Johanns at Energy Summit in DC

Cindy Zimmerman

energy summit With a goal of providing 25 percent of the nation’s energy supply from renewable resources by 2025, the Ag Energy Work Group held it’s second National Ag and Forestry Renewabe Energy Summit, in Washington, DC this week. I apologize for having been remiss in doing posts about this group’s activities, especially since good friend Sara Wyant sent us some info about this at least a month ago that got lost in my email filing system.
Anyway, here is a picture of Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns addressing the group on Tuesday. There were numerous other political types on hand, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle. Text of Secretary Johanns speech can be found here and I also downloaded a radio story from USDA’s newsline about his speech – listen to that here. Besides ethanol and biodiesel, Johanns talked about wind power and biomass – and the exciting potential for American agricultural and forest lands to provide our nation’s energy. In the future we may have the opportunity to not only provide for agricultural power needs, but also to provide power back into the grid. Wouldn’t that be a great day for rural America? We’ve always considered our forests and farms to be precious resources. That notion has taken on a new meaning as America embraces renewable energy.

Audio, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government

Squeezing More Ethanol From Corn

Cindy Zimmerman

ISU Researchers at Iowa State University are working to squeeze every available drop of ethanol from a corn kernel. According to this UPI story, “they are working to create chemical catalysts that would increase the yield of fermentable sugars from corn.” The research is supported by grants of $305,000 from the National Science Foundation, $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $162,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Ethanol, Miscellaneous

Some Cross Country Pics

Cindy Zimmerman

ICare Iowa 1 Here’s some more pictures to go with the posts we have been receiving from the E85 Cross Country trip. These go with the Day 3 post when the team stopped in their home state of Iowa. They got lots of media attention there and switched out some team members so more students could take advantage of the opportunity to go coast-to-coast on E85 and “see the USA in a Flex-Fuel Chevrolet!”ICare Iowa 2
KCCI Channel 8 News was there to do a live broadcast, as well as the Fort Dodge Messenger, and the Farm Bureau Spokesman. We talked to Van and Bonnie of WHO radio, Doug Cooper on WOI radio news show, and KJAN radio in Atlantic, via cell phone. Sponsors that were in attendance to the fill up in Ankeny were the American Lung Association, National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Representatives from General Motors, and Karl Chevrolet. Senator Beall from Fort Dodge, Iowa paid for the fuel and filled the Avalanche’s tank.
Thanks to Jessica Zopf with the American Lung Association of Iowa for sending the pictures!

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles

Captain’s Blog – Stardate 03.09.06 – Day 4

Cindy Zimmerman

ICCCThe journey continues for the Iowa Central Aggies E85 cross country road trip. Here is the latest post from designated blogger Bradley Westrum.

March 9-06
The road was still closed when we woke up this morning around 5:15, so we took our sweet time getting ready. Leaving the hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming around 7:00 A.M. still knowing that Interstate 80 was closed west of Laramie, Wyoming, which is 5 miles west of Cheyenne. When we pulled into Laramie, we saw a pile up of semis that reached back about 10 miles, filling both sides of the road, the entrance and exit ramps, and all the gas and truck stops in the city. We sat and waited for about an hour for the road to open, but seeing that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, we decided to take a minor detour. After taking the detour that forced us out of our way about 30 miles, we got back onto our scheduled path. The roads were questionable for the most of the day, but the weather could not decide what it wanted to do. It snowed, rained, the wind blew in some parts, but in others the temp sky rocketed, and the sun was out. We filled up in Draper, Utah and Provo, Utah. Provo is where we were planning on staying the night tonight, but when the weather report came in, it sounded as if there was another storm on its way toward us. So we decided to get as far as we could tonight before it started to storm. We got as far as Cedar City, Utah which is just off Interstate 15 and got a hotel room for the night.

Tomorrow we plan to drive to Las Vegas, and spend some time seeing the sights around the area and then head to Los Angeles where we will spend the remainder of our trip until the flight out of LAX Saturday afternoon.

We found that most of the Ethanol Stations that offer E-85 are in towns that have a Military Base. This is because the stations then can almost put any price up, and the Military Base will be nearly forced to pay the price.

The Students that went on the first part of the trip are, Alex Lundgren, Ashley Heflin, Tami Davis, and Bradley Westrum, as well as the Ag Coordinator Jim Richardson. The students that are currently on the second leg of the trip are Pat Lennon and Nate Marean. Bradley and Jim have been on the whole trip.

Stay tuned for further updates as the Iowa Central Aggies for Renewable Resources travel across the country, supporting 85% Ethanol. You can expect another update tomorrow night.

See the U.S.A in your Flex Fuel Chevrolet!!!

Two of the team’s sponsors are the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition and the American Lung Association of Iowa.

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles

USDA Researching Bio-Membrane for Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Cindy Zimmerman

Bio Membrane USDA ARS Doesn’t look like much to me, but according to USDA’s Agricultural Research Service this is a picture of a prototype membrane that could be used to conduct ions in a hydrogen fuel cell. In an effort to reduce “American dependence on petroleum-based fuels,” researchers at ARS’ Environmental Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., have conducted preliminary studies which suggest the possibility of replacing the conventional petroleum-based main membrane in hydrogen fuel cells with biological products. Not saying exactly what the membrane is being made from except that it’s bio-based and non-petroleum made from “naturally occuring products.”


Wisconsin Senate Kills Ethanol Bill

Cindy Zimmerman

The Wisconsin Senate indefinitely postponed action on legislation that would have required that all gasoline sold in the state contain ten percent ethanol, effectively killing it this legislative year.

A press release from the Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition said that they will continue “efforts to promote the ethanol industry and its benefits to Wisconsin.”
Majority Leader Dale Schultz issued a statement expressing his disappointment over the outcome. “While the bill is dead for this session, I’m committed to working with supporters of ethanol, agriculture, the environment, and job creation to ensure we can bring the issue back next year.” Senator Shultz is a Republican from one of the state’s major corn growing areas.

The Capital Times says it was a rare example of bipartisanship in the State Capitol, with 12 Republicans and five Democrats voting to indefinitely postpone the bill, which had already been passed by the Assembly and would have been signed by the governor. The Times also noted Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, recused himself from voting because of business ties to the ethanol industry.
Meanwhile, that “ties to ethanol” issue surfaced this week for some lawmakers in Missouri where they are also considering a ten percent ethanol mandate, according to an AP article .


Kissing the Bricks

Cindy Zimmerman

Brick Kiss at IndyIndy Bricks

These pictures of the ICARE Cross Country E85 team – Alex, Bradley, Ashley and Tami – at the Indianapolis Speedway are so adorable I wanted to highlight them in a separate post so they wouldn’t be missed. Photo credits go to Whitney Copeland Cole of Indiana AgriNews who was the only media person at the Indy with the group. Great shots! Thanks again Whitney.
According to team member Bradley Westrum from the Day 2 post we were only able to go a top speed of about 50 miles per hour. It truly was the opportunity of a life time. We stopped on the second lap to kiss the Brickyard, which is the strip of bricks that lay across the finish line, and is where every winner of a race that is held there, stops and kisses the bricks. After completing the second lap, we went through the pits, and concluded one of the most exciting parts of the trip. When we got back on the road we calculated how many laps we could complete on the track with one tank of E85. We figured that you could complete about 170 laps before running bone dry.

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles

Captain’s Blog – Stardate 03.08.06 – Day 3

Cindy Zimmerman

NEVCALA-IAThe continuing saga of the Cross Country E85 trip….courtesy of Bradley Westrum, blogging his way across the USA in a flex-fuel Chevrolet….still working on getting some pictures to go with these posts.

March 08-06 – Today we got up around 5:15 to get ready for our big press day in Ankeny, Iowa. Arriving at the gas station around 6:30 we started to take interviews. KCCI Channel 8 News was there to do a live broadcast, as well as the Fort Dodge Messenger, and the Farm Bureau Spokesman. We talked to Van and Bonnie of WHO radio, Doug Cooper on WOI radio news show, and KJAN radio in Atlantic, via cell phone. Sponsors that were in attendance to the fill up in Ankeny were the American Lung Association, National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Representatives from General Motors, and Karl Chevrolet. Senator Beall from Fort Dodge, Iowa paid for the fuel and filled the Avalanche’s tank. After spending a few hours at the Kum&Go doing lots of interviews, we got back on the road. We filled in Council Bluffs, IA then headed for Nebraska where we filled up in North Platte. In North Platte, we found out that the roads were questionable due to a major storm sweeping across the Midwest. After filling the tank, we booked it to Sidney, NE where we would decide whether to keep going on or not.

When we got to Sidney we stopped at a truck stop, where we heard that I-80 was closed at Cheyenne, Wyoming. Cheyenne was where we planned to drive to and spend the night in anyway, so we decided to brave the storm and head west. The roads were just wet, and it rained and snowed on us the most of the way, but the roads stayed decent. We stopped at a rest stop between Sidney and Cheyenne and it turned into a huge snowball fight, being that it has been a while since we have seen snow in Iowa. Thankfully we pulled into Cheyenne a little after 7:30 Mountain time, and filled up the tank, paying the lowest price of the trip, $1.74, an amazing $0.37 lower than regular fuel. Trying to find a hotel during a storm turned out to be a daunting task, but we were successful on our third try, and thankful that we were not forced to sleep in the Avalanche.

Tomorrow our task is to get across the Rocky Mountains, where a storm is expected, but more on that on tomorrow’s blog.

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles

The Wild Green Yonder?

Cindy Zimmerman

EPAEPABio jet fuel could be the next frontier for domestic fuel.  I had to do some hunting to find the original article on the research being done at the University of North Dakota to make jet fuel from crop oils, but I finally found it in the Grand Forks Herald. According to the story, the military is very interested “because it helps decrease dependence on foreign oil.” One of the next stops for the biojet fuel this spring is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to have it inspected at the base’s fuels-testing lab. The last time UND researchers were at Wright-Patterson, Air Force scientists said they were interested in the new biojet fuel because it performed as well as regular JP-8 jet fuel. But they were concerned with its ability to operate in extreme cold temperatures, and it tended to “gum up” after long periods in storage. 


Sunshine State Ethanol Talk

Cindy Zimmerman

Couple of ethanol news items from Florida.

First, Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson mixed ethanol with strawberries at the annual Strawberry Salute Breakfast Monday, calling on the state’s agricultural community to become a leader in ethanol production.  According to this story in the Lakeland Ledger, Bronson talked up a new biofuels process developed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) that can make ethanol, a synthetic fuel, from agricultural waste products. I had been saving the press release about that process, which was actually sent out in May of last year, meaning to do a story about it someday.  And I will.  But, meantime, here’s the link so you can read it yourself. 

 Next, there is a reason why the Cross Country kids are heading through the middle of the US rather than going south – there’s no E85 stations in Florida.  The Miami Herald did a feature on ethanol Sunday which noted that E85 is not even approved for sale in Florida yet, but is expected to be soon.  This is interesting because the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – which is run by Commissioner Bronson – is the agency that regulates gasoline sales in the state.  According to the article, Matthew Curran, chief of petroleum inspection for the Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees fuel standards, said that as early as next month new rules that would allow the sale of E85 in the state could be in place. ”The department is trying to take a proactive stance,” he said.