E85Prices.com Now Tracking E15 #Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

e85-pricesE85prices.com just got more inclusive and now provides information on stations offering 15 percent ethanol blends as well.

Visitors to the website E85prices.com, a crowd-sourced service managed by the Renewable Fuels Association, can now toggle between E15 and E85, locating information and reporting prices on either fuel blend. RFA vice president of industry relations Robert White says the improvements also allow consumers to review E15 prices reported by others, price spreads for each state, historical statistics and more, giving them access to the lowest price gasoline available. “We are pleased to be able to broaden the website’s information to include information on E15,” said White. “There are now hundreds of stations throughout most of the U.S. that offer E15, and that number will grow into the thousands next year. We want to make sure consumers know and can track that information, so they can take advantage of higher ethanol blends and the savings associated with using alternative fuels.”

The website also maintains a database of blender pump locations and an online forum. In 2012, EPA gave final approval to E15 for 2001 and later model year vehicles, which accounts for 80 percent of today’s automotive fleet.

blends, E15, E85, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Price, RFA

Ethanol & DDG Exports Continue to Rise

Joanna Schroeder

Government data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) shows that U.S. ethanol exports for August 2016 totaled 77.9 million gallons (mg), an increase of 12 percent from July. The top monthly customer was Brazil with 25.1 mg followed by Canada at 20.9 mg. India increased its exports to 14.0 mg while the remaining exports went to 31 markets. Year-to-date, exports stand at 594.3 mg with yearly estimates for 2016 at 891.4 mg.

Denatured fuel ethanol exports dropped 10 percent from July to 19.8 mg. The majority of the product was sent to border countries with 17.8 mg going to Canada and 1.9 mg delivered to Jamaica. Export sales of undenatured fuel ethanol increased 15% over July to 50.6 mg—only the second time in 18 months to breach 50 mg. Brazil increased its imports to 25.1 mg—half of all U.S. shipments—as did India at 14.0 mg. The Philippines reduced its August exports to 3.8 mg. Other notable destinations were Peru (2.2 mg), Mexico (1.8 mg), China (1.5 mg) and Singapore (1.1 mg).

Sales of denatured ethanol for non-fuel use tripled over July to 1.1 mg, with Mexico’s purchase of 777,371 gallons. August sales of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use also more than doubled over the prior month to 6.5 mg—the highest level on record since March 2012. More than half of those shipments were destined for Nigeria (3.4 mg), followed by Canada at 3.0 mg.


For the third straight month, sizable volumes of shipments of ethanol were imported into the U.S. Brazil upped it imports by 2 percent to 10.7 mg of undenatured fuel. Despite the nearly 32 mg of imports streaming in this summer, the year-to-date total of 33.7 mg is running just 3 percent ahead of 2015, and suggests yearly imports will close out 2016 around 50.5 mg.

Export of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGs) increased 6 percent over July to 1.160 million metric tons (mt) with exports up 34 percent since February 2016. China was the top market for the fourth consecutive month in August exporting 262,201 mt; however, it was a 10 percent decrease from July. Top markets for August were Mexico (200,199 mt), Vietnam (127,009 mt), South Korea (117,029 mt), Thailand (75,438 mt) and Turkey (68,194 mt). Through August, DDGS exports stood at 7.6 million mt, indicating an annualized total of 11.4 million mt.

Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Green Plains Inc. has announced that it has acquired SCI Ingredients Holdings, Inc. (SCI) and its wholly owned operating subsidiary Fleischmann’s Vinegar Company, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of food-grade industrial vinegar for $250 million, subject to certain post-closing adjustments. Green Plains entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement with the selling shareholders of SCI and is financing the transaction with $135 million of debt with the balance paid from cash on hand.
  • Mexico City-based Monarca has announced plans to expand its Yucatan jatropha project by 33,000 hectares. The project is currently focused on producing 30 million gallons of biojet fuel for the Mexican government Aviation Services Department; however, the additional seed oil created will be targeted to U.S. refineries.
  • Through its subsidiary, Énergies Sonic inc., La Coop fédérée has announced that it will participate in the pilot project to install multi-fuel stations in Quebec, one of the commitments by the Government of Quebec within the framework of its 2030 Energy Policy. La Coop fédérée is proud to be a part of a group of enterprises, leaders in their domain, comprising Toyota Canada, Gaz Métro, Air Liquide, and the crown corporation, Hydro-Québec, which will make up the steering committee.
  • AOG has transferred 75.1% ownership of Addax Bioenergy (SL) Limited, its sugarcane bioethanol and renewable electricity operation in Makeni, Sierra Leone, to a group of investors led by Sunbird Bioenergy Africa Limited. AOG is keeping a minority interest of 24.9% as a mark of its confidence in the future of the business, while Sunbird Bioenergy group will provide the additional financing to take the project to full commercial operation. This handover is made by way of a capital injection by Sunbird Bioenergy group into Addax Bioenergy.
Bioenergy Bytes

NEW PBS Documentary: The Ethanol Effect

Joanna Schroeder

Detroit Public Television (DPTV) is debuting a new ethanol documentary this Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 9:00 pm ET called, “The Ethanol Effect“. The film, produced by DPTV, takes a look at the controversy surrounding the challenges of the best use for America’s corn production: food or biofuel. The worldwide premier of the documentary is on PBS’ World Channel. (Click here to view promo clips and for additional air times.)

“The Ethanol Effect” delves into what Ethanol is, demonstrates the production process and investigates the human, environmental and political costs of growing and refining corn for fuel in America. The documentary also dives into why the choices between food or biofuel are sparking controversy across the country. Interestingly, I met the production crew this past January in Altoona, Iowa during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit where they had access to various speakers including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, presidential hopefuls, and more biofuel experts.

The documentary is hosted by David Biello, science and technology curator for TED. He takes viewers on a journey from Iowa’s farm fields to Washington’s corridors of power.

The Ethanol Effect will definitely make you question your assumptions about biofuels. While we stay true to our journalistic integrity and ‘let the viewer decide’ approach to storytelling, this documentary certainly uncovers some surprising developments,” said Ed Moore, DPTV’s award-winning producer of the Alfred I. DuPont/Columbia award-winning series Beyond the Light Switch.

We’d love to hear from our readers after the documentary airs and encourage comments to this post.

advance biofuels, corn, Ethanol, Video

Chemoil Settles RIN Dispute

Joanna Schroeder

The largest mis-use of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) since the inception of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been settled this week. The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have ordered Chemoil Corporation to retire 65 million fuel credits to resolve violations. When factoring in the current market value of the credits, combined with an additional 7.7 million RINS previously retired by Chemoil in lieu of the lawsuit, the company will pay a $27 million civil penalties as part of the settlement.

epa-150RINS are credits created when a company, such as a biofuel producer, produces or imports renewable fuel. Under the RFS, they can be traded or sold to refiners and fuel importers or exporters as a means of complying with the program. The lawsuit alleged that Chemoil exported at least 48.5 million gallons of biodiesel from 2011 to 2013 and did not retire the more than 72 million associated RINS. The RFS requires RINS to be retired when the fuel is exported because it is no longer available for blending into the U.S. fuel supply, and consequently, cannot be used to meet the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) established each year under the program. When RINS are not retired, as in this case, it artificially inflates the volume of renewable fuel available for blending in the U.S. along with the number of RINS available to meet RVOs.

This settlement delivers on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals that Congress envisioned for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “It’s vital that companies retire renewable fuel credits when exporting fuel abroad. Upholding this requirement is a key way EPA is working to maintain program integrity and a level playing field for companies that follow the law.

Assistant Attorney for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, John C. Cruden, said of the ruling, “Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standards program to achieve significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and grow our domestic renewable energy industry. By ensuring a level playing field within the industry through vigorous compliance monitoring and enforcement, we help ensure that these important Congressional goals are met.

EPA said it discovered the alleged violations as a result of tips from RFS program participants.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, EPA, RFS, RINS

Supercomputer Paving Way for Biomass to Biofuel

Joanna Schroeder

Supercomputing is being used to discover ways to make turning biomass into biofuel. The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) project is led by Jeremy Smith, UT Governor’s Chair for Molecular Biophysics based in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. He also is director of the UT-ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performed its largest biological simulation to explain why lignin is so potent in blocking the enzymes that break down cellulose. Here, an enzyme (orange) hydrolyzes cellulose (green) despite the presence of lignin (brown). Image courtesy of ORNL/scistyle.com.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performed its largest biological simulation to explain why lignin is so potent in blocking the enzymes that break down cellulose. Here, an enzyme (orange) hydrolyzes cellulose (green) despite the presence of lignin (brown). Image courtesy of ORNL/scistyle.com.

One of the biggest barriers to converting biomass, or plant matter, into biofuel lies in removing the other biomass polymers that inhibit this chemical process. To assist in finding a solution to this challenge, large-scale computational simulations are picking apart lignin, one of the problematic ploymers, and its interactions with cellulose and other plant compounds. The results should pave a path to more optimized biofuel production.

The research is also helping researchers better understand the complexity of plant cell walls.

Researchers at the UT-ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics have been using supercomputers for many years to model and study lignin polymers and their interactions with cellulose. For this project, they’ve started to include other biomass polymers with the idea of simulating all the chemical components of plant cell walls. They’re now applying simulations again to the task: a hundred-million processor hours on Titan, ORNL’s Cray XK7 supercomputer.

To expand their simulations from cellulose polymers to lignin to ever more complicated biomolecule combinations, the team has had to optimize communication between parallel processors in supercomputers such as Titan. Smith says the machine’s capability should let them scale up to the point that the team can simulate atoms in parts of a plant’s cell wall. The team will begin by incorporating other cell wall biopolymers such as hemicelluloses and pectin and then add various enzymes and watch what happens  – on the supercomputers that is.

“We can envisage simulations of the complete cell wall,” Smith says. Then they could expand to cell walls from a variety of plant species and even interactions between the plant cell walls and microbial surfaces. With exascale computing power – roughly 100 times that of Titan – Smith expects that the team might eventually simulate the workings of an entire plant cell.

advance biofuels, biomass, Research

NCGA’s Skune: RFS Important to Drive Demand

Joanna Schroeder

As North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes takes the reigns as the new First Vice President of the Board for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) for fiscal year 2017, he says two of the greatest challenges he sees for corn farmers is both increasing demand and the ability to meet increasing demand. One area that can increase demand for corn is ethanol and the resulting co-products such as corn oil, which can be processed into biodiesel, and dried distillers grains (DDGs) a growing export market in particular. In an interview with Off the Cob, Skunes says one of the biggest demand drivers for corn will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

ccf80d01-c410-4173-8515-69633294fd15The first demand that I referenced is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” he explains. “This program, which the United States has in place, facilitates the mixing of ethanol into the fuel supply. We know that ethanol is a high priority for NCGA, because it generates demand for corn. I don’t want to make it too simple, but it is very important that we have this. The RFS puts forth a mandate that we have 15 billion gallons of corn in the fuel supply. The EPA has set the Renewable Volume Obligation below that for this year. We believe that EPA should follow the statute.”

In an interview AgWired did with Skunes during this year’s Farm Progress Show, he also mentioned that increasing fueling infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol such as E15, E30, E85 and anything in between will also help drive demand above and beyond the so-called blend wall.  NCGA, on behalf of its growers, is participating in the Prime the Pump program – an initiative to assist retailers with the costs to update ethanol infrastructure. To date, more than $210 million has been allocated by the ethanol industry, including NCGA, individual states and the USDA to ensure consumers have access to higher blends of ethanol.

Ethanol, NCGA, RFS

2017 RFA Board of Directors’ Officers Elected

Joanna Schroeder

mick-henderson-commonwealth-agri-energyThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) held its annual meeting this week in Minneapolis where the 2017 Board of Directors’ Officers were elected. The RFA elected Mick Henderson, general manager at Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC, as Chairman of the Board. Also elected:

  • Vice Chairman, Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol in Sacramento, California
  • Treasurer, Jim Seurer, Glacial Lakes Energy LLC in Watertown, South Dakota
  • President, Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association in Washington

Commonwealth Agri-Energy is located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and began production in 2004. Per year, the biorefinery produces 35 million gallons of ethanol from 12 million bushes of corn as well as 107,000 tons of dried distillers grains, 110,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide (that is sold as a co-product) and 3,000 tons of corn oil. Henderson has been with Commonwealth Agri-Energy since 2003 and has served on the RFA Board of Directors since 2006.

I am humbled that my peers have selected me as the Renewable Fuels Association Chairman of the Board of Directors,” said Henderson. “The RFA’s vast resources and knowledge will continue to be essential as we fight back against our well-funded critics. With the help of all RFA members , I will lead the fight to ensure that America’s most successful climate and energy policy to date, the Renewable Fuel Standard, remains unchanged, and that consumers continue to have access to the lowest cost liquid transportation fuel in the world.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Biobased Industry Positioned to Explode

Joanna Schroeder

According to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the biobased products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs in 2014, an increase of 220,000 jobs and $24 billion over 2013. “An Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry,” commissioned by USDA’s Biopreferred Program, is a follow-up to the 2015 report and sought to examine and quantify the effect of the U.S. Biobased products industry on each U.S. state.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-11-41-54-pmThe new study found that the biobased industry directly supported 1.53 million jobs in 2014. For every 1,000 direct jobs in the biobased industry, 1,760 indirect jobs were supported. In other words, the 1.5 million jobs directly supported by the biobased industry supported 2.7 million indirect and induced jobs. In addition, the $127 billion in value added from sales by the biobased products industry generated another $266 billion in indirect and induced sales.

When USDA released the first-ever Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry last year, we were thrilled to see what a positive impact this sector was having on our economy, and this updated analysis shows that the sector is not just holding strong, but growing,” said USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “America has an appetite for everyday products-including plastic bottles, textiles, cleanings supplies and more-made from renewable sources, and that demand is fueling millions of jobs, bringing manufacturing back to our rural communities, and reducing our nation’s carbon footprint. As this sector is strengthening,” continued Vilsack, “so is the economy in rural America, where this year the unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time since 2007. USDA is proud to see such strong returns on our investment into the biobased products industry.”

States leading the way in the biobased industry include California (145,080), North Carolina (90,040), Texas (88,680), Georgia (80,520) and Pennsylvania (71,360). It should be noted that the biobased industry, as defined by USDA, includes agriculture and forestry, biorefining, biobased chemicals, enzymes, bioplastic bottles and packaging, forest products and textiles. The definition does not include energy.

The report concludes that despite the current low price of oil, it is projected that the U.S. biobased products industry will exhibit steady growth over the next five years. However, several challenges will need to be overcome including, but not limited to:

  • Production tax credits (PTCs) must be extended beyond biofuels to include biobased products;
  • Further legislation is required to support the biobased products industry;
  • Financial incentives are needed to promote the construction and operation of more U.S.- based facilities; and
  • States need to provide resources to support the growth of the biobased products industry, which is very important because currently there are insufficient pilot plants to foster innovation.

Click here to read the full report.

biochemicals, biomaterials, bioplastics, bioproducts, USDA

Spurlock Takes NCGA Helm Focused on #Ethanol Trade

Joanna Schroeder

2ce75dec-eb4f-4e57-996c-4e30a0be6b18Wesley Spurlock, a grower from Spurlock of Stratford, Texas, officially took the helm as the President of the Board for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Saturday and he has his eye on trade as a major focus of the 2017 fiscal year. Trade will play a starring role in finding homes for the increasing corn harvests and one growing area of trade: ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGs).

“This year is much like the one we just finished,” said Spurlock. “We are looking at a massive corn crop. It is still being harvested but, even with some rain problems in the Midwest, the yields may be there. So, growing demand remains awfully important to finding a use for the crop that we have.

Spurlock will utilize several teams focused on various elements of increasing demand including ethanol. “Our new action teams work well with our strategic plan,” said Spurlock. “We have three new teams focused on demand: the Ethanol Action Team; the Feed, Food and Industrial Action Team; and the Market Access Action Team. These groups on the demand side will all be working hard to find out where we are and where we need to be.

He continued, “We have to work every side of this. We need trade. We need to work for the Trans Pacific Partnership. We need to work with our partners in the livestock industry. We need to work with the ethanol industry to keep that market open. And, we need to keep government regulations from becoming more cumbersome.

Spurlock stresses that members will play an important role in achieving success. “We need the grassroots to go straight to their Representatives and Senators. They have to be active on the political side and the regulatory side. When we ask, it is because we do really need all of our members to come out and voice their opinions so that we can all keep the freedom to farm.”

biofuels, corn, Ethanol, Exports, NCGA