About Cindy Zimmerman

Cindy has been reporting about agricultural topics since 1980 when she graduated with a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida. She is an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and 1991 Oscar in Agriculture winner. She and her husband Chuck started ZimmComm New Media in 2003. They have three beautiful daughters and live near white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

ND Plant Gets Boost

According to an AP story in the Grand Forks Herald, a proposed $350 million ethanol plant and coal-fired steam plant is getting a boost from a local economic development group. The Jamestown-Stutsman Development Corp. is investing $6 million in the effort – a $4 million grant over 3 1/2 years and the purchase of $2 million in Spiritwood Energy LLC stock.
Both the Jamestown City Council and Stutsman County Commission approved the money in special meetings this week. The 100 million gallon a year ethanol plant and steam power plant is planned in Spiritwood, about 10 miles east of Jamestown.

Partners Invest in Indiana Ethanol Plant

Central States Enterprises, Inc. and GROWMARK, Inc. have joined forces to build a new corn ethanol facility in Blackford County, Indiana. According to a news release, the facility will consume approximately 41 million bushels of corn annually, producing 100 to 110 million gallons of ethanol and 376 thousand tons of distillers dried grains.
Delta-T Corporation of Williamsburg, Va., along with their Alliance Partners of TE Ibberson of Minneapolis, Minn. and TIC – The Industrial Company of Steamboat Springs, Col., have been appointed design-build contractors. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

Biofuels and Goats

Blue Diamond Ventures Inc. has announced plans to build ethanol and biodiesel facilities in Oklahoma and Belize, according to a company release.

“As nature’s partner, we are committed to addressing the world’s energy shortages by utilizing alternative fuels made from renewable resources,” said Blue Diamond Chairman and CEO John Quincey Moaning, noting the company plans to develop processing technologies and methods to increase yields from feed stocks.

Blue Diamond plans to initially construct a 3.5 million gallon per year (MGY) ethanol facility and a 5 million gallon per year (MGY) bio-diesel facility in Belize. The company anticipates using sugar cane and molasses as the main feed stock for the ethanol. The bio-diesel will be manufactured from vegetable oils such as soy beans, canola and palm and from animal fats processed at Blue Diamond’s facilities.

The company also has an interest in goats, with plans to break ground this year on a million dollar goat processing facility in Belize and aggressively market the world’s most eaten meat throughout the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean. Blue Diamond will utilize 3,000 acres in Belize and 1,200 acres in Oklahoma for a goat ranch, research center and processing facility.

NBB Honors MU Research

NBB A group of chemical engineers from the University of Missouri has received the 2006 Glycerine Innovation Award from The Soap and Detergent Association and the National Biodiesel Board, according to an NBB release.
Dr. Galen Suppes, an associate professor at the University’s College of Engineering in Columbia, and his research team were honored at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Oil Chemists’ Society in St. Louis.
The award recognizes outstanding achievement for research into new applications for glycerine with particular emphasis on commercial viability

Mississippi Ethanol Plans

Bunge The largest ethanol plant in the southeast is planned for Mississippi. According to a release from Bunge North America, they are teaming up with Mississippi-based Ergon Ethanol, Inc. to build an ethanol plant with an annual capacity of at least 60 million gallons. “The state-of-the-art facility will provide a key link between Bunge’s grain handling facilities in Mississippi and Louisiana, and Ergon’s petroleum refining assets.”

Another Corn Fuel

Butanol According to this website, there is another fuel that can be made from corn – butanol. These folks – Environmental Energy, Inc. – claim to have run cross country last year on 100 percent butanol, getting 24 miles to the gallon with no engine modifications.
Why have we never heard of it? According to the website, production of butanol from corn and other biomass has been stymied by the lack of technology to make it economically viable. The problem has been historically low yields and low concentrations of butanol compared to those of ethanol….EEI’s patent changes everything. We are now able to produce yields of 2.5 gallons of butanol per bushel of corn.
If this has real potential, these guys need a better PR engine to make it work and need to get support from the corn growers.
Thanks to Gary Dikkers for pointing me to the website.

Editorial Ignorance

Ill Corn Illinois Corn Growers are a bit ticked about an editorial last week in the Chicago Tribune. Today’s Chicago Tribune has an editorial that contains just about every fallacy and piece of misinformation ever to see print about ethanol. This is nothing new and once again it raises the question; is it editorial ignorance or a hidden agenda driving this apparent vendetta?
IL Corn is probably not very happy with a follow-up editorial in the Trib on Sunday either. ILCG does note, however, that the news reporters at the Trib have been covering ethanol with increasing frequency and with a noticeable effort toward balance and objectivity. This phenomenon of increasingly positive coverage is happening nationwide as the media learns more about the fuel, as car manufacturers give E85 their stamp of approval, and as it becomes more readily available.

Ethanol Jackpot

PVFETalk about a big payoff for investing in ethanol! Central City, Nebraska hit the ethanol jackpot last week with a huge donation from the ethanol industry. Platte Valley Fuel Ethanol and its majority owner, Fagen, Inc., gave the town $1 million for economic development efforts. “It’s just our way of saying thanks,” said Doug Anderson, general manager of the plant. “We wanted to do something that would continue to enhance economic growth in the area.”
The 50 million gallon/year plant started operation on May 5th, 2004. The company is merging with US BioEnergy of Brookings, S.D. and recently announced expansion of the plant to 100 million gallons.

Articles about the gift are accessible only by registration from the Omaha World Herald and the Grand Island Independent.

Converting Biomass from Bull

El Toro Accelerated Genetics recently sponsored a bus tour to Green Bay, WI to visit ‘El Toro’, a Biomass Conversion Unit that converts animal waste into valuable and renewable energy products. A select group of Wisconsin dairy customers, Cashton Area Development Corporation (CADC) members and Accelerated Genetics management were given a demonstration of a working prototype of ‘El Toro’ – pictured here.

El Toro is, of course, Spanish for Bull – reason being, the project was started last year when Accelerated Genetics was approached by CADC about “managing the manure from our sire facilities in a different manner.” The corporation then embarked on a Biomass Conversion project through an Australian company Biomass Energy Service Technology (BEST). This project converts animal waste into valuable and renewable products. They recognized the raw product created by our bulls as desirable for use in this new energy recycling process. The opportunity would allow the manure from our bulls to be used in a process that would convert both the manure and bedding into a gas and a solid material, comprised mostly of charcoal.
After a successful test where Accelerated Genetics’ bull manure was converted into a gas that would be suitable for burning as a fuel and “char”, a dark charcoal based material that could have use as a fuel, filter or fertilizer, the Cashton group purchased a BEST biomass conversion plant in May.

Read more here.

Xethanol and Xiodiesel

Xethanol Last I posted about Xethanol Corporation they were California dreaming. But, back on the east coast, they’re not just dreaming about it, they’re doing it. According to a company release this week, Xethanol “has organized NewEnglandXethanol LLC accelerating its growth plans to roll out ethanol production throughout the East Coast. NewEnglandXethanol will be a strategic alliance between Xethanol and Global Energy Management LLC. Its mission is to develop ethanol production in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.”

Meanwhile, Xethanol may need to change its name to be more inclusive, since the company recently got into the biodiesel business also. According to a news release, Xethanol “entered into an agreement with H2Diesel, Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Xethanol will manage the business of H2Diesel, which is to deploy the proprietary biodiesel conversion technology that H2Diesesl owns under an exclusive license for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.”

Another New Record

RFA Ethanol production increased another 14,000 barrels per day in February to 302,000 barrels (or 12.7 million gallons). That’s yet another new record, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publicized by the Renewable Fuels Association. RFA president Bob Dinneen says, “These numbers completely dispel the myth of ethanol shortages this driving season.”

Shrubby Willow Biofuel

shrubby willow A company called Genesis in New Zealand is studying the use of a shrubby willow to produce ethanol. Genesis CEO Dr. Stephen Hall was at BIO 2006 in Chicago where Chuck met him. He gave us a call last week to do an interview over the phone about this plant and its potential as an ethanol source. Hall says salix could be a good alternative to using corn or sugarcane because of the amount of biomass it can produce and that it can grow very rapidly on marginal land. “We’re getting yields of 11 to 16 tons of dry matter per hectare per annum,” he says. In addition, Hall says salix can also produce lignin, “which can be used as a raw material for plastics or other polymers.”
I did some checking on salix and found out that is the genus name for willow and there’s a bunch of them. The one that is termed “shrubby” is the Common Osier (Salix viminalis), according to Wikipedia. That’s what I think Dr. Hall is talking about. He can correct me if I’m wrong.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Hall here: Listen To MP3 Stephen Hall (8:00 MP3)

Switchgrass on Steroids

miscanthus It’s called miscanthus and it’s a relative of switchgrass that’s WAY bigger, as you can see by the picture. University of Illinois researcher Stephen Long and graduate assistant Emily Heaton (in the picture, next to the giant grass – she’s only 5’4″) have been growing miscanthus for four years in Illinois. According to this article from Agriculture Online: In the 2004 trials, miscanthus out-performed switchgrass by more than double and in the 2005 trials more than triple. Long says “our results show that with Miscanthus the President’s goal of replacing 30% of foreign oil with ethanol, derived from agricultural wastes and switchgrass by 2030, could be achieved sooner and with less land.” Check these Wikipedia links for more info about miscanthus and switchgrass.


ADM ADM CEO ADM, the world’s largest producer of ethanol, has picked a Big Oil exec to run Big Ethanol. According to a company release, Archer Daniels Midland Company announced that Patricia A. Woertz has been selected as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, succeeding G. Allen Andreas, who remains as Chairman of the Board. Woertz, 53, most recently was Executive Vice President of Chevron Corporation, in charge of the oil company’s “downstream” operations, including refining, marketing, lubricant, supply and trading businesses in 180 countries. The press is having a field day with this, since Chevron just posted a nearly 50 percent profit increase, and it signals that ethanol is really hitting the big time. While ethanol currently accounts for only about five percent of ADM’s multi-faceted agricultural business, the company intends to increase production by 50 percent within the next two years.
Nearly 200 articles on the story come up in a Google search. Here’s a good one from the Chicago Tribune.

All Talk and No Action

It’s true that gas prices are high right now – although much lower than most other countries, except Saudi Arabia. And it’s true that we are trying to come with alternative, renewable, domestic fuel sources. But – the fact is – we also NEED TO USE LESS! We spend all of our time bemoaning the fact that gas costs so much as we fill up our low mileage vehicles and drive everywhere we go.
This article from the Washington Post would be amusing, if it were not so true. It talks about how our congressional representatives are busy blaming everyone else for high gas prices while they toodle around in luxury SUVs that get 14 miles to the gallon. Sadly, we can’t just blame Congress for being hypocritial. Anyone who drives a car that gets gas mileage in the teens is just as much to blame.
Just finding alternatives won’t solve the problem. We need to make some sacrifices and change our lifestyles.
And do it NOW, before it’s too late.
Thanks to Gary Dikkers for sending me the article.