Research Finds Sweet Potato Potential as Food, Fuel

Joanna Schroeder

Researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are looking at sweet potato vines as a source of biofuel feedstock and livestock feed. The vines are typically thrown out during harvest while the roots could serve as a source for biofuels. Post-doctoral researcher Wendy Mussoline said this could be a key finding for Florida’s ag industry and the biofuels industry at large. The research was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

UF/IFAS researchers have found a sweet potato variety, CX1, that outperformed two table varieties in field tests. They think CX1 potatoes may serve well as feed for livestock and as biofuel.

UF/IFAS researchers have found a sweet potato variety, CX1, that outperformed two table varieties in field tests. They think CX1 potatoes may serve well as feed for livestock and as biofuel.

The agriculture industry in Florida is looking to find new, viable crops to replace the citrus groves that have been diminished by the greening disease,” Mussoline said. “Potato farmers are also trying to find new crops that offer both biofuel alternatives as well as food and/or animal feed opportunities. They are conducting field trials on several varieties of sweet potatoes to determine if they are an economically viable crop that they can market.

According to a newly published study by professor Ann Wilkie and Mussoline, an industrial sweet potato variety (CX-1) may do the trick. Today 99 percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S. comes from corn or sorghum, according to the study. But scientists and business interests are considering highly productive alternatives such as sweet potatoes for biofuel. Although China produces 81 percent of the world’s sweet potatoes, U.S. sweet potato production reached a record high of 3.2 billion pounds in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wilkie and Mussoline found that CX-1 is a superior choice as a dual-purpose crop than the so-called “table” varieties – which people would normally eat — known as Beauregard and Hernandez. They determined this by putting the three varieties through multiple tests in the field and laboratory in Gainesville, Florida. The results found that the CX-1 roots have higher starch content and thus higher potential for fuel ethanol yields than the table varieties.

The study demonstrated CX-1’s value as animal feed and promotes the industrial sweet potato crop as a dual-purpose crop that could be used for both fuel ethanol — from the starchy roots — and nutritious animal feed — from the vines. Although the use of sweet potatoes in the U.S. would be new, it’s already being used as a feedstock in China and Brazil.

The sweet potato is a high-yielding crop suited to tropical and subtropical climates that requires minimal fertilization and irrigation, and the CX-1 industrial cultivar offers superior potential for feed and fuel,” concluded Wilkie.

advance biofuels, Ethanol, Research

#Biofuel Microbes Knock Out Invaders

Joanna Schroeder

A new paper published in the journal Science, MIT and Cambridge researchers at the startup company Novogy, have developed a new technique to that gives biofuel producers fermentation microbes that have the upper hand against unwanted invaders eliminating the need for antibiotics and other sterilization methods.

57a35cd7a9d54The research was led by Gregory Stephanopoulos, the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at MIT, and Joe Shaw, senior director of research and development at Novogy. They engineered microbes, such as Escherichia coli, with the ability to extract nitrogen and phosphorous – two nutrients needed for growth – from unconventional sources that could be added to the fermentation vessels.

Because the microbes only posses this advantage when they are fed these unconventional chemicals, there is little chance of them escaping and growing in an uncontrolled manner outside of the biofuel plant in a in a natural environment.

“We created microbes that can utilize some xenobiotic compounds that contain nitrogen, such as melamine,” Stephanopoulos said. Melamine is a xenobiotic, or artificial, chemical that contains 67 percent nitrogen by weight.

Conventional biofermentation refineries typically use ammonium to supply microbes with a source of nitrogen. But contaminating organisms, such as Lactobacilli, can also extract nitrogen from ammonium, allowing them to grow and compete with the producer microorganisms. In contrast, these organisms do not have the genetic pathways needed to utilize melamine as a nitrogen source, explained Stephanopoulos.

“They need that special pathway to be able to utilize melamine, and if they don’t have it they cannot incorporate nitrogen, so they cannot grow,” Stephanopoulos said.Read More

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Research

Happy 11th Birthday #RFS

Joanna Schroeder

Happy Birthday #RFS. Today is the 11th anniversary of the day the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed into law. Ethanol advocates are celebrating the energy policy stressing that the legislation provides Americans with increasing energy security, cleaner air and more affordable fuel options at the pump. Biofuel advocates are noting that in nearly a decade, the RFS continues to drive U.S. job creation and new renewable energy innovations. Following are some of the industry leader’s thoughts on the success of the RFS.

rfalogo1Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association:Passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act could not have been possible were it not for the cooperation between the ethanol, agriculture and oil sectors. The oil industry needed an off ramp from the use of MTBE, which was polluting groundwater across the country, and the ethanol industry needed a growth path if farmers were ever to realize the promise of value-added markets. Every stakeholder cheered the passage of this groundbreaking legislation, and it was an immediate success. MTBE disappeared as a gasoline additive, investments in U.S. biofuel production soared, farmers saw increased demand for their commodities allowing Congress to dramatically cut farm program costs, consumers saw pump prices fall as ethanol displaced more expensive oil, and carbon emissions from the transportation sector fell precipitously. All of those benefits continue to this day.

Novozymes_logoAdam Monroe, President, Americas, Novozymes North America:Our government challenged the biofuels industry to produce the world’s cleanest, most affordable and sustainable fuel for cars and trucks. We delivered – and America continues to benefit. The RFS is a proven winner: it grows communities with hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs; saves American drivers money and keeps billions of their dollars in the US versus going to the Middle East; and fights climate change by preventing millions of tons of carbon emissions from getting into our air. Let’s not roll back a winner; let’s let it work to its full potential. We urge the administration to maximize renewable fuel production.

growth-energy-logo1Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy:This is a good opportunity to remind the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the RFS is designed to get stronger over time, delivering a greater share of renewable energy into our fuel mix. The agency has proposed cutting RFS targets for 2017, which would needlessly undermine eleven years of progress toward a cleaner environment and a healthier, more secure America. Ethanol producers, retailers and the current auto fleet are 100 percent capable of providing consumers with a true choice at the pump, and now is certainly not the time to roll back the clock. EPA must get the program back on track and deliver on the promise of new, more affordable options for consumers.

NCGA-Logo-3Chip Bowling, President of the National Corn Growers Association:The RFS guarantees America’s leadership in the global transition to ethanol, which has cut world-wide carbon emissions 589 million metric tons over the past decade, the equivalent of taking more than 124 million cars off of the road,” said  “And thanks to innovation in U.S. agriculture, we are growing more crops on less land than we cultivated when the RFS was first enacted.

advancedbiofuelsBrooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council:Simply put, the RFS is delivering on its promise. Almost every gallon of gasoline in the country now contains renewable fuel. Consumers are gaining access to new biofuel blends that reduce pump prices, increase octane, deliver better performance, and replace cancer-causing gasoline additives like benzene. With cellulosic biofuels — the lowest carbon motor fuel in the world — now coming online, the RFS is driving innovation like we have never seen before in the transportation fuel sector.

biofuels, Ethanol, Growth Energy, NCGA, Novozymes, RFA, RFS

E10 Free Fuel Happy Hours Again at #SturgisRally

Chuck Zimmerman

Sturgis Motorcycle RallyThis is the 76th year of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The action kicked off at the beginning of this weekend before I got here. Thanks to the city of Sturgis for this photo of the American Legion Riders, Post 71. They rode approximately 90 miles from Hot Springs SD to present a flag for the Harley-Davidson Rally Point Plaza, where the grand opening was held.

Last year was a huge year for attendance with the 75th anniversary but this year is still strong judging by the number of vendor permits just in town.

Clint UnderwoodNow on to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground. Here’s ZimmComm New Media GM, Clint Underwood, at the entrance. He’s a first-timer and soaking in all the sights and sounds.

We’re here working with the Renewable Fuels Association once again to not only help educate bikers about ethanol blended gasoline but to also pump some free gas at Free Fuel Happy Hours. I’ll be interviewing bikers and others and publishing mostly on our renewable fuels website

Tomorrow is set up day before we get busy in the afternoon so it will probably be Tuesday morning before we can share much more.

biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Sturgis

Rayeman Elements Develops Cubed DDGs

Joanna Schroeder

Cute cowThey said it couldn’t be done. But done it has been. What is that you ask? It’s cubed distillers grains (DDGs). According to Rayeman Elements Inc. (REI), the company who has developed the patented product, cubed DDGs attain optimum cube integrity and nutritional value. More than five years in the making and $20 million in R&D, the company has also developed a new grain drying system that reduces the risks and costs associated with operating grain dryers.

The product was developed using the company’s new patented heating and cooling technology, patented screw geometry, compression and die design – the rest of the recipe is kept secret. This cubed cattle cuisine has several advantages over the current DDG form in that that cattle producers now have a feed product that is not lost to the ground or elements nor needs a binding agent.

Now onward good readers to the grain drying technology. REI says there are multiple risks and costs associated with grain dryers. For instance, biorefineries who produce DDGs must beware of fires, Gold Bullionexplosions, waste gas and toxic VOCs, and that’s not all. There are also costs from EPA permitting and insurance. However, says REI, all of these challenges are eliminated with their new grain drying and cooling technology.

The company says their technology is safer because it runs on electricity and only goes to temperatures of up to 250 degrees, eliminating the possibility of explosions due to the “natural gas/high heat/particles in the air” trifecta which often causes these devastating flare-ups. The capital costs of their technology, according to REI is less expensive than traditional products on the market and once operational, costs less to operate than conventional dryers. In addition, REI says VOCs are not emitted into the air eliminating in many states the need for EPA permitting while insurance is less expensive because the explosion and fire risks are significantly reduced.

REI adds, “It is technologically superior to current drying systems, as well as safer, more cost effective, and ecofriendly.”

biofuels, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, technology

Albertsons Converts Used Cooking Oil to #Biodiesel

Joanna Schroeder

In an effort to reduce its waste streams, Albertsons Companies is converting used cooking oil, created at its grocery stores, into biodiesel. The biodiesel is then used to fuel its trucking fleets. Since 2010, several of its brands in California, including Safeway, Vons and Pavilions have been fueling their fleets with biodiesel. The program is part of Albertson’s goal of reducing its environmental footprint. The company notes that use of biodiesel lowers overall emissions and cites the National Renewable Energy Laboratory whose studies have shown biodiesel can lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by up to 52 percent as compared to petroleum diesel.

albertsons-vons_14701518000675-300x300-noupOnce the cooking oil is collected, biodiesel companies then covert the oil in to biodiesel. In 2015, the company collected more than 481,000 gallons of used cooking oil, an increase of more than 50 percent in the past five years. The program has been so successful that Albertsons now plans to use the excess biodiesel produced to also fuel its store fleet served by their Brea and Irvine Distribution Centers.

According to Tom Nartker, Albertsons Companies Vice President of Transportation, “We’re really excited to expand this program to our Albertsons fleet in Southern California.”

The company continues to explore new technologies and says they have also tested several trucks based in their Southern California distribution center that run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). According to the U.S. EPA, LNG burns as a cleaner fuel compared to diesel and produces 26 percent less GHG emissions.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1According to the new global aviation fuel market 2016-2020 research report, the growing use of biofuels across the globe is one of the key factors spurring growth in the aviation fuel market. Countries are introducing mandates and policies to encourage the use of biofuels in the aviation industry to deal with GHGs. China, the U.S., and Brazil are some of the prominent countries promoting biofuels besides the EU countries, which are projected to drive the demand for biofuels. During 2015, the Americas dominated the global aviation fuel market with a 65% share of the market.
  • Evonik Corporation has recently completed a significant capacity expansion at its sodium methylate plant in Mobile, Alabama. The company has increased capacity to 72,000 metric tons per year through operational excellence, as well as infrastructure investments. Sodium methylate has become the catalyst of choice for modern large-scale biodiesel production accounting for more than 80 percent of the biodiesel produced in North America.
  • Mark your calendars for ABLCNext taking placing November 2-4, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The advanced bioeconomy is changing fast. New tech, market sectors, investors, and strategic partners are appearing every day. Staying abreast of the trends is essential. More than half the speakers this year have never appeared on an ABLC stage. They represent new ideas and technologies. They see the opportunities, just as you do. And they want to find partners to bring molecules to markets. Early bird registration is open now. Click here for more information, the agenda and to register.
Bioenergy Bytes

DTC Opens #Propane Fuel Station, Increases Fleet

Joanna Schroeder

The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) has opened a new propane fuel station in New Castle. The station goes along with the agency’s plans to increase its fleet of propane-powered paratransit buses. By FY18 the agency will operate 130 propane buses within it’s DART paratransit service. The decision was made following a two-year pilot program that tested five buses. DTC then purchased an additional 50 propane powered paratransit buses. By 2018, after adding another 75 buses, half of DTC’s fleet will run on propane autogas.

gI_87060_DART 1Our first five propane-fueled buses collectively traveled 450,000 miles with no fuel system-related failures, and saved $15,000 in fuel costs alone,” said John T. Sisson, chief executive officer of Delaware Transit Corporation during a ribbon cutting ceremony. “That, combined with the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, made it an easy decision to expand the propane program with our new private fuel stations and 130 buses by 2018.

Today DTC pays $.78 per gallon for propane autogas compared with $1.75 per gallon for gasoline.

The entire propane paratransit bus fleet is built on the Ford E-450 chassis with 6.8L V10 engine, and equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system. To date, the company has deployed almost 11,000 propane autogas vehicles to fleets across the country with nearly 800 operating in the transit industry.

This event celebrates the private / public partnership between Delaware Transit Corporation and ROUSH CleanTech,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing at ROUSH CleanTech. “The agency has chosen a clean-burning, American-made and abundant fuel to power its paratransit buses.

Alternative Vehicles, Propane

What Will Play Biggest Role in Future of Ag?

Jamie Johansen

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Is the Clinton-Kaine Democratic ticket good for agriculture and/or energy?”

I am not quite sure this week’s pollers have anymore confidence in the Clinton-Kaine team when it come to agricultural and energy issues. Clinton has backed biotech, the Farm Bill, animal welfare, climate and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). And Kaine seems somewhere in the middle. However, our poll shows a split. I suppose time will tell all.

Here are the poll results:

  • Good for ag & biofuels – 43%
  • Good for ag but not for biofuels – 0%
  • Good for biofuels but not for ag – 5%
  • Not good for ag & biofuels – 33%
  • Could go either way – 19%
  • Other – 0%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What will play the biggest role in the future of agriculture?

The 2016 InfoAg Conference is a wrap, yet we still have a bunch of precision technology info to share with you in the coming week. Jack Uldrich, acclaimed global futurist, speaker and best-selling author keynoted this year’s ag techfest sharing thoughts on what the world may look like in just a few short years. So, what do you feel will play the largest role in the future of agriculture…biotech, big data, social media? Share your thoughts.


.@EthanolRFA Offers Online #Ethanol Emergency Course

Joanna Schroeder

For first responders unable to attend in-person training courses, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is now offering an online version of its Ethanol Emergency Response course. Offered in partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and TRANSCAER, the two-hour training course covers content from the recently updated “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response.”

rfalogo1Although targeted to emergency responders, the course is available to anyone interested in ethanol emergency response. Those who take the course will come away with knowledge related to ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, including the use, chemical and physical characteristics, transportation modes, transfer operations, basics of foam, suggested responder tactics and strategies and environmental issues.

“The International Association of Fire Chiefs is very proud and pleased to continue our partnership with the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition and their online Ethanol Emergency Response Training program,” said Bob Royall, chair of the IAFC Hazardous Materials Committee. “This valuable program provides excellent ethanol training. Topics include vital information about ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, including chemical and physical fuels, storage and transportation, and health and safety considerations. The site is also a great place to find resources such as training videos, DVD extras, and a training toolkit all aimed at helping keep America’s first responders safe.

The training course is being co-funded under an Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grant received by RFA and IAFC.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen, added, “Safety remains one of RFA’s top priorities. Since 2010, we have hosted more than 170 ethanol safety seminars in 29 states, training emergency responders how to proper respond to ethanol incidences. However, there is still a need to reach a broader audience for ethanol emergency response training, which is why we are offering this online training course. It is important that those responsible for the safety of their communities are well prepared and trained to respond to ethanol-related emergencies.

The training can be found on the IAFC Academy website by clicking here. For more information on the EERC and the training being offered click here.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, safety