Shell and S&W Partner for Sustainable Biofuel Feedstocks

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S&W Seed Company and Shell Oil Products have agreed to establish a joint venture to develop and produce sustainable biofuel feedstocks called Vision Bioenergy Oilseeds LLC, which will be jointly owned by the two companies.

The venture intends to develop Camelina and other oilseed species from which oil and meal can be extracted for future processing into animal feed, biofuels, and other bioproducts. S&W will contribute its expertise in seed research, technology, production, and processing to the JV, including its seed processing and research facilities in Nampa, Idaho.

“We are pleased to be entering this JV with Shell, which leverages our seed and technology capabilities with Camelina and demonstrates how agriculture and energy can work together to lower carbon emissions by producing domestically sourced sustainable biofuel feedstocks,” commented Mark Wong, CEO of S&W Seed Company. “Shell shares our vision on the long-term opportunity Camelina provides, including enhancing farmland food production. As arable farming acreage decreases, Camelina can be a key contributor to maximizing use of every acre of farmland.”

The venture intends to start initial grain production in late 2023.

biofuels, feedstocks

NCERC Celebrates 20th Year of Operations in 2023

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This year the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville enters its 20th year of leadership in the biofuels industry. The center opened its doors in October 2003 and since that time has served as the primary location for innovation in the corn ethanol industry. Now, NCERC’s clients have evolved to include companies from across the bioindustrial manufacturing sector who benefit from its unique facility and expert staff.

After six years of operations, NCERC’s business model evolved from publicly-funded to privately-funded in 2009 through contractual research services with companies in the private sector, which catalyzed innovation beyond the initial vision for the Center. As NCERC enters 2023, its client portfolio includes companies of all sizes exploring novel ways to convert bio-based feedstocks, such as corn, industrial hemp and Municipal Solid Waste, into chemicals, materials and products that consumers use every day.

Beyond its contractual research services, NCERC also serves its clients through industry-sponsored research projects that help to tackle industry-wide challenges and opportunities. Corporate sponsorships through companies like Siemens and Shimadzu Corporation also bolster NCERC’s ability to remain a leader in fermentation research.

Last year, NCERC received $1.9 million through the Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital program by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to expand its pilot-scale fermentation capabilities. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board also contributed funding to this project and NCERC anticipates that it will be completed in the fall.

An anniversary celebration is planned for October 12 and a 20th anniversary report will be published to showcase the accomplishments of the center.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Research

What’s New With Plasma Blue

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This year marks the third anniversary for Plasma Blue, which debuted at the National Biodiesel Conference in 2020. Created by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Plasma Blue is based on a revolutionary new technology to help the biofuels industry better utilize renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, in the conversion of sustainably-grown feedstocks to oil.

“This technology is so revolutionary that it takes people a few tries to actually contemplate the fact that it works,” said CEO Tom Slunecka at the recent Clean Fuels Conference in Tampa. “We’re dramatically reducing the cost of production for biodiesel…and most importantly making the product more environmentally friendly.”

The technology drives the reaction faster than any other form of transesterification and in doing so it delivers a more complete conversion when used to combine chemicals needed to make biodiesel.

Learn more in this interview.
Clean Fuels interview with Tom Slunecka, Plasma Blue (3:08)

Audio, Biodiesel, Clean Fuels Alliance

United, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Form Ethanol SAF Venture

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United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains have announced a new joint venture called Blue Blade Energy to develop and commercialize a novel Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology using ethanol as its feedstock.

If the technology is successful, Blue Blade is expected to proceed with the construction of a pilot facility in 2024, followed by a full-scale facility that could begin commercial operations by 2028. The offtake agreement could provide for enough SAF to fly more than 50,000 flights annually between United’s hub airports in Chicago and Denver, assuming current regulations requiring SAF to be blended with conventional jet fuel are removed to allow for the use of unblended SAF.

United, Tallgrass, and Green Plains will each provide their unique industry expertise to help develop the joint venture. Under this collaborative approach Tallgrass will manage research and development of the technology, including pilot plant development, and will manage the construction of the production facility. Green Plains will supply the low-carbon ethanol feedstock, and use its ethanol industry expertise to manage operations once the pilot facility is constructed. United Airlines will assist with SAF development, fuel certification and into-wing logistics, and has also agreed to purchase up to 2.7 billion gallons of SAF produced from the joint venture.

If the technology is commercialized, the location of Blue Blade’s initial plant would allow easy access to low-carbon feedstock from Green Plains’ Midwest ethanol production facilities. While the initial SAF facility intends to use ethanol, the technology has the capability to work with any alcohol-based feedstock as its fuel source.

“Our transformation to a true decarbonized biorefinery model has positioned Green Plains to help our customers and partners reduce the carbon intensity of their products by producing low-carbon proteins, oils, sugars and now decarbonized ethanol to be used in SAF,” said Todd Becker, President and CEO of Green Plains. “This partnership with world class organizations like United Airlines and Tallgrass, shows the value creation that is possible with our low-carbon platform. The potential impact of this project is a gamechanger for US agriculture, aligning a strong farm economy and a robust aviation transport industry focused on decarbonizing our skies.”

aviation biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News

NEC Scholarships Awarded

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The Renewable Fuels Foundation announces six 2023 recipients of the Robert Sather Memorial Scholarship to attend the National Ethanol Conference. Two students and four young professionals received the honor this year.

Student scholarship recipients are Xueli Chen, who is working toward a doctorate from the Dept. of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University and serves as a research assistant at Purdue University’s Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering; and Tianbo Tang, who is in the doctoral program in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Riverside and is the lead graduate researcher for recent work on the “Comparison of Exhaust Emissions Between E10 California RFG and Splash Blended E15” report, emissions testing for E15 approval in California.

Members of the RFA Young Professionals Network who are receiving scholarships include Ben Parsley, Innovation Manager, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy; Ben Rhodes, Ethanol Program Manager, Nebraska Ethanol Board; Bailey Arnold, Director of Clean Air Initiative, American Lung Association; and Alex Stanley, Lab Manager, Ringneck Energy & Feed.

Now in its 14th year, the NEC scholarship program is named in honor of Robert “Bob” Sather, an educator and longtime Chair of the Renewable Fuels Foundation who helped found RFA member company Ace Ethanol in Wisconsin. The 28th annual National Ethanol Conference takes place February 28 to March 2 in Orlando.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to Receive RFA Industry Award

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will visit the upcoming National Ethanol Conference in Orlando next month to receive the Renewable Fuels Association annual Industry Award. Each year, the award is presented to an individual or entity who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the renewable fuels industry and the value-added agriculture sector. Gov. Reynolds’ accomplishments and determined leadership on renewable fuel and farm policy issues made her the obvious choice for this year’s award, according to RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

“Gov. Reynolds has always been a leading voice and champion for renewable fuels and farmers, but her remarkable efforts in 2022 went above and beyond,” Cooper said. “She led a bipartisan group of Midwest governors in a groundbreaking effort to secure air quality improvements and year-round E15 in their states. Last year, she also charted the course for passage of the ‘Biofuels Bill,’ which established the first statewide E15 standard in the country. Under Gov. Reynolds leadership, Iowa continues to set an excellent example for other states to follow on lower-cost, lower-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol. We are honored to welcome Gov. Reynolds to the National Ethanol Conference so we can personally present her with this well-deserved award.”

Iowa is the leading producer of ethanol in the United States and recently broke its annual production record, with 4.5 billion gallons produced in 2022. Last year, Reynolds signed HF2128, the Biofuels Bill, making Iowa the first state in the nation to adopt an E15 standard and expanding access to higher blends of ethanol. She also rallied a bipartisan group of governors together to notify EPA of their intent to allow the E15 blend to be sold year-round.

The National Ethanol Conference will be taking place February 28 to March 2 at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

DOE Awards $118 Million for Domestic Biofuel Production

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last week announced $118 million in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for America’s transportation and manufacturing needs.

“Biofuels are a versatile tool because they have the immediate potential to power our ships, trains, airlines and heavy-duty vehicles—a huge contributor to total carbon emissions—with a significantly reduced carbon footprint,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE investments are helping to build out a domestic bioenergy supply chain that increases America’s energy independence, creates jobs, and accelerates the adoption of cleaner fuels for our transportation needs.”

The selected projects include pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration projects that will scale-up existing biomass to fuel technologies with the goal of creating millions of gallons low-carbon fuel annually, as well as good-paying jobs in rural and underserved communities in nine states. The selected projects are located in nine states and Washington, DC, and focus on technologies including anaerobic digestion, conversion of cellulosic sugars to SAF, catalytic biorefining, among others. The projects also support the U.S. Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge goal of enabling the production of three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel annually by 2030 and 35 billion gallons annually by 2050.

Award amounts range from $500,000 to $80 million, with most receiving at least $2 million. Among the awards presented is $1.6 million for LanzaTech to pilot an integrated field-deployable, zero-discharge, biorefinery concept for distributed production of ethanol – as feedstock for larger LanzaJet™ alcohol-to-jet SAF facilities – and biochar for soil amendment.


States Attorneys General Push EPA for Response on E15

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A bipartisan coalition of seven Attorneys General sent a letter last week to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging the Biden Administration to follow the law and respond to the request of their Governors and issue regulations allowing the sale of year-round E15 ethanol gasoline in their respective states. The letter was signed by the Attorneys General of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Federal law permits governors to request that the EPA issue the regulations allowing E15 and requires the EPA to issue the regulations within 90 days. The governors made the request on April 22, 2022, but the EPA still has not issued the regulation as required by law.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said the AGs also wrote to Director of Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young supporting their governors and urging the Biden Administration to comply with the law and issue the regulations allowing E15 this summer.

“It’s time for the EPA to make E15 accessible year-round,” said Attorney General Bird. “Iowa led the nation in establishing an E15 standard. Now, thanks to Governor Reynolds’s leadership, we have the chance to extend the sale of E15 through the summer months in Iowa and other Midwest States. The Biden Administration needs to follow the law and issue these regulations.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper said it’s been nine months waiting for a response that should have taken 90 days. “Now, with the 2023 summer driving season just around the corner, these states are tired of waiting. It’s past time for the White House and EPA to follow through on the governors’ petition, and we applaud these attorneys general for their efforts to break the logjam.”

E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Ethanol Report Preview of NEC

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The 2023 National Ethanol Conference is coming up in less than a month now and there are so many reasons to attend February 28 – March 2 in Orlando.

In this episode of the Ethanol Report, we hear from four Renewable Fuels Association staff members about some of the panels and issues that will be explored at the NEC. Jared Mullendore, Policy Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, will be moderating a panel on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act; Scott Richman is on the panel presenting new studies that show ethanol’s environmental and economic benefits are even better than previously thought; Ken Colombini is excited about brand new consumer focus group results that will be shared, and Robert White talks about his panel on ethanol performance.

Listen to the podcast below and go to for more information about the conference.

Ethanol Report 1-30-22 30:47

The Ethanol Report is a podcast about the latest news and information in the ethanol industry that has been sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008.

Choose an option to subscribe

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Chevron and REG United as ONE

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Last year, Chevron Corporation acquired Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG), which was founded in 2006 in Iowa to become the largest biodiesel producer in the country and a big presence at the Clean Fuels Conference in Tampa.

Kevin Lucke, who has been with Chevron since 1982, was named President of the Chevron Renewable Energy Group based in Ames, Iowa. Since Lucke is a native Iowan, he was thrilled for the opportunity. “Because I was waiting to go back home to my roots in Iowa where I could have a chance to be part of an industry that’s making a difference,” said Lucke.

Why did Chevron acquire Renewable Energy Group? Lucke said to many it came as a surprise. “Chevron has a belief that the future of energy is lower carbon, so what better way to work towards that goal than by joining with Renewable Energy Group in the biofuels space,” he said.

Listen to Lucke’s remarks here:
Clean Fuels remarks Kevin Lucke, Chevron (14:24)

Audio, Biodiesel, Clean Fuels Alliance