Research led by the U.D. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists is looking at how to encourage algae in to producing oil from waste papayas and other unmarketable crops or byproducts such as glycerol. The lead scientist for the project is Lisa Keith, a plant pathologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The experiments are taking place in Hilo Hawaii and utilizing Chlorella protothecoides algae. They are part of larger efforts to reduce Hawaii’s need for imported oil and energy through zero-waste systems.
Keith’s research uses specialized vats called “bioreactors,” which allow for the growth of 150 liters’ worth (approximately 40 gallons) of algae. Her team selected “UTEX 249,” a top-performing strain of C. protothecoides that can store as much as 60 percent its cellular weight in lipids when grown—in the absence of sunlight—on a diet of 35 percent papaya juice.
In addition to sugar, papaya juice contains carbon, a critical but costly component of current algal-based methods of producing oil for conversion into biodiesel. The zero-waste system only uses unmarketable papayas, which account for one-third of Hawaii’s $11-million crop and represent a substantial revenue loss for growers there.
Keith has been awarded a $1.6 million grant for the project from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Development Corporation.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is a new member of the U.S. Grains Council, recognizing the important role that organization plays in the promoting exports of both ethanol and the livestock feed co-product DDGS.
“We have a unified (ethanol) industry effort working together to build exports,” said USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight who visited with members of ACE in Washington DC last week for their annual legislative fly-in. “For 15, 20 years we’ve been doing DDGS and now for about three years we’ve been looking at ethanol and the effort is going farther and faster then I thought it would, again because of the strong cooperation we’re getting from the full ethanol industry.”
Sleight says China, Japan, Mexico and India are top priorities for U.S. ethanol exports. Secondary markets include Canada, Philippines, Colombia, and Peru.
In this interview, Sleight also discusses the U.S. DDGS market outlook and upcoming Export Exchange this year to bring buyers and sellers of DDGS together. Interview with Tom Sleight, USGC
ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album
Emily Skor will be taking over the role of CEO for Growth Energy effective May 16, 2016. She most recently served as the Vice President for Communications of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the Executive Director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. Former and acting CEO and Growth Energy Co-Chair Tom Buis will continue to serve in his role as Board of Director’s Co-Chair.
“For the last seven years, Tom Buis has been a tremendous ally to the ethanol industry, leading Growth Energy through some of its toughest fights, and on behalf of the entire organization, we are thankful for his service and continued commitment to the industry,” said POET Executive Chairman and CEO and Growth Energy Co-Chair Jeff Broin. “As the ethanol industry continues to evolve – facing new opportunities and challenges – Emily is poised to lead Growth Energy as our next generation leader for next generation fuels. Emily brings a new perspective on policy, reputation management and communications to the organization during this dynamic time for the industry.”
At CHPA, Skor oversaw public affairs campaigns, integrated strategic communications into legislative campaigns and coordinated ally development. Before joining CHPA Skor served as Senior Vice President at Dezenhall Resources, a nationally recognized crisis communications and issues management firm. For more than a decade, she helped Fortune 500 companies and industry associations manage issues affecting brand confidence and corporate reputation through media, advocacy, coalition building and consumer education campaigns. She is a Minnesota native and graduate of Wellesley College.
“Since its inception, Growth Energy has been a champion for pro-biofuels policies and represented thousands of voices for the ethanol industry,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The organization and its members are committed to advancing fuel technologies that are proven to be better for the environment and automobile engines. I am thrilled to be part of this effort to take Growth Energy to the next level. As more consumers and automakers alike embrace higher blends of ethanol and legislators continue to support its environmental benefits, we will protect our environment for future generations and give drivers choices at the pump.”
Back in January, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) initiated an investigation into anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of U.S. produced distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). The U.S. Grains Council has been on top of the situation from the start and provided an update for members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) meeting in Washington DC this week.
USGC Director of Industry Relations Lyndsey Erb says the issue is important because China is such a huge market for the ethanol co-product used as animal feed. “China had been the largest importer of U.S. DDGS, taking 56% of exportable supplies last year,” said Erb. USGC has been coordinating the response from the U.S. ethanol industry to provide the information needed to help address the concerns and get China back in the market.
“We’re still very much in the beginning stages,” Erb says. “Ultimately the case has to wrap up between a year and a year and a half after the initiation so we still have a long road ahead of us in this case but such a large percentage of the U.S. industry is joining the Grains Council to fight that we are optimistic we can put together a good defense.”
Erb explains more in this interview: Interview with Lyndsey Erb, USGC
ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album
All Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) wants is for consumers to be able to have the choice to fill up with 15% ethanol all year long. That’s why he introduced H.R. 1736 to extend the current EPA Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to include E15.
“My bill would reverse this antiquated, non-scientific regulation out of EPA that was created in 1990,” said Rep. Smith during an interview at the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual legislative fly-in. “It’s about generating interest and enthusiasm by consumers to exercise their choice.”
Smith recognizes that getting any legislation passed during this election year is challenging, but he hopes to find a legislative vehicle on which to attach the bill.
In this interview he also makes some comments about the budget and appropriations process going on in Congress right now: Interview with Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)
ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album
As we all know in this contentious presidential campaign, most candidates spend at least as much time attacking their opponents as they do talking about their own good qualities and experience. That is a strategy that the ethanol industry should employ more often, according to an experienced political strategist.
Paul Tewes of the Smoot Tewes Group (STG) has 20 years experience as a political operative and he believes that in the ethanol public relations battle, there is a clear villain on the other side. “We’re only going to win if we always make it a contrast with oil,” said Tewes, speaking to members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) meeting in Washington DC this week. “We always have to continue to stress our positives because there are so many of them but we have to contrast that with the negative facts about the oil industry.”
Listen to an interview with Tewes here: Interview with Paul Tewes, Smoot Tewes Group
ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album
Sweden is going to be the home of a new advanced biofuel pilot plant that will use lignin as the feedstock. RenFuel and Nordic Paper are citing the facility in Bäckhammar in Värmland, and the project has been granted 71 million kronor by the Swedish Energy Agency. Using lignin from the pulp industry RenFuel has developed a method to convert the renewable residual black liquor to Lignol, or lignin oil. From there, it can be used as raw material in the production of advanced biofuels replacing both gas and diesel fuels. In addition, the project aims to assist the pulp industry with a new revenue source: waste black liquor feedstock.
RenFuel CEO Sven Lignol showcases Lignol.
“Our product Lignol is key to achieving the goal of a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. It is very gratifying to finally be able to test the product on a large scale thanks to the cooperation with Nordic Paper and the funding from the Energy Agency,” said Sven Löchen, president of RenFuel.
The pilot plant, to be built at the Nordic Paper’s pulp mill in Bäckhammar, is expected to be online in early 2017. The two partners hope that Lignol will provide a significant source of bioenergy to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and help the country meet its goal’s of a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030.
Per Bjurbom, CEO of Nordic Paper, added, “The pulp and paper industry is an important link in the bio-economy. Through such cooperation, we can concretely contribute to the growing fossil-free future. It feels extremely positive.”
ACE president Ron Alverson (2nd from left) with other members after Hill visits
Nearly 70 grassroots members of the American Coalition for Ethanol
(ACE) stormed the Hill Wednesday at the organization’s 8th annual fly-in.
ACE members participated in more than 125 meetings with lawmakers representing 36 states to convey the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and bipartisan legislation to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends.
ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol says his visits on Capitol Hill went very well. “We had good discussions, they asked good questions, generally it was a pretty positive day,” said Alverson, noting that members are much more informed about ethanol than they were just a few years ago.
There is good support among ethanol-friendly members of Congress for the RVP bill, but Alverson says the sense he got from his meetings is that very little will be done this election year. “They said probably nothing at all,” he said.
Alverson is pleased with the turn out for this year’s fly-in, which has grown from just 25 attendees the first year to 60-80 on average now. “Quite frankly, it’s hard to handle more than that,” he said. “We 60 people we can cover the meetings pretty well.”
Listen to my interview with Alverson here: Interview with Ron Alverson, ACE
ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album
A new amendment has been proposed by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that would provide a tax credit for technologies that are able to convert CO2 into products such as advanced biofuels, animal feed and biochemicals. The proposed language would create a new utilization tax incentive to complement section 45Q of the tax code, which already provides credits for the adoption of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
“We thank Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and recognition that a number of innovative technologies are coming of age that can help the United States achieve substantial, permanent reductions in CO2 while producing valuable commodities,” said Matt Carr, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization in response to the amendment. “Carbon utilization technologies are attracting broad congressional support, and common-sense policy like this can play a key role in accelerating how quickly algae and other utilization technologies will improve our energy and economic security.”
Algae cultivation is one viable way to transform CO2 into products such as advanced biofuels or biochemicals and products used in industries such as the health and beauty industries. In addition, the Algae Biomass Organization says algae companies across the U.S. are working to commercialize new technology advances that also convert CO2 to fertilizer, plastics and feed ingredients.