Revving It Up For Indy

Chuck Zimmerman

Indy PitsIt’s the final week before the Indianapolis 500. Time to get revved up. I’ll be heading on over later this week. On Thursday the IRL is having an Ethanol Forum which will feature speakers like IRL founder Tony George and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, Tom Dorr. I’ll report on it for you right here.

In leading up to the activities in Indiana I’m going to post some more interviews I conducted during Ethanol Day a couple of weeks ago. So let’s get started. One of the founders of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is Jeff Broin, CEO of the Broin Companies, designers and builders of ethanol plants. Jeff is pictured on the left, next to another EPIC founder, Dave Vander Griend, CEO of ICM. They were watching Ethanol Car practice lap action in the pits. Jeff describes what EPIC does and what he thinks of all the publicity generated by the ethanol/IRL matchup.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here: Listen To MP3 Jeff Broin Interview (3 min MP3)

Audio, EPIC, Ethanol, Indy Racing, Racing

Gas Prices Fuel Web Searches

Cindy Zimmerman

GraphPeople who keep track of such things say that higher gas prices are causing a major increase in web searches for domestic fuel terms such as ethanol and biodiesel. According to Hitwise, the share of U.S. internet searches for the term ‘ethanol’ was up 212 percent for the four weeks ending May 13, 2006 versus the four weeks ending April 15, 2006. Additionally, the share of searches for ‘biodiesel’ was up 100 percent in that same period. Hitwise is “the leading online competitive intelligence service,” according to the company’s website.
Traffic on Domestic Fuel has seen a significant increase in the past 30 days – up over 50 percent and growing every day.

Biodiesel, Ethanol

Geographic Growth

Cindy Zimmerman

From the deep South to the wild, wild West – ethanol is expanding it’s horizons.

Ethanol is a hot topic in Louisiana “where sugar cane, soybeans. sorghum and corn could be tapped for fuel production,” according to this article from the Advocate. According to the story, at least three commercial domestic fuels plants are planned for the state and another in Mississippi would use grain from Louisiana. There are also a couple of public projects in the works and state legislation that would require refiners to produce ethanol.

According to the Torrington (WY) Telegram, ethanol in the state of Wyoming is on the cutting edge. This article reports that Wyoming Ethanol, which has been in operation since 1995, plans to double its production this year to 12 million gallons of ethanol per year from approximately 4 million bushels of corn. Officials with the plant say they could sell three times what they produce.


The Ethanol Sprint King

Chuck Zimmerman

Steve King & ParentsAt Ethanol Day in Indianapolis recently, Steve King, sprint car driver, was there to help promote the alternative fuel. He brought his number 88 for us to see. Steve is pictured to the right of his parents, Danny & Naomi.

I interviewed Steve while we had a relatively quiet moment (there’s usually never a quiet moment at the speedway). Steve says he began using ethanol about 5 years ago. He grows his own fuel as a farmer, including having a feedlot. He says they use a blend of ethanol that allows him to load less fuel at the beginning of a race and that gives him a competitive advantage.

You can listen to my interview with Steve here: Listen To MP3 Steve King Interview (3 min MP3)

Audio, EPIC, Ethanol, Racing

Two More Ethanol Plants for Iowa

Cindy Zimmerman

Green PlainsAccording to the Des Moines Register, Iowa is getting two more ethanol plants – one in Superior and one in Buffalo. Green Plains Renewable Energy plans to build a 50 million-gallon-a-year plant near Superior that will be similar to a plant Green Plains is building in Shenandoah. The Superior plant will open in spring 2007.
River/Gulf Energy is a Quad-City firm associated with Alter Barge Line. More information about their project can be found in this article by the Quad-City Times.

Ethanol, Facilities

Ethanol Myths and Realities

Cindy Zimmerman

Business Week Online tries to take a somewhat balanced look at ethanol here that falls a bit short. The article has a decidedly cynical tone about ethanol but does present some positive information regarding the energy issue, presenting the findings of Michael Wang with the Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research – some very good research. Whenever anyone starts talking about how much fossil fuel is used in the production of ethanol, here is the information to use. Argonne Lab
According to “The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update” –

Corn ethanol is energy efficient, as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.34; that is, for every Btu dedicated to producing ethanol there is a 34-percent energy gain. Furthermore, producing ethanol from domestic corn stocks achieves a net gain in a more desirable form of energy, which helps the United States to reduce its dependence on imported oil. Ethanol production utilizes abundant domestic energy feedstocks, such as coal and natural gas, to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel. Only about 17 percent of the energy used to produce ethanol comes from liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. For every 1 Btu of liquid fuel used to produce ethanol, there is a 6.34 Btu gain.

Here’s a link to a listing of studies about ethanol on the Argonne website. Most, like the one above, are in pdf format.

Ethanol, Research

Golden Gate Biodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman

Bridge Biodiesel’s heart is in San Francisco now that it has become the largest U.S. city to institute citywide use of B20. According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Directive designed to increase the pace of municipal use of biodiesel in the city which uses about 8 million gallons of diesel a year. Among other things, the directive states that all diesel-using departments shall begin using a B20 biodiesel blend as soon as practicable in all diesel vehicles and other diesel equipment, with the following incremental goals in each department’s use of B20: initiate and complete biodiesel pilot project by December 31, 2006; 25% by March 31, 2007; 100% by December 31, 2007.


Auto Makers Back 25x’25

Cindy Zimmerman

25x25 logoAccording to Paddock Talk, the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are supporting efforts that seek to provide 25 percent of America’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025, known as 25X’25. In meetings with Congressional leaders today, Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO Bill Ford and General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner gave their support the initiative, which is an effort led by the Energy Future Coalition and supported by agriculture and forestry groups to get 25 percent of the nation’s transportation energy needs met by renewable fuels by 2025.

Car Makers, Government