E85 Station Opens in Magnolia, North Carolina

Magnolia, North Carolina is the newest home of an E85 station, just off of Interstate 40. This marks the state’s 16th E85 station, but the first one funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via the Carolina Blue Skies and Green Jobs Initiative. The official grand opening took place on June 17 and 90 guests from the local community and throughout the state were on hand for the event. Special guests included Gwendolyn Vann, Mayor of Magnolia; Zettie Williams, Duplin County Commissioner; Steven Burke, CEO and President of the Biofuels Center of N.C.; and Howard Isley, Assistant Commissioner for Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In five years, 16 stations in the state have installed E85 pumps. Isley noted that, “Ethanol is one way to become energy independent. We need new agricultural markets and ethanol is one way to create one here in North Carolina.” He finds the growing number of E85 pumps in the state encouraging and believes that ethanol can help grow North Carolina’s economy.

Lounell Mainor, owner of the Magnolia Marketplace station, said having the dispenser open to the public is a 5-year dream come true. She sees the environmental and air quality benefits of using ethanol a boon for her community.

“There’s a lot of potential (for ethanol). There’s never going to be potential that we’ll produce petroleum in this county but there’s great potential that we’ll be able to grow the crops that make this fuel and that’s what’s exciting,” said Tazewell, with NC Solar Center/ N.C. State University and also the project manager for the Blue Skies and Green Jobs Initiative.

Burke added, “On one end of the gas nozzle for this E85 pump is fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. On the other end of that nozzle is North Carolina’s commitment to gain and grow biofuels. We have a whole new world in agriculture and it’s ‘biofuels’. We can’t continue to depend on oil.”

Biofuels Survive G20 Ag Ministers Meeting

Biofuels survived a challenge on the international level this week as agriculture ministers meeting in France declined to recommend countries limit production to avoid impacting food prices.

The agreement reached by the ministers mainly focuses on creation of an agricultural market information system and removing barriers to food exports for humanitarian purposes. The ministers did call for further analysis of the impact of biofuels on food availability, price volatility and sustainability. “We also recognize the importance of research and development on biofuels, including those produced through new processes or new feedstocks, non-food feedstocks and other vegetable materials,” they said in their declaration.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that biofuels development can help alleviate spikes in oil prices that impact food prices. “Furthermore, our work to support innovation in the development of non-food feedstocks and next generation renewable fuels will continue to help offset instability in the energy market, which accounts for the bulk of food and commodity price fluctuations in the past decade,” he said.

The European ethanol trade group ePURE said the ministers’ decision “recognizes the vital role of biofuels in reduction of greenhouse gases, energy security and rural development and said that there was not enough evidence to link biofuels to food price volatility. The European ethanol industry welcomes the decision by the G20 to vanquish the myth that biofuels are responsible for food price volatility.”

Genencor Releases Next Gen Cellulosic Enzyme

Genencor has announced its next generation cellulosic ethanol enzyme, Accellerase TRIO. The enzyme will help biofuel producers more cost-effectively produce cellulosic ethanol from a wide-range of renewable feedstocks including switchgrass, wheat straw, corn stover and municipal waste. In essence, this enzyme improves the effectiveness of converting biomass into sugars, one of the critical steps in the production process.

Accellerase TRIO can be thought of as an enzyme cocktail that combines into one product the ability to breakdown the glucan (C6) and xylan (C5) in the biomass feedstock into fermentable sugars. This solution increases ethanol yield per unit of feedstock and also helps to boost total production by lowering viscosity and enabling producers to process more biomass.

I spoke with Dr. Aaron Kelley, Director of Business Development for Genencor, via Skype to learn more about their new product. He noted that there are three main points he wants to drive home about Accellerase TRIO.

“One, we think it is a very significant improvement for the industry and a significant improvement for Genencor over Accellerase DUET, our last Accellerase product. So as we look across the spectrum of biomass feedstocks and pretreatments we’re seeing a two-fold reduction in the amount of enzymes needed to reach the same level of production. That’s very significant for the industry.”

Kelley continued, “We also think Accellerase TRIO is one of the most easy to use and complete products out there in the market today. It really combines all the necessary cellulase and hemi-cellulase activities to get conversion to monomeric sugars and that’s what the yeast and other things need to produce cellulosic ethanol.”

You can listen to my full interview with Aaron Kelley, where he also discusses the recent lowering of the advanced biofuels requirement in the Renewable Fuels Standard, here: Accellerase TRIO Launched

The enzyme has shown significant results across the board in feedstocks ranging from stovers to dedicated energy crops to municipal solid waste. Several companies have already been using the enzyme with great success. However, Kelley notes that while Accellerase is effective among the suite of feedstocks today, in the future, they may look at tailoring the enzyme for specific feedstocks.

The announcement has come on the cusp of the Fuel Ethanol Workshop that will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana beginning on Monday, June 27th. Kelley, who will be at the show, expects a lot of interest in the product from producers.

Boat Race to Highlight Ten Percent Ethanol

Ethanol will be in the spotlight this weekend as boat racing teams from more than twenty states will gather to compete at the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) “Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Nationals” this weekend, June 23-26 in Garnett, Kansas for a chance to break national straight away speed records using E10.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) partnered with NBRA earlier this year to help dispel concerns about the use of ethanol fuel in boat engines. “World-class events like this provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of ethanol-blended fuels, both on the road and on the water,” said Robert White, RFA Director of Market Development. “The performance of these boats and the speeds at which they race should squash any misconception that ethanol and marine engines don’t mix.”

This weekend’s races will be the first time national speed record trials have been done in over a decade. The speed to beat in the beginner class, C-Stock, is 66 mph and in the fastest class, Super E, the top speed is 96 mph in a quarter-mile. RFA is sponsoring all of the 2011 NBRA series event races taking place this summer and will be at the races in Garnett all weekend to hand out fan bags to spectators and answer questions on ethanol. Steve Gardner, General Manager of East Kansas Agri-Energy, will be among those who will be there. “As an ethanol producer here in Kansas, I am invested in providing our state’s consumers with the best fuel for their engines,” he says. “We look forward to watching the races this weekend and talking to attendees about ethanol blended fuels.”

RFA’s “Fueled with Pride” logo will be displayed on uniforms, course buoys and flags, t-shirts sold at the races by NBRA, trophies, near refueling areas of all boats, and on signs placed throughout the viewing area. Races held on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th will have a $5.00 admission fee which includes a hot pit pass. The weekend races will take place from noon -5 pm.

Domestic Fuel will also be there on Saturday to watch the race and talk to the boaters, officials, ethanol industry representatives and spectators about using ethanol in boats.

Ag-Waste-to-Energy Technology Licensed by HB Energy

Homeland Biogas Energy (HB Energy) has announced they have signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Achor Anaerobic LLC to use their “achorlytic” enzyme and digestion-inoculating technology to increase the productivity of its anaerobic digestion projects. HB Energy is a division of Homeland Renewable Energy (HRE), a company focused on producing energy from agricultural waste and they will also work with Achor to license the technology to third parties.

“With the benefit of Achor’s technology and our project design, construction and operating skills, we are well placed to develop our pipeline of new large-scale AD plants, serving our customers in livestock farming and food processing,” said Rupert Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of HRE. “Achor’s technology will enable us to build larger scale anaerobic digestion plants with more competitive economics, so that we can produce truly renewable energy while removing waste problems for farmers and food companies.”

The enzymes increase biogas production from digestible materials including animal and food wastes. The two companies are currently in the process of testing the enzyme at HB Energy’s facility in Wisconsin and preliminary indications are that the improvements are significant. HB Energy uses the ag waste to produce energy including biogas or electricity. To date, they have more than 15 large scale development projects in the works ranging from 3 MW to 20 MW.

Chris Barry, cofounder of Achor and originator of the achorlytic approach to accelerating and enhancing anaerobic digestion, added “Achor Anaerobic is delighted to be working in partnership with HB Energy. The business, engineering and planning base provided by HB Energy provides the perfect platform for the exploitation and expansion of our technology. We aim to make HB Energy the most advanced and profitable AD company in the US and beyond through enabling them to get the very best from the feedstocks available. We will work with them on innovative design and development that will be ‘game-changing’ in the field of anaerobic digestion and bioenergy.”

US Military Solar Project Completed

A solar project has been completed at Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton (San Diego) that consists of a 936 kW solar electric car port. The system was designed by Independent Energy Solutions (IES) and the system is located at Pendleton’s new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters. The solar project is estimated to produce nearly 1.3 million kilowatt hours per year and will also serve as a shade structure and cover for parked cars.

The finished project consists of 15 custom steel shade canopies, 4,352 Kyocera solar modules, 4 Satcon inverters and a customized racking system. It produces the equivalent power to 120 average single-family homes and will offset about 860 tons of greenhouse gases annually. The CO2 reduction is similar to removing 215 cars from the road.

“IES has been working with the United States military on a wide range of solar projects for the past decade – everything from high-tech experimental systems to large-scale generation plants such as this. As a woman-owned business, we are so pleased the military and our contracting partners like Harper Construction continue to take advantage of our ability to deliver and self-perform a quality product on-time and on-budget,” concluded IES President and CEO, Linda Strand.

Navy Seahawk Helicopter Flies with Algae

The US Navy has successfully flown an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter test flight using a 50/50 blend of biojet fuel using Solazyme’s Solajet HRJ-5, derived 100 percent from algae. This test flight, which took place on June 20, marks the first military aircraft ever to fly on algal-based biojet fuel. Just last week, ASTM International gave preliminary specs and approval for biojet fuels derived from renewable feedstocks including algae. Formal approval is expected sometime in July.

“We applaud ASTM International and the ATA and CAAFI for their efforts to advance the world’s newest and most sustainable fuels for aviation,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO, Solazyme. “The aviation industry has demonstrated a strong leadership position in fuel supply diversification and sustainability, and today’s announcement is a major step in its efforts to commercialize advanced low-carbon biofuels.”

He continued by noting that Solazyme is honored to be working with the US Navy and DLA-Energy to drive forward the certification and approvals needed for advanced biofuels to play a major role in aviation. “The successful flight demonstration of the Seahawk helicopter on a 50/50 blend of Solajet®HRJ-5 and petroleum-derived jet fuel marks a significant milestone in this process, and reinforces the Navy’s commitment to securing our nation’s energy supply,” added Wolfson.

Solazyme has a partnership with Honeywell UOP to refine the fuel and has been working with them since 2009 on various US military contracts. The drop-in fuel requires no modifications to current engine technology or military logistics infrastructure.

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Going Green for Ethanol

The Iowa Speedway will experience a “green out” under the lights on Saturday night with the fifth running of the Iowa Corn Indy 250, presented by Pioneer and powered by 100 percent home grown ethanol.

Officials and fans will be wearing green apparel to the first Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented under the lights, with the green flag dropping at 8 p.m.

“Ethanol is a ‘green’ energy source and our race sponsors’ corporate colors are green,” explains Iowa Speedway Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Chuck Spicer. “So, we want fans to pack the stands in a field of green to celebrate the 5th annual Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer.”

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association have been partnering sponsors with Pioneer and the speedway since the inaugural race in 2007.

“We are excited to once again showcase the power and performance of 100% corn-ethanol with the Iowa Corn Indy 250,” said ICPB Chairman Dick Gallagher, a farmer from Washington, Iowa. “We think that it is important for consumers to know we have a renewable fuel source that is grown in Iowa and if 100% corn-based ethanol is good for Indy, than it’s good for consumers.”

Iowa corn growers are encouraging everyone to be a part of the “Corn Power” team by signing up and being entered to win $100 in ethanol blended fuel. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Domestic Fuel will be covering the race once again, as well as the pre-race promotional activities sponsored by the Iowa corn growers.

Site Prep Completed for BlueFire Cellulosic Plant

The site preparation has been completed for BlueFire Renewables’ cellulosic ethanol plant in Fulton, Mississippi. The work was conducted by Century Construction and the site is now ready for the construction of the plant to begin.

“With support from the County of Itawamba and the City of Fulton and excellent work done by Century Construction, the Fulton site is ready for facility construction,” said Arnold Klann, CEO of BlueFire Renewables, Inc. “We are happy to be working with the County and City to bring renewable fuel production into reality and, in the process, create local jobs.”

Klann said his company is working on various financing options including a pending loan guarantee application with the United State Department of Agriculture.

“Itawamba County is very pleased to join BlueFire Renewables in the effort to alleviate our dependence on foreign fuels, preserve our environment and spur our economy, said Greg Deakle, Itawamba County Executive Director. “BlueFire’s first phase of construction has already created 52 jobs in Fulton and, as BlueFire moves into its next phase of construction, will create numerous more.”

When the project is completed, BlueFire will produce 19 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol from green and wood wastes collected from the local region.

Synder’s-Lance Snack Food Production Gets Sunny

Synder’s-Lance, a snack food company, has completed its 3.5 MW Solar Farm located at its headquarters in Hanover, Pennsylvania. The project covers 26 acres and is comprised of 15,092 solar panels. The solar farm has the ability to generate up to 4,453,136-kilowatt hours (kWH) and save close to 30 percent of the facility’s energy costs. The project took nine months to complete beginning last September and was managed by RMK Solar.

“This is a very exciting time in the history of our company,” said Carl Lee, president and COO of Snyder’s-Lance. “The solar farm shows the commitment that Snyder’s-Lance has made to creating snack products in a more sustainable way. Our goal has always been to make ‘better for you’ snacks and now they are also better for the earth as well.”

It is estimated that the solar farm will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 230 million pounds of carbon dioxide over a 25-year period. In comparison, the energy created from the solar field equals more than 111 million miles not driven by a medium-sized car, and more than 11 million trees would need to be planted to equal the same level of carbon dioxide reduction.