Ethanol Imports

Cindy Zimmerman

Analysts are saying that the US will be importing more ethanol this summer to keep up with demand caused by the phase-out of MTBE. According to a Dow Jones story,

U.S. cane-based ethanol imports are expected to more than double in 2006 from 511 million liters in 2005. “Moving U.S. ethanol, produced in the heartlands, to population centers on the coasts, where demand is heaviest, is a logistical challenge,” said Edward Murphy, downstream general manager of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington. “Because ethanol absorbs water and corrodes pipelines, it must be trucked or moved by rail to consumption areas for final blending.” More tanks are needed to store and blend ethanol on the East Coast, where it’s difficult and expensive to construct them. Imports, however, have the advantage of arriving at major population centers.

In other words, the petroleum industry is contending that it’s easier to import ethanol than it is to truck it from the midwest. Not sure I believe that.

The article also notes that with the increased demand – guess what? – the price of Brazilian ethanol is going up. It’s also significant to note that while there is a tariff on ethanol imports from Brazil, the Caribbean Basin Initiative allows a limited amount of ethanol to come in duty free from 24 nations. So, the call to lift the tariff on foreign ethanol is being sounded by lawmakers. One is Connecticut Governor Jodie Rell, who is asking her state’s congressional delegation to support lifting the tariff to provide “much needed relief” from rising gas prices, according to an AP report.
I think it makes good political sense to lift the tariff, at least temporarily, to help with the short supply situation here – but I have serious doubts that it will provide any relief from rising gas prices since it’s as good as any excuse to raise gas prices.


I’ll Be Blogging The BIO

Chuck Zimmerman

BIO 2006Beginning late Sunday I’ll be blogging the BIO 2006 Convention in Chicago. This is a very large event that covers the full range of biotechnology, including alternative fuel technology. I’m going to be on the lookout for news related to our subject and already have some press releases about announcements that will be made while I’m there. I will then bring it to you!

I want to say a big thank you to my sponsor that’s making it possible for me to attend BIO 2006.

Domestic Fuel coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

BIO, Science

Guster Raises Biodiesel Consciousness

Cindy Zimmerman

Guster Members of the band Guster joined officials from the City of East Lansing on the Michigan State University campus this week to announce the growing use of biodiesel in the town, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Guster was in East Lansing for a performance at MSU as part of the Campus Consciousness Tour, which raises awareness in college towns about sustainable practices like using biodiesel. Their tour bus is fueled by B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel.


Plant Plans

Cindy Zimmerman

IndianaThe Andersons Inc. is considering a third ethanol plant in Dunkirk, Ind. (Toldedo Blade) (see previous post)
FloridaUnited States EviroFuels LLC received a state permit to construct an ethanol production plant at Port Sutton. (Tampa Bay Business Journal) (see previous post)
Michigan – A company formed by former state Rep. Rick Johnson wants to build a $73 million ethanol refinery in Grand Traverse County’s Paradise Township. (Traverse City Record-Eagle)
Illinois – Marquis Energy LLC. of Hennepin and global investment and advisory firm, Babcock & Brown, have entered into a memorandum of understanding to construct, manage and provide investment financing for a two-phase development of a 200-million gallon fuel-grade ethanol facility. (News Tribune Online)
South Dakota – Not everyone in the community is thrilled over the $88 million Prairie Ethanol plant being built at Loomis, a town of 47 residents a few miles northwest of Mitchell. (AP-Aberdeen News)
Missouri – Bootheel Agri-Energy LLC announced its decision to purchase the option on approximately 160 acres at the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park. (SE Missourian)


First Fuel Cell Police Car

Cindy Zimmerman

Chrysler Wayne State University in Detroit is the proud owner of the world’s first fuel cell-powered police car introduced this week by DaimlerChrysler. According to their release, the Wayne State University Police Department will operate the Mercedes F-Cell as a supervisor’s vehicle on and in the immediate vicinity of the campus, located in Detroit’s Cultural Center. Outfitted with a third-generation police radio, decals, lights and sirens, the Wayne State University Police Department F-Cell is a look into the future use of fuel cell vehicles. The demanding operation of a police car will produce valuable data to help develop fuel cell technology.


Energy Secretary Promotes Energy Initiative

Cindy Zimmerman

Bodman U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman made lots of friends in the hydrogen fuel cell business yesterday when he announced plans to award $50 million over the next three years in research grants to advance the technology. AP reports that universities, national laboratories and private companies will compete for the grants starting later this month. They are part of the Bush Administration’s goal of making fuel cells a viable technology by 2020.
While announcing fuel cell research grants in a speech to the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit, Bodman also called on automakers to produce more flex fuel vehicles. “It should be our common goal that E85 become a nationwide fueling option,” Bodman said. “In the coming days, I will be asking that we do more to make consumers aware of the flex-fuel option both when they are considering a new car purchase and for existing owners of flex-fuel vehicles.” The Renewable Fuels Association “welcomed the continued, full-throated support of the Bush Administration” for ethanol.

Ethanol, Government

Bio Biking

Cindy Zimmerman

Bike Environmentally-conscious bikers may be interested in easy riding with Ecorider, “the only production diesel motorcycles offered for sale to the public in this country.” According to an email we got from Dusty Beckstrand, western US rep for Ecorider, they have been contacted lately by biodiesel companies interested in the bikes, “which use a German, Hatz diesel engine that gets 125 mpg and the engines are multi-fuel capable.” As you can see by the picture, the bikes have wide tires for all-terrain travel. Dusty says he’d like to “present the bikes to Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman and Daryl Hannah for their inspection and approval.”


Small Company with Big Plans

Cindy Zimmerman

Altra A California company is planning to become a major ethanol producer with some new backing. A release this week from Altra, Inc. announced that it has attracted some heavy-hitter investors – private equity firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Omninet Private Equity, LLC and Sage Capital Partners, L.P. along with two leading private equity funds focused on high growth companies in the energy sector — Angeleno Group, LLC and Khosla Ventures.

Founded in 2004, Altra is led by seasoned business leaders and veterans of the biofuels and energy industries. Altra acquires, develops and operates a portfolio of renewable energy projects throughout the United States. Altra is specifically focused on the production and sale of ethanol and biodiesel fuels that can help meet the world’s growing energy demands as it faces shrinking petroleum supplies that come from unstable regions of the globe. Political instability and increased world petroleum consumption have caused a corresponding rapid growth in the global demand for alternative and renewable fuels, which Altra believes will ultimately and permanently alter the dynamics of world energy markets.

Reuters did a story on the Altra plans.

Biodiesel, Ethanol

A-peeling Fuel Research

Cindy Zimmerman

Citrus Peels Now here’s an a-peeling idea for a cellulosic fuel source. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service Citrus and Subtropical Products Laboratory in Winter Haven have been looking at the possibility of using citrus peels to make ethanol. According to this ARS story, citrus waste materials are rich in pectin, cellulose and hemicellusic polysaccharides, which can be hydrolyzed into sugars and fermented into alcohol. Most of this dried peel residue — a total of 1.2 million tons annually in Florida alone — is currently marketed as low-value cattle feed, despite its relatively high processing cost. They estimate that Florida’s citrus peel waste could yield up to 80 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Cellulosic, Ethanol, Research

Plug In to Hybrids

Cindy Zimmerman

PIP Found this good story on the Bioconversion Blog.

Flex-fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or ethanol or any blend in between. But the liquid fuel MPG is not very good. Hybrid cars can extend the MPG of an automobile by substituting electricity generated within the car in place of liquid fuel – but you need to run the car on fuel to build up the charge. Plug-in cars run on electricity alone without fuel and can be recharged overnight – but their range is not very good.

Why not build and buy Vehicles that are Hybrids that you can Plug-in for an Electric charge, but that are flex-fuel compatible? The consumer can then choose between the greatest range of options. That’s the vision of a group called Plug-In Partners and they are mounting a National Campaign to get automobile manufacturers to build the PHEV cars.

The campaign encourages on-line petitions, endorsements, fleet orders, rebates and incentives.

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles