The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series starts this weekend the Homestead Miami Speedway with tanks ten percent full of ethanol. Here’s a good story from Crash.net about the history making change and Rahal Letterman’s Team Ethanol. Includes this quote: “Team Ethanol and its key sponsors have made a significant impact on the IRL IndyCar Series in the last few years,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner and founder of Rahal Letterman Racing. “The leaders of Broin, Fagen and ICM have a vision on how they can positively affect the availability of fuel with ethanol that is a renewable resource.”
Hawaii is still trying to figure out how to meet state government requirements for ethanol in gasoline and now the electric company wants to use it for power. The Hawaiian Electric Company, also known as HECO, made Pacific waves this week when officials announced they could use ethanol for a new power station on Oahu. According to this story in the Pacific Business Journal, “We would love to use locally produced ethanol in the new Campbell Industrial Park plant from day one of operation in 2009,” said Hawaiian Electric Co. President Mike May. Oahu Ethanol Corp., which already was preparing to produce ethanol next year, is at Campbell Industrial Park, next-door to the HECO power plant site. Oahu Ethanol President Dan KenKnight plans to produce ethanol initially from imported molasses and then get local growers to supply him with sorghum.
I have read several articles on this from Hawaii and I have to say I just don’t get it. Like this story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, they say this “could help ethanol businesses that are just getting started in Hawaii.” Why do they need more help? The state is requiring that at least 85 percent of gasoline sold contain 10 percent ethanol, starting next month. However, there is currently NO ethanol produced in Hawaii. Seems like there is already a built-in market without the local power industry wanting to use any ethanol that is produced there and it’s not likely they can ever produce enough ethanol on the islands to meet that demand. I’m confused.
We have a picture now to identify posts from contributing blogger JW.
Jeep has announced that their new Liberty CRD (Common-Rail Diesel) has surpassed 10,000 vehicles sold in just under 2 years on the market, doubling the estimated production. I was excited when I first heard about this vehicle, as I’ve known that a diesel engine is more efficient and powerful than their gas powered counterparts. With biodiesel becoming a popular alternative, people will continue to flock to todays more efficient diesel engines. The success of the Jeep Liberty CRD only supports that fact. Here is a link to the news release from the National Biodiesel Board.
The US is not the only country helping the ethanol industry. In Thailand, the government Energy Minstry is subsidizing “the local ethanol price in order to maintain a price difference between gasohol and premium gasoline at 1.50 baht per liter.” According to this story in the TNA English News, Although the ethanol price increases, the ministry will use the contributions given to Oil Fund to subsidize the price. The ministry reiterates that it has no policy to encourage the import of ethanol to offset local supply shortage, according to the minister.
Minnesota ethanol is on the agenda for Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns this week. Johanns will hold a roundtable with area agriculture and agribusiness leaders in Mankato, Minnesota on Thursday morning, according to a press advisory. Then he will tour the Northstar Ethanol plant in Lake Crystal, Minnesota in the afternoon. That’s all I know about it, but I would assume he’ll be promoting the president’s alternative energy strategy – just a guess.
Sales of ethanol in Kentucky are paying for five kids to attend a special camp for children with asthma this summer. Jennie Stuart Medical Center received $5,000 dollars raised through the sale of ethanol-enriched fuel at Max Arnold & Sons’ Max Fuel during the month of February. A portion of the proceeds were also donated by local ethanol producer Commonwealth Agri-Energy, LLC. The money will be used to send five children to Camp SuperKids, which is a camp for children with moderate to severe asthma sponsored by the Kentucky Lung Association. According to a news release, Ethanol reduces tailpipe fine particulate matter (PM) emissions by up to 50 percent. These emissions pose a health threat to children, senior citizens and those with respiratory ailments. Particulate matter in the air makes it more difficult for everyone to breathe, especially those with asthma. Pictured are Philip Russo, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Max Arnold & Sons of Max Fuel Express, Mick Henderson, general manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy and Lisa Behm, director of community relations, Jennie Stuart Medical Center
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin’ crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.
According to this story on Wired News, bio-oil could be the new crude – “a thick black liquid that could become a green substitute for many petroleum products.”
Bio-oil can be made from almost any organic material, including agricultural and forest waste like corn stalks and scraps of bark. Converting the raw biomass into bio-oil yields a product that is easy to transport and can be processed into higher-value fuels and chemicals.
“It is technically feasible to use biomass for the production of all the materials that we currently produce from petroleum,” said professor Robert C. Brown, director of the Office of Biorenewables Programs at Iowa State University.
The article sources two companies – Ensyn Group, Inc. of Delaware and DynaMotive in Canada – that are making commercial products using bio-oil.
The biomass is converted into bio-oil through a process called pyrolysis, in which the organic scrap materials are finely ground and heated at 400 to 500 degrees Celsius, without oxygen. In just two seconds, about 70 percent of the material vaporizes and is condensed into bio-oil — a dark liquid resembling espresso that contains more than a hundred organic compounds.
Pyrolysis also produces a gas, which is burned to fuel the process, and carbon-rich soot called “char,” which can be burned as fuel, used as a soil fertilizer or processed into charcoal filters or briquettes.
Fascinating stuff. Y’all come back now, y’hear?
(Thanks to our website designer Robert Canales for the link to this story)
Here’s today’s post from contributing blogger JW:
Because I like to practice what I preach, I stopped in my local MFA BreakTime about three weeks ago and dropped off a letter asking them to sell biodiesel. In that request, I pledged to purchase all my fuel there if they were to offer it. Curious to see what they thought, I stopped in again today and asked them if they were going to carry biodiesel. The answer was they were waiting for an answer from corporate.
I have no doubt this is true, because I think all BreakTimes are corporate owned. But I’m hopeful that they will grant my wish, since they are one of the biggest suppliers of biodiesel in Missouri. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out. As we saw in a recent post, gasoline suppliers are rushing to add ethanol and biodiesel to their mixtures, because MTBE is nasty stuff that they want to phase out. Even if they don’t do it on their own, there is legislation in this state to require it. Biofuels will soon be part of the blend, and it makes sense, even with the hurdles of distribution and supply. If you can’t find biofuel mixtures at your favorite gas stop, maybe all you need to do is ask. Link for suppliers:
Links for Missouri bills:
Editor’s note: MFA Oil has been a leader in providing 10 percent ethanol blends at the pump. The MFA website has a page about what they are doing to reduce dependence on imports of energy products. “Because MFA Oil is a farmer-owned cooperative, marketing “home-grown” fuels is a natural for our company,” says the site. With regard to biodiesel, MFA says:
In 1993 we worked with the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council to make soy biodiesel available to three rural electric cooperatives in central and northeast Missouri that were field-testing the fuel as part of research conducted by the University of Missouri. In early 2002 MFA Oil made Soyplus® biodiesel available at bulk oil plants throughout our market area. We actively promote the product through advertising and other sales efforts. So, it’s available from corporate and if enough people ask for it, I would think local BreakTimes would sell it.
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.”