Free Biodiesel Workshop in Sioux Falls

The American Lung Association in South Dakota is hosting a free workshop on biodiesel on Friday, Oct. 26th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ramada Inn & Suites at 1301 W Russell Street in Sioux Falls. The event is part of National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey (www.AFVDayOdyssey.org), a biennial event to promote the use of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

Don’t think biodiesel is that important to you? Think again. Nearly everything we eat, wear, buy or sell in this country is transported by a truck, train or barge powered by diesel, a fuel linked to particulate air pollution.

Now that your ears have perked up, here is some additional information about the workshop. The featured speaker is Hoon Ge, a fuel expert with MEG Corp. Workshops will cover recent refining changes in diesel fuels; how to prevent, identify and respond to issues with diesel fuels; the growing role of biodiesel in the transportation industry; and the coming year-round availability of biodiesel in the region.

The workshop is supported by the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium.  The workshop is free, but attendance is limited. Contact Kelly Marczak at (651) 268-7590 or Kelly.Marczak@lungmn.org.

POET-DSM Partners with ANDRITZ

POET-DSM has signed on the International Technology Group ANDRITZ, to supply a two-step biomass treatment process for the commercial-scale cellulosic bioethanol plant under construction in Emmetsburg, Iowa known as Project LIBERTY. The technology was designed to help draw out available sugar in the collected biomass, in this case corn stover, corn cobs, and husks, so it can be converted into cellulosic ethanol.

The ANDRITZ technology is a two-stage process that includes a vertical reactor, an interstage washer and then the continuous steam explosion technology (Advanced SteamEx process) to draw out available sugars from the cellulose material. It’s those sugars combined with Project LIBERTY’s enzyme and yeast technologies – that will get converted into ethanol.

“We’ve been working with ANDRITZ for over four years, collaborating on the development for a treatment process that aligns with our conversion technology development here at POET-DSM, and we selected them to provide that treatment process,” said James Moe, POET-DSM board member. “We’re happy to have them on-board. To say this has been quite a process is an understatement.”

Jay Miele, VP and General Manager with ANDRITZ Inc. added, “Our design teams have been working closely together over the past four years to optimize our Advanced Steam-Ex pretreatment technology for Project LIBERTY. POET-DSM’s dedication to becoming a leader in cellulosic bio-ethanol is quite evident to us. We look forward to successfully completing our part of the delivery for Project LIBERTY, and we are eager to work together on future projects.”

Constructed is scheduled to be complete in late 2013. In preparation, local farmers are increasing the amount of biomass delivered to the site in an effort to fine-tune storage efforts and refine the biomass collection process. Harvest goals for this fall were to collect nearly 85,000 tons of corn cobs and light stover. Eventually, the biorefinery will need nearly 285,000 tons of biomass per year once at full production capacity of 20 million gallons per year.

REG Breaks Ground on Plant Expansion

The country’s largest biodiesel producer, Renewable Energy Group (REG), has broken ground on the expansion to its biodiesel plant in Glenville, Minnesota. A groundbreaking ceremony was held and many biofuel supporters from across the state and the local community were on hand for the event. The upgrade is estimated to cost $20 million.

“No matter who we’ve talked to, the state or local level, they’re just absolutely thrilled,” Brad Albin, Vice President of Manufacturing at REG was quoted in an article published by KAAL TV. “The plant had been shut down for about a year and we brought it back up, last year. It’s a biodiesel plant that turns feedstock, or things like natural oils and greases, into renewable fuel.”

One of the things the plant expansion and upgrade will do is allow more difficult feedstocks to be processed into high quality biodiesel. The plant will also, said Albin, create additional jobs in the local community.

Area Representative Rich Murray was on hand for the groundbreaking. “It’s just an exciting day,”  he said. “We’ve got 20 some good paying jobs here that people are able to support their families with and now a $20 million commitment to construction here. It’s going to create construction jobs and just every bit of this is good news.”

The upgrade is expected to be complete by June of 2013 and the plant will then have the capacity to produce 30 million gallons of biodiesel each year.

Biodico & Navy Sign Advanced Biofuels Contract

Biodico has signed an agreement with the U.S. Navy for the development and evaluation of advanced biofuels and bioenergy. The goal is to jointly develop renewable fuel and energy technologies that are appropriate for use at U.S. Naval and Department Of Defense (DOD) facilities worldwide. The co-project is supported, in part, by grants from the California Energy Commission.

The collaboration between the Navy and Biodico will optimize the operation of sustainable biorefineries producing renewable petroleum diesel equivalent liquid fuels, bio-based products and energy using renewable resources. The goal is to lower the per gallon cost of production of the alternative energy source and also to push the advanced technology into the marketplace for commercial scale production.

Biodico’s President and Founder, Russell Teall, said, “As part of this agreement we are building a sustainable biorefinery at Naval Base Ventura County that will produce biofuel and bioenergy at prices competitive with unsubsidized conventional fuel and power. The facility is privately funded, with some of the innovations supported by grants from the California Energy Commission. Sen. Pavley’s landmark initiatives have helped make this project possible.”

Through on-site production of liquid biofuels, biobased products and alternative energy, the Navy can get closer to reaching its goal of reducing its dependence on petroleum by 50 percent by 2020. This, in turn, will provide the Navy access to secure forms of energy. Work under the new contract will include a range of technologies including but not limited to transesterification, gasification, gas to liquids, hydrogenation, anaerobic digestion, catalysis, and the production and processing of feedstocks and co-products.

“This announcement is an exciting outcome of the collaboration between Biodico, the Navy and the California Energy Commission,” said California State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “This work is a direct result of California’s commitment to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The collaboration between Biodico, the Navy and the California Energy Commission will enhance our national security, provide new jobs and improve the environment. It will demonstrate and commercialize advanced biofuel and bioenergy technologies that will be utilized throughout the world. The integration of sustainable agriculture with renewable combined heat and power produced on-site will produce inexpensive advanced biofuels.”

Biorenewables Technology Moves Closer to Market

Hyrax Energy and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) have signed a licensing agreement for a renewable chemical and biofuel production method. The chemical process uses ionic liquids to break down cellulosic or non-food plant-based biomass without using enzymes or the need for pretreatment steps. The technology was developed with the aid of University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemistry professor and Hyrax founder, Ron Raines.

The company’s process creates fermentable sugars, which can be converted into a variety of chemicals, including fuels and plastics. Hyrax says the process developed avoids the need for costly pretreatment efforts typically used to overcome key problems with biomass including its water-insolubility and resistance to molecular deconstruction. The technology avoids these problems by employing ionic liquids to dissolve raw biomass from the beginning.

“Doing the entire conversion process in ionic liquids eliminates enzymes, pretreatment steps and harsh energy inputs and leads to a dramatic reduction in process complexity and capital intensity,” said Raines. Coupled with its scientific significance, the licensing of the new technology marks a major step toward commercializing this approach to biofuel production on an industrial scale.”

Raines said the paten-pending technology has been validated by third parties. He also said that the help of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and WARF Accelerator Program helped to fund development of the technology and provide the intellectual property protection necessary to support the process of commercialization. Hyrax is the first company that is part of GLBRC to begin the process of commercialization and also won the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge sponsored by the Clean Energy Trust.

Giant King Grass Growing Successfully in Cali

Giant King Grass is growing successfully in California and according to VIASPACE, who developed the hybrid, it is the highest yielding biomass crop in the world. Targeted for use a feedstock to produce biofuels or to produce renewable electricity, the company’s Giant King Grass is not genetically modified and it is not an invasive species.

After extensive laboratory testing, VIASPACE says it is the lowest cost feedstock for electricity generation using direct combustion or anaerobic digestion or for the use to create biofuels and biochemicals. The California crop is currently 10 feet tall and will be harvested when it reaches 15-18 feet.

Dr. Carl, Kukkonen, CEO, said, “California is a leader in renewable energy, and we believe that Giant King Grass can play an important role in electricity generation, and as a feedstock for nonfood cellulosic biofuels such as ethanol and butanol, and also for biochemicals and bioplastics. California is a leading state for agriculture and its warm weather makes it a good place to grow Giant King Grass. Giant King Grass can be grown on marginal lands and will not displace agriculture production.”

The company plans on expanding throughout the U.S, as well as in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The California crop will provide seedlings for global customers and also serves as a “showroom” for those interested in the feedstock. The company says in an ideal situation, the crop could be co-located with a power plant or biorefinery thus significantly improving logistics and reducing costs thus increasing profitability.

Ethanol Discounted in Honor of Odyssey Day

In honor of the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley Cenex located in Wahpeton, North Dakota will be discounting ethanol fuel blends. On Friday, October 26, 2012, E85 will be discounted 85 cents per gallon, E30 will be discounted 30 cents per gallon and E20 will be discounted 20 cents per gallon. Odyssey Day is a biennial event that promotes the use of alternative fueled vehicles and the ethanol blends are only for use in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs.).

The promotion will begin at noon and end at 3:00 pm. The retail station is located at 2019 9th Street North, Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Supporters of the Wahpeton event include the Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, North Dakota Corn Council, North Dakota Ethanol Council, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, North Dakota Clean Cities and the American Lung Association in North Dakota.

Biofuels Larger Part of Energy Mix

World and energy industry leaders are gathering this week in Dubai at the World Energy Forum. The major goal of the forum is to chart a roadmap for a sustainable energy mix. In light of the meeting, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) renewed its call for the adoption of politices that will include biofuels as a significant part of the world’s future energy mix.

The World Energy Forum facilitates a conversation and an exchange of ideas between heads of state, national energy ministers, and energy industry leaders. The goal is to find solutions to the challenges facing a sustainable energy future through technological innovations, research and political will.

“2012 is the United Nations ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ and is the ideal time for World Energy Forum attendees to push for more biofuels friendly policies,” said Bliss Baker, who is the spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. “We cannot continue to rely on our addiction to oil that continues to hamper economic growth, exacerbate climate change and drive up food prices.”

According to the GRFA, biofuels contributed $277.3 billion to the global economy and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in 2010. This year ethanol production is forecasted to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 100 million tonnes globally. Last year the International Energy Agency released, Technology Roadmap – Biofuels for Transport, which stated that biofuels could make up 27% of the worlds transport fuels by 2050, eliminate 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions and not jeopardize food security. Recently the IEA called for biofuels production to double so their CO2 reduction goal could be met by 2020.

“World and energy industry leaders must follow IEA recommendations and adopt policies that ensures global biofuels production doubles in the coming years to meet CO2 reduction goals and reduce our dangerous reliance on crude oil imports,” said Baker.

Tractor Pulling with Biodiesel

The National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) is going to help promote biodiesel to its fans with the help of the United Soybean Board (USB). Beginning next season, all tractors will use B100 (100 percent biodiesel) in all pulling classes. The goal of the program is to increase biodiesel use among farmers, truck drivers and other diesel users who are a large component of the sport’s fan base.

“The NTPA has been a good partner with the soy checkoff,” says United Soybean Board (USB) Director Jim Willers, a soybean farmer from Beaver Creek, Minn. “We are pleased that tractor pullers will be able to use B100 and show off what biodiesel can do for their engines.”

A recent study by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) and the United Pullers of Minnesota (UPM) found that using B100 in a pulling tractor can add up to 4 percent more horsepower and torque compared with traditional diesel. Prior to testing of B100 and this partnership, NTPA fuel regulations limited the use of biodiesel to lower blends.

“We now have a reliable test to make sure it’s B100, so pullers can use it right out of the pump,” says Gregg Randall, NTPA office general manager. “The biggest thing is that this will be the ultimate proof that biodiesel performs well, which is what our partnership with the soy checkoff is all about.”

The United Soybean Board has partnered with the NTPA for the past six years to help increase biodiesel availability and use among pulling fans. And for the third year in a row, the checkoff sponsored the NTPA’s “Powered by Biodiesel” Light Pro Stock class, in which all competitors use biodiesel blends.

Soy Energy in Mason City Suspends Operations

Soy Energy, a 30 million gallon per year biodiesel plant in Mason City, Iowa announced it will be temporarily suspending production and that some employees will be impacted. Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following comment:

“First, our thoughts are with the employees of Soy Energy and their families. This is a tough time for biodiesel producers and a decision like this is never easy. This temporary stoppage in production highlights the need for Congress to quickly pass the tax extenders package, including the Biodiesel Blenders Tax Credit, during its upcoming lame duck session. Biodiesel is still a young industry confronted with a marketplace dominated by billions in tax subsidies for petroleum fuels, federal loan guarantees for petroleum infrastructure projects, and a petroleum distribution monopoly. Congress must create a level playing field so consumers can choose the fuel of their choice.”

Governors Decline Iowa Hospitality

Despite planned trips to Iowa, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell declined invitations to visit an Iowa ethanol plant and cattle operation from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). Both governors were part of a group that filed for waivers of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) for 2012 and 2013. At this time, the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) has not make a decision.

“Given that both governors made formal requests to abandon the RFS, one of the most successful energy policies in U.S. history, IRFA was very disappointed to learn that Gov. Perry and Gov. McDonnell have declined our invitation for a quick visit to an Iowa ethanol plant and family cattle operation while in the state,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “IRFA respects the governors’ right to act in the best interest of their states as they see it, but given their national profile this would have been an excellent opportunity for them to hear the other side of the story – a side they’re not hearing from the special interests in their home states.”

Iowa is the leader in ethanol and biodiesel production with 41 ethanol biorefineries with the capacity to produce nearly 3.7 billion gallons of ethanal each year.

In the invitation to the Perry and McDonnell, who are both making political stops in Iowa this week, said, “IRFA would love to show you an ethanol plant in action as well as a neighboring cattle operation to demonstrate how these two important agriculture segments benefit each other, even during challenging times such as the current drought. We are certain this experience will respectfully challenge the sincere, but faulty assertions made to you regarding the need for an RFS waiver request.”

Kyocera Completes Large Solar Project in Australia

The Townsville RSL Stadium in North Queensland, Australia is now the site of the largest photovoltaic (PV) installation. The solar modules for the 500 megawatt hours system were supplied by Kyocera Solar. With the completion of the renewable energy project, featuring 1,800 solar modules, nearly two-thirds of the stadium’s energy needs will be met by solar energy. Ergon Energy installed the solar system and it is estimated to generate nearly 1,400 kilowatt hours each day, enough to fulfill the energy needs of 75 average sized North Queensland homes.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, opened the Townsville RSL Stadium solar array. “These measures make the most of Australia’s natural resources and help us make the gradual shift to a modern, clean energy economy,” he said during his remarks.

The solar-powered stadium is a key component of the federally funded Townsville Solar City Program, which is already responsible for installing more than 1MW of solar energy in the city. The goal of the program is to help achieve objectives to better manage rising electricity demand in Northern Queensland using environment-friendly resources.

“Kyocera is proud to support Ergon, the leader of the Townsville Solar City Program, to help create renewable solar energy that will power the North Queensland region for decades to come,” added Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. “Citizens attending basketball games and other events at Townsville RSL Stadium may enjoy themselves even more knowing that the stadium’s commitment to environmentally friendly renewable energy helps to protect Australia’s natural beauty.”

A world you like. With a climate you like.

Climate change is still front and center in the European Union (EU) with the European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launching a new communication campaign called “A world you like. With a climate you like.” Supported by more than 70 organizations across Europe, the goal of the campaign is to put practical solutions at the center of the climate change debate. It also hopes to demonstrate to people how climate action can increase welfare while bringing economic benefits to European citizens.

“We have a choice: We can ACT on our knowledge about climate change. Or we can sit idly by and watch as things get worse. Both options come with a price tag. So why not create a world we like, with a climate we like – while we still have time? With this campaign we want to focus the debate on the solutions and find out what is holding us back from applying them,” said Commissioner Hedegaard about the campaign.

A portion of the campaign focuses on innovative climate solutions that reduce CO2 and also improve people’s lives through giving real-world examples of projects that are currently doing just this. The 70 plus organizations and educational institutes participating in the campaign will be able to upload their success stories to the website and Facebook page.

The campaign will run until the end of 2013 and hopes to help the EU achieve its short-term objective of lowering greenhouse gas emission by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency by 20 percent and increase electricity created from renewable energy by 20 percent. The second objective is to achieve the long-term goal of an 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Today, EU emissions are approximately 17 percent below 1990 levels.

USDA Funds 244 Agribusiness Projects

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the funding for 244 projects across the United States that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses. The projects will help to lower energy consumption and costs using renewable technologies. The funding is part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

“As part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy, USDA has partnered with thousands of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line,” said Vilsack. “This effort is helping to provide stable energy costs that create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America.”

For example, grower Matthew Gabler, based in Augusta, Wisconsin, was awarded a grant to install a new 11 kilowatt wind turbine that is estimated to produced nearly 29,000 kilo-watt hours a year for his farm.

Another example is Edaleen Cow power LLC, located in Whatcom County, Washington, has awarded a REAP loan and grant combination of $2,638,000 to install an anaerobic digester. The renewable energy project is estimated to generate 4,635 megawatt hours per year with the dairy’s 2,450-head herd as the sole manure source. The agribusiness will sell the extra electricity to the local utility and will also benefit from the bedding byproduct the digester produces.

In combination, USDA announced over $16 million in investments across the 244 projects. For a full list of awards, click here.

Solar Efficiency Record Broken

According to Solar Junction, the company has set a world record for energy efficiency for a commercial ready production solar cell. The company says the power conversion efficiency of its photovoltaic cells was measured at 44 percent at 947 suns, surpassing their own record of 43.5 percent at 418 suns set in April 2011. Both records were verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Breaking our own world record cements Solar Junction as an innovator and leader in the multi-junction cell space,” said Vijit Sabnis, VP Technology at Solar Junction. “We continue to push technological boundaries to further drive CPV costs down.”

The company has developed A-SLAM materials that provide CPV system manufacturers the ability to deliver efficience conversion of solar to electrical energy. CPV panels work by concentrating sunlight onto multi-junction cells that are manufactured at Solar Junction’s San Jose, California facility.

Soon Solar Junction will commission a 6″ production fabrication facility that was funded partially through a U.S. Department of Energy SUNPATH contract. Shipments are expected to begin in early 2013.