More 2017 RVO Reacts from #Ethanol Industry

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) yesterday and the biofuels industry is reacting to numbers that remain under statute levels. For first generation biofuels, that includes corn-based ethanol, the numbers were increased from 2016 but still remain 200 million gallons below what is required by law.

AESI logoAmericans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI) Chairman Jim Talent reacted to the proposed rules, “The Obama Administration’s proposed targets fall short of the goals for energy security that Congress outlined in the Renewable Fuel Standard. America’s domestic biofuels industry has already proven that it can surpass these targets, and our goal should be to maximize the renewable choices that consumers have at the pump. The EPA is moving in a positive direction, but we are leaving homegrown energy on the table, and that means more money and influence will flow to the foreign nations that seek to manipulate the global oil market.” (Click here to read Jim Talent’s full statement.)

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who has been a vocal opponent of the RFS stated, “While the RVO numbers released today allow for some growth in the renewable fuels levels included in our nation’s fuel supply, unfortunately they don’t meet the levels passed with bipartisan support in Congress and continue to use questionable justifications for not meeting those required levels. The EPA’s proposal starts another comment period, so it is important that Iowans take advantage of that opportunity and voice their support for the renewable fuels industry that is so important to our state.”

National Farmers Union logoPointing to the connection between reliable implementation of the RFS and achievement of the Administration’s climate goals, the National Farmers Union (NFU) stated, “Farmers and ranchers understand the impacts that climate change has on our planet, our environmental resources, and our ability to feed a growing world population. The investments made in renewable fuels and advanced biofuels have helped bridge a divide between our current environmental impact and the climate goals set forth by the Administration – goals that we cannot meet without the participation of our family farmers and ranchers. The oil companies have had plenty of time to build out the distribution infrastructure to deliver more biofuels to the consumer and commercial markets that seek this environmentally-friendly energy source. They have simply refused to do so, and EPA’s negligence in adhering to the statutory levels has significantly undermined the plan laid out by Congress in 2007.”

Novozymes_logoNovozymes said the proposal acknowledges crucial role of biofuels with higher blending volumes but still lets obligated parties off hook. “While President Obama is pushing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on one hand, today’s proposal still allows the oil industry to pollute with carbon-intense fuels on the other. The only way the world will switch to renewable energy is if bold leaders make it happen,” said Adam Monroe, President, Americas. “The private sector is taking bold action: Investing millions of dollars in cutting emissions with our technology, turning biomass into biofuel and building facilities, like our $200 million enzyme manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska. We urge the Administration to be bold too, and get back to the original intent of the RFS. Other countries are already capitalizing on our lack of clarity.”

VoteVets_logoRetired Major General Paul D. Eaton, senior advisor to VoteVets focused on the energy security benefits of biofuels. Read More

biofuels, EPA, Ethanol, RFS

Clariant-Scania Ethanol Trucks Project Successful

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Last year, Clariant and Scania partnered to test ethanol fueled heavy-duty trucks. Clariant acquired three Scania P270 model 4×2 trucks, or Ecotrucks, that run on ethanol, and are the first of its kind to be sold by Scania in Latin America. The Ecotrucks transport ISO tanks with a 25,000-liter (6,604 gallon) capacity for chemical products from Clariant’s facility located in Suzano in the state of São Paulo, to a fleet of highway trucks, which then deliver the products to Clariant’s customers. With a year of operating on the books, Clariant is reporting a reduction of CO2 emissions by nearly 90 percent as compared to the diesel engines that were previously used.

CLAPR1096b“Clariant is making history in Latin America with this innovative project that demonstrates the value of using ethanol trucks for daily operations. Clariant’s example is drawing interest from other companies that have already contacted Scania about this solution,” said Celso Mendonça, Business Development Manager for Scania Brazil. “Scania values sustainability, so it believes in having an energy matrix that is mixed, uses different sources and allows for fuel savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions. Ethanol-fueled trucks are a solution for companies committed to reducing the environmental impacts of their transportation operations. It is a 100% viable option.”

The ethanol fuel used by the Scania trucks contains the Master Batch ED 95 additive produced by Clariant Brasil who says the additive allows engines designed to run on diesel to run on hydrous ethanol. It adjusts the characteristics of the fuel to the engines’ requirements in order to make the vehicle run well.

As the second phase of this project, Clariant started using second-generation ethanol as part of the fuel to operate the Ecotrucks. This ethanol is manufactured from sugar cane bagasse using sunliquid technology. Since July 2012, the company has been operating a pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany, producing up to 1,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol from approximately 4,500 tons of raw material. At that unit, over 40 containers of sugar cane bagasse from Brazil were processed to manufacture some of the fuel that is being used in the Ecotrucks at the Suzano plant.

“Today in Brazil, we are demonstrating the commercial use of the cellulosic ethanol fuel, using one of the least CO2-producing vehicles available: the Scania trucks,” said Martin Mitchell, business development manager for the Americas. “We conducted several tests to validate the technical and economic viability of the sunliquid technology, which is already commercially available in Brazil. We verified, once again, that producing the enzymes at the plant itself, in a manner integrated with the overall process and specific to sugar cane bagasse, represents the best competitive cost.”

advance biofuels, Alternative Vehicles, biomass, Brazil, Ethanol

RFA to Hold FSMA Training Classes

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is hosting four training courses to help biorefineries meet new requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The classes, which are FDA-approved, are geared toward ethanol plant employees overseeing the food safety plan of the ethanol plant. The course will assist ethanol plants with FSMA compliance, provide accurate and fact-based information and the means to compliance.

RFA Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis, who holds an instructors certification, will conduct the training classes. “With the rigorous FDA training I received, I understand the letter and spirit of the law, and the nuances ethanol plants will need to know in order to comply as cost effectively as possible,” said Davis. “These training classes will be essential to help navigate the FSMA requirements.”

Registration is now open for the four classes:

  • Training Session #1: July 27–29, Omaha, Neb.
  • Training Session #2: Aug. 17–19, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Training Session #3: Aug. 24–26, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Training Session #4: Sept. 14–16, Indianapolis, Ind.

Each session will include course materials, refreshments and lunch. Attendees will receive an approved PCQI certificate upon successful completion of the course. Each session is limited to 40 attendees, reservations are required and slots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The course is offered to RFA members at no charge and the registration fee for non-members is $1,800. To reserve your spot at one of the above sessions, please contact Ann Lewis or Kelly Davis.

In September 2015, FDA finalized regulations for producing safe animal food, in the case of ethanol plants safe dried distillers grains (DDGs). Covered facilities must establish and implement a food safety system that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventative controls. FSMA requires a Preventative Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) be in charge of the risk-based food preventative controls plan and receive certification through an FDA-sanctioned training course and those taught by FDA-certified lead instructors. RFA has been involved with the standardized curriculum development of the FDA recognized Food Safety Preventative Controls Alliance for the Animal Food.

Distillers Grains, Education, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

RFA Reacts to EPA 2017 RFS Proposal

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ethanol-report-adThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 on Wednesday proposing a total renewable fuel volume of 18.8 billion gallons, including four billion in advanced biofuels and 312 million gallons is cellulosic biofuel.

In this interview, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the proposal falls 200 million gallons short of the statute and that EPA is relying on an illegal interpretation of its waiver authority under the RFS. Dinneen does give EPA credit for releasing the proposal in a timely fashion and notes that the agency will be providing an opportunity for the industry to provide public comment during a hearing in Kansas City on June 9.

Listen here: Ethanol Report on EPA 2017 RFS Proposal

Audio, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA, RFS

Slight Biodiesel Growth in Proposed 2018 #RFS Rules

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the 2018 rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) today and only called for a slight growth in biodiesel volumes. As a result, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling on the Obama Administration to strengthen the proposal that only calls for a 100 million gallon increase in 2018. RVO requirements for the advanced biofuels category of the RFS are on a different schedule than other renewable fuel categories, and today the EPA also released its 2017 RVOs for renewable fuels such as ethanol.

nBBNBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said that without stronger growth in the final rule, the administration would be missing an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions while helping to reshape America’s transportation sector. “We appreciate the EPA’s timeliness in releasing these volumes and its support for growing biodiesel use under the RFS, but this proposal significantly understates the amount of biodiesel this industry can sustainably deliver to the market. The total RVO for the advanced biofuels category that includes biodiesel is 2.1 billion gallons for 2018.” Steckel added, “We have plenty of feedstock and production capacity to exceed 2.5 billion gallons today, and can certainly do so in 2018.”

Biodiesel – made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats – is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. The EPA proposal would establish a 2.1-billion-gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement in 2018, up from the 2-billion-gallon requirement for 2017. However, NBB believes EPA can comfortably call for at least 2.5 billion gallons in 2018 after nearly 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel were delivered under the RFS in 2015.

“We have made tremendous progress in cleaning up vehicle emissions but the fact remains that petroleum still accounts for about 90 percent of our transportation fuel,” Steckel continued. “This is dangerous and unsustainable, and the RFS is the most effective policy we have for changing it. Biodiesel specifically is the most successful Advanced Biofuel under the RFS. It is proving that Advanced Biofuels work. But we need meaningful RFS growth to continue making a real dent in our oil dependence and to continue driving investment. On the heels of the Paris climate accord, this is not the time for a piecemeal approach. We need bold action.”

In addition to calling for a higher Biomass-based Diesel volume, NBB is calling for a stronger overall Advanced Biofuel volume.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, EPA, NBB, RFS

EPA 2017 RFS Rules Sparks Inferno

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its draft of the proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 and have sparked an inferno of unrest among the biofuels industry. EPA has proposed an RVO of 18.8 billion gallons (BG) of which 4 BG is advanced biofuels and 312 million gallons is cellulosic biofuels. The RVO for first generation biofuels, such as corn ethanol, is 14.8 BG, an RVO under mandated legislation. The ethanol industry has consistently and often called on the EPA to adhere to congressional intent by increasing blending targets, but has not done so. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), among several other biofuel associations and companies, are involved in litigation on the final 2014-2016 targets.

rfalogo1“For months, EPA has been saying it plans to put the program ‘back on track.’ Today’s proposal fails to do that,” responded RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen to the draft rules. “The agency continues to cater to the oil industry by relying upon an illegal interpretation of its waiver authority and concern over a blend wall that the oil industry itself is creating. As a consequence, consumers are being denied higher octane, lower cost renewable fuels. Investments in new technology and advanced biofuels will continue to languish and greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles will be unnecessarily higher.”

“The real frustration is that EPA seems to be artificially constraining this market,” continued Dinneen. “The RFA has demonstrated just how easy it would be for obligated parties to reach the 15 billion gallon statutory volume for conventional biofuels next year. The fact is with rising gasoline demand, increased E15 and E85 use made possible by USDA’s infrastructure grant program, continued use of renewable diesel and conventional biodiesel that also generate D6 RINs (renewable identification numbers), well more than 15 billion gallons will be used next year. All of that is in addition to the 2 billion surplus RINs available to refiners due to EPA’s tepid enforcement of the RFS in the past.” (Click here to read Bob Dinneen’s full statement.)

aceBrian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) highlights an excuse from EPA used to rein-in the RFS is data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) that shows gasoline consumption is falling. According to EIA, gasoline use rose to 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015 – just shy of the 2007 record of 9.29 million bpd. In 2016, EIA predicts a new gasoline use record of 9.3 million bpd will be set and that trend will continue into 2017.

“EPA has claimed they can’t require oil companies to add more ethanol to a shrinking gasoline pool because of the so-called E10 blend wall. Under that logic, EPA’s ethanol blending volumes for 2017 should increase to statutory levels because gasoline use is on a steady rise and will set a new record this year. While we are pleased that EPA’s 2017 proposal increases ethanol blending levels from 2016, we remain disappointed that EPA falls back on the questionable E10 blend wall methodology which has disrupted implementation of the RFS for more than a year,” said Jennings. (Read Brian Jennings full statement here.)

NCGA-Logo-3Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association also acknowledged that the EPA has moved forward, but not enough and the result is to move America backward. “In the past, the EPA has cited a lack of fuel infrastructure as one reason for failing to follow statute. Our corn farmers and the ethanol industry have responded. Over the past year, we’ve invested millions of dollars along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to accelerate public and private investment in new ethanol pumps and fuel infrastructure. The fact is,” added Bowling, “today’s driver has more access than ever to renewable fuel choices.” (Read Chip Bowling’s full statement here.)

Ethanol supporters are in agreement that the EPA must be taken to task and reinstate mandated blending levels. The groups said they will continue to work to make this happen and encourage ethanol supporters to let their voices be heard in their local communities, and with state and federal legislators.

ACE, advance biofuels, Biodiesel, EPA, Ethanol, NCGA, RFA, RFS

American Ethanol Kicks Off NASCAR Sweepstakes

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

American Ethanol has kicked off a NASCAR “We’ve Got the Power” sweepstakes to promote the benefits of ethanol and the use of E15 in vehicles 2001 or newer. The series will surpass 10 million miles of racing fueled by E15 this season. Fans who sign up for No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon’s Green Army by sharing their American Ethanol-related experiences with Dillon on Facebook will qualify for a chance to win an ultimate NASCAR fan experience during a Sprint Cup race in October 2016.

Austin Dillion American Ethanol driver“NCGA’s [National Corn Growers Association] relationship with American Ethanol and NASCAR has given corn farmers an incredible platform in which to communicate the economic and environmental benefits of higher ethanol-blended fuels,” said NASCAR Advisory Committee Chair Jon Holzfaster. “With E15’s expanding availability at the pump, we have an even greater opportunity to assist consumers in living a greener lifestyle and dispel myths related to ethanol’s safety and performance.”

For engine technicians, auto dealers and fuel retailer professionals, American Ethanol has created the “Engine Insiders Talk Shop” sweepstakes to learn how E15 fuel works for cars on the road today. To participate, qualified individuals must register and participate in an American Ethanol event or audio conference. In addition to being entered into the sweepstakes to win an honorary NASCAR crew chief experience, two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded at each event and audio conference to participants.

For more information on the “We’ve Got the Power” and “Engine Insiders Talk Shop” sweepstakes, visit American Ethanol’s website.

American Ethanol, E15, NASCAR, NCGA, Racing

Pacific Ag Opens Fargo Office

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Pacific Ag is expanding with a new office opening in Fargo, North Dakota. The company has the longest and most expansive crop residue supply chain in the U.S. and has opened the new office to serve the growing demand in for wheat straw residue among the dairy, beef, mushroom and erosion control industries. Pacific Ag also harvests and delivers biomass to biorefineries. Tom and Stephanie Borgen, local farmers and wheat straw providers, will be serving in the role of regional managers.

dreamstime_xs_43075994“In Pacific Ag, Stephanie and I saw a company that shares our vision for how sustainable residue harvesting can help farmers add to their bottom line,” said Tom Borgen. “It’s a great chance for us to grow personally and professionally by working with a world class management team. Together we can more quickly and more widely expand the market for wheat straw by providing customers a professionally-managed supply chain that offers large-scale, consolidated supply, precise quality control and stable, competitive pricing.”

Pacific Ag has 20 years of experience harvesting residue and says they have developed harvest methods and expertise the enables soil health preservation while reducing ash and other foreign matter in the resulting biomass bale or stover. The company, which maintains its own dedicated baling fleet, proprietary supply chain management system, and logistics and trucking division, harvests more than half a billion tons of biomass each year with key markets in California, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Iowa and North Carolina.

“Tom and Stephanie are a great addition to the expanding Pacific Ag team,” said Bill Levy, founder and CEO of Pacific Ag. “They have a strong reputation for integrity, quality and service among both growers and customers, and they will play a key role in establishing and managing our presence in the region. We look forward to leveraging our national supply chain system to increase opportunities for both growers and customers in the Upper Midwest.”

advance biofuels, biomass, Ethanol

Scientists Confirm #Biodiesel Provides CO2 Reduction

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

A report from the Coordinating Research Council, (CRC) adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates biodiesel’s role as a low carbon fuel. Two of the report’s key conclusions find that carbon emissions from biofuels are declining relative to petroleum, and confidence in these results continue to grow as more research is released. According to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), in 2015 U.S. biodiesel use lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 18 million tons or the equivalent CO2 emissions of removing 3.8 million cars from the roads.

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

“When it comes to quantifying carbon benefits, biofuels have been the most heavily scrutinized products in the world market,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability with the NBB. “This heavy scrutiny and improving analysis provide confidence that biodiesel provides significant benefits over fossil fuels.”

CRC members include companies such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, American Petroleum Institute (API) and others, and conducts environmental and engineering research related to automotive and petroleum use. In addition, CRC hosts workshops to discuss lifecycle analysis of biofuels. According to NBB, these workshops include a heavy emphasis on indirect land use change (ILUC). NBB notes that ILUC was once thought to be a detriment to the net carbon benefit of biofuel policies, but this is proving to be incorrect. To examine ILUC more closely, CRC has called on experts in economic modeling and lifecycle analysis including experts with the EPA, U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, European Commission, environmental advocacy groups, and leading academic institutions from Europe and North America.

“Whether and how indirect land use change can be accounted for has always been controversial. With continued improvements to the science behind it; there is clear consensus that it does not override the carbon benefit of renewable fuels,” said Jan Lewandrowski economist for USDA’s Climate Change Program. “The scientific community’s efforts to improve the data quality and reduce uncertainty within economic modeling shows that the agricultural sector can provide powerful tools to reduce carbon emissions while providing food and fuel to the world. Additionally, regions with renewable natural resources can experience sizable economic benefits by making wise investments in agriculture.”

The growing body of research supporting this conclusion, cites NBB, includes analysis published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, USEPA, USDA and the California Air Resources Board. Each of these institutions has affirmed that U.S. biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by at least 50 percent and often as much as 85 percent compared to petroleum diesel fuel.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Indirect Land Use, NBB

Advanced #Biofuel Production in One-Pot

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

A strain of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), engineered by researchers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory enables a “one-pot” method for producing advanced biofuels from a slurry of pre-treated plant material. The bacteria is able to tolerate the liquid salt used to break down plant biomass into sugar-based polymers. However, the salt solvent, called ionic liquids, interferes with later stages of the production process; thus, it needs to be removed. This problem is solved with the engineered strain and eliminates the need to remove ionic liquids saving time and money.

Marijke Frederix (left) and Aindrila Mukhopadhyay in a microbiology lab at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. (Credit: Irina Silva/JBEI, Berkeley Lab)

Marijke Frederix (left) and Aindrila Mukhopadhyay in a microbiology lab at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. (Credit: Irina Silva/JBEI, Berkeley Lab)

“Being able to put everything together at one point, walk away, come back, and then get your fuel, is a necessary step in moving forward with a biofuel economy,” said study principal investigator Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, vice president of the Fuels Synthesis Division at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a DOE Bioenergy Research Center at Berkeley Lab. “The E. coli we’ve developed gets us closer to that goal. It is like a chassis that we build other things onto, like the chassis of a car. It can be used to integrate multiple recent technologies to convert a renewable carbon source like switchgrass to an advanced jet fuel.” Study results were published in Green Chemistry journal.

As explained by Aindrila, the basic steps of biofuel production start with breaking apart the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin that are bound together in the complex plant structure. Traditionally, enzymes are then added to release the sugars from the mixture of cellulose and hemicellulose, a step called saccharification. Bacteria can then take that sugar and churn out the desired biofuel. The multiple steps are all done in separate “pots”.

A JBEI research team has pioneered the use of ionic liquids, salts that are liquid at room temperature, to tackle the deconstruction of plant material because of the efficiency with which the solvent works. However, what makes ionic liquids ideal for deconstruction also makes it harmful for the downstream enzymes and bacteria used in biofuel production. Based on previous work, a suite of saccharification enzymes were discovered that were tolerant to ionic liquids.Read More

advance biofuels, biojet fuel, biomass, Research