Prime the Pump Funds Ethanol Infrastructure

syngenta-enogen-nascar-15-defenbaughThe chairman of the Prime the Pump fund says getting more fuel infrastructure in the marketplace is vital to getting higher level ethanol blends to consumers.

“It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg,” says Ray Defenbaugh of Big River Resources in West Burlington, Iowa. “The autos hold off because of the pumps, pumps hold off because of the retailers, because of the autos.”

Defenbaugh says government programs are nice, but it’s really important for the industry to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. “This is a self-help effort by not only the ethanol industry, but people who benefit from the ethanol industry.”

Syngenta announced a major donation to Prime the Pump at the recent NASCAR American Ethanol 200 in Iowa, which Defenbaugh was pleased to accept from Chris Tingle with Syngenta Enogen. “Syngenta contributed a nice check – $225,000 for the effort, and they’ll have two more installments,” said Defenbaugh. The company will be contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology, which they expect to ultimately total about $600,000.

Listen to Ray explain more about Prime the Pump in this interview: Interview with Prime the Pump chair Ray Defenbaugh

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

Amyris Renewable Diesel Test with VW a Success

Amyris-LogoIndustrial bioscience company Amyris says its two-year test with renewable diesel in Volkswagen vehicles has been a success. This company news release says the test was to check the commercial readiness of Amyris renewable diesel and its ability to enhance VW’s innovative and advanced diesel technology.

Utilizing vehicles provided by VW in real-world driving conditions, the two-year-long program to assess the results reinforced the company’s data that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were reduced by more than 60 percent on a well-to-wheel basis when using Amyris’s No Compromise® renewable diesel. In addition, the program demonstrated fuel economy that was similar to or improved over petroleum-based fuels, together while maintaining outstanding engine performance under a variety of conditions.

“The results of this program provide additional validation for renewable fuels and showcase the tremendous market potential for Amyris’s advanced renewable diesel,” said John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris. “Growing awareness of these benefits contributes to increased consumer awareness, end-user demand pull and future adoption of renewable fuels at a larger scale.”

The collaboration included evaluating emissions reductions and demonstrating performance of Volkswagen’s existing TDI Clean Diesel technology using advanced renewable diesel fuel.

Ontario Refinery Gets New Life as Atlantic Biodiesel

atlanticbiodieselIn what’s been a roller coaster ride for a biodiesel refiner in Canada seems to be on the upswing now. This article from the Welland (Ontario) Tribune says the former Great Lakes Biodiesel plant, which closed last year after falling into receivership, has officially reopened as the 45-million-gallon-per-year Atlantic Biodiesel.

“In a very short time, we’ve taken the assets and built up a business with a new management team,” said Michael Paszti, chief operating officer of the new company.

Paszti said the 25 people who had worked for Great Lakes Biodiesel were rehired to work at the plant, which is expected to be among the top 20 largest producers of biodiesel in North America after production begins at the end of July.

“There was a conscious commitment to the employees and they were kept on right through the process,” he said. “The operations workers are the same experienced workers we had before and they’re going to be critical to our success going forward. We need their experience to run this plant.”

The new owners do plan to expand the plant’s capacity down the road.

EPA Hearing Turnout to Show #RFSWorks

The public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard was a who’s who of the biofuels industry and then some.

epa-hearing-panelA total of 254 people on 43 panels testified in two different rooms for about seven and a half hours. It was over twice as many people who testified at a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia in December 2013 on EPA’s first proposed RVO for 2014 that was ultimately withdrawn.

The vast majority of those testifying at the hearing were biofuels supporters, less than a dozen represented the oil industry or others opposed to increasing use of biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel producers, corn growers, agribusiness interests and fuel retailers from across the nation testified, in addition to several state lawmakers, two governors and their agriculture secretaries.

The very first panel consisted of representatives from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Soybean Association, National Farmers Union, National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations.

“We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”

Listen to Cooper and others on the first panel here: EPA RFS Hearing panel 1

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Retailers Counter EPA Blend Wall Beliefs

Many fuel retailers were on hand at the EPA public hearing last week on volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to tell their stories about selling higher ethanol blends.

epa-hearing-retailerAmong those who testified at the hearing and also spoke at the #RFSWorks rally was Cheryl Near, who owns Jump Start gas station in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Phil. The couple is featured in the movie PUMP, a documentary about America’s addiction to oil and the monopoly of the oil companies that works to prevent consumer choice at the pump.

“We need to be supporting homegrown renewables, we need be blending more ethanol into our fuel supply, not less,” said Near at the rally, who added that oil companies are controlling the price of higher ethanol blends. “We need blender pumps, we need to buy direct from the ethanol plants, and then we can pass our savings on to the consumers.”

Listen to Near’s rally comments here: Fuel retailer Cheryl Near at RFS Rally

Other retailers who testified at the hearing included Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA, and Charlie Good, owner of Good and Quick convenience store in Nevada, Iowa. “We have seen our ethanol sales numbers increase as we educate the public on the higher ethanol blends,” said Zaremba, who was the first retailer to offer E15 in the United States. “Renewable blends make up 98% of my gasoline sales mix, and almost 30% of the fuel I sell is in renewable blends above ten percent,” added Good.

Dave Sovereign, owner and operator of the Cresco Fast Stop, summarized the thoughts of many retailers, telling EPA, “When consumers have a choice, there is no blend wall.”

Other stories of higher blend fuel retailers can be found on the American Coalition for Ethanol website Flexfuelforward.com.

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Neste Races Across America on One Tank

History was made over the past two weeks as X-Games and Rallycross champion Tanner Foust crossed the finish line in Santa Monica, California after traveling 2,507 miles at an average speed of 68 miles per gallon using only 37.6 gallons, or one tank, of NEXBTL renewable diesel fuel. The event was sponsored by Neste, the producer of the NEXBTL renewable fuel along with CLP Motorsports. Foust drove across the U.s. in a CLP Motorsports’ Superlite Coupe.

Tanner Foust and Pat O'Keefe bring the CLP Motorsports' SLC race car across the finish line next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA, after completing a 2,507-mile cross-country drive on one tank of Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel. (PRNewsFoto/Neste)

Tanner Foust and Pat O’Keefe bring the CLP Motorsports’ SLC race car across the finish line next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA, after completing a 2,507-mile cross-country drive on one tank of Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel. (PRNewsFoto/Neste)

This first of a kind event was conceived by Pat O’Keefe, CEO and president of CLP Motor sports, vice president at Golden Gate Petroleum and a keen racing car driver and enthusiast. Golden Gate started selling NEXBTL renewable diesel to its fleet customers the San Francisco area in 2013.

“What a great opportunity to be able to partner with Neste on this project so that we can help bring awareness to the public about this amazing fuel – NEXBTL renewable diesel,” said O’Keefe. “We will continue to promote this great fuel through our fleet-servicing and retail stations and of course through our racing.”

Foust was also impressed with the fuel. “When it comes to low emissions in racing or driving on the street, good quality fuel is the key. With renewable diesel you will get more power, cleaner burning and it’s renewable. Those things typically don’t mix. That’s why I think Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel is a very special product.” Continue reading

Urban Air Initiative: Ethanol Reduces Engine Wear

The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) has released a study that finds ethanol free gasoline blends actually increase the wear and tear on engines including hoses, seals and fuel tanks. In other words, the data supports ethanol blends lead to cleaner engines. The findings were presented at the semi-annual meeting of ASTM by Steve Vander Griend, technical director for UAI who also works for ICM.

The report demonstrated that high aromatic content of gasoline, including toxic aromatics like benzene and toluene, negatively impact engine parts. Vander Griend explained in his presentation that the toxic aromatics create a significant increase in the escape of harmful emissions that can have a devastating impact on public health as these are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency has known and suspected carcinogens.

“What we are seeing is that benzene and toluene are increasing permeation, which means increasing the amount of fuel vapors that seep from a vehicle. For anyone who has a garage at home and smells gasoline, vapors are escaping through the vehicles fuel system or small engine gas tank,” said Vander Griend.

Also during his presentation Vander Griend explained that extensive testing was conducted on fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components. The materials were each soaked in straight gasoline (E0) and a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10) for extended periods of time. In every case, said Vander Griend, the ethanol free gasoline increased the damage to fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components, while the materials soaked in E10 were impacted less. Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association has launched a “Minnesota Biofuels Locator” app that enables iPhone users to find stations throughout the state that offer E15, E85 and blender pumps. In April, the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association launched the app for Android users.
  • Talen Energy has announced an agreement to sell Talen Renewable Energy, LLC to funds managed by California-based Energy Power Partners. The sale will include 25 projects in four states with a total of 65 megawatts of nameplate generating capacity. The portfolio includes landfill gas-to-energy, solar, wind and cogeneration projects. Subject to regulatory approvals, the agreement is expected to close by the end of the year.
  • The Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) has released a new book, Thought Leaders Speak Out: The Evolving Electric Power Industry, that features more than 20 essays by electric utility and technology company leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders focused on three distinct and interrelated areas driving the transformation of the electric power industry today—the evolving grid, the evolving customer, and evolving regulation.
  • Telefonix Inc., a developer of cord reel technology and manufacturer of PowerPost commercial electric vehicle charging stations (EVSEs), has announced the installation of six Level 2 PowerPost commercial electric vehicle charging stations at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. MD Anderson is now working to help improve the environment by offering workplace electric vehicle (EV) charging to employees at their Texas facility.

Corn Growers Testify and Rally for RFS

Corn growers from across the nation were in Kansas City, Kansas last week to testify and rally in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

rfs-hearing-ncgaLeaders of the National Corn Growers Association were among over 200 stakeholders to provide comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the volume of ethanol required to be used in the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS.

NCGA President Chip Bowling of Maryland, NCGA Ethanol Committee chairman Jeff Sandbourn, and NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre of Illinois testified that EPA’s proposal would cut nearly 4 billion gallons of ethanol from the RFS through 2016, representing nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.

rfs-rally-chip“We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that’s exactly what your proposal will do,” Bowling told the EPA. “We cannot let this stand. We’ve done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It’s time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that’s better for the environment.”

Corn growers also led a rally near the hearing in support of the RFS. “We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue,” said Bowling. “The many who came here today had to set aside important work back home, with delayed planting or other important field work. They are here because they know what’s at stake.”

Listen to the corn growers testimony here:
NCGA testimony at RFS hearing

Listen to the rally speakers here:
RFS Works Rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

FFA Helps ‘Prime the Pump’ for Ethanol & Students

syngenta-enogen-nascar-15-ffaMaker of Enogen corn, Syngenta, recently announced it had raised money for ethanol infrastructure through the “Prime the Pump” campaign, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. By donating a dollar for every acre of corn planted with the Enogen variety, Syngenta will put approximately $600,000 into the fund. In addition, the company teamed up with local FFA members at the American Ethanol 200 NASCAR truck race in Iowa and matched dollars the group raised through donations at the race, a percentage of that the FFA groups get to keep.

Dan Lopez is the high school guidance counselor at South Tama. He said his students were able to get out and talk with a lot of the tailgaters at the race.

“One hundred percent of the folks have been behind [ethanol],” he told Chuck during an interview, adding the people have been appreciative of Syngenta’s efforts to get more ethanol out to consumers and how the company supports the FFA.

Miranda Johnson who teaches at Twin Cedars Community School District said the folks at the race understand ethanol. “They understand the importance of using ethanol. It’s been great!”

While Johnson said her FFA hasn’t decided yet what to do with the money raised, Lopez’s FFA plans to use its share to send students to the national FFA convention.

Listen to Chuck’s interviews with both FFA groups here: South Tama FFA Twin Cedars FFA

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen