Editorial Ignorance

Cindy Zimmerman

Ill Corn Illinois Corn Growers are a bit ticked about an editorial last week in the Chicago Tribune. Today’s Chicago Tribune has an editorial that contains just about every fallacy and piece of misinformation ever to see print about ethanol. This is nothing new and once again it raises the question; is it editorial ignorance or a hidden agenda driving this apparent vendetta?
IL Corn is probably not very happy with a follow-up editorial in the Trib on Sunday either. ILCG does note, however, that the news reporters at the Trib have been covering ethanol with increasing frequency and with a noticeable effort toward balance and objectivity. This phenomenon of increasingly positive coverage is happening nationwide as the media learns more about the fuel, as car manufacturers give E85 their stamp of approval, and as it becomes more readily available.

Ethanol

Ethanol Jackpot

Cindy Zimmerman

PVFETalk about a big payoff for investing in ethanol! Central City, Nebraska hit the ethanol jackpot last week with a huge donation from the ethanol industry. Platte Valley Fuel Ethanol and its majority owner, Fagen, Inc., gave the town $1 million for economic development efforts. “It’s just our way of saying thanks,” said Doug Anderson, general manager of the plant. “We wanted to do something that would continue to enhance economic growth in the area.”
The 50 million gallon/year plant started operation on May 5th, 2004. The company is merging with US BioEnergy of Brookings, S.D. and recently announced expansion of the plant to 100 million gallons.

Articles about the gift are accessible only by registration from the Omaha World Herald and the Grand Island Independent.

Ethanol

Converting Biomass from Bull

Cindy Zimmerman

El Toro Accelerated Genetics recently sponsored a bus tour to Green Bay, WI to visit ‘El Toro’, a Biomass Conversion Unit that converts animal waste into valuable and renewable energy products. A select group of Wisconsin dairy customers, Cashton Area Development Corporation (CADC) members and Accelerated Genetics management were given a demonstration of a working prototype of ‘El Toro’ – pictured here.

El Toro is, of course, Spanish for Bull – reason being, the project was started last year when Accelerated Genetics was approached by CADC about “managing the manure from our sire facilities in a different manner.” The corporation then embarked on a Biomass Conversion project through an Australian company Biomass Energy Service Technology (BEST). This project converts animal waste into valuable and renewable products. They recognized the raw product created by our bulls as desirable for use in this new energy recycling process. The opportunity would allow the manure from our bulls to be used in a process that would convert both the manure and bedding into a gas and a solid material, comprised mostly of charcoal.
After a successful test where Accelerated Genetics’ bull manure was converted into a gas that would be suitable for burning as a fuel and “char”, a dark charcoal based material that could have use as a fuel, filter or fertilizer, the Cashton group purchased a BEST biomass conversion plant in May.

Read more here.

Miscellaneous

Xethanol and Xiodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman

Xethanol Last I posted about Xethanol Corporation they were California dreaming. But, back on the east coast, they’re not just dreaming about it, they’re doing it. According to a company release this week, Xethanol “has organized NewEnglandXethanol LLC accelerating its growth plans to roll out ethanol production throughout the East Coast. NewEnglandXethanol will be a strategic alliance between Xethanol and Global Energy Management LLC. Its mission is to develop ethanol production in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.”

Meanwhile, Xethanol may need to change its name to be more inclusive, since the company recently got into the biodiesel business also. According to a news release, Xethanol “entered into an agreement with H2Diesel, Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Xethanol will manage the business of H2Diesel, which is to deploy the proprietary biodiesel conversion technology that H2Diesesl owns under an exclusive license for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.”

Biodiesel, Ethanol

Another New Record

Cindy Zimmerman

RFA Ethanol production increased another 14,000 barrels per day in February to 302,000 barrels (or 12.7 million gallons). That’s yet another new record, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publicized by the Renewable Fuels Association. RFA president Bob Dinneen says, “These numbers completely dispel the myth of ethanol shortages this driving season.”

Ethanol

Shrubby Willow Biofuel

Cindy Zimmerman

shrubby willow A company called Genesis in New Zealand is studying the use of a shrubby willow to produce ethanol. Genesis CEO Dr. Stephen Hall was at BIO 2006 in Chicago where Chuck met him. He gave us a call last week to do an interview over the phone about this plant and its potential as an ethanol source. Hall says salix could be a good alternative to using corn or sugarcane because of the amount of biomass it can produce and that it can grow very rapidly on marginal land. “We’re getting yields of 11 to 16 tons of dry matter per hectare per annum,” he says. In addition, Hall says salix can also produce lignin, “which can be used as a raw material for plastics or other polymers.”
I did some checking on salix and found out that is the genus name for willow and there’s a bunch of them. The one that is termed “shrubby” is the Common Osier (Salix viminalis), according to Wikipedia. That’s what I think Dr. Hall is talking about. He can correct me if I’m wrong.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Hall here: Listen To MP3 Stephen Hall (8:00 MP3)

Cellulosic, Ethanol

Switchgrass on Steroids

Cindy Zimmerman

miscanthus It’s called miscanthus and it’s a relative of switchgrass that’s WAY bigger, as you can see by the picture. University of Illinois researcher Stephen Long and graduate assistant Emily Heaton (in the picture, next to the giant grass – she’s only 5’4″) have been growing miscanthus for four years in Illinois. According to this article from Agriculture Online: In the 2004 trials, miscanthus out-performed switchgrass by more than double and in the 2005 trials more than triple. Long says “our results show that with Miscanthus the President’s goal of replacing 30% of foreign oil with ethanol, derived from agricultural wastes and switchgrass by 2030, could be achieved sooner and with less land.” Check these Wikipedia links for more info about miscanthus and switchgrass.

Cellulosic, Ethanol

New ADM CEO

Cindy Zimmerman

ADM ADM CEO ADM, the world’s largest producer of ethanol, has picked a Big Oil exec to run Big Ethanol. According to a company release, Archer Daniels Midland Company announced that Patricia A. Woertz has been selected as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, succeeding G. Allen Andreas, who remains as Chairman of the Board. Woertz, 53, most recently was Executive Vice President of Chevron Corporation, in charge of the oil company’s “downstream” operations, including refining, marketing, lubricant, supply and trading businesses in 180 countries. The press is having a field day with this, since Chevron just posted a nearly 50 percent profit increase, and it signals that ethanol is really hitting the big time. While ethanol currently accounts for only about five percent of ADM’s multi-faceted agricultural business, the company intends to increase production by 50 percent within the next two years.
Nearly 200 articles on the story come up in a Google search. Here’s a good one from the Chicago Tribune.

Ethanol

All Talk and No Action

Cindy Zimmerman

It’s true that gas prices are high right now – although much lower than most other countries, except Saudi Arabia. And it’s true that we are trying to come with alternative, renewable, domestic fuel sources. But – the fact is – we also NEED TO USE LESS! We spend all of our time bemoaning the fact that gas costs so much as we fill up our low mileage vehicles and drive everywhere we go.
This article from the Washington Post would be amusing, if it were not so true. It talks about how our congressional representatives are busy blaming everyone else for high gas prices while they toodle around in luxury SUVs that get 14 miles to the gallon. Sadly, we can’t just blame Congress for being hypocritial. Anyone who drives a car that gets gas mileage in the teens is just as much to blame.
Just finding alternatives won’t solve the problem. We need to make some sacrifices and change our lifestyles.
And do it NOW, before it’s too late.
Thanks to Gary Dikkers for sending me the article.

Miscellaneous

Hearing Panelists

Cindy Zimmerman

Finally got around to editing some of the audio from the Senate Ag Committee hearing on biofuels yesterday. Separate sound files from each of the panelists, linked on their names, all around 5:00 in length.

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen talks about importance of ethanol in today’s market. “Today’s industry consists of 97 biorefineries… blended in 40 percent of the nation’s fuel….no longer just a niche market in the midwest…4 billion gallons of ethanol produced last year has provided tremendous economic benefits for the country … added 153,000 jobs… some have questioned if there will be enough ethanol to meet demand and absolutely there will be.”

National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe focused comments on growth factors for biodiesel. “Amount of growth has been substantial … from 25 million gallons in ’04 to 75 million in ’05…. approximately 40 biodiesel plants … another 40 more under construction… majority of diesel is used in … trucking industry… average diesel prices have doubled in past four years… trucking association has endorsed use of B-5…. biodiesel contains oxygen so it burns cleaner… three federal policy measures effective in stimulating biodiesel development…all scheduled to expire … extension of biodiesel tax credit, extension of bioenergy program and extension of biodiesel fuel education program.”

CHS Inc. Executive Vice President Jay Debertin discussed CHS’s role in biorefining. “Largest fuel supplier, including diesel, for on-farm use… one of few refiners that have an equally strong committment to renewable fuels… marketed under CENEX brand … marketing fuels since late 1970s … took step of investing in U.S. Bioenergy … renewable fuels industry is still very young … challenges … include making sure the renewable fuels program is a true national program.”

Finally, Iowa State University professor Robert Brown, Ph.D compared U.S. ethanol industry growth to 1990s internet boom and talked about goals of bioeconomy. “Both internet and renewable fuels industry started from small basis, are dependent upon technological innovation for growth, and both were underinvested…converting corn to ethanol is not a goal of the bioeconomy, but rather a pathway … four goals for bioeconomy … reduce reliance on imported petroleum … improve environmental economy … expand markets for US agricultural products … provide economic development opportunities for rural economy.”

Biodiesel, Cellulosic, Ethanol