How to Ensure Biofuel Crops Don’t Become Weeds

Joanna Schroeder

A Virginia Tech researcher, along with several others, have offered a way to ensure that plants grown for biofuels do not become an invasive weed. According to Jacob Barney, an assistance professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, careful introduction of new species for production of more energy per acre is increasingly critical, as is the evaluation of new or bioengineered plants for agricultural or horticultural uses.

L_030613-cals-jacobbarneyThe article, “Navigating the ‘Noxious’ and ‘Invasive’ Regulatory Landscape: Suggestions for Improved Regulation,” published in BioScience proposes a way to improve and streamline the regulatory methodology for evaluating the invasive potential of plants, especially biofuel feedstock. Biofuels are increasing in economic and ecological importance, said Barney, as the RFS continues to be implemented.

“We did this analysis to draw attention to state noxious weed lists and to suggest ways to help prevent additional plants from escaping cultivation and potentially becoming noxious or invasive species,” said Barney.

“According to our analysis, current noxious weed laws do not provide adequate protection to prevent invasions in natural areas, and we have a shared responsibility for proper stewardship of these landscapes,” said Lauren Quinn a research associate at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois-Urbana, and the lead author of the study. “Going forward, it will be essential to base legal reforms on an awareness of this responsibility and, more importantly, on a rational public dialogue that includes sound science.”Read More

advance biofuels, Research

Biofuels Beltway Fly-in Getting Ready for Take Off

Joanna Schroeder

ACE Biofuels Beltway LogoThe plane is starting to fill up for the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Biofuels Beltway Fly-In in Washington, D.C. but there is still room! The event takes place on March 13-14, 2013 and the goal is to meet with dozens of key leaders and Congressional members to tell them personal stories about the benefits of ethanol.

“ACE has more than 40 grassroots ethanol supporters from 10 states registered to participate in the fly-in next week,” says Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE. “Meetings have been requested with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and Capitol, particularly Representatives on key committees and those new to Congress. We are looking forward to an exceptional event; the fly-in is the single best way for our members to share their story and impress upon Congress just how much the RFS has delivered for our country, and how important it is to maintain it..”

Earlier this week the President nominated MIT professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary and EPA official Gina McCarthy as administrator for the agency. Here are two more people that the industry will need to work with to help ensure the RFS and E15 both continue to roll out and both are on the invitation for meeting list for the Biofuels Beltway Fly-in.

All ethanol advocates are invited. Register now. DomesticFuel will be there. Will you?

To participate, visit, or contact Shannon Gustafson at (605) 334-3381 ext. 16 or via email.

ACE, biofuels, Biofuels Beltway, Ethanol

NW-REI Offers Wind Turbine Training

Joanna Schroeder

Northwest Renewable Energy Institute (NW-REI) is offering a Wind Turbine Technician program and is hosting three free informational sessions on the program this month: Tuesday, March 5th at 7:00 pm; Saturday, March 9th at 10:30 am; and Saturday, March rei-site-work23rd at 10:30 am. According to the U.S. Department of Energy energy map of installed wind capacity, Oregon and Washington are two of the top states in the country for wind energy use.

“This school has afforded me the chance to pursue a positive career change that fits in with my lifestyle and plans for the future. This field is growing and I can see it continuing to grow,” said Stephanie Staggs, a recent graduate of the program. “I love the accelerated program — it’s challenging, fast paced and very hands-on. The instructors are amazing and really work hard at helping you every step of the way.”

With green energy in high demand, NW-REI’s says its in-depth technical training and valuable on-the-job experience provides the tools necessary for success in this fast-growing industry. The program takes students out of a classroom and puts them 300 feet into the air on a wind turbine. Students can expect an innovative approach to wind turbine training that will include classroom-based training, computer-based training and hands-on training. The green energy training programs teach the technical skills necessary to service, repair, and maintain wind turbines.

Click here for additional information regarding NW-REI.

Alternative energy, Education, Electricity, Energy, Wind

Love’s Expanding CNG Network

Joanna Schroeder

Love’s Travel Stops is expanding its fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations to service Class 8 trucks. The corridor between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas will soon include eight new CNG pumps and should be operational by the fourth quarter of this year.  Love’s will add fast-fill CNG to the following locations in Texas: Ft. Worth – gI_63424_LovesCNG fueling laneI-35 W, Exit 40; Dallas – I-35/I-20, Exit 466; Rockwall – I-30, Exit 283; Willis – I-45, Exit 95; Houston – 610 Loop, Exit 24A; Katy – I-10, Exit 737; San Antonio – I-35, Exit 144; and Seguin – I-10, Exit 604.

“The major interstate corridors between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are ideal locations to place fast-fill CNG for adopters of this natural-gas alternative,” said Jon Archard, director of fleet sales at Love’s. “A typical Class 8 truck can cover up to 450 miles after filling up with CNG, so Love’s locations near these three metro areas make sense. A gallon equivalent of CNG is significantly less than a gallon of diesel or LNG, so the drivers and fleets running on CNG see dramatic cost benefits.”

Love’s began offering CNG for light-duty and consumer vehicles at locations in Oklahoma in 2010. In 2012, the company opened its first fast-fill CNG dispensers for heavy-duty trucks at the Love’s Travel Stop off Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City.

“At our existing location in Oklahoma City, drivers are experiencing fill times comparable to fueling with diesel,” added Archard. “Speed is a top priority for Love’s because our fast-fill CNG dispensers are located on our diesel islands. We are focused on our customers and know professional drivers need to fuel quickly and get back on the road.”

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Fat Worms Play Role in Algal Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder

Fat worms confirm are playing a role in improved biofuel and animal feed production.

Catapillar's on Arabidopsis thaliana plantsResearchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have successfully engineered a plant with oily leaves, a feat that could improve biofuel production. The research was led by Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology along with a team from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

The results of the study were published in the journal, The Plant Cell, and show that researchers could us an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in it leaves. This is uncommon for most plants.

To date, little research has been done to examine the oil production of leaves and stems because in nature, most plants don’t store lipids in these tissues.

“Many researchers are trying to enhance plants’ energy density, and this is another way of approaching it,” Benning said. “It’s a proof-of-concept that could be used to boost plants’ oil production for biofuel use as well as improve the nutrition levels of animal feed.”Read More

advance biofuels, algae, Research

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, 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