Boise State Wants to Run Baja 1000 on Biodiesel

gsr_racing1A Boise State University non-profit wants to run an off-road race in Mexico on biodiesel, which the group believes will give them an edge for the win. This article from KMVT-TV says Greenspeed Research is building a biodiesel trophy truck to compete in the Baja 1000, an off-road race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in the third week of November.

“Right now, we’re preparing for our next vehicle, which is a biodiesel powered trophy truck. And we’re shooting for racing at the Baja 1000,” said Dave Schenker, co-founder of Greenspeed.

“A biodiesel powered trophy truck is pretty much the top tier of off-road racing that usually has a big gas guzzling V-8 powered engine in it. But we’re bringing a new fuel and a new engine technology to that event,” said Schenker.

What does going green mean, as far as performance is concerned?

“Performance is the same. The gas mileage is different. The regular trophy truck drivers brag about getting 2.5 to 3 miles per gallon. We should be getting 7 to 8, 9. So that means, when they’re pitting twice, and take 5, 10, 8 minutes to pit, we’ve driven by them. So, yes, biodiesel is a game changers in the off road world, for sure,” said Paul Robinson, an off-road racer who is set to drive Greenspeed’s truck in the Baja 1000.

Greenspeed officials say the biggest challenge in building their first biodiesel trophy truck is the price tag. If you’d like to support their efforts, check them out at

PG&E Donates PHEV for Emergencies

On August 24, 2014, a 6.0 earthquake rocked Northern California and the City of Napa, resulting in more than 70,000 customers losing power to homes and businesses. One year later, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) donated a state-of-the-art plug-in electric hybrid truck as part of the city of Napa’s commemoration of the earthquake. The “Napa Strong 6.0/365” commemoration event recognized the earthquake response of the many dedicated first responders, PG&E employees and the community.

The_state-of-the-art_truck_donated_by_PG&EBarry Anderson, PG&E vice president of emergency preparedness and operations presented the keys to a plug-in electric hybrid pickup truck as an innovative, new tool to use during emergency response.

“As we look back today and celebrate the progress made in Napa since the earthquake, we also look forward and emphasize the importance for each of us to have an emergency plan before a natural disaster occurs,” said Anderson. “By supporting the city and first responders with new technologies like this next-generation electric hybrid truck, we are furthering our collaboration toward increasing local emergency preparedness.”

The truck, developed locally in California by Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. in partnership with PG&E, combines 30 miles of all-electric driving with 350 more miles of hybrid driving range and can provide up to 40 kVa of exportable power. This exportable power is enough to power a small neighborhood and allows first responders to plug in lighting, equipment and other tools at the site of an emergency.

The vehicle donation is part of a larger PG&E initiative to donate a series of innovative plug-in electric hybrid pick-up trucks and the associated charging infrastructure to local fire departments. The donation is part of PG&E’s commitment to operate as the greenest utility fleet in the industry, with nearly 3,500 alternative fuel vehicles, including approximately 1,000 electric and electric hybrid units.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Greensmith, a leading provider of grid-scale energy storage software and integration solutions, announced that it has completed its $12.3 million Series C round of financing. The round was led with a $5 million dollar strategic investment from American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, serving nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states.
  • Following Fuels America’s full page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last Monday and in the New Orleans Advocate last Thursday aimed at President Obama’s broken commitments on the Renewable Fuel Standard, the renewable fuel advocates are running a third version of the ad. In a full page ad in the Alaska Dispatch News, Fuels America continues to target the President to hold his administration accountable for proposing to gut the only law combating climate change, the RFS. The ad is keyed to the President’s visit to Anchorage as he tours the nation speaking about climate.
  • Malama Composites, Inc. has earned the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label and is identified for Federal preferred purchasing for its Pacific BioFoam™ product. The label verifies that the product’s amount of renewable bio-based ingredients meets or exceeds levels set by USDA.
  • Benson Hill Biosystems announced it has secured an investment of $7.3 million in its Series A round of financing. The funding will be used to further advance its PSKbase™, a computational and systems biology-based platform that helps technology developers and breeders identify promising strategies to increase genetic gain in crop plants. The capital will also support additional field trials and other product development activities for traits that increase crop productivity by improving photosynthesis. The financing was led by Middleland Capital, an agriculture-focused venture capital firm, with co-investors Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Cultivation Capital, and TechAccel. Existing investors Missouri Technology Corporation and Biogenerator also participated in the round.

East Kansas Agri-Energy Hosts Congressman Yoder

Renew Kansas hosted Congressman Kevin Yoder‘s tour of East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE) located in Garnett, Kansas. While touring the facility, the Congressman and his staff heard from EKAE’s President and CEO Jeff Oestmann about the many opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Last month, EKAE celebrated its 10 year anniversary.

(l-r) Ron Seeber, Renew Kansas; Jeff Oestmann, EKAE President and CEO; Jacob DeBolt, EKAE Plant Manager; Congressman Kevin Yoder; and Greg Krissek, Kansas Corn.

(l-r) Ron Seeber, Renew Kansas; Jeff Oestmann, EKAE President and CEO; Jacob DeBolt, EKAE Plant Manager; Congressman Kevin Yoder; and Greg Krissek, Kansas Corn.

Congressman Yoder learned that the plant produces more than 40 million gallons of renewable, clean-burning ethanol, 200,000 tons of livestock feed distillers grains and 5 million pounds of corn oil each year from more than 16 million bushels of locally-sourced corn. The Congressman was informed of the many positive impacts the ethanol industry has on the local, state, and national economies and was briefed on and witnessed the progress of the renewable diesel plant now under construction at the EKAE facility. Additionally, he also learned of their stellar work place safety with over 750,000 hours of operation without a lost time accident.

Renew Kansas thanked Congressman Yoder for taking the time to travel to Garnett and participate in a hands-on ethanol education. The Congressman is currently serving as Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.

ACE Elects Board Representatives

aceDuring the recent American Coalition for Ethanol’s conference in Omaha, Nebraska, members elected directors to serve on their governing board. Four individuals re-elected to the ACE Board of Directors:

  • Ron Alverson, representing Dakota Ethanol, LLC, an ethanol plant in Wentworth, South Dakota, which produces 50 million gallons of ethanol per year (MGY).  Alverson currently serves as the President of the ACE Board of Directors.
  • John Christianson, on behalf of Christianson and Associates, a Wilmar, Minnesota based accounting and consulting firm.
  • Doug Punke, CEO of the Renewable Products Marketing Group (RPMG), an ethanol marketing company in Shakopee, Minnesota.
  • Brian Wilcox, from the Nebraska Public Power District, an electric utility company in Columbus, Nebraska which serves 87 out of the 93 counties in the state.

ACE members also elected two individuals to serve as new board directors.  Kenton Johnson was elected to represent Granite Falls Energy, LLC, a 62 mgy ethanol plant located near Granite Falls, Minnesota, and Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was elected to represent the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

The full list of the ACE Broad of Directors is available here.

Ethanol-Powered Boat Hits 208 MPH

amethanolboat1For some of my fishermen friends who claim that ethanol damages their engines, I’d just like to know, How fast do you want to get to your favorite spot? An ethanol-powered speed boat could get you there at a cool 208 MPH clip. This article from says a super-powered catamaran running on ethanol made the run during a shootout race at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Don Onken’s American Ethanol, an ethanol-powered Mystic catamaran, reached 208 mph during a run on Saturday, Aug. 30 — it was the day’s highest speed, and it set the bar high for other racers returning to the course on Sunday.

The Shootout was held for years at Shooters 21, where the event record was set by Dave Callan and John Cosker in 2007, at 209 miles per hour. The next year, the event moved to Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. Dave Scott and John Tomlinson set the course record of 208 there, in 2010, and Bill Tomlinson and Ken Kehoe tied it in 2011. Tomlinson and Kehoe returned in 2013 to post a formidable 224 mph new course and event record. Many thought it would be years before that was broken, but in 2014, Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis soared past Tomlinson and Kehoe, hitting 244 miles per hour in Al Adaa’am 96 Spirit of Qatar.

A Toast to Making Ethanol from Grape Biomass

univofadelaideRaise your glass in a toast to some researchers from Down Under, as they have figured out how to make ethanol out of some of the leftovers from wine-making. University of Adelaide researchers in Australia showed they could make about 100 gallons of ethanol by fermenting a ton of grape marc – the leftover skins, stalks and seeds from wine-making.

Global wine production leaves an estimated 13 million tonnes of grape marc waste each year. Nationally it is estimated that several hundred thousand tonnes are generated annually and it is generally disposed of at a cost to the winery.

“This is a potentially economic use for what is largely a waste product,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton, Program Leader with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

PhD candidate Kendall Corbin analysed the composition of grape marc from two grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. She also investigated pre-treatment of the grape marc with acid and enzymes.

Ms Corbin found that the majority of the carbohydrates found in grape marc could be converted directly to ethanol through fermentation with a yield of up to 270 litres per tonne of grape marc.

What was leftover from this ethanol-making process is suitable as an animal feed or fertilizer.

Ethanol Rail Opportunities & Challenges

hyderThis past winter was a tough one on the rail industry with lots of cold and snow. Among industries affected was the biofuel industry including ethanol transportation. During the ACE Ethanol Conference, Hasan Hyder, assistant vice president grain and grain products for Union Pacific, addressed some of these issues and discussed new opportunities.

Hyder gave a brief history of the rail industry with a focus on safety, service and supply chain efficiency. He also discussed longer-term opportunities and challenges ethanol and the rail industry face together. One great opportunity and challenge- transporting the growing amount of American made biofuels around the country.

To learn more about Union Pacific, and their commitment to the ethanol industry, listen to Hasan Hyder’s presentation: Hasan Hyder, Union Pacific

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

GREET Model Advances

When determining how much a fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions as compared to pure gasoline, most use Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET Life-cycle model (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model). In recent years, the model has seen some advancements and during the recent ACE Ethanol Conference, Dr. Jeongwoo Han, assistant energy system analyst with Argonne National Labs, discussed these changes.

HanAs he explained, GREET has been updated and used to evaluate/update the environmental impacts of ethanol. Han’s presentation discussed the recent life-cycle analysis results of ethanol with the technology advancement as well as key issues in life-cycle analysis.

To learn more about advancements in the GREET Life-cycle Model, listen to Dr. Jeongwoo Han’s presentation: Dr. Jeongwoo Han Presentation

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

PHG Energy to Build Waste-to-Energy Plan in TN

PHG Energy (PHGE) will be constructing a new biomass gasification plant that will convert more than 30 tons of composted material per day into thermal energy and biochar. Sevier Sold Waste (SSWI), located in Pigeon Forge, TN, contracted the PHG Energy. SSWI operates a garbage composting plant that processes more than 10,0000 tons per year from the Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. All the municipal solid waste (MSW) is processed through the plant, with 60% of it being made into compost. The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tons of CO2 emissions each year, according to EPA calculators.

PHG Energy's Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

PHG Energy’s Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

“This new installation will help us reduce the amount of compost we need to transport by converting it into a biochar material, creating a new revenue stream for us,” said Tom Leonard, director of SSWI. “The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odor control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents a significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.”

PHGE’s gasification plants employ a thermo-chemical process that cleanly converts biomass to a combustible fuel gas. Around 90% of the biomass that is gasified in the PHGE system becomes fuel gas, and the only remaining residue is the charcoal-like biochar, that in SSWI’s case will be sold to a local industrial user as a renewable source of fuel to displace coal consumption.

The cost of the Pigeon Forge facility is $2.25 million. The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The project will showcase PHGE’s second installation of its Large Frame gasifier, believed to be the world’s largest downdraft unit and capable of more than 60 tons per day throughput.

“This project is important to us for several reasons,” noted PHGE President Tom Stanzione. “This is our second municipal project to receive approval this year and demonstrates the growing confidence in our technology. We have a strong research and development commitment to converting MSW to energy and reducing landfill usage, and this is another significant step in that process. It is also very important to us that we have been able to prove the commercial value of our biochar as a commodity, and that it has become a positive factor in the economic equation of our systems.”