UCR Awarded $1.3 for Waste-to-Energy Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded two University of California Riverside (UCR) researchers with $1.3 million for waste-to-energy research focused on creating biofuels and biochemicals from waste plant materials. Charles Wyman, Distinguished Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and holder of the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), and Charles Cai, Research Engineer at CE-CERT and Adjunct Assistant Professor, both with Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, lead the team that is looking to convert poplar wood into ethanol and polyurethanes based on novel platforms for pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis.

Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside.

Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside.

The Wyman/Cai team has patented the method, Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF), and is using this platform to convert raw ag and forest residues into biofuels and other biochemicals. The goal is to create a pathway in which biofuels and biochemicals can be produced from biomass at high enough yields and low enough costs to become a market competitor to traditional fuels and chemicals. The research team believes CELF will enable production facilities to increase revenue by offsetting pretreatment costs, thus improving overall production economics.

“This project takes advantage of the unique ability of our novel CELF technology to effectively fractionate lignin from low-cost non-food sources of cellulosic biomass such as agricultural and forestry residues for conversion into polyurethanes that increase revenues for biorefineries while also enhancing ethanol yields,” explained Wyman. Wyman leads a team of researchers at UCR’s CE-CERT as well as their additional research partners University of Tennessee Knoxville and MG Fuels LLC.

The funding is one of seven institutions to receive a share of $10 million from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), a joint initiative between USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Energy (DOE).

EPA Gives OMB RFS Modification Proposal

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delivered a proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would amend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The “Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support Rule,” would resolve outstanding issues and provide clarification on certain RFS requirements.

The rule would also allow for feedstocks partially converted at a facility other than a renewable fuel production facility to be converted at such a facility and quality under the RFS. In addition, the rule would add new registration, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for various renewable fuel production facilities using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies should the EPA all CCS as a lifecycle GHG emissions reduction technology as part of the RFS.

Among other changes, the rule proposes to implement fuel quality specifications for blends containing 16 to 83 volume percent ethanol. The EPA says this would provide substantial additional flexibility for ethanol flex fuel (EFF) producers that accommodate current market realities while continuing to ensure EFF quality is consistent with controlling pollution when used in flexible fuel vehicles, and could result in an increased use of ethanol in motor fuels, furthering RFS goals.

The OMB has also received and is reviewing a proposal from the EPA for the proposed 2017 RFS rules.

Cassie Mullen Joins RFA Team

cassieCassie Mullen has joined Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) as the director of market development. She will focus on working with the supply chain to facilitate expansion of infrastructure capable of offering higher level ethanol blends to consumers. Prior to joining the RFA team Mullen worked as an executive for Seneca Companies, managing a 17-state territory of retailer accounts.

“Cassie brings a wealth of fuel equipment and fuel marketing experience to the RFA,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Cassie’s expertise will prove to be invaluable as the U.S. ethanol industry works with downstream partners to offer greater access to higher level ethanol blends such as E15, E85, and future ethanol-based high octane fuels. Infrastructure is critically important for future growth of the ethanol industry. Between USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership Program and the industry’s Prime the Pump initiative, Cassie’s unique background and knowledge will be in high demand. She will be a welcome addition to the RFA team, already known for its unrivaled technical and regulatory expertise. Cassie knows the players in the retail market and she knows the business case for higher ethanol blends. Her impact will be felt immediately.”

She has been working with fuel retailers for more than two decades, conducting station equipment evaluations, providing equipment recommendations and helping them build new stations. She is well versed in environmental compliance, EMV and major oil branding and marketing agreements, and has even owned retail stations during her career.

“I am thrilled to be joining RFA and look forward to working with their technical and marketing staff to help support the market’s transition to higher-level ethanol blends,” said Mullen. “My background working with fuel retailers and owning stations gives me a unique perspective, and I plan to use that knowledge to help boost consumer access to higher ethanol blends. Retailers are increasingly interested in offering a broader array of fuel choices, and I plan to help them understand and pursue the value proposition associated with higher level ethanol blends.”

RFA Wins TRANSCAER Award for Ethanol Safety

For the fourth time, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), has won the TRANSCAER National Achievement Award for hosting its series of ethanol safety seminars last year for first and emergency responders. The award is given in recognition of great achievement in rfalogo1support of the TRANSCAER initiative, a volunteer coalition that works to ensure the safety of emergency responsders, in this instance how to prepare and handle hazardous material incidents. In 2015, RFA held 15 ethanol safety seminars and two Train the Trainer events, which trained 541 emergency responders on how to properly respond to an ethanol incident.

Additionally, RFA Technical Services Manager Missy Ruff received a TRANSCAER Individual Achievement Award for her work last year in planning the ethanol safety events.

“We are honored to receive this award for the fourth year in a row, and for Missy’s outstanding work in coordinating these essential events,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Safety is the ethanol industry’s top priority, and while recent data shows ethanol has been delivered 99.999 percent of the time without incident, we know accidents can happen. We want first responders to be prepared in the rare instance a release occurs.”

Since December 2010, RFA has held 167 ethanol safety seminars spanning 29 states, training more than 5,000 emergency responders.

Bill Attempts to Cap Ethanol Blends

A new bill was introduced this week that would cap ethanol blends in the U.S. transportation fuel system to no more than 9.7 percent by volume. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), all biofuel critics. This bill is in conflict to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an energy policy designed to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Ethanol Pump Photo May 2016 Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen responded to the bill by saying, “Passage of this bill would represent a complete capitulation to the oil industry that steadfastly refuses to provide consumers higher octane, lower cost alternative fuels at the pump. They whine about a so-called blend wall even as they continue to build it themselves by denying consumer access to E15 and E85. The RFS was made necessary by oil company intransigence. It was intended to break the stranglehold oil companies have on the motor fuel market by forcing access. This bill would gut the RFS and send America’s energy and climate change policy back decades. Americans want choices at the pump, they want to see lower carbon fuels, they want to spend less on motor fuel, and they want to stimulate investments in new technologies and new fuels to drive our economy in a low carbon world. This bill would sacrifice all of that at the altar of Big Oil, and that is why it will never pass.”

Setting the Record Straight: #Ethanol & Marine Engines

Engine and marine experts called on Washington lawmakers this week to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track. The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to release its review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed blending requirements for biofuels in 2017 soon. Fuels America hosted a panel discussion and press call with several certified mechanics, engine performance experts and professional fisherman who discussed the benefits of ethanol including the environmental benefits for marine life and engine performance as well as dispelled myths about ethanol. In addition, the panelists addressed misconceptions about ethanol use in classic cars in response to recent comments by Jay Leno.

From left to right: Marc Rauch, Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher at the Auto Channel; Joel Hennen, President and Owner of Hennen’s Auto Service; Brian Sowers, Co-Host of Crappie Masters TV; & Keith Holmes, President and Owner of CK Motorsports

From left to right: Marc Rauch, Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher at the Auto Channel; Joel Hennen, President and Owner of Hennen’s Auto Service; Brian Sowers, Co-Host of Crappie Masters TV; & Keith Holmes, President and Owner of CK Motorsports

According to Keith Holmes, president and owner of CK Motorsports based in Nunica, Michigan, the National Boat Racing Association exclusively uses E10 for all of its races. “We work on a wide variety of racing engines for watercraft, and they run at their absolute best on a high-octane ethanol blend.” Holmes, who is a certified marine racing technician, stressed that ethanol burns cleaner and cooler and since the introduction of E10 into the sport, many racers have found that many engine parts have a 25 to 50 percent longer lifespan.

“It doesn’t matter whether a boat has a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, an in-board or out-board motor, or a built-in or portable fuel tank,” explained Marc Rauch, executive vice president and co-publisher at the Auto Channel, based in Louisville, Kentucky. “Decades of experience with modern engines shows that E10 is the best fuel for marine applications. As an oxygen booster, ethanol replaces toxins like MTBE, which are notorious for contaminating water supplies. And it reduces CO2 emissions by 34 to 100 percent or more compared to gasoline.”

While Rauch and Holmes stressed the marine engine performance benefits of ethanol, also noting that E15 is not approved for use in marine engines, Brian Sowers, the co-host of Crappie Masters TV stressed the biofuels environmental benefits. “I want to take my grandkids fishing someday. That means having clean water and clean air. Mixing ethanol into our fuel is the best way to reduce the pollutants that fossil fuels leave behind, so our lakes and rivers stay clean and marine life can flourish.” Sowers covers the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail based in Clinton, Missouri and noted that 100 percent of the tournament winners use ethanol blends.

Major boat manufactures approve the use of E10 and Joel Hennen, president and owner of Shakopee, Minnesota-based Hennen’s Auto Service, said that if a boat owner properly takes care of his boat, then ethanol will pose no problems. He also noted that in his area, boaters ask for and use, ethanol. “We serve communities on the Minnesota River and Prior Lake, and our customers expect to have choices at the pump. Companies like Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC, Pleasurecraft, Tigershark, Tracker, Honda, and Yamaha all approve the use of E10 in their engines. The labels are clear, and whether customers have a flex fuel vehicle or a race boat, we make it easy to pick the most affordable option with the lowest emissions.”

Learn more about ethanol, marine engines and other ethanol myths by listening to the full press conference: The Truth About #Ethanol & Marine Engines

Bobby Likis Addresses Ethanol Myths

This past weekend Bobby Likis debuted a video that tackles ethanol myths including those around the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Likis is a 20 plus year automotive expert, engine builder and repair shop owner among other qualifications. One of his platforms for education is his national syndicated radio program Bobby Likis Car Clinic and over the past several years, has taken an industry leadership position around the use of ethanol.

The video, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), addresses myths around the RFS, specifically that the legislation does not eliminate any fuel. As such, retail stations can still sell E0 (gasoline with no ethanol) along with other fuel options such as E15 and E85. Also addressed is ethanol damage, ethanol use in classic cars, phase separation, gasoline volatility, and more.

Watch the video now and help bust some ethanol myths.

US Ethanol Exports Swing Upwards

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is reporting that U.S. ethanol exports totaled 95.3 million gallons (mg) in March, a 42 percent increase from February. This is also the highest monthly volume in more than four years. The data comes from the latest report from the U.S. government. The top export market was China (37 mg) followed by Brazil (20.7 mg) and Canada (16.2 mg). Year-to-date ethanol exports are 249.4 mg and RFA says the U.S. is on pace to ship 1 billion gallons of exports this year.

March ethanol exports and imports March exports of denatured fuel ethanol were 50.1 mg, an increase of 49 percent from February. Two countries accounted for 99 percent of denatured fuel ethanol exports—China received 35.3 mg, while Canada took in 14.3 mg. Brazil was the only other major importer of denatured fuel ethanol in March, bringing in 0.5 mg.

Undenatured fuel ethanol exports stood at 41.2 mg in March, up 32 percent from February. At 20.7 mg, Brazil received roughly half of the undenatured product shipments followed by India (4.1 mg), Peru (3.3 mg), South Korea (3.3 mg), Jamaica (2.9 mg), Mexico (2.6 mg), and China (1.7 mg). Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use totaled 4.0 mg in March followed by Canada (1.9 mg) and Sweden (1.6 mg).

Exports of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) totaled 822,945 metric tons (mt) in March, up 5 percent from February. Mexico was the top destination for DDGS exports (142,117 mt) while China’s imports were down 42 percent from February (121,619 mt) followed by South Korea (83,196 mt), Vietnam (71,840 mt), Turkey (60,997 mt), Indonesia (51,554 mt), and Thailand (42,328 mt). Year-to-date DDGS exports through the first quarter stood at 2.4 million mt.

NCGA Releases Ethanol Toolkit

NCGA-Logo-3In light of the long-term uncertainty of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has created a new set of tools. The toolkit, available for state affiliates, was designed to assist the associations and their members in defending the RFS with consistent messaging targeted at policy leaders, environmental groups, businesses and general public.

NCGA says the goal of this toolkit is to help create a unified voice for the corn industry that reflects and capitalizes on the work that has already taken place in defense of the RFS. The kit contains information, trends and lessons learned from state organizations along with the NCGA Action App, material samples, timelines, checklists and messaging documents.