Likis Learns About Ethanol and Engines at Argonne

Automotive expert Bobby Likis is learning more this week about the latest research into ethanol and car engines to bring to his audience on the Car Clinic Network.

“I’m amazed at all the research and development going on with new fuel technology with all sorts of engines to include hydrogen, ethanol, ethanol blends, diesel and dual fuels,” he said during an interview after visiting Argonne National Laboratories. “Renewable fuels and engines that can use them are a fact of our future.”

Likis is pictured here with Forrest Jehlik, Argonne Research Engineer, checking out one of the test cells at the lab.

Likis recently announced a partnership with the Renewable Fuels Association to help educate other car enthusiasts and the general public about the use of ethanol as a motor fuel. “My colleagues, the technicians of the world, and my peers need to be aware so that when they meet face to face with car owners they can give the correct advice as to the benefits that ethanol provides,” he said. “In my 21 years as Car Clinic Network, it has been my goal to share what information and education that I’ve learned in my lifetime.”

Likis says one experience that has stuck with him was the oil embargo of the ’70s which opened his eyes to the need to diversify our motor fuel supply. “We have to open our minds to a solution to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Car Clinic host will be visiting Ricardo Inc., a transportation engineering consultancy which has done a great deal of research into the use of E15 in older model cars and the need for higher octane fuels to meet growing needs for fuel economy and emissions reductions.

Listen to an interview with Bobby Likis on the road here: Automotive Expert Bobby Likis

GROWMARK Celebrating History Built on Energy

GROWMARK has two reasons to celebrate this year – the International Year of the Cooperative and GROWMARK’s 85th anniversary.

“The cooperative obviously has evolved a lot over those 85 years,” says Dan Kelley, Illinois farmer and president of the GROWMARK Board of Directors. “Energy is still a main part of GROWMARK’s product distribution. Nearly half of our sales continue to be in the energy area – diesel fuel, soy diesel, ethanol and a variety of lubricants as well.”

The history of GROWMARK is charted from the time its predecessor Illinois Farm Supply was incorporated as a cooperative in 1927 to help farmers maintain an economical and reliable supply of fuel surfaced for the newfangled tractors that were rapidly replacing horses on farms.

Dan says they are pleased that the United Nations coincidentally chose this year as the International Year of the Cooperative. “We have adopted the logo of the International Year of the Cooperative logo,” he said, noting that the design illustrates the principle of cooperatives, showing how individuals working together can do what no one can do by themselves.

Listen to my interview with Dan Kelley here. GROWMARK President Dan Kelley

USDA Funds Rural Energy Projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) under the 2008 Farm Bill.

Vilsack says the REAP program has helped fund over 6,000 projects over the last three years. “Over 4300 energy efficiency projects, over 1000 solar energy projects, 325 wind projects, 52 anaerobic digesters, 24 biofuel and biodiesel projects, 162 geothermal projects and 22 hybrid projects,” said the secretary.

The REAP funding announced today includes projects that incorporate solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, as well as biodiesel and ethanol. There are a couple of projects that will fund blender pumps that might help get sales of 15% ethanol moving now that EPA has given final approval to allow that fuel in the marketplace. Blender pump grants were awarded in Georgia and Missouri.

DF Cast: What’s in the Farm Bill for Biofuels?

The U.S. Senate has passed its version of the Farm Bill… or as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack likes to call it by its more proper name, Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, because of its all-encompassing nature (he even “fines” people in his office $1 for every time they give the shortened, less encompassing name)… and it is off to the House for consideration sometime after the 4th of July break.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear about some of the programs seen as good for renewable energy that survived in the Senate’s version of the bill, as well as comments from some key lawmakers and Vilsack on the importance of these provisions.

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

China Drops Anti-Dumping DDGS Case

China‘s commerce ministry is ending an 18-month anti-dumping investigation into imports of the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains (DDGS), offering the opportunity to bring U.S. exports back up as it means no anti-dumping tariffs will be imposed.

China’s imports of DDGs dropped by nearly half last year compared to 2010 when they topped 2.5 million metric tons, up 385 percent over the previous year. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Dorr says U.S. exports to China have already shown an increase this year over last in anticipation of this decision. “Imported DDGS from the U.S. the first four months, January through April of 2012, are up about 84% over 2011,” Dorr said in a press conference this morning. “We think people were sensing that this may be the outcome and were willing to take the risk that there probably would not be tariffs imposed.”

Dorr gave special recognition to Ray Defenbaugh, President and CEO Big River Resources, for his help during the investigation. “One of his plants was selected for the investigation phase of the case,” said Dorr. “He was very supportive of dealing with this issue head-on which helped everyone.” The three plants originally chosen for the investigation were Big River, United Wisconsin and Golden Grain.

Peterson Skeptical of Cellulosic Ethanol

The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee has doubts about whether cellulosic ethanol will ever be commercially viable.

“I just don’t think that cellulosic will ever be commercialized,” Congressman Collin Peterson said during an interview with Domestic Fuel reporter Chuck Zimmerman after he talked to members of the American Seed Trade Association meeting in Washington Wednesday. “And it’s become a problem. I mean, the Solyndra thing … it’s become politicized.”

Peterson said he believes algae has some potential, but with too many alternative energy plans, the economics don’t work without government support. And he points out that the government is broke.

Peterson said the House Ag Committee will be marking up the Farm Bill the week after the 4th of July. It will be interesting to see which renewable energy measures he supports in the Senate’s bill and which ones survive the process.

Listen to Chuck’s conversation with Peterson here:
Rep. Collin Peterson interview

Importance of Fuel Quality Management

Maintaining the quality of fuel stored commercially or on the farm has a lot to do with making sure the storage equipment is keeping the fuel clean and dry.

That’s why GROWMARK’s energy division stresses good storage tank maintenance to farmers. “Engine manufacturers as far back as the 1930s said the number one thing to do with all fuel is to keep the fuel dry and clean,” said Ken Reichert, GROWMARK Refined and Renewable Fuels Sales Manager. “That’s even more true now and critically true for today’s engines.”

Reichert notes that today’s diesel engines in particular have fuel injection systems that utilize very tight tolerance on the injectors that are electronically controlled. “So they just can’t tolerate any foreign material, oxidized fuel or water, getting into the system,” he said.

GROWMARK has found that there are lots of on-farm and commercial storage tanks that are decades old, which can lead to contaminants that naturally occur over time, but Reichert says the increasing use of biodiesel blends does not require any type of special handling. “In general, biodiesel is the same of any other fuel as far as managing quality, protecting it from dirt and water,” he said.

Reichert says GROWMARK and the FS System recently introduced the latest formulation of their flagship fuel, Dieselex Gold, which deals with the tighter injection tolerances and updates the oxidation inhibitor, something that is especially important with biodiesel blends. “Biodiesel has a little less oxidative stability than regular diesel,” said Reichert. Dieselex Gold also has a demulsifier to help fuel shed out of water faster, which helps if water gets in a tank.

Listen to my interview with Ken Reichert here: Interview with Ken Reichert, GROWMARK

Death of Ethanol-Killing Amendment Welcomed

A measure that would have killed ethanol and other renewable energy programs under the Farm Bill was stopped today in Washington, D.C. Senator Pat Toomey’s amendment to the Farm Bill that would have repealed the Biorefinery Assistance Program went down to defeat in a bipartisan 63-33 count. The vote was welcomed by Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis:

“The Biorefinery Assistance Program is instrumental in the production of the next generation of ethanol. This program is in place to foster innovation and American excellence. By rejecting this amendment, the Senate has clearly shown they understand the importance of advanced biofuels and the benefits of cleaner air, job creation and energy security.

“American made ethanol is critical to reducing our addiction to foreign oil and vital, if we are serious about energy independence. Not only does ethanol contribute to our energy security, but its production spurs economic growth, creating jobs and revitalize areas that are lacking in economic opportunity.”

Buis urged House members to follow the Senate’s lead in supporting renewable energy measures in the Farm Bill.

Will You Buy 15% Ethanol for Your Vehicle?

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Does Your Business Have an Interest in Pinterest?”

Our poll results: Thirty-one percent said Yes, part of our marketing plan or just figuring it out; thirty-one percent said No, no application for us; and thirty-eight percent knew nothing about Pinterest.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Will you buy E15 for your MY2001 or later car if it’s offered?” The EPA has given its approval for the first retailers to sell 15% ethanol blended fuel. E15 is a legal fuel for sale to cars, pickups and SUVs made since 2001. Here’s some more background on E15. Sales could start this week in Iowa, Illinois and/or Kansas. What do you think?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.

G20 Blasted for Not Lowering Oil Subsidies

As the G20 summit wraps up in Mexico and many of the members head off to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the group is being blasted for its failure to reduce the amount of subsidies for crude oil. This press release from the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) says a new Oil Change International report shows that oil subsidies are expected to double to $660 billion by 2020:

“It is not surprising that the G20 has been unsuccessful in reducing fossil fuel subsidies when 9 months ago the IEA stated that oil subsidies were set to more that double in only a decade’s time,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance.

“The GRFA has repeatedly called on G20 leaders to shift their policy focus from subsidizing oil consumption towards developing biofuel – friendly policies that are proven to reduce our crippling reliance on fossil fuels. Currently, according to the Institute for Energy Research, oil subsidies completely dwarf any economic incentives to promote renewable fuels – this must change” stated Mr. Baker.

“The failure to reduce oil subsidies highlights the stranglehold oil companies have on our domestic energy policies. The G20 needs to do more to eliminate these staggering subsidies to the wealthiest industry on the planet,” added Mr. Baker.

The press release goes on to say that G20 nations have been more focused on changing their definitions of subsidies than their policies towards them.