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.

Greenbelt to Capture Ethanol from Wine Making

greenbelt_logoA California company will make a new system to capture the ethanol from wine production to sell the gas for commercial purposes. This news release from sustainable energy company Greenbelt Resources says the company will make the system for EcoPAS, engineering company for the California wine industry, that keeps the gaseous ethanol from the fermentation process from becoming an environmental emission.

“After a rigorous bidding process and extensive consideration, we chose Greenbelt Resources. With their cutting-edge ethanol technology and expertise we see a long-term relationship with Greenbelt as our partner,” said Marci Norkin-Schoepel, co-founder of EcoPAS. “By selecting Greenbelt Resources, we benefit not only from their innovative, green manufacturing capabilities, but also their experience in ethanol condensation, which allows the potential for future collaboration beyond contract manufacturing.”

EcoPAS selected Greenbelt Resources as a manufacturing partner to fabricate the initial full-scale PAS units based on Greenbelt’s technology accolades, extensive industry experience and reputation for delivering performance outcomes that exceed customer expectations. A portion of the product produced by the PAS may serve as an excellent feedstock for Greenbelt’s traditional modular distillation and dehydration systems.

“The invention of the PAS by EcoPAS is significant because of its ability to passively perform ethanol vapor-capture without the need for complex controls or major energy inputs – making it a truly environmentally friendly pollution control system,” said Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation. “The EcoPAS management and design team share our vision and have created a growth industry simply by producing a much needed passive, pollution-control solution. Once a critical mass of Passive Alcohol Systems is deployed, the resulting volume of ethanol-containing product can generate demand for distillation and dehydration systems built by Greenbelt Resources from wineries and other fermentation processers in the US and internationally.”

Completion of this full-scale system is expected by the middle of this year.

Corn and Ethanol Groups Blast Report

A report critical of corn-based ethanol is being blasted by groups representing the corn and ethanol industries as being the same old arguments that have been roundly rejected and criticized by the scientific community and disproven by the empirical data, as well as smacking of Big Oil’s efforts to discredit an American success story. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy all released statements critical of “new” research from the World Resources Institute, where Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich re-hash their already disproven theories of “food vs. fuel” and “Indirect Land Use Change.”

ace14-dc-alversonSouth Dakota corn grower and a member of the Corn Board Keith Alverson said:

“This ‘new’ study is just more of the same, tired arguments Big Oil have been using for years. They simply are not true. In fact, numerous studies by independent, unbiased third parties have come to vastly different conclusions.

The fact is, ethanol is a very efficient energy source. When calculating the amount of energy used to produce ethanol, from farm to pump, ethanol represents a 40 percent net energy gain. No other energy source comes close. Ethanol is also better for the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road.

There is more than enough corn to meet all demands: food, fuel, feed, and fiber.”

nafb-14-dinneenBob Dinneen, the Renewable Fuels Association’s president and CEO, said:

“Providing a cursory update of a failed theory is not science and does nothing to enlighten the debate about biofuels. For the better part of a decade, lawyer-activist Tim Searchinger has been promoting the flawed notion that increased biofuel use places unnecessary constraints on finite agricultural land resources. But, the “land use change” and “food vs. fuel” arguments are as wrong today as they were seven years ago when Searchinger first gained notoriety with his doomsday predictions…. In fact, Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development put this issue to bed last November, finding that ‘…the primary land use change response of the world’s farmers in the last 10 years has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land brought into production.’”

fps12-buisTom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, released the following statement:

“The World Resources Institute’s latest report repackages old, previously debunked food and fuel, as well as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) myths in attempts to discredit an American success story, one that is producing both food and fuel, while also improving our environment. Slapping a new title on this previously discredited research won’t change the facts—the American farmer is more than capable of producing an abundant amount of food, feed and fuel, and the air we breathe and our environment, as a whole, is better off for it.”

Buis added that without biofuels, the U.S. actually “might be producing less, not more food, in order to control the expansion of surplus stocks and assistance payments to farmers.” In addition, WRI fails to mention the last two record corn crops, falling corn prices, and co-products such as distiller’s grains that displace the need for other livestock feed crops and reduce the net acreage used to produce ethanol.

Inspiring Words from Inspiring Biodiesel Advocate

nbc-15-andersonThere are many in the biodiesel industry who serve as inspirations, but maybe none as much as Greg Anderson with the Nebraska Soybean Board. The soybean farmer has been a long-time biodiesel advocate and has shown his full-time devotion to his fellow soybean farmers and the biodiesel industry in so many ways. Even after suffering a near-fatal accident involving a propane tank explosion on the family farm back in Nebraska this past August, he remained positive, grateful, and upbeat during his recovery from the painful injuries. And during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, he reminded the group gathered for the Eye on Biodiesel Awards, of which he is the Inspiration winner, of just how safe biodiesel is.

“Biodiesel is the safest of all fuels to handle, transport and store. I’ll be towing biodiesel from now on,” he said with an inspirational smile and applause from the crowd.

Greg said while his recovery was painful, he was helped by all the support of so many people. He found himself thankful for not only his life but a full recovery. He likens his recovery to the recovery the biodiesel industry is having to face now. He also reminded the group not to forget what’s important in life.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what we accomplished or the material possessions that we have. But it’s truly about making others better, inspiring others, really giving back. And I’ve been blessed so much by you all.”

Listen to Greg’s inspiring remarks here: Greg Anderson

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Innovations Helped Grow Biodiesel Industry

nbc-15-butcherIt’s many of the innovations that have helped grow biodiesel from what could be considered just a cottage industry not that long ago to the major fuel it is today. During the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Tom Butcher from Brookhaven National Laboratory was recognized for his contributions to the industry. He told the group that as a researcher, he has worked on a lot of different energy technologies and was impressed with biodiesel’s impact.

“The impact that it’s had on the Northeast, the impact on the heating oil industry across the country. This is an industry that because of biodiesel has been rejuvenated,” he said.

Tom played an instrumental role in the technical research that has been done over the last six years that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for 6 percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard. His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing the research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the NORA/NBB-lead Bioheat Technical Steering Committee.

He concluded saying he was lucky to be part of this group and is looking forward to the innovations of the future.

Listen to Tom’s remarks here: Tom Butcher

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

First Biodiesel Mandate Cited in Influence Award

nbc-15-schoenfeldThe mandate that inspired other states to put in their own biodiesel requirements and the man who helped start it all were recognized during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis-based Greater States Advisors picked up the Eye on Biodiesel Influence Award for his instrumental part in the development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota after soybean growers came to him in 2000.

He admits he didn’t know much about biodiesel back then, as there was just 2 million gallons produced nationwide each year – a dramatic difference from today’s 1.8 BILLION gallons annually. Jerry said he had to work with a state legislature that was split between Republicans and Democrats and an Independent governor. The nation’s first 2 percent biodiesel standard for all diesel was finally made into law and served as a blueprint for other states’ mandates.

“In many ways, that measure worked, along with many others in your respective states,” Jerry told the group. He added that working with the split legislature and governor’s office taught him important lessons in legislative matters. “If you work hard and you keep at it, you will succeed. And secondly, you can’t always assume who your friends and who your enemies are, because on any given day, different politicians will be both!”

Listen to Jerry’s remarks here: Interview with Jerry Schoenfeld, biodiesel award winner

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Conference Honors Franken for Impact

nbc-15-frankenA long-time advocate for biodiesel was honored during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota was honored with the the 2015 “Eye on Biodiesel” Impact award for his work for biodiesel in Washington, taking a particular leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes.

Sen. Franken has helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress. And he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits in Minnesota and across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. Additionally, Sen. Franken has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the biodiesel tax incentive. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

In recorded remarks played for the crowd gathered at the conference, Franken thanked the group for the honor and reiterated his opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut biodiesel requirement under the RFS to 1.3 billion gallons annually.

“Our annual biodiesel production meets and even exceeds the expectations set in the [RFS]. Last year, you produced 1.8 billion gallons – each one of those gallons is helping improve our energy security and creating good jobs here at home,” said Franken, pointing out that he’s talked with anyone who would listen in the administration, including President Obama, telling them all how opposed he was to the proposal. “We need a strong RFS, not a weak one.”

Franken vows to keep fighting for the biodiesel industry, also working to reinstate the federal biodiesel tax credit.

“It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing Big Oil, while letting investments in clean, homegrown energy, like biodiesel, lapse.”

Listen to Franken’s remarks here: Sen. Al Franken speaks to biodiesel conference by video

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel, Soybean Groups Criticize Import Decision

Proponents of the biodiesel industry in this country and the feedstocks that make it are blasting the U.S government’s decision to allow Argentinian biodiesel easier access to American markets. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) say the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ease sustainability requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to fast-track the South American fuel couldn’t come at a worse time.

nbb-advanced“This decision poses a tremendous threat to U.S. industry and jobs, not to mention the overriding goal of the RFS of developing clean, homegrown renewable fuels,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is incredibly damaging, particularly in light of the continued delays in establishing RFS volumes. The Obama administration has effectively run the U.S. biodiesel industry into a ditch over the past year by failing to establish a functioning renewable fuels policy, and instead of pulling the domestic industry out, it is fast-tracking foreign competition.”

ASAlogo1“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”

Under the RFS, feedstocks generally must be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007 – when the RFS was implemented. Typically, foreign producers must closely map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels. EPA’s decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to use a survey plan for certifying that feedstocks used, far less stringent than the current map and track requirement and more difficult to verify. NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. as a result of the change.

“At a time when our U.S. industry needs a lifeline, it feels instead like we’re being pushed back under water,” Steckel said. “This decision simply makes no sense from an economic perspective, an energy security perspective or an environmental perspective. It is baffling.”

Students Recognized for Biodiesel, Ethanol Videos

Students from Iowa have been recognized for their efforts to promote biodiesel and ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) awarded prizes in its “Fuel the Future” Iowa High School Video Contest.

Anna Steenson of Des Moines won first place in the contest for Iowa high school students. The IRFA awarded the senior from Central Campus a $1,000 grand prize for her creative and informative video titled “E15: Powering the Future.”

Karly Lent of Bettendorf, Iowa won the $600 second place prize for her video entitled, “Let’s Fuel the Future.” Karly is a junior at Bettendorf High School.

Jacquelyn Huynh, Dakota Karthan, Maria Babcock and Jordan Bacon won the $400 third place prize for their video entitled, “Good for Your Car, Better for Iowa.” This group of girls is a collection of juniors and seniors from Ankeny High School.

“First, I want to thank all of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this year’s contest and learning about the benefits of using renewable fuels,” stated IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “This year’s video contest winners all created highly imaginative, entertaining, and informative videos that do a great job of explaining the benefits of using cleaner-burning biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel.”

The top three videos were featured at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.

New Propane Autogas Nozzle to Modernize Refueling

nozzle plus connector1A new nozzle for fueling propane vehicles is being touted as being able to “brings autogas refueling into the modern age at the fuel pump.” Staubli‘s new Autogas Nozzle is suited for new installations, as well as being able to be retrofitted for existing autogas vehicles.

Developed by Cavagna Group, the nozzle accessories feature Euro Nozzle-Acme adaptors as well as the current ACME Nozzle-Euro Fill valves. Adapters allow the transition to happen between the ACME nozzle and the new Euro Fill Nozzle and the old Acme fill valve that might be on the vehicle…

The Staubli nozzle is available from industry equipment distributors such as Superior Energy Systems, Bergquist Distributors, and others within the industry. Plans are for the distribution of the nozzle and accessory components are to begin this month. The Alliance AutoGas network will begin installing the new connector and using the new nozzle for all new autogas installations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 2,700 fueling stations in the U.S. alone, in addition to the Alliance’s 460 fleet locations.

Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council notes, “We want to move forward promoting this [European] connection to industry customers, and that means getting manufacturers of connectors and adapters involved such as Cavagna Group, as well as the propane industry’s equipment distributors in the United States and Canada.”

Biodiesel Pioneer Honored at Conference

Eye on Biodiesel PioneerLast year the biodiesel industry lost a pioneer who has had a huge impact. He was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel – Pioneer Award. On stage at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo to honor him were several people for whom he had a very personal impact and accepting the award was his brother Scott Hanks.

Dallas Hanks.

The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks last June when he succumbed to cancer. For those that knew him, Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, and had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

You can listen to the remarks in honor of Dallas here: Remarks in Honor of Dallas Hanks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

John Deere Green Goes Well with Green Biodiesel

nbc-15-greg-grevingA Nebraska farmer who proudly admits he bleeds John Deere green also admits a pretty high affection for the green fuel, biodiesel. Greg Greving, who farms in Central Nebraska and is a board member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, told attendees of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that biodiesel is what powers his equipment.

“This fall, my two boys, two hired men and myself, harvested 11,000 acres in 56 days [all running on biodiesel], and the only time we shut down was when we were tired,” he said. “We have not had any trouble running biodiesel.”

But Greg was doing more than just bragging about his Deere equipment and biodiesel. He was invited to the showcase to show off his 1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency with a 5.7 GM diesel engine, in which he also uses biodiesel. Whether it’s his car or the farm equipment he runs, fuel quality is of the utmost importance. That’s important to hear, as the National Biodiesel Board announced its new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

You can hear to Greg’s remarks here: Greg Greving, Nebraska Soybean Board at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel & Vehicles On Display at NBB Conference

nbc-15-steve-howellOne of the highlights of this year’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, as it is every year, was the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, where vehicle makers gave us a sneak peek at what’s coming from them that runs on biodiesel. Steve Howell, the National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) senior technical advisor, said when the industry started more than 20 years ago, they had a very modest goal of producing 30 million gallons of biodiesel nationwide annually. Now, an average plant cranks out that much each. He credits working with partners in the automaking industry for the increase.

“We’ve done the work necessary to answer the questions that they have about biodiesel in the engines of vehicles,” he said. “Because if we answer their questions, we know we’ve answered customers’ questions.”

Steve said that close, working relationship is highlighted by the biodiesel industry’s constant outreach to the vehicle makers and the fuel industry to ask what can biodiesel do for them next, such as oxidation stability and metals content. “So that these new technology diesel engines that have better fuel economy and cleaner emissions work with biodiesel blends.”

He thanked the partners participating in not only this showcase, but the biodiesel industry, including John Deere, Ford, Volkswagen, Hino Trucks, General Motors, Peterbilt, and the Diesel Technology Forum, as well as funding they’ve received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board and state soybean boards.

“We’re doing efforts to educate engine companies, to educate dealers, and all that’s possible through that funding and the work done by NBB so we can all enjoy the benefits of biodiesel in our vehicles.”

You can hear to Steve’s remarks here: Steve Howell at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

First RFS Education Ad in Des Moines

AmRenewFuture adAfter kicking off the new America’s Renewable Future campaign on Thursday last week, the first ads starting appearing in the Des Moines Register on Friday as potential Republican presidential candidates began to gather for the Iowa Freedom Summit.

“We want to send an unmistakable message to both parties about the remarkable, bipartisan success story of the Renewable Fuel Standard in creating jobs and making America more energy independent,” said Eric Branstad, Executive Director for America’s Renewable Future. “Iowa’s renewable fuel production has more than doubled under the RFS, and now supports more jobs and families than ever before. Candidates who support the RFS has always done well in Iowa, but it will be an even bigger issue in 2015 and 2016.”

The Des Moines Register ad noted the RFS supports 73,000 Iowa jobs, more than 50 ethanol biodiesel refineries across Iowa and has helped put foreign oil imports at a 20-year low. It’s call to action is a pretty straightforward message to candidates and caucus goers alike: “Don’t put Iowa out of business. Support the Renewable Fuel Stand… Take a stand.”

New Quality Program Talk of Biodiesel Conference

nbc-15-scott-fenwickIt’s fuel quality that has brought the biodiesel industry to where it is today, and that standard looks to be extended all the way to consumers’ fuel tanks. Scott Fenwick, the National Biodiesel Board’s technical director told attendees of the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (NBAC), better known as BQ-9000, a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of companies that produce, test, and supply biodiesel fuel, serves as a key link between the industry, the producers, the blenders and marketers with the consumers.

“Up until today, we’ve had programs in place for producers, marketers and independent labs doing that testing. Today, a new program for BQ-9000 retailers will be the last remaining cog to that continuum of fuel quality,” Scott said.

He added that more than 90 percent of the biodiesel produced comes from BQ-9000 producers. NBB’s partners in the biodiesel industry wanted this new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

The program will be forwarded to all NBB member companies for comments for 30 days, with a final review and release of the findings later in March.

You can hear to Scott’s remarks here: Scott Fenwick at Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Grain Demand for Biofuels Expected to Stagnate

afbf15-westhoffA bumper crop has helped lower feedstock prices for grain-based biofuels, but the industry is still expected to stagnate. Patrick Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, told attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show that this year’s bumper crop and low prices is good news for those buying the green fuels’ feedstocks, but lower expected demand for biofuels will still hurt.

“We’ll have significantly smaller corn yields in 2015/16 caused in part by the low demand for ethanol. Yield numbers will change.”

Due to corn prices dropping to levels not seen in years, Westhoff said that farmers will plant less corn in the next two years. More than 90 million acres were planted in 2014 and he projected that only 87.9 million acres will be planted in 2015 and 89.7 million acres in 2016.

Westhoff said large corn and soybean crops will weigh on grain and oilseed prices in the short run, and that although average corn prices remain low by 2007-2012 standards, they are still above pre-2007 levels.

Livestock producers are expected to benefit from the big crop with lower prices for their animal feed. But we’ll need to see what happens to that industry if those smaller grain crops sizes driven by lower biofuels demand come to fruition.

2015 AFBF Convention photo album