The potential to develop the ethanol-to-hydrogen energy pathway is now being explored through the Upper Midwest Hydrogen Initiative, a public-private partnership run under the auspices of the Great Plains Institute in Minneapolis, according to an article on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association website. UMHI was formed to bring fuel cell technology into use in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Manitoba, Canada — and it is pursuing about $2 million to fund a hydrogen-fuel-cell bus demonstration project in Minnesota.
The latest “Fill Up, Feel Good” podcast from the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is about EPIC’s sponsorship of the CityHome™ Program (see previous post). The podcast features comments from both EPIC executive director Tom Slunecka and O2Diesel Corporation CEO Alan Rae about this program aimed at helping cities use an ethanol/diesel blend for municipal transportation.
The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. (4:45 MP3 File)
Reducing the risk of wildfires could help increase production of domestic fuels. Agriculture Under Secretary Thomas Dorr today announced nearly $4.2 million in grants to 18 small enterprises to develop innovative uses for woody biomass in national forests as sources of renewable energy and new products. According to a USDA press release, “This grant program helps to reduce the risk of wildfires by removing built-up fuel hazards and improves forest health,” said Dorr while here to announce several Earth Day initiatives by USDA. “In addition, these projects give an economic boost to our rural communities, increasing the nation’s sources of renewable energy.”
Believe it, Mr. Secretary.
The headline was Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in Colorado on Earth Day reacting to a reporter’s question about ethanol being responsible for high gas prices.
Johanns response was, “The price of a barrel of oil went over $72 this week – and I rest my case.” Listen to the USDA newsline report here.
E85 can now be sold in the greater Phoenix area. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano recently signed a bill into law that will allow the alternative fuel to be available throughout Maricopa County, according to a release from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.
“Our deep appreciation is extended to Representative Boone and his associates, as well as Weights and Measures, and the Legislative Staff for an important, well crafted and well needed piece of legislation,” said Colleen Crowninshield, Clean Cities Coordinator of the Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition. Good thing – since the Clean Cities Congress will be held in Phoenix May 7-10.
During the “Truth about Ethanol” conference call last week (see previous post), I got to ask the guys to answer the critics who charge that ethanol and corn production rely too heavily on natural gas and nitrogen fertilizer. Bob Dinneen of Renewable Fuels Association, notes that the ethanol industry continues to evolve, “$11 natural gas is a great motivator to look at other technologies,” such as biomass gasification and methane digestors. “Our industry is unrecognizable from what it was five years ago, it will be unrecognizable again five years from now.” Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association says farmers are using precision farming and precision fertilizer application, “we are producing the same units of corn with a third less fertilizer than we did seven years ago,” and seed companies are working on corn plants that use significantly less nitrogen than those being grown today.
The reporter after me asked the same question, so here is the complete Q and A on that topic. (2:20)
A crash during practice and another on lap 40 of the Indy Racing League Twin Ring Motegi gave new Team Ethanol driver Jeff Simmons an 18th place finish in the 20 car field over the weekend. Simmons was unhurt, but the No. 17 Ethanol car did sustain some damage. Needless to say, Simmons was disappointed with his Rahal Letterman Racing debut, according to Motorsport.com. “It is really disappointing for everyone on Team Ethanol. This is never the way you want to start anything. Crashing two cars in one weekend is something I have never done before. As disappointed as I am right now we will move past this and start to focus on Indianapolis.”
Meanwhile, his RLR teammates had better luck. Buddy Rice started 18th and finished 5th, while Danica Patrick started 14th and finished 8th.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will be holding a hearing on the “State of the Biofuels Industry” Wednesday, April 26, 2006 at 10:00 am. The witness list includes Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe, CHS Inc. Executive Vice President Jay Debertin and Iowa State University professor Robert C. Brown, Ph.D (read previous post about Brown’s bio oil research).
President Bush will be headlining the 2006 Renewable Fuels Summit Tuesday in Washington. “Growing America’s Energy Security” is the theme of the summit, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association, which is understandably “proud to welcome the most pro-ethanol President in history” to the invitation-only event. Other honored guests include Sen. Ken Salazar (R-CO); Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Gil Gutknecht (R-MN), and Jerry Weller (R-IL); Chrysler Group CEO Thomas LaSorda; former CIA Director R. James Woolsey; and American Petroleum Institute president Red Cavaney.
Higher energy costs were the subject of dueling Earth Day radio addresses by President Bush and the Democratic Party.
Here’s part of the president’s address, promoting the administration’s energy initiative:
…hydrogen fuel cells, one of the exciting new technologies supported by my initiative. These fuel cells have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our cars by giving us vehicles that will emit no pollution and will be more efficient than gas-powered cars.
My Advanced Energy Initiative will also help improve hybrid vehicles — cars and trucks that run partly on electricity and help drivers save gas. We’re funding research into a new generation of plug-in hybrid vehicles that could be recharged in electrical outlets and could allow many drivers to make their daily commute using no gasoline.
By developing these and other new sources of clean renewable energy like ethanol, we will continue growing our economy, reduce energy prices and protect our environment, and make America less dependent on foreign oil.
Meanwhile, Florida Senator Bill Nelson spoke for the Democrats, saying the same thing needs to be done, but claiming the administration’s emphasis is on drilling rather than “the tough policy changes needed to make a real difference.”
More hybrid vehicles, and alternative fuels such as ethanol made from cost-effective crops would make a huge difference — and, relatively quickly.
We have the technology to raise the mileage standard for all passenger vehicles to at least 40 miles per gallon. The president has urged only a modest 2 miles-per-gallon increase for light trucks.
We should produce synthetic fuel from coal, with attention to global warming concerns.
We should set a course of developing an engine that is powered by a new source of energy such as hydrogen, which will also be less polluting.