Majority Say Autonomous Tractors Will Hit Market Soon

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How long until we have autonomous tractors on the market??”

Both New Holland and Case IH debuted autonomous concept tractors during the Farm Progress Show. It seems many believe we will see these tractors on the marketplace sooner than later.

Here are the poll results:

  • Very soon – 30%
  • 5 years out – 27%
  • 10 years out – 14%
  • 20 years out – 18%
  • Never – 8%
  • Other – 3%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What’s your opinion of the Bayer-Monsanto deal?

The mega merger between Bayer AG and Monsanto Company was officially announced this week. We did a ZimmPoll on the topic back in May, but now that it is a done deal, we thought it would be good to do it again and see if we get the same results.


How Low Can #Ethanol’s Carbon Intensity Go?

Joanna Schroeder

ace-16 - Dr Zhichao Wang EcoEngineers

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

The California Legislature recently re-passed its climate law ensuring that the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will move forward. In this scenario, the fuels with the lowest carbon intensity scores are the highest rewarded and as such, the biofuel industry must continue to lower its carbon intensity. “Carbon Intensity: Field-to-Wheel How Low Can You Go?” was one of the break-out sessions during the 29th annual Ethanol Conference. During the discussion, panelists walked attendees through the nuts and bolts of low carbon fuel standards and how ethanol producers can improve carbon intensity through a better understanding of data from the field, energy inputs and optimizing plant operations. The discussion was moderated by Mike Hansman, business development manager for EcoEngineers and included Rob Alverson, director Dakota Ethanol along with Dr. Zhichao Wang, environmental engineer for EcoEngineers. I was able to sit down with “Dr. Z” after his presentation to learn more about how low the industry can go in terms of carbon intensity.

Carbon intensity is the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation and consumption in the lifetime of a transportation fuel. One challenge has been how best to measure this and Dr. Z explained that measuring carbon intensity has been an evolving process but with better data and better models it’s getting more accurate.

He said that with the use of carbon intensity as a means to determine how “sustainable” a fuel is, it is a very important measurement for biofuel producers. Dr. Z continued that it will be even more important in the future because many states are looking to adopt similar LCFS programs to California.

So how does an ethanol producer lower the carbon intensity of its fuel? Dr. Z said there are several things you can do such as controlling your energy consumption, chemical and enzyme use. For example, if a plant were to convert to biogas, the carbon intensity of the resulting ethanol would be lower.

To learn more about how an biofuel producer can lower carbon intensity, listen to my interview with Dr. Zhichao here: Interview with Zhichao Wang, EcoEngineers

2016 ACE Annual Ethanol Conference Photo Album

ACE, ACE Ethanol Conference, Audio, Carbon Dioxide, Climate Change, Ethanol, Low Carbon Fuel Standard

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The global energy consumption sector grew to a value of just over $9.1 trillion in 2015, with Asia-Pacific (APAC) emerging as the largest regional market, and accounting for more than 50% of the global market’s value, according to a new report from MarketLine. The company’s report shows that China and the US form the two largest national energy consumption markets, valued at $2.7 trillion and $1.2 trillion, respectively. China, however, is expected to continue growing at a fast pace, while growth in the more mature US market is forecast to be moderate.
  • FedEx Freight has purchased more than 100 compressed natural gas (CNG) tractors and has installed a CNG fueling station to serve the new CNG fleet at its Oklahoma City Service Center. FedEx Freight contracted with Clean Energy Fuels Corp to design, build and maintain the fueling station.
  • Michael Chaplinsky, President of Turf Feeding Systems and Jack Katz, CEO of Monarca, are meeting with the JOil team in Singapore to select special hybrid Jatropha plants needed for their BioJet fuel project in Yucatan Mexico. Monarca is a 33,000 hectare plantation and BioJect fuel refinery that will produce 30 million gallons of BioJet fuel for Mexican aviation.
  • On October 4 -6, 2016 African and U.S. energy policy officials and executives engaged in the Africa – Carolinas energy trade will meet in Charlotte to learn about opportunities and develop partnerships with which to pursue a considerable range of projects. The Energizing Africa through Partnerships conference will feature his Excellency, Girma Birru, ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States and former Ethiopian Energy Minister, and Jim Rogers, University Fellow, Duke University Rubenstein Fellows Academy, and former Chairman & CEO of Duke Energy.
Bioenergy Bytes

Consumers Ability to Choose #E15 Back at the Pumps

Joanna Schroeder

Consumers will have the choice to purchase E15 at the pump again tomorrow, September 16, 2016. For drivers owning a 2001 or newer vehicle, E15 sales are restricted during summer months due to an arcane U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). The 15th marks the end of EPA’s “volatility control season” opening the fuel back up to non-flex fuel vehicles.

From June 1 through Sept. 15 only consumers with flex fuel vehicles can fill up with E15. However, RFA is working to allow consumers with vehicles 2001 or newer to choose E15 at the pump year round.

From June 1 through Sept. 15 only consumers with flex fuel vehicles can fill up with E15. However, RFA is working to allow consumers with vehicles 2001 or newer to choose E15 at the pump year round.

When the EPA approved the sale of E15 in 2011, it did not allow E15 to benefit from the 1-pound per square inch (psi) waiver that is offered for E10 blends. Due to this lack of RVP waiver, retailers can only sell E15 to flex fuel vehicles from June 1-September 15th. The other option is for a retailer to purchase specialty gasoline blendstocks, one that is not typically available in conventional gas markets and uneconomical to ship.

“In 1989, EPA provided an RVP waiver to 10 percent ethanol blends, concluding there would be no air quality consequence and retailers would otherwise be unable to secure blendstocks for ethanol blending year-round,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Those same circumstances exist for E15. Indeed, as data submitted by RFA to EPA has shown, emissions from E15 are even lower than E10 and consumers would benefit all year long from a fuel that is higher octane, lower cost and cleaner.”

According to RFA, who sent a letter to the EPA on this issue in December of 2015, the EPA has claimed it does not have the authority to extend the 1 psi RVP waiver to E15. However, RFA disagrees and has offered another option: for the EPA to simply require lower-RVP summertime conventional gas blendstocks for mixing with all ethanol blends.

“We just want RVP parity for E15 and E10, so the marketplace and consumers have the freedom to choose the fuel that works best for them,” Dinneen continued. “EPA’s continued inaction on the summertime volatility restrictions is stifling the growth of higher ethanol blends and incorrectly using that as justification to propose lower 2017 renewable fuel standard targets. We reiterate the need for EPA to address this issue.”

Listen to an interview with Dinneen on E15 here: Interview with Bob Dinneen, RFA on E15

This week, a group of seven governors sent a letter to the EPA calling on the agency to end its unfair RVP treatment of E15. RFA notes that there are over 300 stations in 24 states that offer E15 for sale, including retailers such as Sheetz, Kum & Go, Murphy USA and Protec Fuel. Further market penetration for ethanol blends will be achieved when HWRT Oil Company begins offering pre-blended E15 on Friday, September 16, 2016 at the terminal level in three states, giving retailers further access to the fuel blend. At the same time, Diesel Dogs, a fuel distributor in Minnesota, will also begin offering E15 to retailers. In addition, with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program, approximately 1,500 new stations will be offering E15 in the coming months.

Audio, biofuels, E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Reid Vapor Pressure, Retailers, RFA

Advanced Biofuels USA Wins Beets to BioJet Grant

Joanna Schroeder

Advanced Biofuels USA has received a grant to conduct a feasibility study of producing biojet fuel from Maryland grown energy beets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated $16,893 for the study that will review the technical, economic aspects and co-product opportunities of a project in development by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) along with Purdue University and several Maryland small businesses. The goal of the project is to develop bio-based products such as biofuels produced on the Eastern Shore to replace traditional jet fuel.

Example of energy beet held by Robert Kozak, President, Atlantic Biomass.

Example of energy beet held by Robert Kozak, President, Atlantic Biomass.

As part of the study UMES will explore the uptake of Eastern Shore legacy phosphates by the energy beets. Should this be feasible, the beets-to-biojet fuel project could be a cost-effective approach to reducing Chesapeake Bay nutrient runoff issues. In addition, the researchers will be reviewing the opportunities to use the proteins from the biomass to produce high value poultry feed or other animal feeds.

As mentioned, several Maryland companies will be participating in the project including energy beets (not for human consumption) that only require minimal energy inputs developed by Plant Sensory Systems of Baltimore, Maryland. The energy beets will be coupled with an enzyme conversion system that utilizes the entire biomass of the energy beet root, including biomass ignored during conventional sugar production developed by Atlantic Biomass, LLC and Hood College.

Ultimately, the objective of the Advanced Biofuels USA study is to determine if the 1st stage data produced from the UMES energy beet pilot crop and commercial simulation processing shows that the crop and supply-chain have enough yield and production advantages that investments should be made to overcome hurdles identified in the feasibility analysis in order to take the project to commercialization.

Lastly, the energy beet feasibility study will look at priorities identified in the White House’s National Science and Technology Council’s report Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development Strategy that include answering the three questions: Does this approach to advanced biofuel production have the basic elements to improve the rural economic conditions of the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland? Can this process be optimized to improve job creation and profit opportunities? and Can the project reduce the cost of meeting Maryland Chesapeake Bay nutrient remediation costs?

advance biofuels, biojet fuel, biomass, Research

ACE Applauds Governors for #E15 Support

Joanna Schroeder

ACE logoSeven governors have sent a bipartisan letter to the EPA asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “remove a significant regularly obstacle that is preventing large-scale availability and use of E15 and mid-level ethanol blends.” In response, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) thanked the legislators.

According to ACE, they actively encouraged the governors to sign onto the letter. Governors Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota), Jay Nixon (D-Missouri), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Jack Dalrymple (R-North Dakota), and Dennis Daugaard (R-South Dakota) sent the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today asking her to “correct the unfair Reid vapor pressure (RVP) treatment of E15.”

EPA’s refusal to allow E15, a fuel with fewer evaporative emissions than straight gasoline or E10, to be used from June 1 to September 15 in many parts of the country because of an outdated Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rule is the primary hurdle to more widespread use of the fuel,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “We applaud these seven governors for urging EPA to extend RVP relief to E15 and higher blends and we will continue to ask Congress to provide for a legislative remedy in the face of EPA inaction.

For more on RVP and ethanol blends, click here.

ACE, E15, Ethanol, politics

EPA Approves Edeniq Cellulosic Pathway

Joanna Schroeder

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it has approved Pacific Ethanol’s registration of its Stockton, California plant to generate D3 cellulosic Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) using Edeniq’s Pathway Technology. The company’s kernel fiber to cellulosic ethanol technology was recently featured during a panel discussion at the 29th annual ACE Ethanol Conference.

Edeniq-LogoThis approval is a landmark for the ethanol industry and our company,” said Brian Thome, President and CEO of Edeniq. “This opens the door for low-cost production of cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber in existing fermentation vessels to drive yields to 3 gallons per bushel. While we have long heard the story – ‘Cellulosic ethanol will be here in five to ten years,’ Edeniq’s Pathway Technology for profitably producing cellulosic ethanol is here today. A 120 million gallon per year corn ethanol plant can increase its revenue by up to $10 million or more through integration of Pathway, with very little investment and a less than one-year payback. This is a game-changer for the cellulosic ethanol industry, which has historically focused on investing in new plants.

According to Edeniq, their technology is the lowest-cost solution for producing cellulosic ethanol from kernel fiber when using existing fermenters at corn ethanol plants. The company also says its Pathway Technology combination of cellulase enzyme and Edeniq’s Cellunator high-shear milling equipment produces up to 2.5 percent cellulosic ethanol, up to a 7 percent increase in overall ethanol yield due to yield enhancement from starch and cellulose, and up to a 30 percent increase in corn oil recovery.

Pacific Ethanol began producing cellulosic ethanol at its 60 million gallon per year Stockton, CA plant in December 2015 using the Pathway Technology. Neil Koehler, the company’s president and CEO, said of the technology, “The EPA-approved registration for generating cellulosic ethanol and D3 RINs is an important milestone in our strategy to be a leading producer of cellulosic ethanol. We expect to produce over one million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol at our Stockton facility. With the high-value D3 RINs, the carbon credit under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and the federal Second Generation Biofuel Producer tax credit, we expect that cellulosic ethanol production will materially contribute to the profitability of our Stockton facility. As we confirm and optimize our cellulosic ethanol production process, we will look toward expanding this to other Pacific Ethanol plants.

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, corn, Ethanol, RINS

KLM to Fly to Use Biofuels in LA

Joanna Schroeder

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be using biofuels in the Los Angeles Airport. The company has signed a three-year contract with AltAir Fuels, who produces the ASTM approved fuel from used cooking oil and is the first biofuels company that continuously produces aviation biofuel for commercial use. The biofuels will be supplied by SkyRNG. Earlier this year, KLM signed on to a similar biofuel initiative in Oslo, Norway. Participants in the biofuels program, such as KLM, pay a surcharge that covers the price difference between the biofuel and regular jet fuel. According to KLM, this not only sets an example, but actively helps make air transportation more sustainable.

altairfuels“Sustainable biofuel is currently one of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions in the airline industry,” said KLM President and CEO Pieter Elbers. “Owing partly to the companies taking part in the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme, we have been able to take this step, giving a further impulse to the consistent production of biofuel.”

According to a press release, the biofuel is pumped directly into the airport fuel reservoirs, which also hold the airport’s conventional kerosene supply. This implies the biofuel is pumped into aircrafts that are refueled in Los Angeles. In this way, biofuel contributes to reducing CO2 emissions from all flights taking off from Los Angeles.

Bryan Sherbacow, president of AltAir Fuels, said, “KLM’s multiyear biofuel offtake is a real milestone for the industry and shows their commitment to making aviation more sustainable. We’re proud to supply them together with our project partner SkyNRG.”

advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, biojet fuel

#Propane Celebrates 5 Years of Farm Incentives

Cindy Zimmerman

propane-incentiveAfter five years of applied research through the Propane Farm Incentive Program, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has some good data to back up the benefits for farmers switching to propane equipment in higher performance, improved efficiency, and significant cost savings. Over 400 producers from 32 states have participated in PERC’s incentive program over the last five years.

Since 2011, the Propane Farm Incentive has offered program participants a financial incentive in exchange for real-world performance data and experience testing the performance of new propane equipment, including irrigation engines, grain dryers, flame weed control systems, premium generators, and agricultural heating systems.

“Over the years, the Propane Farm Incentive Program has become an extremely valuable asset for evaluating the productivity and efficiency of new propane equipment,” said Cinch Munson, PERC’s director of agriculture business development. “There’s no substitution to the value of real-world data from farmers using the equipment firsthand to power their own farms. In today’s farm economy, propane-powered equipment has proven to be a good option for producers who are looking to improve their bottom line by using top quality equipment that saves them money.”

Munson was at the recent Farm Progress show checking out the propane-powered equipment on hand and he stopped by for an interview about the incentive program and what’s new in propane. Interview with Cinch Munson, PERC

2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

Coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by Coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by New HollandCoverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by BASFCoverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by Growmark
Audio, Equipment, Farm Progress Show, PERC, Propane

Bobby Likis Spotlights @ProtecFuel

Cindy Zimmerman

likis-garnerProtec Fuel CEO Todd Garner was a guest on the nationally syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” this past weekend to talk about what they are doing to get higher ethanol blends in the market place.

Since 2006, Protec Fuel has specialized in turn-key solutions for building blender pump infrastructure – from site selection to marketing after build to long-term pricing to save retailers and consumers money.

“Increased numbers of outlets pumping higher blends of ethanol enable station operators to offer their customers a higher-octane, cleaner-burning fuel at a lower price,” said Likis. “I want the drivers in the Car Clinic audience to be fully informed about the advantages of fuel with higher ethanol blends and the necessity of expanding that availability.”

Watch the full interview here.

blends, Protec Fuel, RFA