Algae for $2 Per Gallon

Joanna Schroeder

AFS BioOil has conducted initial tests on its algae production system, and the company states that they will be in the $2 per gallon range of production at commercial scale. For advanced biofuels, commercial scale is at least 1 million gallons per year of production.

“The next project for us is one to three million gallon/yr system,” said CEO Vadim Krifuks. “We are putting all our efforts in preparing to execute it.”

Krifuks said his company is looking for partners around the world to join them in their development. Most recently, the company partnered with a renewable electricity company that has the technology to convert waste heat into electricity at a cost of  6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).  Krifuks believes they can reduce the cost by another 2 cents per kWh.

The next step in this project is for the two companies to combine electricity production with biodiesel production into one facility. The two companies are laying the plans for a 5 MWe renewable electricity and 1 to 3 million gallons per year of biodiesel project. The design stage is underway and the project scope will be released later this year.

advance biofuels, algae, Biodiesel, Electricity, Waste-to-Energy

RFA Debuts New Open Road Ad

Chuck Zimmerman

A new ethanol ad has debuted that focuses on the fact that ethanol is saving consumers at the pump.

Following on the success of its long-running “Right Here, Right Now” ads, the Renewable Fuels Association is debuting a new ad which focuses on ethanol’s ability to lower gas prices at the pump and offer consumers relief in a difficult economy.

The “Open Road” campaign is the first of its kind, focusing on ethanol saving consumers money at the pump and improving overall engine performance. In 2011, the ad points out, the use of ethanol helped reduce the average price of gas by $1.09, saving American families $1,200 over the year. Additionally, as a high octane additive, ethanol helps car engines run cleaner and reduces engine knock and pinging.

Ethanol, RFA, Video

MotorWeek Features Green Ice

Joanna Schroeder

Where else would you find a green Zamboni than in Minnesota? Not even sure what a Zamboni is? It’s the machine used  to resurface ice (think hockey rink). Well these creatures have gone green, and not just the paint color. Brooklyn Park has purchased two electric Zambonies featuring a lead acid battery pack. They, along with other greening efforts of the city, have been featured on MotorWeek’s long running series on PBS.

Other green features of Brooklyn Park? With a grant from the Department of Energy, in partnership with the Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, more than 100 police, fire and other various city vehicles are running on E85 and biodiesel.

You can learn more by watching the segment in full.

Biodiesel, E85, Electric Vehicles

Ethanol Producers Adapt to Drought, Corn Prices

Joanna Schroeder

Nebraska ethanol producers are responding to a tough market.  With excessive drought conditions and nearly record high corn prices, ethanol producers have decreased their consumption in recent weeks. Latest estimates show the state’s ethanol plants operating at approximately 70 percent of capacity. This is a significant drop from 2011 when plants were running at 100 percent. In 2012, Nebraska ethanol plants produced more than 2 billion gallons.

“This slowing of production is a natural response to drought related market forces and will not preclude the industry from achieving Renewable Fuel Standard benchmarks,” said Steve Hanson, Chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “Higher than normal ethanol stocks and a large number of existing RIN credits for U.S. refiners combine to make RFS standards achievable well into 2013.”

Hanson has stressed what others in the industry have: that according to a study by Iowa State professor Bruce Babcock, a total waiver of the RFS would only reduce corn prices by less than 5 percent and cause only a 5 percent reduction in ethanol production. Livestock and poultry producers have been calling for a RFS waiver, but Hanson noted that dried distillers grains, a bi-product of ethanol production, are still an important and affordable feed option for animals.

“The RFS was created to reduce U.S. petroleum imports and it has done so very effectively,” continued Hanson. “In 2011, 14 billion gallons of domestically produced ethanol replaced 13% of oil imports and reduced the nation’s trade deficit by $50 billion. For the first time in decades, less than half of U.S. petroleum demand was imported. In addition, Nebraska motorists saved more than $50 million in fuel costs due to the lower price for ethanol fuels.”

Lastly, Hanson praised the ethanol industry for creating quality jobs and a more diverse tax base in small communities where many of the ethanol plants are located. A study conducted by Dr. Ken Lemke, chief economist at NPPD, says 7,700 Nebraskans are employed directly and indirectly as a result of the ethanol industry. State and local governments receive more than $50 million dollars in tax revenues and $250 million is added to household incomes in the state.

corn, Ethanol

Novozymes & Fiberight Produce Biofuel from Trash

Joanna Schroeder

Fiberight has announced it has received key federal approval for its production process. The company, who has enlisted Novozymes as a partner, has developed technology to convert non-recycled municipal solid and industrial wastes into advanced biofuels. To achieve federal approval, the company proved its ability to separate recyclable paper, cardboard, plastics, rubber, textiles, metals and glass wastes from organic materials such as food waste.

“The days of waste ending in a landfill are gone,” said Craig Stuart-Paul, Fiberight Chief Executive Officer. “We are giving trash a new beginning – firing our plant and fueling cars and trucks – and providing a less expensive, domestically-made energy source for the country.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to Fiberight to be one of the first cellulosic biofuels producers to begin producing fuel at commercial scale. According to a company statement, Fiberight is nearing commercialization of advanced biofuels, spurred by the mandates required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

The company’s first plant online will be in Lawrenceville, Virginia in which $20 million has been invested. Once running at full production, the facility will produce nearly 1 million gallons per year. The plant is currently focused on putting the enzymes to work to break down the trash.

The next step is to bring a larger-scale commercial facility online in Blairstown, Iowa with a target date of 2013. The Blairstown facility will have capacity to produce six million gallons per year.

advance biofuels, Waste-to-Energy

Midwest Governors Calls for More B20 Use

Joanna Schroeder

In a letter, the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) has asked diesel engine and vehicle manufacturers to support the use of B20 (20 percent biodiesel + 80 percent diesel) in all diesel run equipment. The call is joined by the Iowa Biodiesel Board along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is the Chair of MGA.

“As Governors, we see increasing the use of biodiesel as an important part of diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio,” the MGA said in the letter sent to 23 automakers and Original Equipment Manufacturers. “We will continue to encourage policies that will expand consumer access to higher blends of biodiesel…It is our firm belief that companies that support B20 will capture market share from those companies that choose not to support B20—especially in the Midwest.”

As states pass policies mandating the use of higher blends of biodiesel, equipment manufacturers will need to produce equipment that is designed for higher blends of biodiesel. Today, more than 65 percent of engine and equipment manufacturers support B20.

The letter outlines several other key reasons why supporting use of B20 is the correct action to take:

  • More than 13 states are encouraging use of higher biodiesel blends from B2–B20 through a variety of state policies.
  • The use of biodiesel reduces emissions as well as reduces the need for imported oil.
  • The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) calls for the use of 1 billion gallons of advanced biofuels in 2012 (biodiesel is categorized as an advanced biofuel) and increased the use up to 5 billion gallons per year by 2020.
Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board added his organization’s support greater use of higher blends of biodiesel. “This united call to action from 10 governors is an extraordinary show of support for B20, and we commend them for their bold leadership.”
advance biofuels, Biodiesel

New Ethanol Plant Opens Amidst Drought

Joanna Schroeder

Despite raging concerns about the effect the worst drought of 50 years on the corn harvest, the former Bionol ethanol plant in Pennsylvania is back up and running after being purchased by Zeeland Farm Services (ZFS). Production began last month at the now named Pennsylvania Grain Processing LLC and is producing ethanol, dry distiller’s grains and other products.

Nearly all of the former employees of the plant were brought back and there are plans to hire additional employees. Cliff Meeuwsen said the plant is up and running at full capacity. ZFS also owns and operates corn and soybean processing plants in Nebraska and Michigan and is no stranger to operating agricultural businesses in times of challenges.

Even when corn prices are not through the roof and various industries (i.e. livestock, ethanol, etc.) are competing for corn, not much corn is grown in the state; therefore, the plant, as well as producers, must ship corn to the state to meet needs.

Yet Meeuwsen said there’s ample corn to meet both the ethanol plant’s needs as well as other needs. “We’ve gotten a good corn supply from the farm people around here,” Meeuwsen said in an interview with Pittsburg Business Times. Meeuwsen has been in the industry for 60 years. He noted this is the worst drought he has experienced since 1988.

“Ethanol has seen its ups and downs before, and although this time frame is going to be very tough on it and the margins are very bad, a great many of them will survive,” he said. “And when there is corn aplenty again, ethanol will continue to make sense. I think the industry will then go forward.”

biofuels, corn, Ethanol

Carrots Go From Orange to Green

Joanna Schroeder

If carrots go green will they still help your eyesight? You bet. Grimway Enterprises, the largest carrot grower in the U.S., is going solar with plans to install 3.4 megawatts of solar energy. Grimway will be installing solar projects at five of its production sites located throughout San Joaquin Vally in California. Construction is underway at three of the sites and when completed each facility should generate 1.15 MW of energy. A total of 4,760 Conergy PM 240 Watt solar modules will be used.

“Conergy is as committed to quality standards and environmental sustainability as we are and that’s one of the reasons we chose Conergy as a partner,” said John Noland with Grimmway. We are very happy with the team of Conergy and their local Construction Management partner SC Anderson, their professional attitude, attention to detail and expertise. I expect the additional solar plants to be as successful as the first – completed on time and in budget.”

Electricity, Energy, Solar

GROWMARK Picks Up 1st Truckload of Biodiesel at Ohio Terminal

Joanna Schroeder

GROWMARK’s network fuel supplier Trupointe Cooperative Inc. picked up the first truckload of biodiesel at the new New Lebanon Ohio Terminal owned by the Renewable Energy Group (REG). The facility is located outside of Cincinnati. The facility is producing REG-9000 branded biodiesel produced from natural oils, fats and greases and meets or exceeds ASTM quality specifications for biodiesel.

“GROWMARK and Trupointe Cooperative Inc. have been advocates for biodiesel utilization for many years,” said Gary Haer, VP of Sales and Marketing at. We look forward to growing our relationship with GROWMARK and its other cooperatives in the future. This Ohio terminal offers great opportunity for blenders like GROWMARK and Trupointe to expand their biodiesel offerings in preparation for harvest or to meet summer over-the-road diesel demand.”

Brigette Harlan, Renewable Fuels Product Manager for GROWMARK said they are pleased to take the first truckload of biodiesel from the new facility, and REG has been a valuable partner for many years. “REG is dedicated to quality and to the best possible customer experience which is very important to our customers like Trupointe Cooperative who are receiving this truckload. We appreciate and share that commitment as we all grow and help the marketplace understand the benefits of using biodiesel.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, GROWMARK, REG

Argentina Ups It’s Ethanol Game

Joanna Schroeder

Argentina is upping its ethanol game with the announcement that ICM has contracted with ACA Bio Cooperative Limitada (ACA Bio) to design a 40 million gallon per year (MGY) dry-mill corn ethanol plant. The biorefinery will be located on the outskirts of Villa Maria, a city in the central province of Cordoba. Project completion is expected in early 2014.

Last year the Argentinean government announced an ethanol supply quota to ACA Bio of 125 million litres per year. Experts anticipate that in 2013, producers in the country will produce at least 400 million litres, a country record. With a positive outlook on ethanol via governmental support, the biofuels industry continues to grow. Also making it an opportunistic market, the country has a vast supply of feedstocks and existing processing infrastructure.

“We’re thrilled to announce our latest global expansion project into Argentina, and we look forward to continued collaboration with ACA Bio to support the economic growth of the region by providing our process technologies and services to advance renewable energy,” said ICM President Chris Mitchell.

In addition to producing ethanol, the facility will produce several co-products including wet and dry distillers grains, a much needed food product because the country has large dairy and feedlot industries. The plan is to keep the majority of fuel and feed produced for use in the country.

“As the process design and technology company that has provided engineering, construction and operational services for 102 ethanol plants in North America, ICM is excited to expand into South America,” added Kevin Endres, ICM Director of International Business Development. “We value the opportunity to collaborate with ACA Bio, and continue to expand our global business strategy in the Americas and beyond. ACA Bio’s strong farmer cooperative and leadership will promote the use of grains to increase ethanol production capacity in Argentina, and we look forward to supporting biofuels production and sustainable development in this region.”

corn, Ethanol, International