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.

Oregon Biodiesel Plant Opening Triggers Mandate

The opening of the 5-million-gallon-a-year Sequential Pacific Biodiesel refinery in Salem, Oregon today is attracting celebrities and kicking in a new biodiesel mandate.

The Eugene (OR) Register-Guard reports not only is country music legend and biodiesel backer Willie Nelson expected at the opening, but Oregon’s new biodiesel mandate will start:

Once the plant is producing at the 5-million-gallon capacity, that will trigger the state’s renewable fuel standards for diesel, requiring that all diesel sold in Oregon include at least 2 percent biodiesel. Hitting that threshold should help Sequential and the biodiesel industry because it guarantees that a certain amount of biodiesel will be consumed in Oregon, company co-founder Ian Hill said. The new standard will double demand for biodiesel to about 20 million gallons per year, Hill said.

To fight some of the food-versus-fuel debate, the folks at Sequential are using used cooking oil for about 90 percent of their feedstock.

Biodiesel Bus Patrons Ride for Free

Riders of the new biodiesel bus at the University of Montana in Missoula won’t get just a clean ride on an eco-friendly piece of mass transit… they’ll get all that for free.

This story from the Missoulian says drivers could end up fighting over who gets to get behind the wheel of the 50-passenger bis:

The new addition is the sixth bus in UM’s commuter fleet, and it couldn’t come at a better time, [Nancy Wilson, director of the Associated Students of the University of Montana’s Office of Transportation] said.

“Last year, the bus system shuttled 314,000 people,” she said. “We expect an increase in riders this year because of the high price of gas, the difficulties in finding campus parking and because more people are concerned about being more environmentally friendly.”

Riders will get to enjoy that “new bus smell,” while knowing they’re doing their part for the environment.

A Destiny of Sustainable Energy

Destiny, Florida, the first eco-sustainable city in the country, is creating Florida’s first sustainable energy farm.

This press release from the green city just south of Disney World in Central Florida says the Destiny Sustainable Energy Farm will be a learning center, applying and showcasing 21st century farming technologies and practices to produce alternative fuels:

“Destiny’s Energy Farm will be a proving ground for technologies and practices of the future and is a testament to our commitment to create a truly eco-sustainable community in the state,” said Anthony V. Pugliese, III, Destiny founder. “It’s just the beginning of building a city that operates with minimal impact on the environment and serves as a scientific hub where the latest green technology innovations will emerge.”

The Energy Farm is a result of a cooperative effort between several private/public individuals and companies, including the University of Florida; GreenTechnologies, LLC; Everglades Farm Equipment; American Drilling Services, Inc.; Global Renewable Energy; Southern Farms; Energy Structures & Systems, Inc.; and Bio Greens Oil USA, LLC.

The energy farm is growing 20 acres of sweet sorghum, which requires less water and fertilizer and is hardier in bad soils. Samples of the grain are being tested at the University of Florida to measure yield and ethanol potential.

Officials say they’re trying to grow crops that are good for alternative fuels, while looking at new food production for the community.

Wind Power Stored as Compressed Air

New Jersey-based Energy Storage and Power says it is investing $20 million over the next three years to develop an underground compressed-air storage system for wind turbines and other power sources.

This story from C|Net.com says Energy Storage and Power is a joint venture formed by energy developer PSEG Global and Michael Nakhamkin, who designed the only compressed air-storage facility in the U.S.:

With Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), air is pumped into underground formations, such as depleted natural gas wells or salt caverns, using a natural gas-powered machine. The pressured air is released later to drive a turbine to make electricity.

The system allows for several hours or even days of stored energy, which allows power producers to deliver electricity during peak hours when the demand for electricity–and price–is highest.

Energy Storage and Power said that it intends to develop equipment for storing renewable power resources at a large scale. Utilities are already using more wind and solar, but energy storage means that they can be used more broadly since electricity can be “dispatched” as needed.

Energy Storage and Power joins General Compression in the commercial compressed-air storage wind energy business. General Compression is also designing a wind turbine that has a compressor built into the nacelle, the housing at the top of a wind turbine tower.

Enterprise Taps Sayre to Head Biofuel Efforts

St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car has named Dr. Richard Sayre, a leading biofuels researcher, to head its Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

This press release says the company created the Institute in 2007 with a $25 million gift from the company’s founding family, the Taylors… who own Enterprise, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car and operate the world’s largest automotive fleet, with more than 1.1 million vehicles:

“Just as we are committed to using our fleet to grow the market for commercially viable new fuels and engine technologies, we believe it is important to play a role in the search for sustainable, renewable fuels that can curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependency on finite fossil fuels,” said Andy Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Enterprise. “Dr. Sayre and his team bring tremendous leadership to this effort.”

Dr. Roger N. Beachy, president of the Danforth Center, said Sayre’s deep experience in plant science will advance the mission of the Danforth Center and the Institute for Renewable Fuels. “Attracting a researcher of Dr. Sayre’s caliber speaks volumes about the work we have done over the last decade – and the pioneering work we will do in the future,” Beachy said. Continue reading

Two Biodiesel Companies Among Fastest Growing

The rising popularity of biodiesel is helping many companies grow rapidly. Two privately-held biodiesel-related companies are being recognized as among the nation’s 500 fastest growing of any type of company.

This article from Biodiesel Magazine says Inc. Magazine has rated Greenline Industries and Blue Sun Biodiesel among the fastest growing:

Larkspur, Calif.-based Greenline Industries, a manufacturer of biodiesel production equipment, as listed seventh on Inc.’s overall list and was the No. 1 energy company for 2008. The company was also at the top of the 100 businesses in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., list. According to Inc. Magazine, Greenline has experienced a 10,000 percent growth rate since it was founded in 2002. In 2004, the company had $318,000 in revenue; in 2007, Greenline reported $35.1 million in revenue.

The only biodiesel producer to make the list was Golden, Co.-based Blue Sun Biodiesel. Of the 23 energy companies to make the top 500, Blue Sun ranked tenth. Overall, the company was ranked 242 on the top 500 list.

Blue Sun marketing director Steve Bond said the ranking proves that despite a tough year experienced by the biodiesel industry, companies can continue to grow. Blue Sun has enjoyed a 1,000 percent growth rate in the past three years and reported $14.1 million in revenue last year. Bond attributes the company’s prosperous nature to its trademarked premium B20 biodiesel blend – Fusion. “We’re doing the right thing by having premium biodiesel fuel that people can trust for their vehicles,” he said. “This shows this is the right path. People are responding to that.” Bond told Biodiesel Magazine that Blue Sun plans to expand its business in 2009 to include locations in Nebraska, Colorado and other states in the western United States.

Companies on the list must be privately-funded, U.S.-based, and not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies since December 2007; have been generating revenue since the first week of 2004; revenues in 2004 must have been no less than $200,000; and revenue in 2007 must have been at least $2 million.

Wind Energy Needs Superhighway

Right now, the U.S. gets just one percent of its energy needs from wind power, but experts say that could be increased 20-fold in a short time.

This story from the New York Times says the current electrical grid was thought up 100 years ago… designed to be kind of a system of “streets, avenues and country roads:”

“We need an interstate transmission superhighway system,” said Suedeen G. Kelly, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

While the United States today gets barely 1 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, many experts are starting to think that figure could hit 20 percent.

Achieving that would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. Builders are also contemplating immense solar-power stations in the nation’s deserts that would pose the same transmission problems.

The article goes on to say that politicians in the nation’s capital have known about the grid’s limitations but don’t want to trample on states’ rights over the grid… although a 2005 energy law does allow the federal Energy Department to step in if states don’t act. But when the feds tried to do that, 14 U.S. senators signed a letter saying the department was being too aggressive.

I guess it’s back in Congress’ court as to whether this country moves forward with a clean energy source… and the infrastructure to support it.

Dem Convention Runs on Biodiesel, Solar & Wind

If you’ve been watching any of the Democratic Convention you’ve been seeing plenty of windy people talking up a storm (hey, they’re politicians… Republicans will spew plenty of hot air next week!). But wind energy (the kind that turns turbines), along with solar and biodiesel, is helping behind the scenes.

National Geographic’s Green Guide blog has details:

This week’s Democratic Convention is boasting that it will be the greenest political convention ever. Hybrid, alternative fuel and biodiesel buses are transporting the delegates; the stage will be painted with low-VOC paints and solar power, wind energy and biodiesel generators will all be incorporated in running the event.

The post says it is the same thinking that has prompted many big-time concerts to adopt similar measures to reduce their carbon footprints.

Biodiesel By-product Good for Your Heart

Researchers at Virginia Tech have found a way to grow a compound important to human heart health using a plentiful by-product of biodiesel production.

This press release from the school says Zhiyou Wen, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has found a way to grow omega-3 fatty acids, known for benefits but lacking in most Americans’ diets, using glycerol:

“High energy prices have led to an increase in biodiesel production, which in turn has led to an increase in the amount of crude glycerol in the market,” said Wen, who explained that biodiesel plants leave behind approximately 10 percent crude glycerol during the production process.

This has led the price of glycerol, a chemical compound widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, to drop in recent years. The rise in biodiesel production over the last decade means that the market can no longer absorb all the extra glycerol. Biodiesel producers must find alternative means for disposing of crude glycerol, which is prohibitively expensive to purify for industry use. Wen and his colleagues have developed a novel fermentation process using microalgae to produce omega-3 fatty acids from crude glycerol

“We have shown that it is possible to use the crude glycerol byproduct from the biodiesel industry as a carbon source for microalgae that produce omega-3 fatty acids,” said Wen, who added that the impurities in crude glycerol may actually be beneficial to algal growth. “After thorough chemical analysis, we have also shown that the algae biomass composition has the same quality as the commercial algae product.”

The release goes on to say that the algae grown in the crude glycerol can be used as an animal feed, including fish and, possibly one day, poultry feed, giving the same omega-3 fatty acids to chicken that fish eaters enjoy.

Wen presented his findings at the recent at the 236th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

$100 Million Ad Campaign to Raise Wind Awareness

Wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems has launched a $100-million ad campaign.

But, as CNNMoney.com reports, the company isn’t trying to convince everyone in the country to pick up one of its 100-ton wind energy machines:

Instead, the world’s largest seller of wind turbines sees the need to raise Americans’ awareness of wind energy’s potential. To that end, Vestas budgeted $ 100 million for the next two years to bring its “Vestas, No. 1 in Modern Energy” campaign to U.S. living rooms, company Chief Executive Ditlev Engel told Clean Technology Insight.

This is the first year that the company has come out with consumer-targeted ads that will run in print, online, on the radio and on television.

“We want to show people: Here’s technology you have but don’t use,” Engel said.

The article goes on to point out that the marketing effort has political intentions, too, as the industry is still smarting from Congress not mandating more energy from renewable sources: Continue reading

Teacher & Students Complete Cross-Country Biodiesel Trip

A group of students and a teacher from Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island has completed a cross-country trip running their 1997 GMC pickup truck, that had been donated by Con Edison Solutions, on recycled cooking oil made into biodiesel.

This story from the Providence (RI) Journal has details:

“The vehicle handled really great,” teacher Ross McCurdy said when the group marked its return to Rhode Island yesterday at Roger Williams Park.

“We had one catastrophic problem,” said Zane Lewis, a former Ponaganset student. “It was a headlight. We had to change it.”

The foursome left Rhode Island two weeks ago with the truck’s tank full of biodiesel and three reserve tanks holding 250 gallons in the bed of the pickup.

“That was plenty of fuel to get us all the way to California, right down to the water,” said Wylie Smith, another former student.

“We did this to demonstrate that biodiesel is a viable fuel that’s easy to use and it works and it’s reliable,” said McCurdy.

The trip turned out to be more than simply a demonstration of biodiesel, though. The travelers saw a big slice of America.

“There were probably about 50 in ‘coolest things we saw,’ ” said Lewis.

Among the coolest things in the trip from Rhode Island to Los Angeles was a chance to see the Northern California coast and the opportunity to run the truck on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

So what did you do on your summer break?

Nation’s Largest Biodiesel Refinery Hits 50% of Potential

GreenHunter Biofuels has announced that its Houston biodiesel refinery has hit 50 percent of its 105 million gallon per year capacity at the nation’s largest biodiesel refinery.

This company press release says the plant uses mostly animal fats, primarily poultry fat and beef tallow to make the green fuel:

GreenHunter BioFuels is currently contracting for sale its first 4000 metric ton parcel of B100, or 100% biodiesel, to a purchaser with an anticipated ultimate delivery into the international markets.

Commenting on GreenHunter BioFuels’ recent operational achievements, Bruce Baughman, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology, stated, “Successfully achieving 50% of nameplate capacity at such a highly technical refinery is a testimony not only to the quality of this unique asset, but to the outstanding work conducted by our plant personnel during this start-up period. By designing a refinery that has the ability to take a multitude of different feedstocks, GreenHunter has the ability to source and procure the least expensive raw materials possible around the world. This allows our Company to achieve the greatest possible operating margins within the business today. We believe the distilled, ‘water-white’ quality performance of the GreenHunter Biofuels facility will contribute to a new quality standard in the global biodiesel marketplace.”

GreenHunter Biofuels is a subsidiary of GreenHunter Energy, a company focused on renewable energy sources, such as wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, biofuels, and biomass power plants. It has plans for wind energy projects in Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, California, Texas, and China.

Propane Touted as Fuel for Fleets

Motorsports legend Jack Roush joined a group of auto company executives, fleet operators and propane marketers to demostrate to the press and public some propane-fueled vehicles in New York City.

The event was hosted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), and this press release from the council says a Ford propane F-150 pickup developed by Roush Industries was the demonstration vehicle:

“Aside from its superb engineering, this F-150 is a propane alternative-fueled vehicle that has an established refueling infrastructure to support it,” said Jack Roush, chairman of the board of Roush Enterprises and CEO and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, Livonia, Michigan. “It has lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and diesel pickups and costs less to operate, and it contributes to the reduction of America’s dependency on foreign oil.”

The other propane-fueled on-road vehicles on display also drew a great deal of interest from fleet operators: a Blue Bird Vision school bus, a medium-duty General Motors truck, a Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser, and a Chrysler 300 sedan. “School administrators using the propane-fueled bus like its performance and its low operating costs,” said PERC Vice President Brian Feehan. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision is factory-built to operate on propane and features the GM 8.1-liter V8 engine with a liquid propane injection system.

The release goes on to point out that, for a long time, propane has been a popular fuel for vehicles such as forklifts and some off-road vehicles. It’s now gaining more acceptance in fleet vehicles, such as buses, taxis and police vehicles. While propane is currently in 11 million vehicles, that number is expected to grow as the cost of conventional fuels and worries over greenhouse gases continue to rise. It’s estimated that propane could trim up to 30 percent of fleets’ fuel costs.

Purdue Study Show Biodiesel Benefits in Buses

A new study from Purdue University shows that buses that have been running 10 percent biodiesel are reducing pollution without any loss of fuel economy.

This press release from the school says the report, prepared by Gregory Shaver, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, doctoral student Dave Snyder and undergraduate Chris Satkoski, found that upping that mix to 20 percent would have even greater results:

The university’s Technical Assistance Program at the Purdue Research Park arranged for the engineers to prepare the study for IndyGo Public Transportation Corp., which provides mass transit in Indianapolis. The report was presented to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard earlier this month at Purdue’s Ray W. Herrick Laboratories in a visit organized by the university’s Energy Center.

The report compared bus operations in April 2006 and April 2007 to determine the impact of switching from standard diesel fuel, referred to as B0, to B10, which contains 10 percent biodiesel. IndyGo switched its entire fleet to B10 in 2007.

“In our assessment, we would recommend going to B20,” Shaver said. “We also saw a significant benefit to using the diesel-electric hybrid buses, so we would recommend increasing the number of hybrids in the fleet. The best bang for your buck might be running B20 in hybrid buses, depending on the initial cost of hybrids compared to standard buses.”

The researchers say switching to B20 could save Indianapolis 360,000 gallons a year, while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

Study to Show CO2 Reduciton with Biodiesel

The National Biodiesel Board has teamed up with two companies to launch a pilot program to show how much lower emissions are using biodiesel. NBB, along with Chicago-based Indigenous Energy, LLC, developers of emissions tracking systems, and Los Angeles-based States Logistics, a fleet and logistics company using clean technology, to put together the six-month over-the-road test.

This press release from the NBB says when they are finished, they’ll put together a report that quantifies States Logistics’ emissions and carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction from using biodiesel:

So far, results for May and June showed a 16.5 ton reduction in CO2 emissions.

“The pilot program uses our patent-pending technology and reporting system with inputs from States Logistics over-the-road activity to show carbon and emissions reduction,” said Peter Probst, President and Director of Research & Development, Indigenous Energy. “States Logistics is a perfect company to develop the pilot because of their commitment to using biodiesel and the concern of their customers for environmental stewardship.”

States Logistics uses B5 and B99 in seven 2007 trucks, running on average approximately 27,000 miles a month. The pilot program takes into account several areas to measure carbon footprint including vehicle type, distance traveled, number of gallons used, percentage of biodiesel used and biodiesel feedstock type, such as soybean oil. The end result is a report on total CO2 emitted from both the petroleum diesel and biodiesel, CO2 reduction from using biodiesel and the quantifiable cost to offset petroleum CO2. The results will be presented at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

Eventually, the information can be used by companies to sell carbon offsets. But for now, States Logistics is using it to demonstrate to its customers why it uses biodiesel and how it is good for the Earth… a goal the NBB has in mind:

“When we announced the BioTrucker Fuel Card last year at GATS, we thought about next steps for providing value to cardholders,” said Tom Verry, Director of Outreach and Development for NBB. “This CO2 reduction reporting could become a value-add report for fleets to use as a publicity tool for their customers.”