The Improving GHG Benefits of Corn Ethanol

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The lead researcher of a USDA study on the improving greenhouse gas benefits of ethanol compared to gasoline has shared more details about the agency’s findings.

Dr. Jan Lewandrowski of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist said the study grew out of September 2017 report released by the USDA regarding 11 different emissions categories related to corn ethanol production and combustion originally studied by the EPA in 2010. Earlier numbers showed a 21% reduction in emissions relative to gasoline. New numbers from the USDA show a 39 percent improvement over gasoline on average. Other factors can raise that number to anywhere from 42 to 46 percent or more. One area addressed in the study is international land use change.

“As U.S. corn ethanol production increases, we divert more corn to ethanol. It raises pressure on prices and commodity markets, and in some international markets, world farmers respond by bringing new land into production. That’s the logic behind the numbers in the EPA. And that happens a little bit,” said Lewandrowski. “But what we have found is over time, the main reaction of global agriculture was not bringing new land into production, but using existing cropland more intensely – double cropping, triple cropping, bringing fallow and other idle land back into production. And when you use existing land more intensely, your land use change emissions are going to be a lot less than if you’re converting new land like forest or wetlands into agriculture production.”

In addition, the USDA study found that ethanol plants continue to become more efficient. Most have switched from using coal to natural gas as their process fuel. Many are investing in more efficient energy use technologies. Plants are getting more ethanol out of each bushel of corn, and corn yields per acre continue to rise.

Hear more from Dr. Lewandrowski here: Dr. Jan Lewandrowski, USDA (Audio courtesy of Gary Crawford, USDA Radio)

AgWired Energy, Ethanol, USDA

Consumers Surpass 8 Billion Miles on E15

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Consumers have driven more than 8 billion miles now on E15, also known as Unleaded 88, according to Growth Energy, which credits the milestone to rapid retail adoption and more terminal availability of the fuel across the nation.

“Supply of E15 into the fuel marketplace is a crucial step in further expansion, and our success with Prime the Pump has led to a steep growth in terminals offering E15 across the country,” said Growth Energy Vice President of Market Development Mike O’Brien. “Our work with the nation’s leading independent retailers has put pressure on terminals to follow suit, causing a domino effect in their offering of E15 at their locations across most of the country.”

Consumer demand from retailers like Kwik Trip, RaceTrac, Casey’s, Cumberland Farms, and others has pushed open the doors to a ready supply of E15 at terminals. Working with Prime the Pump, Growth Energy has focused its efforts on establishing partnerships with the largest, independent players in the fuel space, which in turn has spurred a significant increase in E15 availability at terminals across the country – from five in 2017 to more than 100 today.

E15, Ethanol, Growth Energy

Ethanol Report from Washington DC

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

The Environmental Protection Agency continues to be a major source of frustration for the ethanol industry, as the agency gives with one hand and takes away with the other as it keeps granting waivers for refineries from their obligations to blend ethanol while it works toward allowing year round sales of E15.

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper has been spending a lot of time in Washington D.C. lately, along with Senior Strategic Advisor Bob Dinneen, as they keep the pressure on EPA to be fair to the ethanol industry as farmers continue to struggle. In this edition of the Ethanol Report podcast, we hear from Cooper and Dinneen who dropped by the American Coalition for Ethanol Fly-in reception to visit with ethanol advocates taking their stories to Capitol Hill.

Ethanol Report from Washington D.C.

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ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA

Corn Growers Support #ACE19DC

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L to R: ACE CEO Brian Jennings; Piyush Srivastav, NAQS; and Mark Palmer, NCGA

Supporters of the ethanol industry gathered in Washington, D.C. for the American Coalition for Ethanol‘s (ACE) Annual Fly-In April 2-3. National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Director of Renewable Fuels Mark Palmer appreciated his first experience at the event.

“This is one of the most important things that our industry does in putting together these Hill visits from different trade associations that are part of ACE, different aspects of the ethanol industry, corn growers and other industry officials from companies,” said Palmer.

He said a number of the NCGA’s state organizations participated, as well, to discuss things like the Renewable Fuels Standard and the RVP [Reid Vapor Pressure] rule EPA is putting forward with policymakers.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Mark here: ACE19DC Interview with Mark Palmer, NCGA Director, Renewable Fuels

2019 American Coalition for Ethanol Fly-In Photo Album

ACE, AgWired Energy, Ethanol, NCGA

Royal DSM and Lallemand Complete License Agreement

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Royal DSM and Lallemand Inc. have announced a joint agreement allowing Lallemand a non-exclusive, royalty bearing license to DSM’s low-glycerol yeast technology patents.

The license agreement is part of a settlement that was reached following a 2018 US Federal Court jury verdict in Wisconsin and the technology in the agreement is for use in the fermentation of first-generation biofuels.

Royal DSM is a global, science-based company active in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living and was founded in 1902. Lallemand is a privately owned company specializing in the research, development, production, marketing and distribution of yeast, bacteria and other microorganisms for use in the food ingredient, human nutrition, animal nutrition, baking, wine, beer, distilled spirits, biofuels, plant care, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Study Finds Mid-Level Ethanol Blend Benefits for More Cars

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A new study concludes that mid-level ethanol blends can be used in most cars, not just flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), and can help cars run more efficiently while reducing greenhouse gas emissions along with other pollutants. The study was conducted by North Carolina State University and commissioned by the Urban Air Initiative.

Researchers tested regular E10 with 10% ethanol to a mid-level blend with 27% ethanol or E27. They found that when splash blending or simply adding ethanol to regular consumer fuel, ethanol lowered particulate matter (PM), CO and CO2. The vehicles were also able to adjust ignition timing and properly control air-to-fuel ratios.

“When operating on the mid-level ethanol blend, the measured vehicles, on average, had lower emission rates of carbon monoxide and particles with little to no changes in other measured emissions. The advantage of this study over others is that these measurements were made in the real-world under actual driving conditions, and thus are based on representative data regarding vehicle activity,” said lead researcher Dr. Chis Frey.

UAI Technical Director Steve Vander Griend says the fact that these vehicles were tested under real world driving conditions instead of in the laboratory further validates the benefits of mid-level ethanol blends.

Read the study.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Flex Fuel Vehicles, Urban Air Initiative

Land Use Change Study Uses Incorrect Data

Cindy Zimmerman

When you do a study that claims biofuels are resulting in increased land use for agricultural production you should be sure the land you are counting is not actually a subdivision.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) points to a new study published in the academic journal Biomass and Bioenergy that exposes major methodological problems in recent studies paid for by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and concluded that U.S. biofuels expansion has not caused a detectable increase in the U.S. food prices.

The paper includes a captivating image showing how satellite tools mistakenly characterized large tracts of urban housing in Lemoore, Calif., as “cropland.”

“The real-world data showed no evidence of food price increases or other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel,” according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

The new analysis found that the type of satellite data relied upon by NWF is error-prone, unreliable, and “misleading.” According to the report, “The automated [satellite] land use classification errors were biased towards classifying ambiguous land as agriculture.”

Specifically, the authors manually inspected actual land uses to see if the satellite imagery used by NWF correctly classified the land use. The researchers found that 10.9% of actual non-agricultural land was misclassified as agricultural land by the satellite data. Further, while automated classification using the satellite data showed an 8.53% increase in agricultural land from 2011-2015, the manual classification indicated no significant land use change at all.

“The use of satellite data is prone to error in classifying certain land uses, such as distinguishing between cropland used to grow hay, and pasture land for grazing…Although an automated satellite image classification provides a convenient way to quantify land use change, the results could be misleading if not carefully verified,” the authors explained.

Read the analysis.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Couple Takes Personal Ethanol Story to DC

Cindy Zimmerman

Phil Near and his wife Cheryl Werth Near were part of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual DC Fly-in last week, participating for the first time and bringing their personal story about the health benefits and good value of ethanol to members of Congress.

The Nears operate ten Jump Start Convenience Stores in Kansas, offering their own brand of blended fuel to provide choice at the pump for their customers. Cheryl is a 10 year breast cancer survivor and an interior designer by trade who became an active ethanol advocate when she discovered all of the cancer-causing components in gasoline that can be replaced by using ethanol as a healthier alternative.

Listen to their story in this interview.

ACE19DC Interview with Phil Near and Cheryl Werth Near, Jump Start stores

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Retailers

RFA Helps Ethanol Plants Celebrate Anniversaries

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) celebrated milestone anniversaries of three ethanol plant members this week.

RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White attended the 10th anniversary of Homeland Energy Solutions, which operates a 200 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Lawler, Iowa. The facility also produces distillers grains, a valuable animal feed co-product, and corn oil. To date, the biorefinery has produced more than 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol, 275 million pounds of corn oil and purchased and ground just under 500 million bushels of corn.

RFA also congratulates member company Trenton Agri Products (TAP) on its 15th anniversary of continuous operations. TAP operates a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Trenton, Neb., which also produces distilled corn oil and wet distillers grains, and has been an active member of RFA for all 15 years.

Also celebrating 15 years is Western Plains Energy (WPE), a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Oakley, Kan., which uses 17.5 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum per year. The company, which has 45 employees, was also the first in the industry to trial ICM’s cold-cook process, to try ICM’s slurry grinding process and Syngenta’s Enogen corn.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

New Iowa Rep Introduces Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extension

Cindy Zimmerman

Freshman Democrat Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Iowa this week introduced the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act, a two-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Congress had previously extended the tax credit retroactively for 2017 but left it expired for 2018 and beyond. Producers and businesses at every stage of the biodiesel production and consumption process rely on these tax credits to plan their investments, grow their businesses, and pass on the savings to consumers.

“This legislation extends the biodiesel tax credit vital to Iowa’s economy at a time when farm income is at its lowest point in more than a decade and farmers are bearing the brunt of ongoing trade disputes,” said Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. “Biodiesel production supports over 60,000 jobs across the United States and generates an economic impact of over $11 billion. A low carbon source of energy, biodiesel is good for the environment and is a crucial part of a green economy.”

Joining Finkenauer introducing the bill were Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ, and John Larson (D-CT).

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said, “Biodiesel companies and their employees are facing an uncertain future because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for 15 months. The economic pressure is threatening the future of the industry, putting good-paying, blue-collar jobs and production of a low-carbon, domestic fuel at stake. It is adding economic pressure to farmers who have been hit from both sides by unfavorable weather and trade disputes. If enacted swiftly, this bill will provide the agricultural economy some certainty and relief for 2018 and 2019.”

Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley says they are “grateful that Rep. Finkenauer has stepped up to the plate for biodiesel so early in her Congressional career, showing she grasps the benefits biodiesel delivers to Iowa’s economy, farmers and all citizens. Her leadership couldn’t come at a more critical time, as the future of the U.S. biodiesel industry depends greatly upon reinstatement of the tax incentive, which Congress last addressed in February 2018, retroactively extending it for 2017 but leaving it expired for 2018 and beyond.”

The House legislative language mirrors the biodiesel tax incentive provision in Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate legislation (S.617) would provide a two-year extension of expired temporary tax incentives, including the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.

Biodiesel, NBB