Takes Fuel to Make Fuel

Cindy Zimmerman

FrontlineThe Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel ran an article Sunday that originally ran in the N.Y. Times on February 7. It’s headlined “It takes fuel to make fuel” and I am surprised that I haven’t seen it in any other NYT company papers considering the hype over ethanol and the Ames, IA dateline.
The article is all about how turning corn into ethanol requires natural gas and the research that is being done to make ethanol more cost-effective. Two potential solutions are offered to using less natural gas in the production of ethanol – using cow manure or corn stover.
The article talks about work being done at Frontline Bioenergy in Ames, which has as it’s mission statement “…to lead the nation in biomass gasification solutions for energy and products” and the cute little leaf logo you see on this post. It quotes Frontline’s research and development manager John Reardon on their gasification project, “It’s just a step. But our whole economy is based on fossil energy, and we have to make a step somewhere.”
That’s how it will all be done – a step at a time. Our dependence on fossil fuels may be an addiction, but it’s not one we can quit cold turkey. We have to cut down gradually, a step at a time, to wean ourselves like babies. But it can be done.
Thanks to Gary Dikkers for sending me the article.

Ethanol

Dueling Ethanol Editorials

Cindy Zimmerman

MCGAMo PetHere’s an addition to the editorials pages about ethanol. The Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune two very long dueling editorial about the pros and cons of the ten percent ethanol mandate being considered by the state legislature. The pro side was written by Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall. The opposing viewpoint was written by Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.
Both arguments are pretty predictable considering the lobbies they represent, but interesting reading just the same.

Ethanol

Ethanol Editorials

Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol is fueling editorial fodder nationwide. Here are links to just a handful of today’s editorials about ethanol around the country – both positive and negative.

From the Washington Post – Ponying Up for Alternative-Fuel Research
From the Denver Post – Be careful what you wish for
From the Joplin (MO) Globe – Why don’t we grow energy?
From the Daily Press (VA) – Cornstalks are essential, not ‘waste’
From the Detroit News – E85 fuel has big appeal, but do numbers add up?
From the Sacramento (CA) Bee – The Carbohydrate Economy

Ethanol

Marine Methanol Question

Cindy Zimmerman

I got a comment to a post that I would like to draw attention to because I can’t find the answer to his question myself. If anyone can help, please comment. Thanks.
John Williams says:
I hope one of your readers can fill me in on a paticular aspect of fuel attributes. I operate a marine fuel dock in RI and I’ve recently learned we will be changing from MTBE to methanol in the next few months. I’m having difficulty finding an unambigious procedure to advise my customers on what precautions to use in order to avoid having phase seperation ( water )occure in their fuel storage tanks. They range from 6 gal to 250 gal. If ethanol is used, a simple water separator would be effective however the rumor around the docks is that if a supplier provides methanol as the additive the chemistry becomes more challenging to separate. My customers travel to offshore sites to fish and if problems develope out there it’s tough to stop in the breakdown lane. This saefty issue in marine fuels is the focus of my inquiry and I would appreciate any insight or remarks your readers would offer. Thank you for your time.

Miscellaneous

Cutting Fertilizer Use Goal of New Energy Estimator

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA USDA has released it’s new Energy Estimator for Nitrogen to help farmers and ranchers identify potential nitrogen cost savings associated with major crops and commercial nitrogen fertilizer applications. According to the USDA news release, nitrogen fertilizer is one of the largest indirect uses of energy on an agricultural operation. Fertilizer accounts for 29 percent of agriculture’s energy use, according to USDA research data. Proper management of nitrogen fertilizer, including the use of organic sources of nitrogen such as animal manure and cover crops, can save producers energy and money.
So, the government is encouraging farmers to find alternatives to nitrogen fertilizer, or at least to use less of it. That will also help make us more energy independent in the long term.
The new Energy Estimator can be found here.
I will probably have an interview on this topic with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Bruce Knight next week. Any questions you would like me to ask him?

(Note from Cindy: My interview with Bruce Knight was cancelled last week because of scheduling and the fact that he had laryngitis. I have interviewed “the chief” three times since the first of this year so at this point we are probably not going to do this particular interview after all. Maybe at a later date.)

Government

Loan Guarantee to Fund Biodiesel Plant

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA RD A Clinton, Iowa biodiesel plant is getting a $3.2 million loan guarentee from USDA’s Rural Development Agency, according to a release from USDA today. The Rural Development Renewable Energy Systems loan guarantee will be used to partially fund construction and operation of a biodiesel production plant with a yearly capacity of 10 million gallons. The plant will use over 7 million bushels of Midwestern grown soybeans a year. Additionally, the plant will use its own by-products to provide much of its energy supply. It is owned by Clinton County Bio Energy, LLC, which includes local farmers and business operators. When completed, the plant will provide at least nine new jobs. It is the first production facility to be located in a new 233 acre industrial park in Clinton. USDA also announced the awarding of 14 energy-related grants today – most for various power project in Alabama, Alaska and Arizona. Must be going in alphabetical order…

Biodiesel

Record Production in ’05

Cindy Zimmerman

RFA It should be no surprise to anyone that ethanol production set a record in 2005. The Renewable Fuels Association released the official figures today from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The total for the year came in at just under 4 billion gallons (3.904 billion gallons) and averaging nearly 255,000 barrels of ethanol production daily (b/d). The month of December also set production and demand records. Ethanol production in December rose 5,000 b/d from the previous month to 280,000 b/d. Demand skyrocketed to 310,000 b/d, breaking the old record of 297,000 b/d. And if I was a betting person, I would say that 2006 will be another record breaking year for ethanol production.

Ethanol

Biodiesel Interview From the Barn

Cindy Zimmerman

BarnDeere John Deere has been making efforts to encourage the use of biodiesel in it’s tractors and combines, at least on a small scale. ZimmComm contributing blogger Andy Vance of Ohio interviewed John Deere’s Barry Nelson about those efforts at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. Listen to the interview here. Andy has become a regular contributor for us on World Dairy Diary recently. He and his wife Lindsay Hill operate the Buckeye Ag Radio Network – the BARN – in Ohio. Kind of like me and my spouse – only we have no barn and we’ve already done the farm network thing, but we are still basically in the same business.

Biodiesel