About John Davis

Domestic Fuel welcomes our newest blogger, John Davis. John is a 20 years+ veteran of traditional news and is getting his first taste of this "new media." We've known John since Chuck hired him to work at the Brownfield Network in January, 2000 after he served an 11 year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a broadcast journalist. John lives in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife, two sons, two dogs, a cat, a mouse, and a fish! You can read more about him and his thoughts at his own website John C. Davis Online.

Methes Biodiesel Maker to Refine Corn OIl

Methes1A Canadian company has bought a Methes Energies International Ltd. biodiesel processor and will make the gaining plant the first facility in the world to use Methes’ pre-treatment system to process corn oil from a local ethanol plant. This Methes news release says the Denami 600 biodiesel processor and a PP-MEC pre-treatment system will be installed in Havelock, Ontario, Canada, for Drain Bros and will come from Methes’ Mississauga facility.

John Loewen, COO of Methes said, “We are glad to have finalized this transaction and to be able to use the Denami 600 in Mississauga. The Denami 600 has recently been used for research, testing and marketing but has not been used in commercial biodiesel production in over two years so it made sense for Drain Bros and Methes to move it to their location. More importantly, we will be installing a pre-treatment system that will be running on corn oil and we’ll have the ability to showcase the technology in action to other potential clients. This is a major milestone and we are looking forward to help Drain Bros with their new biodiesel facility.”

Furthermore, Methes announced on January 20th 2015 that it had entered into an agreement to license its technology to a US client in exchange for an upfront payment of $4 Million which, as per the agreement, was due February 20th, 2015. Methes provided an extension to the payment date to allow its US client to finalize a pending transaction. At this time, though they express continuing interest in the transaction with Methes, they still have not finalized their other pending transaction.

The refiner will take about 3 weeks to dismantle the equipment at the Mississauga facility.

Growth Energy Applauds E15 Bill

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy is applauding new legislation seen as favorable for E15 ethanol. This news release from the group says the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act sponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) contains a provision to extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, a moved welcomed by Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy:

“We certainly support efforts by Senator Paul and Senator Grassley to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15. This has been a major obstacle ever since Growth Energy led the successful effort to get E15 approved for commercial use.

“We are hopeful that Senators Paul and Grassley’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

Texas Researchers Develop New Yeast for Biodiesel

texasyeast1Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new strain of yeast that will make biodiesel production more efficient. This news release from the school says the scientists used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop the yeast which will help make the biofuel more economically competitive with conventional fuels.

Hal Alper, associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team have engineered a special type of yeast cell, Yarrowia lipolytica, and significantly enhanced its ability to convert simple sugars into oils and fats, known as lipids, that can then be used in place of petroleum-derived products. Alper’s discovery aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from nonfood biomass materials.

“Our re-engineered strain serves as a stepping stone toward sustainable and renewable production of fuels such as biodiesel,” Alper said. “Moreover, this work contributes to the overall goal of reaching energy independence.”

Previously, the Alper team successfully combined genetically engineered yeast cells with ordinary table sugar to produce what Alper described as “a renewable version of sweet crude,” the premium form of petroleum. Building upon this approach, the team used a combination of evolutionary engineering strategies to create the new, mutant strain of Yarrowia that produces 1.6 times as many lipids as their previous strain in a shorter time, reaching levels of 40 grams per liter, a concentration that could make yeast cells a viable platform in the creation of biofuels. The strain’s high lipid yield makes it one of the most efficient organisms for turning sugar into lipids. In addition, the resulting cells produced these lipids at a rate that was more than 2.5 times as fast as the previous strain.

The development is expected to also help in the production of biochemicals.

Country Star Launches College Tour on Biodiesel

leebriceCountry music star Lee Brice is launching an environmentally friendly tour of college campuses, fueled by biodiesel. This article from The Boot says the tour is in partnership with REVERB, a non-profit organization that unites artists and colleges to bring about environmental and social change.

As an avid outdoorsman, the singer-songwriter hopes to focus his attention on outdoor preservation and water conservation.

“We’re hoping to offset the environmental impact of the tour by supporting clean energy projects and using buses and trucks fueled with locally produced biodiesel,” Brice says. “I have two sons, and I look at this as investing in their future and that of kids around the world.”

The tour begins April 8 at Campbell University in North Carolina. The singer’s tour announcement comes as his latest single, “Drinking Class,” was just certified gold.

California Firm Buys Connecticut Biomass Plant

plainfieldA California firm has bought a biomass plant in Connecticut. This article from the Sacramento Business Journal says Greenleaf Power has agreed to buy the 37.5-megawatt Plainfield Renewable Energy plant.

Greenleaf did not disclose a value for the transaction, which is expected to close later this year. But the Washington Post reported the sale price was $30 million in cash and $80 million in secured notes. The seller was Leidos Holdings Inc. of Reston, Va.

Plainfield becomes Greenleaf’s sixth plant, along with facilities in Mecca, Tracy, Humboldt County, Susanville and Quebec City. The acquisition brings Greenleaf’s total renewable energy capacity to more than 180 megawatts.

The plant in Connecticut opened at the end of 2013 and burns waste wood. The plan is to sell the electricity to Connecticut Light and Power under a long-term agreement.

US Troops in Afghanistan Getting Biodiesel Makers

BioPro 380EXU.S. troops in Afghanistan will soon get some small-scale biodiesel makers. Springboard Biodiesel has been selected to provide the turn-key equipment at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Springboard Biodiesel’s BioPro™ 380EX and SpringPro™ T76 comprise a small-scale biodiesel processing system designed to inexpensively convert the base’s used cooking oil into ASTM-grade biodiesel that can then be used in diesel vehicles on base.

Springboard Biodiesel’s CEO, Mark Roberts, commented, “Springboard is excited to provide this made-in-the-USA, clean technology solution to the US military. In Afghanistan, the fully burdened cost of diesel fuel is extremely high. We’ve heard estimates North of $10/gallon. The BioPro™ systems made by Springboard will enable the base to produce high quality biodiesel fuel for less than $1.00 per gallon – not to mention, biodiesel made from used cooking oil burns up to 90% cleaner than regular diesel.”

Springboard Biodiesel hopes to see other military bases copy the Bagram model.

Standards Released for 20% Biodiesel Heating Oil

ASTMlogoNew standards have been released for up to 20 percent blends of biodiesel in heating oil. The National Biodiesel Board says ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels, released new performance specifications for blends of 6-to-20 percent biodiesel, a blend known as Bioheat fuel, with traditional heating oil. The existing No. 1 and No. 2 grades in ASTM D396 already cover 5 percent biodiesel or less.

“The oilheat industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and ultra low sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

The new B6-B20 grade is a blend of all the parameters contained in the existing No. 1 and No. 2 oilheat grades, but adds parameters for stability and allows a slightly higher distillation temperature for the blends. The changes are the same as those for B6-B20 in on-and-off-road diesel fuel passed by ASTM in 2008.

“The data set behind these changes is one of the most extensive I’ve seen in more than 20 years at ASTM,” said Steve Howell of M4 Consulting, an ASTM Fellow who chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. “Having an official standard for higher biodiesel blends in heating oil will help foster consumer confidence, and give blenders and distributors a needed tool to incorporate more low carbon, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel into heating oil.”

Some Bioheat dealers say they have been selling B20 blend for a number of years already with no issues for their customers.

“The technical data with this ballot for the new B6-B20 grade verified what we have known for years — that B20 made with high quality biodiesel works well,” said Seth Obetz, president of Pennsylvania-based Bioheat distributor Worley and Obetz. “We have marketed high quality B20 for 14 years and our customers see fewer problems with B20 than with conventional heating oil.”

Growth Energy Points to Cruz Record on Biofuels

growth-energy-logoAs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announces his candidacy for president, Growth Energy is reminding voters of what the ethanol group calls his “pro-fossil fuel, pro-drilling legislation attempts to kill the homegrown renewable fuels industry.” This news release points to Cruz’s American Energy Renaissance Act, which Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says will promotes Big Oil and deny consumer choice.

“The recent legislation introduced by Senator Cruz is not only shortsighted in terms of a comprehensive energy policy, but it seeks to stifle all production and growth of homegrown, sustainable biofuels that help create American jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation fails to factor in the important role biofuels play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“Senator Cruz seems to believe that he is exercising leadership by attacking the only energy policy that has contributed to our economic, energy and national security. Yet Senator Cruz fails to challenge or acknowledge the excessive subsidies oil companies have received for 102 years and counting at the expense of the American taxpayer. Let’s be clear – this is not ‘profiles in courage,’ this is pandering to Big Oil.

“He says there are no benefits from renewable fuels; however, the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, from 60 to 33 percent, saved consumers at the pump, cleaned our air and revitalized our rural economy. Furthermore, his legislation is a direct attack on America’s farmers, the backbone of this nation, who are working overtime to feed the world and fuel America.”

Growth concludes that Cruz’s legislation would take away the freedom of choice for consumers to choose higher performing, less expensive fuel for which there is a demand.

ICM Celebrates 20 Years of Ethanol Innovations

icm_anniversary_logo_01Kansas-based ICM, Inc. is celebrating 20 years of innovating in the ethanol and renewable fuels industry. The company credits the passion of its people for its longevity and its ability to design more than 100 ethanol plants.

“I think 20 Years of Innovation is an appropriate way to describe the life of the company,” says ICM President Chris Mitchell. “It started out as a small group of people who had to come together and figure out what they were going to do when they started the business. Over the years, it transformed into a larger family of people who’ve had to come together and figure out how to best meet the needs of an evolving industry.”

Some of these needs have led to the development of key innovations such as improved dryers, greenfield plants, Corn Oil Separation, Selective Milling Technology™, Fiber Separation Technology™, and Gen 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology™.

Reflecting on the company’s history, ICM CEO Dave Vander Griend says, “There was kind of a defining moment in time when a lot of things — like policy, public perception, and technology — all came together to help ethanol find its place. I feel fortunate to have been there, to have the background I had at the time, and to be surrounded by a good group of people and industry partners who could rally together and really grab ahold of the thing and help it grow.”

You can learn more about ICM on the company’s 20th anniversary web page.

EPA, Justice Settle with Utah RIN Violator

epa-150The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement with a Utah-based company that was alleged to have generated more than 7.2 million invalid renewable fuel credits worth more than $2 million. This news release from the EPA says Washakie Renewable Energy, LLC generated the Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, from the company’s Plymouth, Utah facility in 2010.

During that time, however, Washakie did not produce any biodiesel at the Plymouth facility. The biodiesel associated with the 7.2 million RINs would have accounted for a reduction of emissions equivalent to more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Washakie has purchased and retired from the market an equivalent number of RINs, which achieved this reduction of emissions.

Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs for each gallon of renewable fuel in the U.S. market that meets greenhouse gas emissions reduction standards established under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Washakie will pay a $3 million penalty under the settlement, which was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“This case is another example of EPA’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure producers are supporting their claims with production of actual renewable fuels is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change.”

“The defendant made quite a profit by failing to adhere to the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Program regulations,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The penalty here sends the message that renewable fuel producers will be held accountable for meeting all legal requirements. The Department of Justice remains committed to taking the profit out of illegal activity.”

The EPA says this is the first case under the second Renewable Fuels Standards in which, as a part of a settlement, EPA secured the replacement of invalid RINs by the producer of those RINs. That takes the burden off the buyers of the RINs who bought them to meet EPA compliance issues.

Biodiesel Imports Drop 36% in 2014

The amount of biodiesel and renewable diesel being imported into the U.S. dropped 36 percent in 2014 compared to the record-level year in 2013. This article from the Energy Information Administration says uncertainty about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and no late-year influx of volumes from Argentina were two main factors in this decline.
2014biodieselimports1
The strongest drivers of the resurgence in U.S. biomass-based diesel demand since 2012 have been increasing RFS targets and the on-again, off-again biodiesel tax credit. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are valuable because they qualify for the two major renewable fuel programs in the United States: the RFS applied at the national level, and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Biomass-based diesel fuels have additional advantages over other renewable fuels because of their relatively high energy content and low carbon intensity, which allow them to qualify for higher credit values in both renewable fuel programs.

While the RFS is meant to encourage the production and consumption of renewable fuels, obligations for 2014 still have not been finalized and those for 2015 have not yet been proposed. The initial proposal for the 2014 RFS program year, released in November 2013, stated that the 2014 biomass-based diesel obligation would remain unchanged from its 2013 value at 1.28 billion gallons, while the advanced biofuels obligation would be reduced to 2.2 billion gallons, down from 2.75 billion gallons in 2013. The uncertainty and proposed lower target levels have made it difficult for refiners to comply with the RFS recently, but the flexibility and value of biomass-based diesel volumes towards all obligation levels make it a strong driver of biodiesel consumption as long as the RFS is still active.

Two other factors help explain lower biomass-based diesel imports in 2014. In late 2013, there was a surge of biodiesel imports from Argentina as a result of European Union (EU) antidumping duties placed on Argentine biodiesel. This action by the EU temporarily diverted large volumes of Argentine biomass-based diesel that were previously destined to be exported to Europe, Argentina’s largest biodiesel export market, to the United States. U.S. imports of biodiesel from Argentina fell by 57% from 2013 to 52 million gallons in 2014.

The EIA also cited the end of the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit at the end of 2013, despite the retroactive reinstatement at the end of 2014, as another factor in the decline.

Nearly half of the biodiesel imports coming into the U.S. come from Canada.

Proposed Oregon Biomass Plant Seeks Energy Buyer

oregonflagA proposed biomass plant in Oregon is getting closer to getting off the ground, if it can just find a buyer for the energy it produces. This article from The Columbian says the city of La Pine could get a wood-burning power plant.

“It’s just been on hold due to market conditions,” said Rob Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co. “And we plan on holding out until we are able to market and sell power.”

The company must find an energy buyer to make the planned plant economically viable, said Rick Allen, La Pine city manager.

“They need to find a power company that wants to buy their power,” he said. “That’s really the issue.”

The $75 million, 25-megawatt biomass plant would produce enough electricity to power about 19,000 homes, Broberg said. The plant would burn wood — limbs and other scrap left over after logging, debris from thinning projects and urban waste — to heat water, create steam and turn a turbine.

Biogreen has been trying to build a biomass plant in the forest-surrounded city of La Pine for more than five years.

NY Considers State Biodiesel Heating Oil Mandate

englebrightA measure before the New York state legislature would require biodiesel to be mixed into every gallon of heating oil sold in the state. This article from The Legislative Gazette says the bill would set a 2 percent mandate and start no later than July 1, 2016 if it is passed.

Bill A.6070 is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D- Setauket, in the Assembly and has the support of environmental groups, consumer groups, labor unions and farmers.

“Clean air is really a birthright for New Yorkers and this will help underwrite that premise,” Englebright said. “We think it is part of a whole series of measures that we’re going to have to take to clean up our environment in the state.”

Kevin Rooney, CEO of the Oil Heating Institute of Long Island, supports the use of biodiesel because it provides many benefits.

“The use of biofuels blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil provides unquestioned energy efficiency, it provides environmental benefits, it increases or enhances public health benefits at no cost whatsoever to the end-use consumer, the home owner,” Rooney said.

The Ways and Means Committee is currently considering the bill.

Hawaii Trans Director Commits to 20% Biodiesel

pacificbiodieselHawaii’s head of its state transportation department is committing his agency to using a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, B20. This article from Big Island Now says State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami made the remarks as he, Governor David Ige and Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui toured Pacific Biodiesel’s refinery this week during Biodiesel Day.

“We are committed to convert all of our diesel fuel equipment and vehicles to B20. This fuel is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. We support initiatives to buy local and promote the use of clean energy fuels,” Fuchigami said.

During the visit, Gov. Ige emphasized the state’s serious commitment to food security and energy sustainability. He commended Pacific Biodiesel for being a global pioneer in the field of biofuels and for company president Robert King’s vision to position Hawai’i to become an energy independent and self-sustainable state.

The City & County of Honolulu have been using B20 for more than a decade.

Biofuel Advocates Invite Candidates to Learn RFS

ARF-LogoIt won’t be long until presidential candidates invade Iowa once again (and some already have). So, Iowa-based America’s Renewable Future (ARF) has publically invited Sen. Ted Cruz and all potential 2016 presidential candidates to tour Iowa renewable fuel facilities across the state to learn more about the success of the industry.

“The goal of our organization is to educate candidates on the economic importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its many advantages, not only locally, but nationally,” said former Lt. Gov. and ARF co-chair, Patty Judge, “the RFS sustains 73,000 jobs in Iowa and over 800,000 nationally. Iowa farmers epitomize hard work and are a beacon of rural America’s success and we hope that Sen. Cruz will stand with them.”

Following Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to the standard at the March 7 Iowa Ag Summit, the organization is especially interested in drawing the Texas senator to an ethanol plant tour on his upcoming trips in April. “Sen. Cruz’s remarks show that there is a chance to have important dialogue on this issue,” said ARF co-chair and Nevada, IA cattleman, Bill Couser, “I had a chance to personally invite Sen. Cruz at the Ag Summit in addition to the two formal invitations ARF has sent to his campaign and I hope that he will not miss this chance to see just what this policy means for real Iowans and their families.”

“This comes down to supporting independence from foreign oil while supporting American jobs or giving in to foreign interests and Big Oil,” added Couser, “We hope that Sen. Cruz we will make time to hear from folks who have seen the success in this industry and ask questions about his concerns.”