REG Adds Bioheat & Biodiesel Sales Manager

Paul Predaris has joined Renewable Energy Group (REG) as the company’s new Biodiesel Sales Manager. In his role, he will oversee the company’s Bioheat development of the biodiesel market in the Northeastern United States. This part of the country is rapidly adopting Bioheat for home heating and Predaris will closely work with home heating oil and petroleum distributors as well as terminal owners to expand the market.

“Bioheat and biodiesel demand in the Northeast is rapidly expanding due to progressive state and local energy policy and the Renewable Fuels Standard. As America’s largest biodiesel producer, we are committed to focusing our nationwide distribution and logistics resources in this region and the addition of Predaris to our team is evidence of that commitment,” said REG Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Gary Haer.

“Predaris’s extensive experience in the region and knowledge of the biodiesel industry allow him to effectively partner with down-stream supply chain partners in making Bioheat and biodiesel more widely available,” he added.

Prior to joining REG, Predaris spent nearly 15 years with Sprague Energy Corporation in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He has also served on the board of directors for several state oil and heat councils and associations.

New E85 Station Opens in St. Paul, Nebraska

It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing a few new E85 stations opening this week. We’re heading into Labor Day weekend and many us will be driving to visit friends and family. For those flex-fuel vehicle drivers, you have a new E85 station that just may be on your travel route. Aurora Cooperative at 614 2nd Street in St. Paul, Nebraska is the home of the state’s newest E85 pump. While you can fill up now, the station will be having a grand opening celebration on Thursday, September 8, 2011 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

During the E85 event, the station will offer an 85 cent discount on E85 for a fill-up of up to 30 gallons. Also available is E10 and regular gasoline. This is Nebraska’s 68th E85 pump and today, there are more than 100,000 Nebraskan motorists who own a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV). Not sure if your car is an FFV? You can check by visiting the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at www.ne-ethanol.org/ffv.

“E85 and other ethanol fuels burn cleaner than gasoline and the ethanol is produced here in Nebraska. As manufacturers produce more Flex Fuel Vehicles each year, there is an opportunity to expand the use of high level ethanol blends,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator.

Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager with the Nebraska Corn Board added, “We are pleased that ethanol, grown and produced right here in Nebraska by our corn farmers, can be offered locally.”

E85 Sales Hit New Record in Iowa

Second quarter E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) sales in Iowa have hit an all-time record increasing 40 percent during the second quarter. According to the Iowa Department of Revenue, sales of E85 by Iowa retailers reached 3,697,199 gallons from April to June of this year, setting a new record.

“Iowans continue to have more E85 fueling options – and they are taking advantage of them in record fashion,” said Iowa Renewable Fuel Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “E85 remains a good bargain – for our pocketbook, our economy, our national security, and our environment.”

There are currently 144 retail stations selling E85. A list can be found here. Retailers wishing to offer E85 may be eligible for a state grant to offset some of the equipment and installation costs. The Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board is taking applications now. For an application, contact Harold Hommes, Iowa Department of Agriculture, at 515-242-6237 or harold.hommes@iowaagriculture.gov.

Source: Iowa RFA

UOP Breaks Ground on Hawaii Cellulose Plant

UOP, a honeywell company, has broken ground on a biofuels demonstration plant in Hawaii that will convert forest waste, algae and other cellulosic biomass to fuel. The project is being helped along by a $25 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. The project will help meet federal biofuel mandates as well as help Hawaii reach its clean energy goals of producing 70 percent of its energy from “clean” sources by 2030.

The Integrated Biorefinery will be located at the Tesora Corp. refinery in Kapolei. The goal of the plant is to prove out the viability of the technology, test the fuels produced and evaluate the environmental footprint of the fuel. The first phase of production is expected to be begin in 2012 with the plant fully operational by 2014.

“Biomass is abundantly available today, and it is an important opportunity to consider as we seek alternatives that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and improve our environmental footprint,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP.

“Our Integrated Biorefinery will illustrate these benefits as well the potential that biorefineries have to enhance the local economy and provide new green jobs. Our island home is far too dependent on imported fossil fuels, and I am very pleased that this alternative energy initiative has the support of the federal government,” he added.

According to Rekoske, once the technology is proven out, it could produce up to 50 million gallons of drop-in fuels. The Integrated Biorefinery is testing the RTP, rapid thermal processing technology to convert the biomass to biofuels.

Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye said of the project, “Hawaii will play a critical role in helping the domestic biofuel industry thrive and this project will create much needed jobs in Kapolei. I am also pleased that Honeywell’s UOP is partnering with a number of local stakeholders including Hawaii BioEnergy, Group 70, Kai Hawaii, University of Hawaii and Leeward Community College. I will do all I can to ensure that Hawaii continues to serve as the laboratory for renewable energy initiatives in the Pacific.”

Biofuels Production Continues to Climb

According to the Worldwatch Institute, despite a struggling global economy, biofuel use continues to climb. In 2010, global biofuel production increased 17 percent and reached an all-time high of 105 billion liters, up from 90 billion litres in 2009. The increase in biofuel production has been driven by several factors including high oil prices, a global economic rebound and new laws and mandates in several countries including Canada, China, the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina.

The research was conducted by Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program for the website Vital Signs Online. It also found that U.S. and Brazil remain the two largest producers of biofuels with the U.S. producing 49 billion litres or 57 percent of global output and Brazil producing 28 billion litres or 33 percent of the total. For both the U.S, and Brazil, high oil prices were a major factor for production.

“In the United States, the record production of biofuels is attributed in part to high oil prices, which encouraged several large fuel companies, including Sunoco, Valero, Flint Hills, and Murphy Oil, to enter the ethanol industry,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program.

Ochs continued, “Although the U.S. and Brazil are the world leaders in ethanol, the largest producer of biodiesel is the European Union, which generated 53 percent of all biodiesel in 2010. However, we may see some European countries switch from biodiesel to ethanol because a recent report from the European Commission states that ethanol crops have a higher energy content than biodiesel crops, making them more efficient sources of fuel.”

Vital Signs authors Sam Shrank, a Worldwatch MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow, and Farhad Farahmand, a Climate and Energy research intern, also explored how new mandates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and China have altered the biofuel industries in these countries. “In Argentina, the biodiesel industry grew not only because of favorable conditions for growing soybeans, but also in response to a new B7 blending mandate, which requires the fuel to be 7 percent biodiesel and 93 percent diesel.”

You can click here to learn more about the study.

Growth Energy Offers Retailers Flex Fuel Kits

As more retailers are considering adding the addition of E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, they can look to the ethanol industry for support. Growth Energy is now offering retailers a complimentary flex fuel promotion kit that includes:

· Pump topper
· Nozzle talkers
· Decals to educate motorists on mid-level ethanol blends
· New E15 label recently approved by the EPA
· E85 labels for Flex Fuel vehicles

Retailers who are interested in receiving the free kit can visit Growth Energy’s online store and click on the “FREE Amer. Ethanol Station Kit” tab. In addition to the above materials, the kit also contains a brochure holder for retailers to provide consumers additional facts about the benefits of ethanol.

“American Ethanol’s partnership with NASCAR provides unique visibility for ethanol blends. We are pleased to offer these station kits to retailers to provide consumers with the same fuel that their favorite NASCAR drivers use on the track,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

6th Process Optimization Seminar Nears Sell Out

Back by popular demand, the 6th Process Optimization Seminar will take place on September 28-29, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To date, more than 120 ethanol plants have participated and 300 plus people have been trained. I was able to speak with Tom Slunecka, the VP of Marketing for Phibro Ethanol Performance Group this morning, one of the founders of the training seminars, to learn more about the upcoming event. The other supporting companies are Fermentis, Fremont Industries and Novozymes.

Slunecka told me that the training seminars came about by the request of the ethanol industry itself. This seminar was designed a little differently – it is set up so that after two days, an attendee can go back to his or her plant and immediately put the information learned to work. Also unique to the seminar is that class size is small and this fosters good interactions with the instructors and other attendees.

“One thing we’ve also held as a core of the Process Optimization Seminars is that the class sizes are small. So the one-to-one relationship between the trainer and those who’ve come to learn new technologies, is a very personal one,” explained Slunecka. “You’re right there, you’re with the instructor, you’re class is small with folks that are doing the same thing you are. So the flow of information back and forth is really refreshing.”

Listen to my interview with Tom Slunecka here: The 411 on the POS Seminars

He also stressed that the instructors make sure they are giving information that is usable, immediately, as soon as the operators get home to the plant. And this is important, he said, because training is paramount to how well a plant is going to run and how profitable that plant is running.

Success stories have come out of each of the five seminars to date and Slunecka said many plants have told him their ethanol yield per bushel has gone up. “Maybe only a point or two but that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for that plant.”

All indications are that this will be yet again another sold out show. Slunecka said they have been so overwhelmed with the response of the industry that every single one of these training seminars has been sold out. So hurry and register – there are only few slots left and the early bird registration date is nearing. To learn more and to register, visit www.processoptimizationseminar.com.

RFA: Ethanol Lowers GHG Emissions

In the third installation of RFA Vice President of Research, Geoff Cooper’s series on ethanol plant improvements, he highlights how improvements in farming practices and ethanol efficiency have allowed greater productivity and cost efficiencies. He explained that in 2008-2010, the ethanol industry was producing nearly 440 gallons of ethanol per acre, a 50 percent improvement over the average from just 15 years earlier. He continued by noting that future projections, which include the use of cellulosic ethanol such as producing fuel from corn stover and corn cobs, plus corn could approach 800 gallons of ethanol per acre.

So how else have these efficiencies improved the ethanol industry? They have directly contributed to ethanol ability’s to lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from gasoline on a well-to-wheels basis (or better known as lifecycle analysis), explained Cooper. He said that six recent reports show that corn ethanol reduced GHG’s by 28-53 percent using current technologies. He continues by highlighting that GHG reductions will continue to improve as technology improves.

Simultaneously, GHG emissions are getting worse for the oil industry. This is due to the fact that oil is getting harder to extract and oil shale and tar sand technologies create more emissions than predecessor technologies.

Cooper concluded by saying that both American farmers and ethanol producers are investing in technology that will continue to lower their carbon footprint while at the same time producing more food, feed and fiber than ever before with less resources.

New E85 Station Opens in Stuart, Florida

Just in time for Labor Day travel (I will be one of those millions of travelers but I will be using ethanol) a new E85 station has opened in Planet Ozone at 1601 S.E. Federal Hwy. in Stuart, Florida. The new pump was opened in partnership with Protec Fuel. E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles.

The benefits of E85 are many including the reduction of emissions, lowering dependence on foreign oil, spurring economic growth and is domestically produced.

Planet Ozone’s name implies more than just a greener fuel. The company also built one of the first “green” buildings in the area. The $3 million structure houses a Sunoco, an international grocery store, a Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern food cafe, and juice bar. The building also recycles rainwater and many of the building materials were recycled.

Clean Green Minnesota Bean Appears at State Fair

The American Lung Association in Minnesota presented “The Clean, Green Minnesota Bean” over the weekend during the Minnesota State Fair. Randy Hilliard with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) gave a presentation to the fairgoers from the Sustainability Stage of the Eco Experience Building. The topic? Soybeans.

Hilliard discussed the market for plastics, fabrics, cleaners and other bio-based materials, all made from soybeans, which can be used in place of materials made from petroleum. Supporters of “The Clean, Green Minnesota Bean included the United Soybean Board, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition and the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

Using crops such as soybeans and corn to create products rather than using petroleum is not new. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, used soy plastics back in 1935 and every vehicle that rolled off the assembly line contained nearly 60 lbs, or one bushel of beans in the form of gearshift knobs, horn buttons, window frames, accelerator pedals, and more.

It may have taken multiple decades, but Detroit is once again looking to soy plastics. The AURI and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association recently held a conference in Mankota, Minnesota to discuss the potential of bio-based plastics to grow jobs in the state.

Corn for Ethanol Predicted to Stall

According to an article in Agrimoney, growth in U.S. corn ethanol production is expected to stall due to reduced predictions on this year’s corn harvest along with the fact the industry has basically reached the blend wall. Also a factor has been record high corn prices which have already caused a few plants to stop production.

Goldman Sachs has estimated that corn use by the ethanol industry will increase 50m-100m bushels in 2011-2012 while Rabobank believes the number could be up to 130 million bushels. On the flip side, the International Grains Council (ICG) predicts corn usage by the industry will stay steady with demand from foreign biofuels producers also slowing.

“After rising sharply in recent years, corn used for the manufacture of fuel ethanol is forecast to show very little growth [worldwide],” the said IGC.

Today, the ethanol industry has surprised the livestock industry as the largest consumer of corn.

Despite lower corn harvest forecasts for this year, what is predicted will still be one of the highest harvests on record. However, the IGC still anticipates weakening production prospects for corn and cut its world corn output forecast by 10m tonnes to 849m tonnes. The corn crop is expected to reach around 12.9 billion bushels.

IRFA Calls for Texas Gov. To Oppose E15 Ban

Last week during the Ethanol Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) was given an award for its work on promoting ethanol. Their work continues this week as the association sent a letter to Texas Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry, to oppose Congressional efforts to ban E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. Perry is traveling to Iowa to campaign.

In the letter, authored by IRFA President Walt Wendland, “IRFA members want to welcome your campaign for president to Iowa. We look forward to a thoughtful dialog on our Nation’s energy future. One pressing issue is an attack on consumer freedom and enhancing America’s energy security.

Recently Members of Congress from Texas and Oklahoma have introduced amendments to the FY2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would essentially ban E15, a legal competitor to petroleum based gasoline. IRFA calls upon you to publicly oppose amendment #6 by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) and amendments #9 and #10 by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-OK).”

IRFA has noted that several other candidates have expressed support for E15 including Former Gov. Matt Romney, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and former Senator Rick Santorum.

EPA is currently in the process of finalizing regulations that will implement its E15 approval. To date, no other fuel blend has been tested more than E15.

US Navy Completes Successful T-45 Biofuel Flight

The U.S. Navy has successfully flown a T-45 training aircraft using biofuels at the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Patuxent River, Maryland. The flight was completed by the “Salty Dogs” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 flying on biofuel mixture of petroleum-based JP-5 jet fuel and plant-based camelina. The T-45 “Goshawk” is a tandem-seat aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps to train pilots on carrier and tactical mission operations.

“This successful test flight brings us a step closer to meeting the Navy’s energy security goals,” said Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander, Naval Air Systems Command. “My congratulations to the Navy fuels team here at NAVAIR for playing an instrumental role in proving the viability of biofuels to power naval aircraft.”

The T-45 is the fifth Navy aircraft to successfully test the biofuel blend. Previous Previous aircraft tested include the F/18 E/F, MH-60S, F/A-18 D, and most recently, the MV-22. The move to biofuels is being driven by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ goal is to cut the Navy’s oil usage in half by 2025.

“This test of the T-45 with a 50/50 blend of biofuel represents another significant milestone in the long list of detailed flight test and demonstrations of the F-18 Super Hornet, the MH-60S, and the V-22,” said Rear Adm. Phil Cullom, Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division. “Our commitment to the aggressive test schedule for drop-in replacement fuels for JP-5 and F-76 keep us on pace for the 2012 demonstration and 2016 deployment of the Great Green Fleet.”

Additional biofuel test flights are scheduled for later this year.

NextGen Biofuels Fund Accepting Applications

If you are an advanced biofuels company based in Canada that needs funds, then you might not have to look any further than the NextGen Biofuels Fund. The fund was created by the Government of Canada to support development of advanced biofuels. Currently, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is issuing a Call for Applications.

“By helping to create biorefineries, the NextGen Biofuels Fund also aims to add value to renewable fuel production while diversifying the economy in rural and agricultural areas and supporting market and technology transitions in the forestry sector,” said SDTC President and CEO Vicky Sharpe. “This will be crucial in helping Canada to transition to a bio-based, sustainable economy.”

The NextGen Biofuels Fund is able to support up to 40 percent of eligible project costs and the funds are repayable based on free cash flow over a period of 10 years after the project is completed.

To be eligible, a project must:

  • • Be a First-of-Kind facility that primarily produces a next-generation renewable fuel at large demonstration-scale.
  • • Be located in Canada.
  • • Use feedstocks that are or could be representative of Canadian biomass.
  • • Have demonstrated its technology at pre-commercial scale.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.sdtc.ca.

Crusin On A Biodiesel Bike

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands which have connected them through an ineffective national energy policy, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, but all sources of access to energy are not,” reads the Declaration of American Energy Independence.

The Declaration was signed last week during several Energy Patriots events held in Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD; York, PA; and Philadelphia, PA. The event was sponsored by AmeriGeen, a Manheim-based biofuel supplier.

Several Energy Patriots were on hand including Don Lingle, an instructor with the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center who rode his biobike to the event in York. Not only has he built his own custom motorcycle to use biodiesel, but last year he helped his students build a biobike using a four-cylinder Volkswagen turbo engine that ran on 100 percent biodiesel produced from the cafeteria’s used cooking oil.

Lingle said in an interview with the York Daily Record, “It smells like the fair – the York Fair. When people drive behind you, they want to know where that smell is coming from.”

Also participating in the event was Tom Washburn, the president of Aero Energy, who three years ago began selling only energy products produced in America. These products include BioHeat, a home heating product that is blended with biodiesel and gaining traction in the Northeastern region of the country.

Washburn noted that it won’t be long until more cars and motorcycles begin to use biodiesel and he believes torque and power will be even better. “People are just afraid right now. They don’t want it to mess up their motorcycle,” he concluded.