A group of farmers wants Iogen Corp. to have their own private Idaho. According to this UPI article, there’s some heavy lobbying going on to get the “world leader in cellulosic ethanol production” to locate their first plant in Idaho rather than Canada. Idaho farmer Duane Grant a barley and alfalfa grower who has been involved with technology applications in farming for quite some time, said there are three factors that make a location in Idaho Falls ideal for Iogen’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant: its climate, the nature of the farming and the location of the plant. The article says Idaho’s congressional delegation is also in on the lobbying effort. “Cellulosic ethanol technology is exciting because it adds value to a waste product — creating another market for our farmers,” said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. “I am pleased that Iogen recognizes the value of doing business in Idaho, and I will continue to work to enable them to open a plant in Idaho.”
Here’s the latest post from contributing blogger JW:
You’ve seen here that switchgrass holds enormous potential as a domestic fuel. It’s not the only kind of grass that does. Hemp is another native plant that can produce both ethanol and biodiesel. Industrial hemp contains less than 3% of the physcoactive properties of it’s popular cousin, marijuana. There are political and legal barriers to knock down, but this agricultural product has many potential uses including paper, clothing, and of course, fuel. Learn more about the many uses for hemp, here http://www.hemp.co.uk/ (and also at Biomassive.org from whence we got the lovely leaf logo).
Thanks to an alert reader – Tony Skulas of Future Concepts Computer Specialists, Inc. – I can now pass on to you a website for Harrison Ethanol (see previous post) which, according to Tony is AKA Farmers’ Ethanol LLC. Now, I don’t find any mention of Harrison on the website – although Tony gave me two different domain names – friendsoffarmersethanol.com and friendsofharrisonethanol.com – or .org for both. Check out the funky logo – kinda like Ragu spaghetti sauce. America, corn, energy, liquid fuel, patriotism, triangle, chemistry – it’s in there! Very creative.
Florida’s governor is calling on Latin American countries to increase ethanol production for themselves and the United States. According to this article from the Bradenton Herald, Governor Jeb Bush made his pitch during the Second Annual Miami Latin America Conference, calling the proposal a “win-win for Florida and the region.” Bush says that increasing Florida and the nation’s reliance on other energy sources will help reduce their reliance on Venezuela, which he described as on “a quiet march toward dictatorship.” The United States imported roughly $34 billion in products from Venezuela last year, the vast majority of which were related to petroleum, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics. “If we don’t tax oil, maybe we shouldn’t tax ethanol,” the governor said.
I suspect that many in the domestic ethanol industry won’t like hearing this, but it is true. “If you take Brazil, Central America and Colombia, there is a tremendous potential to develop ethanol at a significantly lower price than can be done in the United States,” he said. Now, he is NOT saying that it shouldn’t be developed here in the United States. In fact, the Florida Legislature will probably pass bills this session that provide tax incentives for companies to increase the availability of renewable fuels and increased funding for research into alternative fuels. What he is talking about it working together as a hemisphere to reduce dependence on petroleum. Makes sense, which probably means it will never happen.
The World Energy Monthly Review, which “offers a no-holds-barred perspective, timely information and in-depth analysis on energy issues,” according to the publication’s Business Wire press release, takes a look at using switchgrass to make ethanol in its March issue. Author Brian K. Tully compares switchgrass as an ethanol source to both corn and sugar cane and says “it looks like not only a contender, but a winner.” Per acre, corn yields 330 gallons of ethanol, sugar yields 630 gallons and switchgrass 1,150 gallons. “Purely in terms of a fuel feedstock, one would be hard-pressed to find a tougher, faster-growing native plant that requires such relatively low maintenance,” Tully writes.
However, another article in the same issue says the cost of converting switchgrass to ethanol is three to five times the cost of converting corn, but scientists think that can be lowered.
But wait … what sounds most interesting in this issue is “San Francisco’s collection of a unique fuel source: dog poop.” Well, if we can use cow poop or pig poop – why not dog poo? It stands to reason then that ANY source of poo could be used to make fuel…. the possibilities are endless. So, why are we even thinking of growing anything to make fuel? We could be flushing away millions of gallons every day!
A high-school sophomore from Wisconsin was named the national winner of the 2006 Ag Day Essay Contest this week. The theme this year was “Growing Our Energy: Alternative Fuels From Agriculture” and here is a brief excerpt from Ashley Julka’s winning essay:
“…By using gasoline-containing ethanol, we’re using homegrown products. Not only does this reduce our dependency on foreign oil, but it also helps the American economy. In Wisconsin alone, ethanol production has gone from zero to 250 million gallons in five years.” As the winner, Julka received a $1,000 prize and a roundtrip ticket to Washington, D.C., to be recognized during the March 16 Ag Day Luncheon held at the National Press Club. The contest is sponsored by: DuPont, Case IH, The Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, High Plains Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting and National Agri-Marketing Association, in conjunction with the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) which sponsors National Ag Day. Congratulations, Ashley!
Today is St. Patrick’s Day – tomorrow is St. Diesel’s Day. Well, he hasn’t actually been canonized yet – at least not by the Pope, but maybe by the Biodiesel industry. March 18 is the fifth annual National Biodiesel Day, celebrated on the birthday of Rudolf Diesel – inventor of the diesel engine. According to a press release from the National Biodiesel Board, they chose Diesel’s birthday to honor him for his foresight in recognizing the valuable role of vegetable-oil-based fuel. In the late 19th Century, Diesel ran early versions of his engine on peanut oil and paved the path for today’s biodiesel. Biodiesel is now made from soybean oil, as well as other vegetable oils and fats.
I have been meaning to put up a link to this AP story that came out a week or so ago about Brazil’s ethanol economy. It’s a good backgrounder on the history of the industry in Brazil and of particular interest to some critics of the government trying to help the industry grow here in the U.S. is this line – After decades of government intervention and subsidies, the industry here is a thriving free market business, complete with ethanol pumps at every filling station in Latin America’s largest country. Just thought that was interesting.
Add cheese to the list of commodities that could be used to make ethanol. This AP story is about research into “using a cheese-making byproduct to make ethanol.” That would be whey – as in what Little Miss Muffet ate on her tuffet with curds. According to the article, whey can be made into lactose sugar, which can then be made into ethanol. Whey recycling has been used as a protein supplement in low-carb foods for decades, said Mark Bade, operator of the whey recycling process and waste management facility at Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese in Rudolph. The state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is hawking the potential for whey sugar to be refined and used in ethanol. “Ethanol is hot,” the department’s Robin Engel said. Engel says they are thinking Wisconsin could have three refineries that would produce between 4 million and 7 million gallons of ethanol a year. The state is investing some $5 million in alternative energy research.
The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee had lots of good things to say about ethanol yesterday at the kickoff luncheon for National Ag Day in Washington D.C. Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, said that ethanol production holds promise even in areas outside the Corn Belt. “We may not be able to grow the corn in the abundance that folks do in the Midwest, but we’ve got other crops that we can grow,” Chambliss said. “Switchgrass is one that’s being talked about now that’s a real opportunity for us. Sugar cane in Louisiana, sugar cane in South Florida, can be grown in abundance.” Chambliss also promised that alternative energy will be a major focus in the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill. Listen to Chambliss’ remarks about alternative energy here.
Biodiesel and soybean grower interests were happy to see legislation introduced this week that would extend the biodiesel tax incentive. According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board and the American Soybean Association, the bill was introduced yesterday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Max Baucus (D-MT). The Grassley/Baucus bill, S. 2401, extends popular alternative energy tax incentives, such as the biodiesel excise and income tax incentive for biodiesel and biodiesel blends. It also gives a one-year extension until 2010 to a tax credit for the cost of installing pumps that offer a 20 percent blend of biodiesel (B20). Darryl Brinkmann, chairman of NBB and a soybean producer from Carlyle, Ill., said that biodiesel and soybean leaders have already seen the results of the biodiesel tax incentive. Last year, U.S. biodiesel production tripled to 75 million gallons. “Passage of the tax incentive gave the biodiesel industry the confidence to grow as we work to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for biodiesel,” Brinkmann said. “Consumers across the nation have benefited because the biodiesel tax incentive has helped make biodiesel more cost competitive.”
Aventine Renewable Energy recently signed an agreement with its 14th ethanol production plant to market their product. According to a company release, Aventine will market all fuel grade ethanol produced by E3 BioFuels in Mead, Nebraska. Aventine also has agreements with plants in Wisconsin, Illinois, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas.
Hankinson, ND is the designated location for a 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant to be built by South Dakota-based US BioEnergy, in partnership with local Gold Energy, LLC. A company press release (soon to be posted on their website), quotes North Dakota Governor John Hoeven saying, “We have put good programs in place and worked diligently with the Gold Energy Board and US BioEnergy to develop this plant in North Dakota. It will have a big impact on Hankinson and southeastern part of our state, both in more revenues for our farmers and good jobs in rural North Dakota.” Here’s a link to a story in the Grand Forks Herald about the plant. Hankinson is in Richland County, in North Dakota’s southeastern corner, about 10 miles north of the South Dakota border. Richland County is North Dakota’s biggest corn producer, with its farmers harvesting 28.5 million bushels last year, or 18 percent of the state’s 2005 crop of 154.8 million bushels. The plant is expected to use 37 million bushels of corn each year.
Here is the final post from the I-CARE Cross Country E85 Trip last week. The students who took part in the last half of the journey were Brad Westrum, Pat Lennon, Nate Marean – the post is written by Brad.
The end of the road…. Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11. After uncovering our truck from the snow, we took off around 7:15 from Cedar City, Utah and continued to head south hoping for some warmer weather. The roads started to clear after about 45 miles, and we were on our way to Nevada and California. Leaving the great state of Utah, we passed through Arizona for about 15 miles, just snipping the North West corner of the state. Knowing that this was going to be a big day, we knew we had to break it up a little bit. So we stopped at Zion National Park, which is on the edge of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona and is really close to the Grand Canyon. We stopped to take pictures of the truly inspiring scenery and took deep breaths of the clean, crisp mountain air.
After making our way into Nevada, we stopped in Las Vegas to drive down the strip. After making a nice loop down and back we stopped to eat – where else but the Hooters Hotel and Casino! None of us are old enough to gamble so we had to be sure to stay off the carpet. When in Nevada, you also have to make a stop at the marvel called the Hoover Dam.
Now for the sad part. We had no trouble finding our refueling stop in Las Vegas. Huey’s Mart # 1 was right where our computer program said it would be. We were a little concerned that we didn’t see an E-85 sign promoting Ethanol and we soon found out why. THERE WAS NO E-85 AT Huey’s Mart! They had run out of E-85 about 10 days before we got there and they weren’t able to get a shipment until March 16. There are two other stations in the Vegas area that carry E-85 but they are all owned by Huey so they were ALL out. We handed them a pamphlet for Verasun, one of our major trip sponsors who could probably help them with their supply problems. Later after arriving home we would find out from Verasun that Huey’s had indeed already contacted them and inquired about supply. The owner of the Huey’s chain of stations (Huey?) said that as soon as they got some more E-85 in it would be gone as they have over 100,000 flex-fuel vehicles in their area. If we remember right there are only 93,000 in all of Iowa. Shall we stay another week until they get re-supplied, or utilize our flexibility and fuel up with the dreaded fossil fuel? Mr. Richardson’s credit card was almost maxed out so in went the non-renewable, air polluting, highly subsidized, highly addictive REGULAR GASOLINE! We consoled ourselves with the fact that our trip plans were viable (3 stations- all temporarily out of E-85 due to high demand and supply problems that were out of our control) and that on almost any other week we would have filled up as scheduled and been on our way. THIS IS WHY WE DRIVE FLEX-FUEL VEHICLES !
After seeing the sights we decided to go on to L.A. for the night so that we could have some time in the big city to see sights that most of us had only seen on TV. We got to Ontario, California which is a suburb of L.A. at about 9:00 pm and there we stayed the night.
Waking up around 7:00 am, we got ready, ate breakfast, and then loaded the truck. We drove around seeing all the sites like Hollywood Blvd., where we saw the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theatre, and many stores that sold a lot of junk!!! We drove around attempting to see the big celebrities houses, which turned out to be almost a total waste of time. We drove down the beach and stopped on the beach to eat, where we also watched the Iowa Hawkeyes win. After the meal, we had to hurry to the airport to catch our flight. We dropped off the car, got through security and caught our flight. We got back to Fort Dodge around 3 in the morning. Let’s just say that as rewarding and great as this trip was, we were all ready for a good night’s rest!
Goodnight! Bradley Westrum
Here is a final footnote from trip organizer Jim Richardson, Ag Coordinator, Iowa Central Community College.
We definitely can say that we “Saw the USA in our Flex-fuel Chevrolet” Thanks to all our sponsors: Chevrolet & GM NCR, GM R*Works, Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition, Iowa Farm Bureau, the American Lung Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels, Karl Chevrolet, Verasun Energy, FC Coop, Star Energy, Casady Bros. Implement, Wells Fargo of Ft. Dodge, and W&H Coop. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way from Senators Grassley and Burns, Bob Dineen, Gilbert at Joe’s Junction, Iowa Senator Beall, Jessica Zoph @ Iowa Lung, Laurie Groves @ Farm Bureau, Terry Seehuisen @ our Local FB’s, Kellie Walsh at Central Indiana Clean Cities, Erika Wiggins @ Ohio Clean Cities, Mark Picker @ GM, the Illinois Corn Growers, Jim Kersten @ Iowa Central, and especially Doug Dittrich and his staff at GM who really helped pull this all together. And thanks to everyone who I may have left out but please excuse me as I’m still experiencing jet lag.
Editor’s note: An explanation for some of our YOUNGER readers might be in order for the Dinah Shore star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Check out this website, to see and hear clips and pics from The Dinah Shore Chevy Show which ran on NBC from 1956 until 1963 – with the theme song “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” I’m thinking it was Jim who came up with that connection, not the youngsters who are not old enough to gamble!!!
Apparently the ethanol industry is not doing as well in Australia as it is here in the U.S., according to this story from the ABC Rural Network. (That’s ABC as in AUSTRALIAN Broadcast Company) The reason is that major oil companies have yet to sign contracts to meet future target production goals and officials with the Australian Biofuels Association are concerned. That group is apparently having trouble with their website as well – at least at the time of this post – but I provided the link anyway assuming it will be corrected at some point.
Just a note about the ABC in Australia – I had the pleasure of meeting one of their reporters last year when I attended the International Federation of Ag Journalists (IFAJ) meeting in Switzerland. Her name is Alice Plate and it was very interesting hearing about the support that farm radio has in Australia – much more so than here in the US of A. In fact, the network’s flagship program, the Country Hour, is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, as being Australia’s longest running radio program, celebrating 60 years of Rural broadcasting in 2005. Read all about it’s history here.