Ethanol Car Takes Wing

Cindy Zimmerman

Saab Car Now this is a cool car! This Saab concept car, which runs on 100 percent ethanol, was unveiled this week at the Geneva Auto Show. According to an MSNBC story, “The 400-hp, twin-turbo, BioPower V6 engine is fueled entirely by ethanol,” Saab said in a statement touting the environmental benefits of reduced emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists tie to global warming. The Aero X has a cockpit and aerodynamic design based on Saab’s aviation roots. While there is no promise from Saab that this car will ever make it beyond the concept stage Kjell Bergstrom, executive director of Saab Automobile Powertrain says some of the Aero X technology, especially turbocharging, could find its way in future models. “Turbocharging and bioethanol make excellent partners,” Bergstrom said. Saab stated that turbocharging with ethanol “allows the use of a higher compression ratio — giving more engine power — than is possible with gasoline because of the risk of harmful ‘knocking’ or pre-detonation.” Bergstrom also touted another advantage with ethanol: “If there is no bioethanol available, the customer can still use gasoline at any time.”
More info on this nifty little vehicle can be found by going to the Saab link above or here.

Ethanol

EPA Proposes Equal Treatment for Ethanol Plants

Cindy Zimmerman

EPA An Environmental Protection Agency proposal would treat ethanol plants the same as corn milling plants for grain when it comes to Clean Air Act standards. According to the EPA announcement, ethanol is produced at corn milling facilities for use as fuel or human consumption. While the processes are similar, these facilities are currently treated differently under Clean Air Act permitting programs. EPA’s proposal would provide equal treatment for corn milling facilities, regardless of whether they produce ethanol for fuel or human consumption. The proposal would establish the same emissions limits under the PSD program – 250 tons per year – regardless of whether the ethanol end product is used for fuel or human consumption
Seems reasonable to me, if they are essentially creating the same product just for different uses – and the idea is to help generate more ethanol production. The proposal led to headlines like this: “EPA proposes allowing ethanol plants to emit more pollution” which is true, but makes it sound kind of sensational unless you read the actual article on the proposal which explains it very well.

Ethanol

Ethanol Transport Concerns

Cindy Zimmerman

Transportation issues have been added to the growing list of concerns about how demand for ethanol will be able to be met this year. According to a Reuters business wire story, officials with the US Energy Information Administration think there may be a shortage of trucks and rail cars to move ethanol.

“We’ll need to find a whole lot more rail cars that may not be readily available,” EIA analyst Joanne Shore said in an analyst conference call. “There’s also concern about trucks, and the truck drivers needed for moving this are in short supply.”

Ethanol

Mixing Alcohols

Cindy Zimmerman

Power Energy Ecalene A trademarked ethanol cocktail called Ecalene™ may offer the potential to solve some of the issues relating to pure ethanol use. Power Energy Fuels in Colorado claims that Ecalene™ is “Ethanol Plus” because it has higher mixed alcohols which act as a binding agent in fuel blending, has higher octane than ethanol, is its own denaturant, has higher btu’s than ethanol with high octane that will increase mileage and performance – all according to their website. Certainly sounds promising. Power Energy has the patents on the product, they are working with NREL and have two patents on the process. Here’s another link that gives some more info about Ecalene.
I found out about Ecalene™ through a comment from Power Energy president Gene Jackson who wrote asking why I don’t “promote mixed alcohols?” Well, that would be because I didn’t know about it. Now I do – but I would ask you why YOU don’t promote it? The media is eating up anything that has to do with ethanol right now but if you do a news search for Ecalene there’s nothing. Send out a press release, for goodness sake!

Ethanol

Governors Want More E85 Vehicles

Cindy Zimmerman

GEC The Governor’s Ethanol Coalition met this week in Washington, DC and passed a resolution urging major auto makers to make more flex-fuel vehicles that can run on 85 percent ethanol. Thirty-two of the country’s governors are members of the coalition, which was formed in 1992 to promote ethanol use. So far only midwestern governors have chaired the organization, but governors of states like New York, Arizona and Washington are listed as members. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is the new chairman of the coalition and she was quoted as saying this week, “There’s a new energy behind our efforts to promote biofuels.”
Here are a couple of links to regional stories about the meeting this week.
Wichita Business Journal
Kansas City InfoZine
KXMC-News North Dakota

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles, Government

MO Rally for Ethanol Mandate

Cindy Zimmerman

MCGA Rally MCGA Rally 2Here are some pictures from the “Energy Independence Rally” yesterday at the Missouri State Capitol. According to the Missouri Corn Growers Association press releaseOver two hundred farmers and ethanol advocates met at the Missouri State Capitol (Tuesday) to show their support for increased energy independence and the Missouri Renewable Fuel Standard (MoRFS), legislation that would require nearly all the gasoline sold in the state contain 10 percent ethanol. It was a nice crowd and I would say that estimate is just about right. The event started at the Missouri Farm Bureau Building and ended in the halls of the capitol. The large crowd of farmers, ethanol plant members, business officials, community leaders, FFA students and others traveled to Jefferson City, Mo., to meet with lawmakers and push for passage of the statewide ethanol standard.
Once passed, Missouri will join Minnesota, Montana and Hawaii to become the fourth state in the nation to establish a statewide renewable fuel standard. Ethanol legislation is also currently pending in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and most recently, Idaho.
Thanks to Becky Grisham with MCGA for the pictures. I really need to start carrying a camera with me in my car like my husband does!

Ethanol

Down Under Moving Midwest

Cindy Zimmerman

Midwest Grain The sudden interest of private companies wanting to invest in ethanol plants is causing some consternation in the midwest. US ethanol plant development has been largely a grassroots campaign over the past decade financed by farmer-owned cooperatives. Now one of those co-ops is facing the entrepreneur’s dream dilemma – selling out for venture capital. Midwest Grain Processors, a 1,300 farmer co-op in Lakota, IA has a deal worth $100 million in the works with a little-known Australian corporation by the name of Global Ethanol. The big bucks would help the co-op double capacity, but it would cost them 60 percent interest.
The Des Moines Register reports today that Senator Charles Grassley (IA-R) is urging the farmers “not to sell control to a foreign company.” The farmer-owners must vote to approve the deal before it can go through.
When I started researching this story today, I spent about an hour searching for this Global Ethanol company on the web, unsuccessfully. I finally found an article in the Australian Courier-Mail that kind of answered my question, saying “Little is known about Global Ethanol. Director Timothy McMahon yesterday referred questions to fellow director Trevor Bourne, who is in the US.”
I think that’s a little weird that a company calling itself GLOBAL ETHANOL is nowhere to be found on the web and has little known about it. Not very global, if you ask me. I will be interested to see how this deal goes down.

Ethanol

Things Happen for a Reason

Cindy Zimmerman

I went to noon Mass today at the beautiful St. Peter Church across from the Capitol building in Jefferson City, MO. I parked in one of the metered spots in front of the church even though there were temporary No Parking signs set up for a funeral, thinking that it must have been for a morning funeral that just concluded. I was wrong – the funeral Mass started in the upper church right after the regular daily noon service concluded in the lower chapel. I walked out to find my car blocked in by the funeral procession and the service just beginning. So, instead of fretting about it, I decided to go for a walk around downtown and enjoy the glorious weather. As I walked past the Capitol building I noticed a fairly large group gathered around the steps having a rally of some sort – not an unusual sight during the legislative session. Then I noticed the easily-recognizable blue jackets of a few FFA members – and the fact that the crowd was flanked by a couple of vehicles emblazoned with E85 emblems. Hmmmm – I said to myself, being the astute reporter-type that I am – must be some kind of ethanol thing going on here. Surveying the scene, which included a couple hundred farmer-types listening to brief statements from MO corn industry leaders and state lawmakers, I was reminded why my husband always keeps a camera handy. Of course, it would have been nice if I had received a media invite to the event – but we are still trying to convince some people that blogs are media too. Our good friend Becky Grisham with the Missouri Corn Growers Association has assured me that she will send me a picture of the crowd to post. Maybe tomorrow.

Ethanol

Fats and Oils in Demand

Cindy Zimmerman

Oil World An economist who makes his living forecasting the future of oils and oilseeds says that the supply of fats and oils in the world is not enough to keep pace with demand. According to a Bloomberg article, Thomas Mielke of Oil World says that between the increasing demands for both food and fuel, “There is a supply-demand deficit that is slowly worsening and the real impact is still to come.”
Mielke specifically addresses the use of products such as soy oil and palm oil for biodiesel and corn and sugarcane to make ethanol. “We cannot solve energy problems with oils and fats,” Mielke said. “If you look at five-year accumulative demand trends starting 1981, there has been an alarming acceleration in demand for the world’s 17 major oils and fats. There’s going to be more and more competition for new acreage from grains and sugar for oilseeds.”
So, either we have to grow more, use less, or find other sources.

Biodiesel, Ethanol