As always, it’s a challenge to keep up with all the ethanol plants being opened, planned, expanded, etc. But, here’s some of the latest in a nutshell.
Illinois - Johnson Grain has announced it will build a 200 million gallon capacity plant near Springfield, IL (Belleville News Democrat-AP)
Minnesota – Highwater Ethanol, LLC is planning a 50 mgy plant in southwestern MN. (Grand Forks Herald-AP)
Iowa – Three plants proposed within 50 miles of Sioux City in “ethanol frenzy.” (KTIV news)
Colorado – Plans for at least four new ethanol production plants in Colorado are continuing despite the governor’s veto of an ethanol mandate bill. (Fort Morgan Times)
North Carolina – Groundbreaking for the ethanol-production facility near Aurora has been delayed until July because the plant is skipping the initial first phase and going to full capacity from the start. (Washington Daily News)
California – Shares of Pacific Ethanol were up in trading this week. (MSN-AP Business News)
Canada – A 150-million-litre ethanol plant costing between $115 million and $130 million is planned for Belle Plaine. (Star Phoenix)
Testimony of former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday has gotten quite a bit of news coverage, especially his comments about ethanol. In his written remarks to the committee, Greenspan said “Corn ethanol, though valuable, can play only a limited role, because its ability to displace gasoline is modest at best. But cellulosic ethanol, should it fulfill its promise, would help to wean us of our petroleum dependence, as could clean coal and nuclear power.” Google News Search lists over 300 articles related to Greenspan’s remarks mentioning ethanol.
The United States isn’t alone in taking government steps such as mandates, tariffs and tax incentives to get the renewable fuels business off the ground. Debate on such incentives is raging in Australia, according to ABC Online, which says New South Wales’ peak motoring body has blasted a Federal Government decision to increase the tax on home-grown ethanol and lower the cost of imported product. ABC also reports that some in the Australia parliment want to extend the current domestic ethanol industry protections until 2018 or “it’ll be the end of the domestic ethanol industry” since “oil companies have been dragging their feet for the last six years.”
The head of General Motors’ research and development says ethanol could be paving the way for the use of hydrogen in cars in the future. GM’s Lawrence Burns told Reuters Wednesday that encouraging farmers to grow corn or other grains that can be converted into clean-burning, renewable fuel creates a system that can he readily applied to generating hydrogen as well.
“Even some of the initial steps in the processing of the biomass — whether to make it hydrogen or ethanol — will be one and the same, so it is an important step toward an alternative pathway for energy,” he said.
“And it allows us to use our existing internal combustion engines as we transition to hydrogen in the future.”
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt made an ethanol mandate in the state one of his top priorities when elected. This year the legislature made that goal a reality – and now one of Blunt’s relatives is cashing in on the new state policy. According to the Columbia (MO) Tribune and other Missouri news sources, Andy Blunt, a lobbyist and political consultant who served as chairman of his brother’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign, confirmed yesterday that he is one of the founders of Central Missouri Biofuels LLC. The new company plans to invest in ethanol and biodiesel plants. Democrats in the state are making much ado about the connection, but Blunt says there is no conflict between his brother’s new business and the ethanol legislation he will soon sign into law.
The picture shown is of Governor Blunt at the opening of Mid-Missouri Energy one year ago this month.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and House Ag Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia today introduced a concurrent resolution in both houses of Congress calling for 25-percent of the nation’s total energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2025.
The 25X’25 plan has also gained the endorsement of numerous state legislators and Governors – as well as over 140 farm, forestry and environmental organizations and companies.
New research and commercial production methods to meet increased demand for biofuels will be one focus of the third annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, to be held July 11-14, 2006 at the Toronto Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, according to a press release from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, or BIO. Sessions include: An International Perspective on Biofuels and Cellulosic Ethanol, 21st Century Biology for Biofuels Production, Building Infrastructure for the Biodiesel Industry, The Potential of Energy Crops and Biofuels: Perspectives from the Oil Industry. Registration information is available at bio.org.
As legislation to extend the tariff on ethanol imports was being introduced in Congress, Florida Governor Jeb Bush was advocating an increase in ethanol imports by dropping tariffs on ethanol from Brazil. According to the South Florida Business Journal, Bush laid out a plan Monday that saw the nation’s usage of ethanol increase to 15 billion gallons by 2015 annually during a meeting of the Florida FTAA at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. In attendance was Brazilian Minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues.
A bill was recently introduced in the House to extend the 54-cent-a-gallon ethanol import tariff to the end of 2010. Iowa Democrat Leonard Boswell introduced the bill to extend the tariff beyond its current expiration, which is to take place on October 1 of next year.
The first E85 pumps in Houston were opened on Monday by Kroger, according to the Houston Chronicle. Kroger intends to sell E85 at 18 locations in Houston and Dallas, said Russell Richard, consumer affairs manager for the Houston area. He said Kroger plans 11 more stores in the Houston area along with six in Dallas.
I spoke with Bill Smith, CEO of XCel Plus International about the E-85 Ethanol FlexTek Adaptor Kit that they are launching here in the U.S. I abbreviated our interview to 7:30 minutes for your listening pleasure. Flex-Tek Interview (7:30 min MP3)
He goes into a lot of detail about how the converter works and says it is a proven technology that has been used in Brazil for years.
Their website says the converter is legal – even though, as pointed out in a comment on the last post, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition website says such an animal does not exist. I asked Smith if he is working with NEVC on promoting Flex-Tek and he says they are interested in getting involved with any group promoting the use of ethanol in the U.S.
Converting a car to make it run on E85 is likely to cause some issues with vehicle warrenties, but Smith says they are working on their own warrenty for the technology and any parts that could be damaged.
I would invite you to find out more about Xcel Plus products on their website xcelplus.com or call 800-472-7409 to ask them your own questions.
By the way, I asked Smith about the lizard in the Flex-Tek logo seen here. He says his name is Fred and he’s actually a certain kind of chameleon that changes from green to yellow – like the GM “Live Green, Go Yellow” slogan promoting flex fuel vehicles. Clever.
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If you want to use 85 percent ethanol in your car but don’t want to buy a new flex-fuel vehicle, XCel Plus International can help. This Virginia-based company has just announced the nationwide product launch of the E-85 Ethanol FlexTek Adaptor Kit. According to a company release, once installed on a vehicle, this kit will allow the engine to operate on E-85 Ethanol OR unleaded gasoline at the flip of a switch. The Xcel Plus FlexTek kit includes permanent protection for the engine, plus a FlexTek Engine Adaptor. According to their website, the cost is $500-700.
I am in the process of contacting these folks to do an interview about the product. Stay tuned.
Here’s a nice weekend write-up about the ethanol business that went nationwide. The story is by AP Food and Farm Writer Libby Quaid.
And here is another nice article from Paddock Talk on how and why Ford is focused on ethanol.
Rookie Jeff Simmons in the #17 Team Ethanol car for Rahal Letterman Racing started the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix 13th – his best Indy pole position yet, ahead of teammate Danica Patrick who was 15th. But, even though Jeff was in the lead on lap 9, Team Ethanol was one of at least seven cars that spun out on the slick track and he collided with another car on lap 19. Meanwhile, RLR teammate Buddy Rice finished fourth and Danica finished 8th.
TexCom, Inc. has received a $6 million project finance equity commitment to expand its Biodiesel operations into the state of Oklahoma, according to a news release. A group led by former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys Coach Barry Switzer has committed $6 million as the equity component for a Biodiesel plant to be constructed for purposes of serving the diesel fuel needs for the State of Oklahoma.
Iogen officials say they want to build a $300 million plant to make ethanol from barley straw in Idaho, but they are waiting on loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy that would cover any losses investors might have if the project failed. The Ottawa Sun reports the company would like to start building in the fall of 2007. The plant and a straw assembly facility would employ up to 200 people. Iogen has already contracted with 320 farmers to provide 400,000 tonnes of barley straw a year. An announcement on the loan guarantees is expected in early October.