It was Irish author Brendan Behan who said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity – except your own obituary,” and the ethanol industry is getting a dose of it here with an AP article that has gotten picked up more than most of the positive stories written about ethanol in the past two months. Actually, it’s not really that bad in terms of publicity. All it says is that the ethanol industry is going to experience some growing pains in the next few months with demand exceeding supplies, leading to higher prices. For most businesses, that would be seen as a GOOD thing. But, this article makes it sound like it will be the end of the world. After a spurt of good fortune, the fledgling U.S. ethanol industry is anticipating some growing pains that could bring it unwanted attention this summer…..there’s trouble looming: The ethanol industry might not be ready to satisfy the expected summertime jump in demand. And by crimping the overall supply of motor fuel, this could contribute to a spike in gasoline pump prices at the start of the country’s peak driving season. Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen does admit there will be a short-term supply crunch caused by the oil industry’s faster-than-expected phaseout of MTBE. “Refiners made the decision to accelerate the removal of MTBE, not ethanol producers,” Dinneen said. Still, increased demand is not a bad thing – as long as the industry remains transparent on the issue and does all it can to make it as short term as possible.
Northwest-based restaurant chain The Holland, Inc. is sending off it’s used cooking oil to be converted into biodiesel. According to a company release, all 39 Burgerville locations throughout the Pacific Northwest will have their used cooking oil picked up by Portland-based MRP Services and taken to a processing plant where the oil is transformed into methyl esters (biodiesel) and glycerin (a byproduct) through a process called transesterification. Besides the Burgerville chain, The Holland also owns Beaches and noodlin’ restaurant chains and they are big on “sustainable practices.” MRP Services sees big potential in biodiesel according to commercial accounts manager Will Craig. “Our pump truck division, which picks up the oil, has become the largest division within MRP Services. With the amazing amount of growth within the biodiesel industry and a company like The Holland using their cooking oil for biodiesel, MRP expects that it won’t be long before the cooking oil collection becomes a division on its own.”
Did you know that 76 percent of all vacations are taken by car? I did not know that. But, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) does and they are encouraging vacationers this year to fill up with ethanol on the road and feel good about leaving less pollution behind. An EPIC press release urges motorists to make note of the many service stations across the country that offer ethanol-enriched fuel before leaving on vacation. EPIC executive director Tom Sluneka wants Americans to know that “Ethanol-enriched fuel is environmentally friendly, renewable and is currently available at thousands of gas stations across the country,” accounting for about three percent of all automotive fuels sold in the United States. EPIC also stresses that gasoline blended with ten percent ethanol can run in any car sold in the US. Since there are no national standards for ethanol fuel labeling, look for a sticker on the pump with the words “Ethanol-blended fuel” or “E-10.” If no label is visible, ask the retailer if ethanol is available. For flex-fuel vehicles that can run on 85 percent ethanol, check on drivingethanol.org to find out where to fill up.
This headline grabbed my attention. Rhode Island? Actually, no – it’s Rajawali Indonesia. Here’s the story from the Antara News. Seems that Indonesia has potential to become the biggest ethanol producer in the world because it has an abundance of raw material and vast lands for producing the commodity, an industry executive said.
“The country`s potential as ethyl alcohol producer is very big but its recent production is still below Brazil`s, China`s or India`s,” Agus Purnomo, chairman of the National Methylated Spirit and Ethyl Alcohol Association (Asendo) said.
Yeah – so, not Rhode Island.
Since it’s National Agriculture Day, we want to say thank you to all our farmers who are keeping us fed with the most abundant and safe food supply in the world. This is the day for the announcement of the winner of the New Holland “Down on the Farm” Classic iPod Keepsake Contest. Thanks to all the people who entered online or at the New Holland booth at Commodity Classic. The random drawing has taken place and . . .
The winner is Marcus Spotts, a corn/soybean farmer from Nora Springs, IA. Congratulations to Marcus.
I caught Marcus on his mobile phone at lunch time to give him the news. You can listen to a portion of my conversation with him here: Telling Marcus He Won (3 min MP3)
I want to thank New Holland and Michael Peterson for working with us on this project. It has been fun and we are looking forward to doing it again soon.
Please keep our video iPod keepsake idea in mind. It makes a great and truly unique giveaway item! Can we create one for you?
A group of farmers wants Iogen Corp. to have their own private Idaho. According to this UPI article, there’s some heavy lobbying going on to get the “world leader in cellulosic ethanol production” to locate their first plant in Idaho rather than Canada. Idaho farmer Duane Grant a barley and alfalfa grower who has been involved with technology applications in farming for quite some time, said there are three factors that make a location in Idaho Falls ideal for Iogen’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant: its climate, the nature of the farming and the location of the plant. The article says Idaho’s congressional delegation is also in on the lobbying effort. “Cellulosic ethanol technology is exciting because it adds value to a waste product — creating another market for our farmers,” said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. “I am pleased that Iogen recognizes the value of doing business in Idaho, and I will continue to work to enable them to open a plant in Idaho.”
Here’s the latest post from contributing blogger JW:
You’ve seen here that switchgrass holds enormous potential as a domestic fuel. It’s not the only kind of grass that does. Hemp is another native plant that can produce both ethanol and biodiesel. Industrial hemp contains less than 3% of the physcoactive properties of it’s popular cousin, marijuana. There are political and legal barriers to knock down, but this agricultural product has many potential uses including paper, clothing, and of course, fuel. Learn more about the many uses for hemp, here http://www.hemp.co.uk/ (and also at Biomassive.org from whence we got the lovely leaf logo).
Thanks to an alert reader – Tony Skulas of Future Concepts Computer Specialists, Inc. – I can now pass on to you a website for Harrison Ethanol (see previous post) which, according to Tony is AKA Farmers’ Ethanol LLC. Now, I don’t find any mention of Harrison on the website – although Tony gave me two different domain names – friendsoffarmersethanol.com and friendsofharrisonethanol.com – or .org for both. Check out the funky logo – kinda like Ragu spaghetti sauce. America, corn, energy, liquid fuel, patriotism, triangle, chemistry – it’s in there! Very creative.
Florida’s governor is calling on Latin American countries to increase ethanol production for themselves and the United States. According to this article from the Bradenton Herald, Governor Jeb Bush made his pitch during the Second Annual Miami Latin America Conference, calling the proposal a “win-win for Florida and the region.” Bush says that increasing Florida and the nation’s reliance on other energy sources will help reduce their reliance on Venezuela, which he described as on “a quiet march toward dictatorship.” The United States imported roughly $34 billion in products from Venezuela last year, the vast majority of which were related to petroleum, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics. “If we don’t tax oil, maybe we shouldn’t tax ethanol,” the governor said.
I suspect that many in the domestic ethanol industry won’t like hearing this, but it is true. “If you take Brazil, Central America and Colombia, there is a tremendous potential to develop ethanol at a significantly lower price than can be done in the United States,” he said. Now, he is NOT saying that it shouldn’t be developed here in the United States. In fact, the Florida Legislature will probably pass bills this session that provide tax incentives for companies to increase the availability of renewable fuels and increased funding for research into alternative fuels. What he is talking about it working together as a hemisphere to reduce dependence on petroleum. Makes sense, which probably means it will never happen.
The World Energy Monthly Review, which “offers a no-holds-barred perspective, timely information and in-depth analysis on energy issues,” according to the publication’s Business Wire press release, takes a look at using switchgrass to make ethanol in its March issue. Author Brian K. Tully compares switchgrass as an ethanol source to both corn and sugar cane and says “it looks like not only a contender, but a winner.” Per acre, corn yields 330 gallons of ethanol, sugar yields 630 gallons and switchgrass 1,150 gallons. “Purely in terms of a fuel feedstock, one would be hard-pressed to find a tougher, faster-growing native plant that requires such relatively low maintenance,” Tully writes.
However, another article in the same issue says the cost of converting switchgrass to ethanol is three to five times the cost of converting corn, but scientists think that can be lowered.
But wait … what sounds most interesting in this issue is “San Francisco’s collection of a unique fuel source: dog poop.” Well, if we can use cow poop or pig poop – why not dog poo? It stands to reason then that ANY source of poo could be used to make fuel…. the possibilities are endless. So, why are we even thinking of growing anything to make fuel? We could be flushing away millions of gallons every day!