More Ethanol Education Needed in Tennessee

Joanna Schroeder

There is definitely a need for more ethanol education in Tennessee. I was recently traveling in the state and heard several radio commercials boasting about selling gas with no ethanol. Interestingly, all the reasons not to use ethanol, according to the radio ads, are exactly the reasons why drivers can use ethanol.

Honey's Market Crossville TN copyHere is a picture of a gas station, Honey’s Market, in Crossville, Tennessee that has signs around the station featuring its “ethanol-free” fuel. Ironically, this station also boasts that it is “American owned”.

I find several things interesting. First is that ethanol was used in the original Model T’s that were driving on the roads more than 100 years ago. And ethanol, specifically E15, is the most tested fuel in American history.

So how does a fuel like ethanol remain a fuel choice for more than 100 years if it is so harmful? If that were the case, than how has oil remained a fuel choice for more than 100 years?

Second, being an “American” owned station who only sells petroleum fuels seem counter to what an American owned station should be selling – American made fuel. How easy we forget what are troops are protecting in the Middle East.

Obviously this is just my opinion and many of you will find the same questions interesting and some of you will side with the retail station not selling ethanol-blended fuels. Bring on the debate, bring on change.

Ethanol, Opinion

Cross Country on 10 Gallons of Ethanol

Joanna Schroeder

A few years ago, September 2011 to be exact, energy.agwired.com brought you the story about Urbee, a 3D printed car that was designed to bring in the age of cheaper, more economical travel. Since then, it was tested and sent on a trip to Canada. 3d-printed-carToday, Jim Kor, who owns the company that created the Urbee, Kor Ecologic, has announced Urbee 2. This car will also be printed on a 3D printer and according to Kor, is making its way to the production line.

Urbee 2 (a bit sy-fy no?), will take about 2,500 hours to print and measure 10 feet in length when completed. It will be put onto a 1,200 pound chassis to help it achieve better mileage. BTW  – many of the new cars coming out with better gas milage are achieving this with lighter chassis/lighter weight cars.

The Urbee 2, like its predecessor, is very aerodynamic and will be powered by hybrid engine featuring a 36-volt electric motor and a maximum of 10 horsepower. Its top speed is 40 miles per hour.

The plans for Urbee 2’s expedition? To travel from San Francisco to New York on just 10 gallons of ethanol.

biofuels, Ethanol, Miscellaneous

AMP Americas Joins National Clean Fleets Partnership

Joanna Schroeder

CNG Station in Fair Oaks IndianaDuring the Indiana Greener Pastures and Beyond event today in Fair Oaks, Indiana, AMP Americas was invited to join the National Clean Fleets Partnership (the Partnership). The company helps organizations with large trucking fleets move from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG). The Partnership is run by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program.

The announcement was made during the celebration of the grand opening of AMP Americas’ renewable compressed natural gas, I65/I75 Corridor March 4, 2013. This corridor from Chicago, Illinois to Orlando Florida. is anchored on the Northern end by the CNG Stations in Fair Oaks IN, and Sellersburg Indiana. The partnership consists of AMP Americas, Fair Oaks Farms, Greater Indiana Clean Cities and the Indiana Office of Energy.

IMG_0650“As we continue to reduce emissions and fuel costs, we are committed to cleaner and greener transportation and are very proud to join this elite group that contains some of the world’s most respected businesses,” said Nathan Laurell, CEO of AMP Americas. “By the end of the year we plan to open 13 more CNG fueling stations and to lease additional CNG trucks, lessening the financial barriers for companies transitioning to CNG.” The company operates one of the largest CNG fleets in the country in partnership with Fair Oaks Farms.

According to AMP Americas, the program will enable them to further its efforts to leverage cleaner alternative fuels and technologies, to increase efficiency and cost-savings, and to reduce emissions. The Partnership offers AMP Americas access to technical information, tools, resources and opportunities for collaboration with the DOE.

In addition to expanding its CNG fueling network, the company owns renewable-CNG assets including a CNG plant that produces natural gas from cow manure through anaerobic digestion.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Ethanol High Priority for Corn Farmers

Cindy Zimmerman

cc13-ncgaEthanol was high on the priority list for delegates to the National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress policy meeting last week during the 2013 Commodity Classic.

NCGA President Pam Johnson said they will continue to fight the attacks on both the Renewable Fuel Standard and the approval of E15 in the marketplace. “We will not let these attacks stand,” said Johnson. “We know our potential to produce is very great and we know that we need to continue to build that demand.”

cc13-pamNCGA notes that even with last year’s record drought, more corn growers than ever before had yields of 300 or higher on the National Corn Yield Contest, demonstrating the ability for farmers to meet the demand for corn in all markets, including both livestock feed and ethanol production.

Johnson says growers have been hit with demand destruction because of the drought but “we hope to plant a really great corn crop this year and get some of that back.”

Of course, getting a comprehensive five year farm bill passed this year after being delayed is really the top priority for corn farmers and NCGA supports fundamental changes to farm programs that include effective and affordable federal crop insurance that will provide assistance to growers only when it is most needed.

Listen to Pam Johnson summarize issues important to corn growers at the 2013 Commodity Classic: NCGA President Pam Johnson

2013 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Audio, Commodity Classic, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA

Obama Picks New Cabinet Heads for Energy and EPA

Cindy Zimmerman

nomineesPresident Obama has announced his picks for Secretary of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency administrator. The President nominated MIT professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary and EPA official Gina McCarthy as administrator for the agency.

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen welcomed the nomination of McCarthy as a solid choice and is interested in getting to know Moniz. “(McCarthy) is knowledgeable, willing to listen, and straight-forward. She knows the EPA inside and out and has typically approached challenges with a common-sense determination to resolve them in a timely manner,” said Dinneen. “(We) look forward to meeting with Secretary-designee Moniz to update him on the state of the U.S. ethanol industry, our track record of success in fostering greater energy independence, and the exciting results of ongoing investment in next generation biofuels.”

Growth Energy
CEO Tom Buis added that “McCarty has been a strong supporter of biofuels and we look forward to working with her to bring sustainable, clean, homegrown American fuels to the consumer.” Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), said McCarthy is “the perfect choice” because she has been “very engaged on the development of the cellulosic biofuels industry and the administration of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

Back in 2009, McCarthy was one of two high-ranking EPA officials to visit farm operations and biofuel facilities in Iowa, including Renewable Energy Group‘s (REG) Central Iowa Energy biodiesel plant in Newton.

AEC, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, Growth Energy, RFA

NASA Researching Alternative Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder

NASA researchers are conducting a series of lights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of biofuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles. Research began February 28, 2013 and is expected to take 3 weeks to complete.

NASA DC-8 Aircraft“We believe this study will improve understanding of contrails formation and quantify potential benefits of renewable alternate fuels in terms of aviation’s impact on the environment,” said Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA’s Fixed Wing Project.

ACCESS flight operations are being staged from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., and will take place mostly within restricted airspace over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During the flights, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants. While the flight are occurring, more than a dozen instruments mounted on the Falcon jet will characterize the soot and gases streaming from the DC-8, monitor the way exhaust plumes change in composition as they mix with air, and investigate the role emissions play in contrail formation.

If weather conditions permit, the Falcon jet will trail commercial aircraft flying in the Southern California region, in coordination with air traffic controllers, to survey the exhaust emissions from a safe distance of 10 miles.

ACCESS follows a pair of Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment studies conducted in 2009 and 2011 in which ground-based instruments measured the DC-8’s exhaust emissions as the aircraft burned alternative fuels while parked on the ramp at the Palmdale facility. A second phase of ACCESS flights is planned for 2014. It will capitalize on lessons learned from the 2013 flights and include a more extensive set of measurements.

The ACCESS study is a joint project involving researchers at Dryden, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virgina. The Fixed Wing Project within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate manages ACCESS.

advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, Research

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Federal District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of the Ocotillo Wind project, being developed by Pattern Energy Group, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in two separate suits before the Court.  The Court granted Pattern’s and the BLM’s summary judgment motions in a case brought by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and in a separate case brought by several other parties, including the Desert Protective Council.
  • Siemens Nederland has signed a contract with Ballast Nedam and Mammoet for the Near Shore Wind farm Noordoostpolder in the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. Ballast Nedam’s contribution will consist of the engineering, supply and installation of the foundations for the 48 turbines. Afterwards, Mammoet will transport and install the 48 turbines.
  • Dominion has acquired a solar energy development project in Georgia from Smart Energy Capital and Jacoby Development. The project is to begin commercial operation late this year. Dominion’s Azalea Solar Power Facility, near Augusta in east-central Georgia, is planned to produce approximately 7.7 megawatts (AC) using photovoltaic technology.
  • RMT, a renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, completed the design and construction of 555 megawatts of renewable energy in 2012.
Bioenergy Bytes

Biodiesel Quality Reaches All Time High

Joanna Schroeder

AllemanNRELLabAccording to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) biodiesel fuel quality survey, a record 97 percent of the samples tested met requirements in ASTM D6751, the biodiesel fuel quality specification. NREL obtained B100 samples from 53 producers and 14 terminals between August 2011 and February 2011 and according to Teresa Alleman, a senior chemist with NREL’s Fuels Performance Group, the samples represented 94 percent of the biodiesel volume currently in the marketplace.

“This is a huge improvement over previous years,” Alleman said. She explained that in 2006, only 40 percent of samples in the survey were on spec, a major drop from 2004 when 85 percent met the ASTM spec. However, there were far fewer producers in 2004 with only a fraction of production capacity compared to 2006.

The 2006 quality results led to the passage of the Cold Soak Filtration Test, which she called one of the best improvements to the specification and to biodiesel quality. Since 2004 there have been 15 modifications to D6751, which demonstrates the industry’s efforts to continually improve biodiesel fuel quality.

For more on biodiesel fuel quality, including the industry’s voluntary BQ9000 quality assurance program visit, www.bq-9000.org.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel

Cellulosic Biofuels Begin to Flow

Joanna Schroeder

U.S. cellulosic biofuels production totaled about 20,000 gallons last year, way below the 500 million gallons target set by Congress. In a recent addition of “Today in Energy,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) looks at the American cellulosic biofuels industry and how production may sharply rise in 2013.

According to the brief, several companies combined to produce about 20,000 gallons of fuels using cellulosic biomass (e.g., wood waste, sugarcane bagasse) from commercial-scale facilities in late 2012. EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons in 2013, as operations ramp up at several plants. By 2015, EPA estimates that another 250 million gallons could be online by 2015.

biomasscapAlthough cellulosic biofuels volumes are expected to grow significantly relative to current levels, according to the brief, they will likely remain well below the targets envisioned in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That law set a target level of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2012 and 1 billion gallons for 2013, growing to 16 billion gallons by 2022.

As many have rightly point out, the path the commercial cellulosic biofuels production has not been straight or smooth. Several biofuel projects, including one from BP Biofuels in Highlands County, Florida, have been canceled before starting major construction. Other projects have experienced delays in their commercialization attempts. According to Today in Energy, several reasons underpin slow growth in the commercialization of biofuels; Difficulties obtaining financing in the aftermath of the debt crisis; Technology scale-up difficulties at start-up companies; and strategic corporate shifts because of increased availability of low-cost natural gas.

The brief concludes that all EIA forecasts and projections have been too optimistic as anticipated large shortfalls are expected to continue.

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Renewable Energy

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRINAlliance has been selected as a 2013 Prometheus Awards finalist in the Clean Energy Innovation and Software Company of the Year categories. The Prometheus Awards showcase Iowa’s top technology innovators and entrepreneurs and is sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa. Winners will be announced at the annual awards dinner on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
  • Lee Enterprises had added Michael Heinemann to its group of experts. Heinemann has over 13 years’ of management experience in the biofuels and alternative energy industry, most recently as a General Manager with Beacon Energy.
  • MARC-IV, a longtime technical consulting firm for the National Biodiesel Board, has announced the addition of Rachel Burton. Prior to this position, she was with Piedmont Biofuels in North Carolina for 10 years.
  • Baker Tilly Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, served as a consultant to GreenWhey Energy, Inc. in the recent closing of $28.5 million in construction and long term financing for an innovative anaerobic digester facility in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.  When completed in the summer of 2013, the project is expected to be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the United States.
  • Don’t forget to register for the Ethanol 2013: Emerging Issues Forum taking place in Omaha, Nebraska April 18-19, 2013. New speakers have been announced. Attendees can register online here.
Bioenergy Bytes