NASCAR Drives toward Championship on Ethanol

austindillon1It’s a big time of the year for race fans as NASCAR heads into the second round of it’s championship series this weekend. And this news article from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says American Ethanol is fueling that drive to the championship.

With E15 American Ethanol featured on the side of every car and on the start/re-start green flag, few sponsors in the sport have this broad exposure. It’s a great place to be to show millions of fans that E15 works.

Only 12 drivers remain eligible and have a shot at winning the Sprint Cup trophy entering the Bank of America 500, which airs at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Like the other 32 drivers rounding out the field who are not Chase eligible, American Ethanol driver Austin Dillon continues to drive for his first win of the season.

Dillon, one of the hottest young drivers in the sport, has championships in the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. As he closes in on the end of his second Sprint season he is driving to hone his skills and for pride.

Check your local radio and TV listings to follow all the action fueled by American Ethanol.

White Paper Released on Farm Income and the RFS

Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) jointly released a new white paper Thursday on how the EPA’s proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is threatening farm income and rural economies across the United States.

ncga-smallerThe paper cites the latest USDA data on net cash income for American farmers and ranchers, which is forecast to decline by 26 percent in 2015 from peak levels in 2013, as proof that the EPA proposal is impacting the farm economy. “That devastating forecast is worse than originally projected, and it represents the lowest farm income levels in nearly a decade, and it could get worse,” says the paper.

“There are factors other than the RFS,” said NCGA president Chip Bowling of Maryland. “(But) it has changed the basis, the price received for our corn, it has changed the way we’re buying equipment … most of that is due to the uncertainty in the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

nfu_logo2EPA is expected to release the final rule at the end of November and NFU president Roger Johnson says they have heard nothing to indicate they will change that time line. “They agreed to that in the court order,” said Johnson. “It’s hard to say what to expect from them.”

Johnson stressed that the so-called blend wall should not be included in any determination for volume requirements under the RFS. “When the RFS was put in place it was never intended that it would stop at ten percent,” he said. “It was always the intent that it would go way beyond ten percent.”

Bowling says corn growers have responded to the demand for more corn to produce ethanol and another record crop is expected this year. “We’re still expecting yields of 162 bushels per acre at minimum,” said Bowling. “We have carry over that’s growing and without a strong Renewable Fuel Standard demand for corn is going to decrease.”

Listen to the announcement from NCGA and NFU here: Press call on RFS/farm income white paper

CoBank Report – Ethanol Industry Rebalanced

The ethanol industry has rebalanced in 2015 following 18 months of record earnings. As energy prices collapsed late in 2014, so did ethanol prices and plant margins. The report from CoBank, “Ethanol Industry Reblanaces,” has found that ethanol’s supply and demand has remained well balanced, and producers have maintained positive earnings. Looking into 2016, the report finds plant operators will face dueling positive and negative shifts in the market that are likely to result in lean, yet positive margins.

CoBank logo“With corn prices expected to remain relatively static, it will be the prices of distillers grains and ethanol that determine the direction of earnings,” explained Dan Kowalski, the report’s author, and director of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “Ethanol profitability will largely hinge on two key factors: the volatility of energy prices and the industry’s ability to maintain strong export sales. The report also points to the importance of sustained discipline in growing production capacity and output.”

Kowalski continued, “The industry will see little growth in domestic sales as a result of improving fuel efficiency in the nation’s vehicles and changes to the EPA’s renewable fuels blending mandate. The EPA’s proposed alteration to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is expected to be approved later this year, and will set a floor beneath the current 10 percent blending level. However, the new policy will not incentivize retailers to sell higher ethanol-blended fuels.”

The report finds that the potential for increased export sales will help to counterbalance the domestic picture. Brazil has increased its domestic blending rate to 27 percent. This has reduced its export ability and opened the door to U.S. producers.

The report cautions foreign markets also pose a risk to ethanol producers. China, which currently imports 60 percent of U.S. distillers grains, is expected to change its grain policies to discourage the import of corn-alternative feed grains. These changes could significantly impact producers’ bottom lines.

US Ethanol Exports Lowest in 2 Years, DDGS Down

rfalogo1American ethanol exports to the world are down to their lowest levels in more than two years. This analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says at just 50.1 million gallons (mg), total ethanol shipments in August were 35 percent lower than in July, falling by 27.1 mg. In addition, the ethanol by-product, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) used for animal feed, was also down, but just slightly from record levels of this summer.

Ninety percent of exports were destined for only 10 countries, with the majority of shipments split between Canada (21.4 mg, or 43% of total exports) and Tunisia (12.6 mg, or 25% of total). China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg), South Korea (2.8 mg) and Mexico (2.0 mg) account for much of the remaining balance. Once again, Brazil remained a minor player in the U.S. ethanol export market, taking in just 1.7 mg (compared to 25.1 mg only 5 months ago). Total U.S. ethanol exports for the first eight months of 2015 stood at 564.5 mg, indicating an annualized rate of 847 mg.

August exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use fell 44% from July to 26.2 mg. Nearly half of those exports moved to Tunisia (12.6 mg), with China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg) and South Korea (2.7 mg) also pulling in notable volumes. Exports of denatured ethanol fuel decreased by 24% from July, down to 20.1 mg. This is the lowest denatured volume since August 2010. Canada took the lion’s share of denatured product at 18.1 mg (90% of exports), with Jamaica, Singapore and Turkey receiving much smaller volumes. The United States exported 356,211 gallons of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use, a decrease of 39% over July. Denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes was the only product to see any upward movement over the prior month, with nearly all of the 3.4 mg crossing the border to Canada.

After months of virtually nonexistent fuel ethanol imports, the United States saw 15.7 mg enter the country in August—greater than the combined imports from the past 5 months. All but 3% of total imports originated in Brazil (11.8 mg undenatured, 3.8 mg denatured), with Spain and Sweden responsible for the remainder. At 65.8 mg, year-to-date imports are just half of last year’s total at this point. In August, the United States boasted a net exporter status for two years straight.

DDGS exports were off by 6 percent from the record high logged in July to a still-sizable 1,279,396 metric tons (mt), with China still receiving about half of that number – down from the 65-74 percent market share seen in recent months.

John Hofmeister to Headline #RFANEC

John Hofmeister will be headlining the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) next February 15-17, 2016 in New Orleans. Hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hofmeister is the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. The NEC conference theme is “Fueling a High Octane Future”.

John hofmeisterHofmeister founded Citizens for Affordable Energy in 2008, a public policy education firm that promotes sound energy security solutions for the U.S., including a range of affordable energy supplies, efficiency improvements, essential infrastructure, sustainable environmental policies, and public education on energy issues.

During his tenure as President of Shell he launched a groundbreaking outreach program designed to discuss critical global energy challenges. The program included an 18-month, 50-city cross-country tour during which Hofmeister, along with 250 other Shell executives, met with more than 15,000 business, community and civic leaders, policymakers, and academics to discuss what must be done to ensure affordable, available energy for the future. Hofmeister serves on the boards of Fuel Freedom Foundation; the National Energy Security Council; the Foreign Policy Association; Strategic Partners, LLC; and the Gas Technology Institute.

Bob Dinneen, RFA President and CEO, said he was delighted to have John Hofmeister headlining next year’s NEC and praised him for his extensive work in pursuing policy solutions that ensure energy is not only affordable, but is also clean and secure.

“John Hofmeister is an innovative and energetic leader on issues surrounding energy security,” said Dinneen. “As a former oil company executive, he not only possesses an insider’s understanding about how the oil industry actually operates but, because of his background, when he speaks he does so with a very credible and authentic voice. Mr. Hofmeister is the perfect choice for next year’s NEC because he wholeheartedly believes that the key to providing consumers with clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy is to implement policies that promote diversity in our energy supply.”

In addition to announcing Mr. Hofmeister as the headliner for next year’s NEC, RFA also announced that it has launched an official Twitter handle @EthanolConf and hashtag #RFANEC for the event. Registration is now open.

Ethanol Production with Enogen Tops 1B Gallons

There are now 16 ethanol plants using Enogen corn according to Syngenta. When combined, the plants have a production capacity of more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year. In addition, Syngenta says there are also in talks with a number of other plants to begin using the only biotech corn designed specifically to improve ethanol production.

Enogen logoLast year, Enogen was grown on nearly 225,000 acres while in 2016 that number is expected to exceed 400,000 acres. According to Jack Bernens, head of Enogen for Syngenta, the robust alpha amylase enzyme found in Enogen corn hybrids helps an ethanol plant dramatically reduce the viscosity of its corn mash and eliminate the need to add a liquid form of the enzyme.

“This breakthrough viscosity reduction can lead to unprecedented levels of solids loading, which directly contributes to increased throughput and yield, as well as critical cost savings from reduced natural gas, energy, water and chemical usage in ethanol plants,” Bernens said. “Growers who plant Enogen corn benefit as well – they earn an average premium of 40 cents per bushel.”

Syngenta says Enogen is growing in popularity because of the value it delivers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants. Assuming an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, Enogen corn is expected to generate approximately $26 million of additional revenue for local growers in 2016 through per-bushel premiums. Numerous trials have shown that Enogen hybrids perform equal to or better than other high-performing corn hybrids.

“The agreements we have in place with a steadily increasing number of plants will enable them to source alpha amylase directly from growers and keep enzyme dollars in those local communities,” added Bernens. “This is what truly sets Enogen corn apart from other technologies designed to enhance ethanol production. It adds significant incremental value at the local level for communities that rely on their ethanol plant’s success.”

Alliance BioEnergy Converts Coastal Hay to Sugar

Ek Laboratories, located in Longwood, Florida, has achieved a 63 percent conversion of Coastal Hay, at commercial scale, into fermentable sugars in less than 30 minutes. The Alliance BioEnergy Plus subsidiary used it licensed and patented mechanical/chemical CTS (Cellulose to Sugar) process.

Coastal HayAccording to Ek Laboratories, unlike most cellulose to sugar technologies, their CTS process does not use liquid acids, applied heat or pressure, enzymes, super critical waters, expensive precious metal lined with equipment or any hazardous materials. The company also says that also unlike other CTS processes, their technology can covert virtually any cellulose material into fermentable sugars in one step in just minutes.

As such, says Ek Laboratories, for the first time, biofuel producers will be able profitably produce cellulosic ethanol, diesel and other biofuels without subsidies.

“We have completely redesigned and custom manufactured the mill and went from 1g in the lab to a mill capable of processing 2,500kg (2.5mt) a day, in a single leap, while seeing the efficiency and conversion rates increase and energy consumption decrease,” explains Dr. Peter Cohen, Director of Analytics at Ek Labs. Unlike traditional chemical processes or industrial scaling, this is a mechanical process where the chemistry happens thousands of times at a micro scale by a kinetic process therefore aided by size and increased impact pressure.

Cohen noted that they should see 70 to 80 percent conversion rates by the time they are finished with the first commercial plant for sub-license RRDA in early 2016. The plant is in construction in Georgia and will convert 1,000mt a day of yellow pine waste and Vidalia onion waste. He added that existing plants can easily be converted to the CTS process.

Aemetis Harvests Record Sorghum Crop in Cali

Aemetis has announced the harvest of sorghum grown in Central California that grew between 12-15 feet tall. The 20 acre demonstration crop was grown using proprietary Nexsteppe seed genetics and harvested in 90 days by Aemetis. The water supply for the sorghum was lower quality pump water containing salts that typically damage crops in western San Joaquin Valley, an area with little water allocation for ag crops. The sorghum will be used to produce advance biofuels.

Aemetis California biomass plant“Nexsteppe’s sorghum is uniquely capable of growing a large amount of biomass in a short period of time using land that lacks quality water and where other plants may not grow,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “Biomass sorghum can be converted to cellulosic ethanol or a variety of other renewable fuels through various available technologies. Aemetis has already processed about 80 million pounds of grain sorghum at its Keyes biorefinery, producing lower-carbon fuel ethanol.”

The company is also a participant of the California In-State Sorghum program (CISS) through a $3 million grant awarded by the California Energy Commission. The CISS program combines research and market development to support the in-state growth of grain sorghum as a reliable low-carbon feedstock for California’s ethanol producers. The CISS program has just completed the first harvest of grain sorghum at the CSU Fresno International Center for Water Technology.

Aemetis’ 60 million gallon per year ethanol plant in California converts sugars to biofuels. The company has a multi-year strategy to transition its biofuel production from traditional starch-based feedstocks to renewable biomass feedstocks that can produce low-carbon, advanced biofuels. The transition is expected to evolve from corn to grain sorghum and ultimately to biomass sorghum and agricultural wastes available in California.

Anna Rath, CEO of NexSteppe, added, “Growing high-yield biomass sorghum in California is a milestone in the production of low-carbon feedstocks for biofuels. NexSteppe is focused on designing industrial sorghum feedstock solutions to support the growing biobased economy.”

RFA Unveils New Website

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.24.58 AMThe Renewable Fuels Association has unveiled a new website this morning. With improved user experience, the new site has new and enhanced content to further improve ease of navigation and usability. RFA’s website will provide up-to-date market data as well as feature news of importance to the ethanol industry. In addition, users will be able to access ethanol industry statistics, RFA reports and studies and infographics. The website also features Google optimization and a responsive design that allows its display to be easily viewed of any mobile device, smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

“When we took on the task of redesigning the RFA website, our main goal was to greatly enhance the end-user experience,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The functionality of the new website will make it a dynamic resource for those who are looking for the latest information on the ethanol industry. RFA will continue to vigorously advocate for policies that seek to provide a stable energy marketplace and allow consumers to have more choices at the pump; the new website is part of a set of tools, including the RFA mobile app, ‘RFA Advocacy,’ that will assist RFA in its efforts.”

For information on the RFA mobile app, visit:

Senator Toomey’s Anti-RFS Amendment Tanks

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced an amendment that would eliminate corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It was promptly defeated by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs by a vote of 15-7. Pro RFS supporters came out en masse against Toomey’s amendment and thanked the Committee for making the right decision on consumer choice at the pump.

Senator Toomey“Biofuels are a key part of energy independence and energy security,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, and Chairman of, the largest veterans group in America. “It is jarring to see a sitting U.S. Senator thumb his nose at our national security, just so he can repay his oil buddies. We need to figure out ways to use less oil. Pat Toomey is trying to make sure that we use more, and that his Big Oil pals make more profit as a result. It’s was a disgrace, but thankfully common sense won out, over Pat Toomey.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen made the following statement upon the news of defeat. “Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief when they fill up at the gas pump because today’s vote by the committee ensures that ethanol will remain the number one source of renewable fuel in the world,” said Dinneen. “The committee understood the writing is on the wall when it comes to the RFS, and that legislative proposals that seek to purportedly ‘fix’ the statute are nothing more than political gamesmanship. When Congress passed the RFS it did so with the intention of stabilizing and growing the biofuels market. The committee rightly rejected the amendment by Senator Toomey because it would have done nothing more than squelched investment and created uncertainty in the market, and would thereby have had a detrimental impact on the energy and economic future of generations to come.”

Biofuels supporters cite the RFS as the most successful energy policy ever. did some research into Senator Toomey’s connections with the oil industry and found Big Oil his 12th largest contributor contributing $552,816,000. Of that, half (252,050) was made to his campaign committee over the course of the last few months, making the oil and gas industry the 10th largest contributor to Toomey this election cycle.

“It is no surprise that Senator Toomey’s amendment failed – it never had a chance of passing,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO. “Similar to legislation he has introduced before, it did not gain any traction and failed because this legislation only restricts consumer choice and attempts to dismantle a successful American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The simple fact is that the RFS has bipartisan support and it has been the most successful energy legislation this nation has enacted in over 40 years.”