Ethanol Could Make Diesel Engines Greener

A corn grower leader is working on using ethanol to help fuel diesel engines.

cleanflexNational Corn Growers Association chairman Bob Dickey is also chairman of CleanFlex Power Systems, which is so new they haven’t built a website yet, but what they have done is developed a method to efficiently use ethanol in diesel engines.

Dickey started the idea a year ago when he bought a new John Deere 150-hp four-cylinder turbo diesel irrigation system engine and retrofitted it to use an ethanol and diesel blend. “It worked so well that we applied for a grant at the University of Nebraska and we’re currently doing research there to bring credibility to what we’re doing,” Dickey says.

The company has developed a new hydrated-ethanol fuel called EM60 (a mixture of 60% ethanol and 40% water) to combine with diesel fuel to power diesel engines. “Just like oil and water don’t mix, ethanol and diesel don’t mix,” Dickey said. So, they run two lines into the diesel engine. “The only time the ethanol, water and diesel are together is at the point of combustion and it really works well. The engine runs cooler, it runs more efficient and the emissions are reduced.”

cleanflexCleanFlex president Ron Preston says the fuel they are using is 120 proof ethanol. “Most ethanol plants are putting out 200 proof ethanol and we add distilled water or reverse osmosis water to get it to 120 proof,” he said.

Preston says they are talking with agricultural equipment manufacturers, railroads, and even bus companies about the idea because the EM60 fuel has the potential to help meet Tier 4 emission standards that become effective in 2011. “There are 60 million diesel engines in the United States,” Preston says. “We’ve been working with EPA and going through the proper steps to make ethanol a solution that will help them meet emissions requirements.”

They have already tested the fuel with two and five percent biodiesel blends and it works just as well. “The bottom line is that we can become less dependent on foreign oil,” Dickey says.

Florida to Hold FFV Rally

ffv-clubA flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) rally is being held tomorrow, October 8 beginning at 10:30 a.m. The driver education campaign will begin with a press conference at the Midway U-Gas location at 210 NW 79th Avenue in Miami, Florida. After the press conference, E85 will sell for 85 cents per gallon from 11 a.m. until noon.

The educational rally was announced in July at the Florida Farm-to-Fuel Summit by Charles Bronson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Florida Governor Charlie Crist. The Clean Fuels Foundation and the FlexFuel Vehicle Club of America are the organizers of the campaign.

unicaThe campaign will help locate, educate, and motivate FFV owners to use higher blends of ethanol so the U.S. can meet the goals of the national renewable fuel standard (RFS) and pave the way for 2nd generation biofuels in Florida. Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is sponsoring the upcoming series of IndyCar Race related events which is the next phase of the driver education campaign.

Two free IndyCar Race Tickets and special parking/FFV Corral passes will be given to the first 50 FFV owners to purchase E85 at the Rally tomorrow. IndyCar Race Driver Mario Moraes will be available for autographs from 11 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Cellulosic Ethanol Could be Made from Wastewater

A cellulose product made from wastewater holds the potential of being used to make ethanol.

Qteros and Applied CleanTech have announced a joint development project for making Recyllose™, a recycled solids-based material produced from municipal wastewater, into fuel for cars.

Qteros has entered into a joint development project with Applied CleanTech (ACT), a commodities recycling company based in Israel, to use ACT’s Recyllose™-based feedstock, produced from municipal wastewater solids, for even more efficient and low-cost ethanol production. ACT’s Sewage Recycling System (SRS), a revolutionary solution for recycling wastewater solids, produces high-quality alternative energy sources for the production of electricity or ethanol, while reducing sludge formation and lowering wastewater treatment plant costs and increasing plant capacity.

The companies said they are the first to demonstrate commercial success in creating ethanol from the cellulose in municipal and agricultural liquid waste, and to offer a process that all municipalities can use to help reduce expenses.

Company Retrofitting Ethanol Plants for Biobutanol

A Colorado-based company is working to develop a fleet of biorefineries based on retrofitting existing ethanol plants to produce biobutanol.

gevoLast week, Gevo, Inc. announced the start up of the first biobutanol demonstration plant designed from retrofitting an existing demonstration scale ethanol plant in St. Joseph, Missouri. The company is using the plant to demonstrate the viability of its technology for retrofitting existing ethanol plants to make biobutanol, which can be blended directly into gasoline and be used to make renewable hydrocarbons (“green gasoline”), diesel and jet fuel, chemical intermediates and biobased plastics.

This is the first time that an existing ethanol operation has been successfully retrofitted to produce biobutanol instead of ethanol. ICM’s pilot plant at St. Joseph has been designed and constructed as a reduced scale replica of a dry-milled ethanol production process. Additionally, Gevo’s biobutanol has higher energy content than ethanol and a lower Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) – which means lower volatility and evaporative emissions. Importantly, standard automobile and small engines can run on biobutanol blended into gasoline at any ratio.

The retrofit of the pilot plant was completed in less than three months and the company says it also represents the first step along the route to produce cellulosic biobutanol which will be possible once biomass conversion technology becomes commercially available.

Registration Open for National Ethanol Conference

Renewable Fuels AssociationRegistration is officially opened for the Renewable Fuels Association’s 15th Annual National Ethanol Conference “Climate of Opportunity” which will be held February 15-17, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.

Speakers and sessions will focus on the historic opportunities facing our industry. As a renewable fuel, as an industry continuing to reduce energy inputs, and an industry diversifying into new feedstocks, ethanol is poised to make a significant contribution to our planet’s environment. Climate change is a seminal focus of the Obama Administration and an increasingly important issue to the public at large, and the momentum is in our favor. With steadfast resolve to increase ethanol’s marketshare in blends and E85, and a commitment to the best science, technical knowledge and quality, we have an opportunity to improve the industry as well. It’s clearly a Climate of Opportunity for the ethanol industry.

Conference and hotel registration information is available on-line.

IRFA and Iowa OSHA Work Together for Safety

irfa_oshaA two-year safety alliance has been formed with the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Iowa OSHA) and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). According to the IRFA, the alliance sets in place regular meetings between Iowa OSHA and IRFA’s Environmental, Health and Safety Coalition. The focus is to explore best management practices and improve the recognition and control of workplace hazards.

“The new safety alliance between IRFA and Iowa OSHA sets up an important mechanism to share cutting edge safety information – both between the organizations, but also between individual biorefineries,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The biofuels industry is very proud of its safety record, but we know there is room for improvement. This alliance is open to every Iowa biodiesel and ethanol facility that agrees with our motto: safety isn’t ‘proprietary.’ Through this venue, competitors in the marketplace come together to share new ideas and lessons learned with the goal of helping every biorefinery in Iowa be as safe as possible.”

“Iowa OSHA congratulates the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association for stepping forward and giving leadership to employee safety in the Iowa biofuels industry,” said David Neil, Iowa’s Labor Commissioner. “The industry has had a good record in employee safety but there is always room for improvement and we are proud to be a part of the ongoing effort by companies involved to improve and maintain safe working conditions for all involved. One accident is too many and therefore continued vigilance in this area is in the best interest of all.”

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 40 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.3 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 15 biodiesel refineries with the capacity to produce over 322 million gallons annually.

Propel Fuels Provides Green Job Training for At-Risk Youth in California

propelAccording to a press release by Propel Fuels, the group who is a leading retailer of environmentally-friendly, alternative fuels, has partnered with the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps (SRCC) to provide life and jobs skills training for at-risk young men and women at Propel’s retail fueling locations. Involvement in the program provides SRCC corpsmembers training in critical skills such as job responsibility, timeliness and teamwork, while exposing them to the promising industry of renewable energy.

“Our partnership with SRCC allows us to not only help young people develop important skills that will assist them the rest of their lives, but creates a skilled workforce for the growing renewable fuels industry.” said Rob Elam, Propel’s President and Co-Founder. “We look forward to expanding this important program on a larger scale as our network of alternative fueling stations grows.”

SRCC provides an alternative to youth unemployment, incarceration and substance abuse through conservation work, education and community service. The Corps experience leads to successful post program employment, and has been found to reduce arrest rates by one third.

“The opportunities that Propel has provided for the young people in our program are invaluable and offer them a positive environment in which they can channel their energy,” said Andi Liebenbaum, Deputy Director of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps. “The exposure our corpsmembers are receiving to the renewable fuels industry can only help them in a future job market.”

Through its Sacramento area Clean Fuel Points, Propel has brought immediate and convenient access to E85 and biodiesel to the tens of thousands of Flex Fuel and diesel vehicles in California. The company currently operates a network of five stations in Sacramento, Rocklin, Citrus Heights and Elk Grove and aims to deploy hundreds of stations across the state over the next five years. Propel ensures its fuels are sourced from sustainable, U.S.-based feedstocks that protect our environment and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Biomass Feedstocks Research

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is studying the use of plant residues for biofuels.

biofuel cropsAt the University of Minnesota-Morris Biomass Gasification Facility, for example, gasification researcher Jim Barbour and ARS soil scientist Jane Johnson (pictured) are evaluating potential biomass feedstocks, including pressed corn stover.

The Agricultural Research Service has scientists in 18 states involved in the Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) which is trying to determine the balance between how much crop residue can be used to produce ethanol and other biofuels and how much should be left on the ground to protect soil from erosion, maintain soil organisms, and store carbon in the soil.

Because corn is currently the most widely used biofuel crop, the REAP team is especially interested in determining where, when, and how much corn stover can be harvested without harming soil productivity. The work involves not only looking at how much plant residue is needed to maintain soil carbon than to control soil erosion, but also using perennial groundcover roots and shoots as alternative sources of organic material to offset the carbon lost when stover is removed.

Read more about the project here.

Ethanol Issues Addressed at South Dakota Forum

Vilsack SandlinRep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Monday for a Rural Issues Forum in Bath, South Dakota which was attended by an estimated 300 people who were able to ask questions about issues impacting the rural economy.

South Dakota’s contribution to biofuels production was discussed during the forum. Rep. Herseth Sandlin joined 28 members of Congress in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting approval for allowing gasoline blends to contain up to 15 percent ethanol. A final rule is expected from the EPA by December 1 and Vilsack said he expects the agency to meet that deadline.

Rep. Herseth Sandlin also brought up her concerns with the EPA’s proposed rule for the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) included in the Energy Bill passed in late 2007 and the proposed rule including indirect land use changes impacting lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with biofuels production.

“Ultimately, if the EPA can’t get it right, I support requiring EPA to make the comparison of emissions from biofuels and gasoline the central issue, rather than the questionable science of indirect land use that would be devastating to the renewable fuels industry and our country’s energy independence,” Rep. Herseth Sandlin. “It’s vitally important for economic development in South Dakota and for our nation’s energy independent future that the EPA correctly implement the RFS – and bases its rule on fact, not fiction.”

BIO to Congress: Don’t Put Biofuels in Double Jeopardy

BIOThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is trying to head off any possible efforts to subject biodiesel and ethanol to another set of greenhouse gas emission regulations that would effectively put the green fuels under a double jeopardy situation.

Arguing that biofuels are already regulated under the Renewable Fuels Standard, BIO has sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, asking that recently drafted cap-and-trade legislation be amended to clearly state that biofuels, including the biofuel component of fuel blends, are not obligated under the emissions cap:

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “When it comes to climate change legislation, Congress has focused a great deal of attention on stationary emission sources, such as coal-fired power plants. We cannot, however, achieve a low-carbon future without biofuels, because biofuels can play a key role in reducing direct CO2 emissions from the transportation sector. While fossil fuels release carbon that has been stored deep underground for millions of years into the atmosphere, biofuels recycle atmospheric carbon. In some cases, biomass production can sequester more carbon in the soil than is released into the atmosphere through biofuel combustion. Biofuels should therefore not be treated in the same manner as fossil fuels under any climate change cap-and-trade legislation.

BIO goes on to point out that under the RFS, biofuels are already required to achieve substantial lifecycle greenhouse gas improvements compared to petroleum-based fuels.