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!
A high-school sophomore from Wisconsin was named the national winner of the 2006 Ag Day Essay Contest this week. The theme this year was “Growing Our Energy: Alternative Fuels From Agriculture” and here is a brief excerpt from Ashley Julka’s winning essay:
“…By using gasoline-containing ethanol, we’re using homegrown products. Not only does this reduce our dependency on foreign oil, but it also helps the American economy. In Wisconsin alone, ethanol production has gone from zero to 250 million gallons in five years.” As the winner, Julka received a $1,000 prize and a roundtrip ticket to Washington, D.C., to be recognized during the March 16 Ag Day Luncheon held at the National Press Club. The contest is sponsored by: DuPont, Case IH, The Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, High Plains Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting and National Agri-Marketing Association, in conjunction with the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) which sponsors National Ag Day. Congratulations, Ashley!
Today is St. Patrick’s Day – tomorrow is St. Diesel’s Day. Well, he hasn’t actually been canonized yet – at least not by the Pope, but maybe by the Biodiesel industry. March 18 is the fifth annual National Biodiesel Day, celebrated on the birthday of Rudolf Diesel – inventor of the diesel engine. According to a press release from the National Biodiesel Board, they chose Diesel’s birthday to honor him for his foresight in recognizing the valuable role of vegetable-oil-based fuel. In the late 19th Century, Diesel ran early versions of his engine on peanut oil and paved the path for today’s biodiesel. Biodiesel is now made from soybean oil, as well as other vegetable oils and fats.
I have been meaning to put up a link to this AP story that came out a week or so ago about Brazil’s ethanol economy. It’s a good backgrounder on the history of the industry in Brazil and of particular interest to some critics of the government trying to help the industry grow here in the U.S. is this line – After decades of government intervention and subsidies, the industry here is a thriving free market business, complete with ethanol pumps at every filling station in Latin America’s largest country. Just thought that was interesting.
Add cheese to the list of commodities that could be used to make ethanol. This AP story is about research into “using a cheese-making byproduct to make ethanol.” That would be whey – as in what Little Miss Muffet ate on her tuffet with curds. According to the article, whey can be made into lactose sugar, which can then be made into ethanol. Whey recycling has been used as a protein supplement in low-carb foods for decades, said Mark Bade, operator of the whey recycling process and waste management facility at Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese in Rudolph. The state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is hawking the potential for whey sugar to be refined and used in ethanol. “Ethanol is hot,” the department’s Robin Engel said. Engel says they are thinking Wisconsin could have three refineries that would produce between 4 million and 7 million gallons of ethanol a year. The state is investing some $5 million in alternative energy research.
The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee had lots of good things to say about ethanol yesterday at the kickoff luncheon for National Ag Day in Washington D.C. Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, said that ethanol production holds promise even in areas outside the Corn Belt. “We may not be able to grow the corn in the abundance that folks do in the Midwest, but we’ve got other crops that we can grow,” Chambliss said. “Switchgrass is one that’s being talked about now that’s a real opportunity for us. Sugar cane in Louisiana, sugar cane in South Florida, can be grown in abundance.” Chambliss also promised that alternative energy will be a major focus in the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill. Listen to Chambliss’ remarks about alternative energy here.