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.

Gas Prices Fuel Web Searches

GraphPeople who keep track of such things say that higher gas prices are causing a major increase in web searches for domestic fuel terms such as ethanol and biodiesel. According to Hitwise, the share of U.S. internet searches for the term ‘ethanol’ was up 212 percent for the four weeks ending May 13, 2006 versus the four weeks ending April 15, 2006. Additionally, the share of searches for ‘biodiesel’ was up 100 percent in that same period. Hitwise is “the leading online competitive intelligence service,” according to the company’s website.
Traffic on Domestic Fuel has seen a significant increase in the past 30 days – up over 50 percent and growing every day.

Geographic Growth

From the deep South to the wild, wild West – ethanol is expanding it’s horizons.

Ethanol is a hot topic in Louisiana “where sugar cane, soybeans. sorghum and corn could be tapped for fuel production,” according to this article from the Advocate. According to the story, at least three commercial domestic fuels plants are planned for the state and another in Mississippi would use grain from Louisiana. There are also a couple of public projects in the works and state legislation that would require refiners to produce ethanol.

According to the Torrington (WY) Telegram, ethanol in the state of Wyoming is on the cutting edge. This article reports that Wyoming Ethanol, which has been in operation since 1995, plans to double its production this year to 12 million gallons of ethanol per year from approximately 4 million bushels of corn. Officials with the plant say they could sell three times what they produce.

Hornish Wins 4th Indy Fast Lap

Sam Hornish, Jr. For the fourth time in two weeks, Sam Hornish, Jr. recorded the “Ethanol Fast Lap” and $2,500 with a speed of 224.951 miles per hour. The Marlboro Team Penske driver has been the fastest driver for all four Ethanol Fast Laps days in Indy 500 practice, collecting $10,000 from the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. The final Indy Fast Lap will be on May 26.

Two More Ethanol Plants for Iowa

Green PlainsAccording to the Des Moines Register, Iowa is getting two more ethanol plants – one in Superior and one in Buffalo. Green Plains Renewable Energy plans to build a 50 million-gallon-a-year plant near Superior that will be similar to a plant Green Plains is building in Shenandoah. The Superior plant will open in spring 2007.
River/Gulf Energy is a Quad-City firm associated with Alter Barge Line. More information about their project can be found in this article by the Quad-City Times.

Ethanol Myths and Realities

Business Week Online tries to take a somewhat balanced look at ethanol here that falls a bit short. The article has a decidedly cynical tone about ethanol but does present some positive information regarding the energy issue, presenting the findings of Michael Wang with the Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research – some very good research. Whenever anyone starts talking about how much fossil fuel is used in the production of ethanol, here is the information to use. Argonne Lab
According to “The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update” –

Corn ethanol is energy efficient, as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.34; that is, for every Btu dedicated to producing ethanol there is a 34-percent energy gain. Furthermore, producing ethanol from domestic corn stocks achieves a net gain in a more desirable form of energy, which helps the United States to reduce its dependence on imported oil. Ethanol production utilizes abundant domestic energy feedstocks, such as coal and natural gas, to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel. Only about 17 percent of the energy used to produce ethanol comes from liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. For every 1 Btu of liquid fuel used to produce ethanol, there is a 6.34 Btu gain.

Here’s a link to a listing of studies about ethanol on the Argonne website. Most, like the one above, are in pdf format.

Golden Gate Biodiesel

Bridge Biodiesel’s heart is in San Francisco now that it has become the largest U.S. city to institute citywide use of B20. According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Directive designed to increase the pace of municipal use of biodiesel in the city which uses about 8 million gallons of diesel a year. Among other things, the directive states that all diesel-using departments shall begin using a B20 biodiesel blend as soon as practicable in all diesel vehicles and other diesel equipment, with the following incremental goals in each department’s use of B20: initiate and complete biodiesel pilot project by December 31, 2006; 25% by March 31, 2007; 100% by December 31, 2007.

Auto Makers Back 25x’25

25x25 logoAccording to Paddock Talk, the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are supporting efforts that seek to provide 25 percent of America’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025, known as 25X’25. In meetings with Congressional leaders today, Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO Bill Ford and General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner gave their support the initiative, which is an effort led by the Energy Future Coalition and supported by agriculture and forestry groups to get 25 percent of the nation’s transportation energy needs met by renewable fuels by 2025.

100 Illinois Ethanol Pumps

Ill Corn Illinois Corn Growers are proud to announced the grand opening of the state’s 100th E85 fuel station Wednesday in Litchfield. According to ICGA, Gov. Blagojevich contributed $40,000 in state funding to establish the new E-85 facilities in Litchfield, and he is also investing $25 million to support research, production and consumption of ethanol in Illinois as part of the state budget that was recently approved.

Badger State Ethanol

WI Ethanol Here’s a nice shot of the Badger State Ethanol plant in Monroe, Wisconsin – sent in by reader Gary Dikkers, who took it “on a very cold day in February.” The plant started production mid-October, 2002 with a name-plate capacity of 40 million gallons of ethanol and 128,000 tons of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) each year. Since startup, the plant has continued to increase production up in excess of 50 million gallons of ethanol per year.

JW Writes

JW Jim Jubak of MSN was writing about solutions to our energy problems and solicited suggestions from readers. He got several, including both ethanol and biodiesel. He decided to do further research on the subjects and the first one is ethanol. He’s looking for good information on the subject, so here’s an opportunity for you to jump in the mix. Send him some comments and links at Jubak’s Journal and lets make sure he gets it right.

MO Corn Billboard Campaign

Billboard The Missouri Corn Growers Association is seeking input on their next billboard design. The association’s billboard campaign to promote support for a statewide ethanol mandate got some major publicity when it was accused of being a “hate message” against Arabs (see previous post). MCGA now has a web site, www.madaboutgas.com, to poll public opinion on the next ethanol billboard campaign. Options include the leaders of OPEC, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation – as well as the one pictured here with no accompanying Big Oil personification. Cast your vote today.

Getting Revved Up For Indy

e-podcastThe latest “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast features several people who took part in last week’s “Ethanol Day” at the Indianapolis Speedway. Among them are Indy Car drivers Danica Patrick and Jeff Simmons, U.S. Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman, ethanol hot rod racer Mark Thomas, and EPIC president Tom Branham.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. 4:00 MP3 File)

Green Star Plans BioRefineries

Green Star Products Green Star Products, Inc. has announced plans to construct facilities for the production of both biodiesel and biomass ethanol, according to a press release. The first facility is planned for North Carolina, the second location is yet to be announced but the company says it will be somewhere in the northwestern US.
Each GSPI-designed Bio-Refinery will have a start-up production of between 10 or 20 million gallons per year with quick expansion capabilities. The facility infrastructure will be capable of expanding to 60 million gallons per year (and further expansion capabilities could reach 100-million gallons per year), ranking them among the largest fuel production facilities in the world.

Biodiesel Update

NBBThe University of Georgia is holding a Southeastern Biodiesel Workshop this week in Athens featuring a number of interesting speakers and perspectives on the fuel. Although the National Biodiesel Board was not able to be a part of this event, you might be interested in hearing a update from NBB Executive Director Joe Jobe on what is happening with this domestic fuel industry.
Jobe reports that in the last 18 months, the number of biodiesel plants in the US has grown from 22 to 65 and there are another 50 under construction. He notes that if biodiesel could replace “just five percent of the on-road diesel market, that would be the same amount of diesel fuel refined from crude oil that we get from the country of Iraq each year” – about 1.85 billion gallons.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Joe Jobe from the Clean Cities Congress last week. Listen To MP3 Joe Jobe (5 min MP3)

Home Stills Selling Like Hot Cakes

Dogwood We got a couple of comments about this company when I did the post about The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) warning not to make ethanol at home (see previous post). Dogwood Energy claims that it is “perfectly legal to own and operate an ethanol still on your property, provided that you are using it ONLY to make fuel and you are not reselling it.” An Associated Press article says the company is now building four or five stills a day and has sold 45 in recent weeks, more than 125 since September, to meet the demand from customers ranging from small businesses to thrifty individuals. The company website also gives directions on how to build your own still and how to make your own diesel.