2012 Alt Clean Transportation Expo Kicks Off

Long Beach, California is the host of the 2012 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, an event that showcases alternatively fueled vehicles. One of the participants is ROUSH CleanTech, who will be speaking with consumers and fleet managers to discuss propane autogas. The company’s vice president of sales and marketing, Todd Mouw, will be speaking on May 16th during the “Gaseous Fuel Upfitters” panel. He says that their customers are seeing savings on maintenance and fuel costs without compromising range or performance.

“Fleet managers can talk to our customers who have not only realized the benefits of propane autogas, but after experiencing this zero compromise alternative fuel, are coming back for more,” said Mouw whose company is exhibiting in booth 439.

California has approved the use of propane autogas and one of ROUSH CleanTech’s customers is ThyssenKrupp Elevator who will be announcing the deployment of eight propane autogas vehicles in LA. The company will also deploy eight vehicles in San Diego with plans to operate 10 percent of its fleet with propane by 2015.

Tom Armstrong, director of fleet at ThyssenKrupp Elevator added, “When we laid out all the fuels available today, there was only one alternative fuel source that met all of our needs, and that was propane autogas.”

The ACT Expo takes place May 15-17 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Agri Process Innovations Starts Up 22nd Biodiesel Plant

In Louisiana, Agri Process Innovations has announced the startup of Oswalt Bioenergy of Lake Providence, Agri’s twenty second biodiesel plant opening. Chemical engineer Brian Mattingly led the startup for the Louisiana company. Mattingly said that this startup, which was completed in only seven days, went smoothly, largely due to good planning and coordination between APInnovations and Oswalt Bioenergy. The facility is expected to have a 5 million gallon capacity, using multiple feedstocks.

“We checked all of our instruments, motors, and control loops prior to startup, and Oswalt had everything we needed on site and ready to go,” says Mattingly.

Oswalt Bioenergy is owned by Sonny Oswalt, and managed by his son, Hal Oswalt. Both are pleased with the plant’s startup and the timing. Their goal is to have Oswalt Bioenergy ready to sell biodiesel very soon. Hal Oswalt notes an ongoing demand for biodiesel pursuant to RFS2, and says that a lack of plants in his immediate area region helped make the decision to move forward with this five million gallon per year, multi feedstock plant. He is emphatic about enlisting the proper support as one of the keys to success.

“When we started this process, we selected Agri Process Innovations because we found them to be the most experienced engineering group in the industry and the ones whose technology was the most tried and tested,” says Oswalt.

“In six days, we were up and running at full nameplate capacity with a product that passed all our testing,” says Hal Oswalt.

The Oswalts used the Feedstock Financing Program offered by INTL FCStone Inc.’s wholly owned subsidiary FCStone Merchant Services, LLC allowing the plant to operate at full capacity. INTL FCStone Inc. provides a wide variety of risk management services to assist plant operators in managing and maximizing plant profit margins.

“The past five years in the biodiesel industry have been extremely volatile” says Nate Burk of FCStone Merchant Services’ Renewable Fuels Group. He notes that the ongoing growth of the biodiesel industry speaks volumes to the dedication and commitment of companies like Oswalt Bioenergy. “FCStone Merchant Services is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Oswalts during their initial start-up and we look forward to a long lasting relationship,” says Burk.

RFA To Host Flex-Fuel ASTM Specification Webinar

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will be hosting a webinar focused on ASTM D5798 fuel specification. Kristy Moore, RFA’s VP of Technical Services along with Coleman Jones, Biofuels Implementation Manager of General Motors will lead the event on May 22 at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time.

The webinar is in response to recent changes made by the ASTM D02 committee creating changes to the ASTM D5798 Standard Specification for Ethanol Fuel Blends for Flexible-Fuel Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines. In other words, the “E85” Specification. While several changes were made the most significant improvement is the allowance of a wider range of ethanol content, specifically 51 to 83% by volume. Some additional modifications were made that will improve the flexibility for fuel blenders while still ensuring optimal performance for drivers of flex-fuel vehicles. These, along with other changes were needed to allow both E85 sales to continue as well as to broaden the use of mid-level ethanol blends.

It is important to understand that neither the definition of E85 nor the capability to blend it have been altered by this update to D5798.

The aforementioned issues will be addressed as well as what these changes mean for E85, alternative fuels, government fleets, and mid-level ethanol blends. The webinar will also address many concerns and questions that have risen in light of how marketers across the country are adopting new practices based on this new specification. For those who would like to participate, you will need to register here: http://bit.ly/JUIG3D.

Emerald Biofuels to Produce Green Diesel

Honeywell has announced a deal to license it’s technology to Emerald Biofuels LLC to produce Honeywell Green Diesel at its facility in Louisiana.  Emerald will use Honeywell’s UOP / Eni Ecofining process technology to produce an estimated 85 million gallons per year of green diesel using non-edible second-generation oils and animal fats. The green diesel is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel, making the fuel a “drop-in fuel” meaning it can be used by diesel vehicles with no modifications to either the vehicles or the infrastructure system.

Emerald Biofuels is based in Illinois and has enlisted the services of International Alliance Group to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the project.

“We are very pleased to work with Emerald in its efforts to advance the production of biofuels through this breakthrough project in the U.S.,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit. “We are proud to offer a technology solution that supports diesel production, while lessening the environmental impact of fuel production through the use of alternative feedstocks and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to Honeywell its UOP Ecofining process, which uses hydroprocessing technology to convert the feedstock to fuel, offers improved performance over both biodiesel and petroleum-based diesel. The fuel has an octane value of 80 compared with a cetane range, the measure of the combustion quality of diesel, between 40-60 with current diesel on the market. Higher cetane values help diesel engines operate more effectively.

Newport News Cuts Fuel Costs with Propane Vehicles

Converting 22 fleet vehicles to propane autogas will help the City of Newport News save $22,000 annually. The city is one of more than 35 regional fleets participating in the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program (SPADP), which provided funding assistance to help the city switch to autogas.

Conversions of 12 Ford Crown Victorias and 10 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 trucks began in October 2011 and were completed in six weeks. The autogas vehicles have already eliminated more than 6.6 tons of greenhouse gases; and since 98 percent of our nation’s autogas supply is made in America, the city is displacing thousands of gallons of imported oil by utilizing a domestically produced fuel.

“Autogas is a good fit for our fleet,” says Newport News Vehicle Services Director Bob McElheney. “We’re saving on fuel costs, reducing vehicle emissions, the infrastructure cost is lower than for other alternative fuels, and vehicle performance has actually improved. We were fortunate to receive some funding assistance with SPADP. However, because of the significant fuel savings we’re seeing with autogas, we intend to purchase more propane autogas-capable vehicles in the future.”

Alliance AutoGas partner Baker Equipment performed the vehicle conversions for Newport News, and Alliance fueling partner Phillips Energy installed a 1,000 gallon autogas tank with fuel dispenser at the fleet’s home base. The city entered into a fuel contract with Phillips, who implemented the autogas station at no upfront cost and provides year-round fuel supply.

Currently paying less than $2 per gallon for autogas, Newport News is saving a significant amount on fuel costs. Since the 22 vehicles will use approximately 18,000 gallons of autogas each year, the city expects to save about $22,000 annually. City officials were so pleased with the conversion experience and the fuel cost savings that they plan to convert more vehicles in the future.

“We were able to quickly incorporate the autogas vehicles into our fleet and begin experiencing all of the environmental, cost savings and other benefits of autogas,” said McElheney. “We made the right decision to convert our vehicles, and we certainly look forward to doing more in the future.”

IRFA Urges AFP to Get Correct Ethanol Facts

When Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held a rally in Iowa last week, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) called on AFP to set the record straight and get the correct facts out when it comes to ethanol and oil policy.

Iowa RFA“AFP’s energy policy should come with a whiplash warning,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “They start by saying the government should not pick ‘winners and losers’ and then turnaround and promote favorable tax subsidies for the oil industry. Whenever a pro-oil group like AFP comes into Iowa spreading inaccurate or out-of-date information, IRFA will be here to set the record straight.”

AFP’s website is replete with numerous inaccurate and out-of-date attacks on ethanol while hypocritically supporting oil industry specific tax subsidies, according to IRFA. Even more telling, at no time has the so-called “free market” group called for an end to the federal petroleum mandate that prevents consumers from choosing the fuel of their choice.

“AFP’s hypocrisy is astounding,” continued Shaw. “On the same page they criticize the now expired ethanol tax credit, AFP argues for the continuation of intangible drilling cost expensing. That tax subsidy can only be claimed by those drilling oil wells and has been around since 1913, the inception of the modern federal tax code. When will oil be ready to stand on its own two feet without a taxpayer crutch?”

Shaw concluded, “At the same time AFP criticizes the federal renewable fuels standard, they remain silent on the federal petroleum mandate, which forces the vast majority of consumers to purchase fuels that contain at least 85% petroleum or face massive federal fines. In reality AFP is working to keep federal energy policy tilted heavily in favor of oil.”

Congressmen Defend Ethanol

Members of Congress are exchanging dueling fact sheets about corn ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) sent an email last month to members of the House Commerce, and Agriculture and Energy Committees calling the RFS “a de facto mandate for corn ethanol” and urging members of the House Commerce, and Agriculture and Energy Committees to provide relief from alleged “unintended consequences” of the RFS. The email included a “fact sheet” blaming the RFS and corn ethanol for “wasting taxpayer money and harming consumers,” “driving more people into hunger and poverty domestically and abroad” and failing to make any progress toward energy independence for the nation.

In response, Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) sent out their own email and their own fact sheet citing the successes of the RFS and disputing claims in the Goodlatte letter.

Noting that the intent of the RFS is to “enhance energy security, reduce consumer fuel prices by diversifying our energy portfolio, create jobs and stimulate economic activity, and improve the environment” the congressmen said that “by any measure, the RFS is achieving these goals and providing tangible benefits to the American public.”

The Shimkus-Peterson fact sheet takes on each claim in the Goodlatte letter, referring to them as “abusrd” and “false and misleading” and “red herrings.” In particular, they dispute the notion that the RFS has done nothing to increase energy independence.

“In 2011, ethanol displaced the need for an amount of gasoline refined from 477 million barrels of crude oil—that’s more oil than the U.S. imported from Saudi Arabia,” they wrote. “Indeed, as a result of the RFS and increased ethanol use, U.S. oil import dependence has fallen below 50% for the first time since 1997. In 2005, the year the first RFS was passed by Congress, U.S. oil import dependence peaked at 60.3%. Subsequently, as ethanol production has ramped up, oil import dependence has fallen steadily and hit 45% in 2011, the lowest since 1994.9 Oil imports from the Persian Gulf have dropped by some 300 million barrels since 2001, while ethanol production has grown by 300 million barrels during that same period.”

National Corn Growers Association president Garry Niemeyer thanked Representatives Shimkus and Peterson for working to disseminate factual, accurate information about corn ethanol. “These distinguished Representatives demonstrated that they understand what corn growers have long known; corn ethanol provides important benefits to our economy, our energy security and to our environment,” he said.

Flex Fuel Fishermen Can Land E85 Savings

Anglers heading to the 2012 Fishing Opener this weekend in Coon Rapids, Minnesota can catch a deal Friday afternoon on 85% ethanol (E85).

The new Holiday station off Highway 10 near Hanson Blvd. in Coon Rapids is kicking off the weekend by offering E85 for an 85¢ per gallon discount on Friday, May 11 from 3-5 p.m. Those lucky enough to be one of the first 20 flex fuel vehicles in line will get E85 for just $1.85 per gallon.

“The new Holiday station in Coon Rapids is one of many stations in Minnesota that offer their customers a Clean Air Choice at the pump,” said Kelly Marczak, environmental programs director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “More than a quarter million Minnesotans have flex fuel vehicles that can use E85, and I encourage them to use this cleaner burning fuel whenever possible.”

E85 is for flex fuel vehicles only, and there is a 20-gallon limit per customer during the promotion. Fishing licenses are available at the station, and there will be other in-store specials during the event which is being sponsored by The Linn Companies, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the American Lung Association in Minnesota, and the Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team. Installation of the E85 dispensing equipment at the site was supported, in part, by funding from a U.S. Department of Energy program.

For those wanting to use a GPS to locate the Holiday station, the address is 1855 Gateway Drive, Coon Rapids.

REG Financials Strong

REG, America’s largest biodiesel producer, came out strong in its first quarter financials. Earlier this year, REG had a very successful public offering. For the quarter ending March 31, 2012 revenues were $188.2 million, an increase of 80 percent compared to revenues of $104.4 million for the same period in 2011. When adjusting for EBITDA, revenues were $12.7 million, an increase of 140 percent compared to $5.3 million for the same period in 2011.

REG’s balance sheet also remains strong with cash of $75.2 million at the close of the quarter, compared to $33.6 million at December 31, 2011.

“During our first quarter as a publicly traded company, Renewable Energy Group again demonstrated why we are a leader in the advanced biofuel industry,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and Chief Executive Officer of REG. “We grew our biodiesel volumes and revenue substantially, raised capital with a successful IPO, and made solid progress toward upgrades and technology advancements at our biorefineries. With strong demand due to RFS2, and a fleet of biorefineries able to flexibly arbitrage lower cost feedstocks, we believe we are well-positioned to profitably grow our business in 2012 and beyond.”

REG remains poised to help the country continue to ramp up biodiesel production to meet the goals set forth by the Renewable Standard Fuels.

New Tool for Energy Efficiency Education

For those looking to learn more about energy efficiency, a new educational site has launched: MyEnergyGateway.org. Hosted by the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) Foundation. The site was created to become a library of training programs, degrees and certifications that focus on energy efficiency, sustainability, green and alternative energy. In addition, visitors will also be able to research information about engineering, green building design and other disciplines.

While the site was created for students, returning military personnel and displaced workers, anyone interested in beginning or continuing his or her education in the space will find this site useful. Not only does it contain lists of education programs, but also compares tuition costs, room and board costs, student to faculty ratio, and scholarship and internship opportunities among other information.

Why this site?

In 2011, ASEP published a survey of its members and nearly 60 percent cited a lack of talented workers in the field and more than half were in the process of recruiting for open positions. The U.S. Department of Energy funded the costs of developing the site through a grant in an effort to promote the need and types of jobs in the energy sector.

“Companies and utilities involved in creating energy efficiency programs are facing a lack of talented and adequately traine candidates for jobs,” said Meg Matt, President & CEO of AESP. “MyEnergyGateway.org serves as an educational pathway for students, returning military and those seeking a career change to better understand the numerous opportunities that currently exist in energy. The website encourages users to enter the industry and quickly identify the best options to pursue.”