USDA Announces Support for Advanced Biofuel Plant

An advanced biofuels project in Iowa is being offered support from the federal government for a plant to make fuel from waste material.

fiberightThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan under the Biorefinery Assistance Program for Fiberight to build a biorefinery in Blairstown, Iowa.

The loan will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. The process will use a cellulosic microbe to produce up to 15 percent more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology, and reduce energy inputs in the fermentation and distillation process. Fiberight estimates the project will create 38 jobs and save 16 jobs.

”Advanced Biofuels are going commercial – and the innovation behind turning trash into biofuels demonstrates how our industry can create jobs and solve our nation’s energy needs,” says Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America. ”Novozymes is proud to be a partner to this project, supplying the enzymes to turn household and office waste into advanced biofuels. We applaud the federal government for its leadership in helping bring biofuels to market.”

NovozymesBiotech company Novozymes is one of Fiberight’s partners in the project. ”Advanced Biofuels are going commercial – and the innovation behind turning trash into biofuels demonstrates how our industry can create jobs and solve our nation’s energy needs,” says Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America.

Under the conditional commitment, Fiberight must meet specified conditions before the loan guarantee can be completed. Other funding comes from the State of Iowa. Fiberight also received a $2.5 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund in 2010. The company will work with the Benton County landfill to supply a portion of the feedstock for the project. The total project cost is estimated at $59.5 million. Fiberight, LLC was incorporated in 2007 for the purpose of converting an existing ethanol facility into a cellulosic ethanol facility in Blairstown.

USDA Launches Clean Energy Website

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week launched a new energy website to provide quick access to the agency’s energy efficiency and renewable energy data.

The website, usda.gov/energy, provides access to all USDA energy resources, including: agricultural, forestry, economic, and social data. This is done in part through a set of new complementary web-based tools: the USDA Renewable Energy Investment Map, the Renewable Energy Tool and Energy Matrix. These tools focus on USDA’s energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and projects; provide information and data to a broad spectrum of stakeholders; and empower the user with the ability to easily navigate USDA’s energy web resources. In addition, the site provides a link to all USDA state and local offices and energy resource coordinators.

The new website was welcomed by the Ag Energy Coalition (AEC). “USDA’s Energy portal demonstrates the positive impact the Farm Bill energy title and related programs are having on job creation, national security, and the environment,” said Coalition co-director Lloyd Ritter. “The Ag Energy Coalition believes Rural America will be a continuing force for change in the advancement of sustainable energy and renewable chemicals production in the years ahead. With the right policies in place, and requisite funding, the promise of a rural renaissance focused on clean energy solutions will become a reality.”

The Ag Energy Coalition includes a membership of organizations and companies representing a variety of clean, renewable energy and bioproducts stakeholders.

Texas Corn Grower Comments on Food vs. Fuel

A Texas corn grower says the “feed versus fuel” debate is based in fallacy.

Texas Corn Producers Board member Wesley Spurlock of Stratford has been speaking to groups across the Midwest explaining how U.S. corn farmers continue to grow a crop abundant enough to meet all growing demands and he has gained attention from industry publications looking to find the truth behind the headlines.

“To put it simply, growth in demand from the ethanol industry has mirrored an increase in productivity that yields larger corn crops,” Spurlock said. “We are still supplying the livestock industry with the corn that they need for feed, but we now have a market that utilizes an increasingly abundant resource to help solve our energy problems also.”

Listen to an interview with Sprulock in the National Corn Growers Association’s podcast series “Off the Cob” discussing how corn farmers are growing a larger crop on the land already in production while decreasing inputs used. During this interview, he also discusses the innovations facilitating increased yield trends, how the Texas drought plays a major role in recent cattle industry shifts, and the amazing story of modern American agriculture.

Wesley Spurlock - Off the Cob

REG Announces Pricing of IPO

REG is ready to go public.

Renewable Energy Group has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 7,200,000 shares of common stock at a price to the public of $10.00 per share.

The shares are expected to begin trading on The Nasdaq Global Market on January 19, 2012 under the symbol “REGI.” Of the shares of common stock in the offering, Renewable Energy Group is offering 6,857,140 shares and selling stockholders are offering 342,860 shares. In addition, Renewable Energy Group has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 1,080,000 additional shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any.

Additional details available from the REG website.

New E85 Blender Pump Available in Arcadia, Neb.

A new blender pump is now available at Trotter Service in Arcadia, Neb.

This E85 blender pump is one of approximately 60 in Nebraska to offer the renewable fuel, ethanol. This station will offer unleaded, E10 and other mid-level ethanol blends including E85 and diesel. Trotter Service in Arcadia is a full service station, according to the Nebraska Ethanol Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.

More than 117,000 Nebraska motorists currently own a flexible fuel vehicle which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to E85. To confirm if a vehicle is an FFV, drivers can check their owner’s manual or their gas cap for the flex fuel emblem.

“E85 is cleaner than gas. It’s produced right here in Nebraska and more and more vehicles can use it every day,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board’s Administrator. “When flex fuel drivers fill up on E85, they’re strengthening Nebraska’s economy, making our country more energy independent and being easier on the environment.”

“Giving consumers a choice is also another benefit. This new blender pump will offer flex fuel vehicle owners a fuel choice based on price, performance, and availability,” said Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager with the Nebraska Corn Board.

Sign up for the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s FFV club for updates of new E85 locations and other announcements.

Fuel Promotion at High Plains Cenex in Plainview, Minn.

Warm up with some hot deals on fuel at the High Plains Cenex Station in Plainview, Minn. this Saturday.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the station will be celebrating the installation of a new blender pump by promoting E85 fuel with an 85 cent per gallon discount. The new blender pump not only distributes E85 fuel, but also a range of mid-level ethanol blends not previously available. These fuels are also being discounted during the promotion: 50 cents off per gallon of E50, 30 cents off per gallon of E30 and 20 cents off per gallon of E20.

There will be deals for diesel vehicle drivers too including a discount of 20 cents per gallon on cleaner burning B5 biodiesel. There is a 30 gallon limit per vehicle during the promotion.

E85, E50, E30 and E20 fuels are for use in flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) only. There are approximately a quarter million FFVs registered in Minnesota. All diesel vehicles can use B5 biodiesel. Minnesota has about 360 E85 stations in the state.

Supporters of the promotion include the Olmsted/South Wabasha County Corn & Soybean Growers, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team and the American Lung Association in Minnesota, which supports the use of E85 and biodiesel fuels as part of an overall strategy to reduce and prevent air pollution.

Domestic Alternative Fuels Act Introduced

U.S. Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) has introduced a bill in the House that would allow ethanol “produced from domestic fossil fuels other than petroleum” to qualify under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

The Domestic Alternative Fuels Act would amend the Renewable Fuel Program of the Clean Air Act “to allow domestic alternative fuel to be used to satisfy a portion of the required applicable volume of renewable fuel.”

If passed, it would allow ethanol produced from domestic hydrocarbons to satisfy the RFS requirement for using conventional biofuel, such as corn-based ethanol, to reduce the quantity of petroleum used in transportation fuel.

The provision would include ethanol made from coal, petroleum coke or natural gas, pioneered by technology developed by the Dallas-based company Celanese.

Steven Sterin, Celanese Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer and President of its Advanced Fuel Technologies business, issued the following endorsement of this significant legislative development.

“Our nation’s plentiful natural energy resources, such as natural gas, are a tremendous asset and can drive the economic growth of the United States for years to come,” said Celanese CEO Steven Sterin. “Rep. Olson’s bill creates conditions under which American innovation can achieve these goals without using valuable food resources for the production of liquid fuel.”

Rep. Olson’s bill, the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2012, has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, including cosponsors Rep. Joe R. Pitts (R-PA), Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV), Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez (D-TX), and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA).

Last Day to Register for Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

January 19 is the deadline to pre-register for next week’s 6th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Des Moines, an event that no one in the ethanol and biodiesel industries should miss.

Among the highlights of the summit will be addresses by Governor Terry Branstad, four-star General Paul Kern (U.S. Army, ret.), former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and Executive Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Dr. Gal Luft. And that’s just the morning session of the summit.

Iowa RFAAfter lunch, National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe will outline the national landscape for biodiesel on the heels of a record year of biodiesel production and what to expect in 2012 and beyond. That will be followed by a panel on “Synergies of Livestock and Ethanol” moderated by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will moderate a panel representing Iowa’s livestock and corn industries that will discuss the dynamics between ethanol and livestock production. Joining Secretary Northey will be Matt Deppe with Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Craig Floss with Iowa Corn Growers Association and Randy Ives with Gavilon Group LLC. The final event of the day will be a panel discussion on “E15 – the New Consumer Choice” where Ron Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol, and Greg Emick, W & H Coop, will share what consumers need to know in preparation for future use of E15 in 2001 and newer vehicles.

It’s all happening on January 24 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at the new location of Veterans Memorial/Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines. Registration is free and open to anyone with an interest in renewable fuels. Rooms are still available at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott for the conference.

Hope to see you there!

Process Optimization Seminar Sold Out

phibroThe Process Optimization Seminar coming up February 8-10 in St. Paul, Minnesota is now officially sold out.

The event is organized by Fermentis, Fremont Industries, Novozymes and Phibro Ethanol Performance Group and is the seventh in a series that have been held in different areas of the country over the past two years. The seminars have been organized for both plant managers and operators. The number of participants in the seminars is kept intentionally small to allow for maximum educational opportunity and interaction.

If you missed this one, the next seminar will be held in the summer in Kansas City. Details will be coming soon.

Will The Ag Bubble Burst?

In our latest ZimmPoll we asked the question “Do you think there is currently an “Ag Bubble?” It looks like most think so since 66% said Yes and 34% said No. That’s kind of a pessimistic outlook don’t you think? If you think we’re in a bubble please feel free to comment on why. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live. We’re asking the question, “How will proposed changes to child labor in agriculture regulations affect farms?” Last fall the Department of Labor proposed changes that many believe could have major impacts on family farms and farm life (proposed rule – pdf). At best it seems like there are some good intentions without careful consideration of the consequences and then there’s always that “how does the Dept. of Labor interpret the rules thing.” A public comment period ended on December 1, 2011.

Here’s some language about the proposed changes from an early news release:

The proposal would strengthen current child labor regulations prohibiting agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins. It would prohibit farmworkers under age 16 from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco. And it would prohibit youth in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic, including communication, devices while operating power-driven equipment.

The department also is proposing to create a new nonagricultural hazardous occupations order that would prevent children under 18 from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.

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