofuels in order to meet government mandates. The study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says some other countries are major exporters and domestic users, thanks to laws there that allow greater blending amounts.

The ethanol blend wall in the United States, and an increase in demand for biofuels from other countries, helped the United States emerge as a net exporter of ethanol for the first time in 2010, with net exports positive each year since. Indeed, the United States has become the world’s largest exporter of ethanol. U.S. ethanol production and exports both remained strong in the face of falling gasoline prices in 2014 due to interactions of supply- and demand-side factors; production capacity beyond domestic policy requirements and strong export markets helped make high exports possible. In addition, U.S. imports of ethanol in 2014 fell to their lowest amounts in years.

Along with market forces, policies can affect future U.S. biofuel trade. If the blending rate in Brazil continues to increase (as it has recently), less Brazilian ethanol will be available to compete with the United States on the global market. At the same time, Brazil could continue to import U.S. ethanol to help meet its mandate. In addition, U.S. biofuel policies could affect the future of U.S. biofuel trade. For example, reducing the amount of ethanol that can be derived from corn in the U.S. renewal fuel mandate could potentially lead to reduction in U.S. ethanol production infrastructure in the long run, which could limit the availability of ethanol for exports.

The study also indicates some grave implications for the U.S.’ biofuel producers if the federal government continues to ignore the requirements under the law that created the Renewable Fuel Standard.

If the scheduled future increases in the U.S. mandate for advanced biofuel are not met by increased domestic production of advanced biofuels (and are not waived), the increase in the mandate amounts will need to be met with imports, such as sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil.

Ethanol-Powered Boat Hits 208 MPH

amethanolboat1For some of my fishermen friends who claim that ethanol damages their engines, I’d just like to know, How fast do you want to get to your favorite spot? An ethanol-powered speed boat could get you there at a cool 208 MPH clip. This article from says a super-powered catamaran running on ethanol made the run during a shootout race at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Don Onken’s American Ethanol, an ethanol-powered Mystic catamaran, reached 208 mph during a run on Saturday, Aug. 30 — it was the day’s highest speed, and it set the bar high for other racers returning to the course on Sunday.

The Shootout was held for years at Shooters 21, where the event record was set by Dave Callan and John Cosker in 2007, at 209 miles per hour. The next year, the event moved to Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. Dave Scott and John Tomlinson set the course record of 208 there, in 2010, and Bill Tomlinson and Ken Kehoe tied it in 2011. Tomlinson and Kehoe returned in 2013 to post a formidable 224 mph new course and event record. Many thought it would be years before that was broken, but in 2014, Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis soared past Tomlinson and Kehoe, hitting 244 miles per hour in Al Adaa’am 96 Spirit of Qatar.

A Toast to Making Ethanol from Grape Biomass

univofadelaideRaise your glass in a toast to some researchers from Down Under, as they have figured out how to make ethanol out of some of the leftovers from wine-making. University of Adelaide researchers in Australia showed they could make about 100 gallons of ethanol by fermenting a ton of grape marc – the leftover skins, stalks and seeds from wine-making.

Global wine production leaves an estimated 13 million tonnes of grape marc waste each year. Nationally it is estimated that several hundred thousand tonnes are generated annually and it is generally disposed of at a cost to the winery.

“This is a potentially economic use for what is largely a waste product,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton, Program Leader with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

PhD candidate Kendall Corbin analysed the composition of grape marc from two grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. She also investigated pre-treatment of the grape marc with acid and enzymes.

Ms Corbin found that the majority of the carbohydrates found in grape marc could be converted directly to ethanol through fermentation with a yield of up to 270 litres per tonne of grape marc.

What was leftover from this ethanol-making process is suitable as an animal feed or fertilizer.

Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

#ACE15 President’s and Media Awards

ace15-presidentsAmerican Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) president Ron Alverson of Dakota Energy surprised his friend Steve Roe with Little Sioux Corn Processors in Marcus, Iowa with this year’s President’s Award. This honor is awarded to individuals or organizations who display principled dedication and support to ACE and to the U.S. ethanol industry.

Little Sioux is a grassroots ethanol plant started in 2003 with local community investors. The company has grown to include over 800 investors and is currently undertaking its third expansion which will bring its capacity to over 135 million gallons per year.

ace15-riterACE Director of Communications Chuck Beck awarded the Excellence in Media award this year to Tom Riter of WNAX in Yankton, SD.

Riter is a veteran farm broadcaster and a native of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He is a regular contributor to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service on issues pertaining to the ethanol industry.

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos