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.

Montgomery, AL Turns Cooking Oils Into Biodiesel

alabamabiodiesel.jpgLast fall, Alabama Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks and Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Bobby Bright announced a partnership that would make used cooking grease into biodiesel to be run in the city’s vehicles. This week, they cut the ribbon on the new Center for Alternative Fuels Biodiesel Production facility.

This Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries press release has more details:

“This has truly been a special day for the City of Montgomery in opening our newly built biodiesel facility,” I can not think of a better way to help clean up our environment and fuel our vehicles and farm equipment,” said Commissioner Sparks.

“Reducing the amount of used cooking oils that goes into the landfill is good environmental policy,” Mayor Bright said “This process is working in several other cities across the state and we are extremely pleased that we can put this into action for Montgomery’s citizens.”

Commissioner Sparks says the facility will also be used for instructional purposes to encourage the state’s farmers to produce a variety of crops that can be turned into biodiesel, including soybeans and canola. Approximately 110 gallons of B100 will be produced every day. Expected cost of the biodiesel should average between 75 cents and 1.00 dollar per gallon.

Biodiesel Jet Reaches for the Sky

greenflightbiodiesel.JPGThe team that flew a Czech military jet on 100 percent biodiesel last October (see my post from Oct. 16, 2007) has plans to fly a Learjet around the world on the green fuel.

Four months ago, Douglas Rodante with chief pilot Carol Sugars at the controls and the team from Green Flight International flew a 40-year old Czech Aero L-29 Delfin for 30 minutes above the Nevada desert for a half-an-hour. The jet was made for short flights to stop potential defectors. With that in mind, the folks from Green Flight have decided to fly a Bombadier Learject around the world later this year or early in 2009. This story in the Candian Press has more details:

Bill Lear Jr., the president of Learjet before it was purchased by Bombardier in 1990, and Chris Cordova, a former flight engineer on Air Force One, have signed on as consultants.

“It’s a personal goal of mine to implement biofuels into mainstream aviation and mainstream transportation,” Rodante said in an interview from his home in Florida.

“I think it’s necessary that we do this first and foremost for environmental reasons.”

Since the jet flies at high altitude where the temperatures are really cold, Green Flight is planning on using tank heaters and chemicals to keep the fuel liquid and possibly mixing the biodiesel with kerosene. Officials believe emissions could be cut 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.

Minnesota Researchers Looking at New Oilseeds

umcrookston.gifResearch into additional oilseeds to make into biodiesel is gaining more popularity, especially as the cost for soybean oil, currently the most commonly used feedstock, soars to record levels.

Paul Aakre University of Minnesota-Crookston researcher is one of those looking at expanding the field of oilseeds, according to this article in the Dickinson, North Dakota Press:

aakrepaul.jpg“We are hearing more and more positive talk when it comes to biodiesels, even more so than corn for ethanol,” Aakre said. “One of the advantages of biodiesel is the potential for individual farmers or a small group of farmers to produce their own fuel in a much simpler technology than ethanol.”

Aakre and one of his students, Jade Estling, Roosevelt, Minn., are embarking on a project that will test the viability of canola meal as a heating source in wood stoves.

The project will use the same basic process for extracting canola oil for biodiesel. Instead of using the pulp or the meal extrusion a byproduct of the process solely for cattle feed, the meal will be made into pellets that will be tested by Northwest Manufacturing Inc., in Red Lake Falls, Minn., which makes wood stoves.

Aakre and Estling will team with a group of canola growers from the Wannaska, Minn., area, which provided the UMC researchers with a twin-screw expeller, a $16,000 machine used to extract oil and meal from oil seeds.

Aakre will be producing some of that oil into biodiesel right on the UM-Crookston campus with some of the biodiesel going back to farmers who provided the canola. The canola meal, a by-product of the oil extraction process, will be fed to cattle.

Georgia Legislature Considers Biodiesel Mandate

The Georgia State Legislature is considering a measure that would mandate that all diesel sold in the state would have at least 2 percent biodiesel.

This story in the Macon (GA) Telegraph says the bill’s sponsor expects opposition to his bill:

freeman.jpgRep. Alan Freeman, R-Macon, said House Bill 1174 would help farmers and agribusinesses in Georgia’s small but growing biofuel industry. With co-sponsors that include the Democratic minority leader and the governor’s floor leader, Freeman said he hopes the measure can win passage.

“I think the bill has merit, but the opposition is going to come from the word ‘mandate,’ ” Freeman said. “

Indeed, the head of the Georgia Oilmen’s Association, whose members would be required to sell the blended fuel, said he is strongly opposed.

The state’s biofuel industry and fuel distributors are not yet ready to meet the mandate to include biological fuel such as soybean oil or chicken-fat derivatives in all diesel fuel, said Roger Lane, president of association. And even if they were, he would oppose it, Lane said.

“I think it’s a bad bill and anti-business,” Lane said. “If there’s a need for that product to exist, it will. I have no intention of supporting legislation that mandates a product.”

Gee, there’s a stunner. Someone in the oil business opposed to biodiesel. Freeman counters the argument by pointing out that there’s already more than enough soybean oil, rendered chicken fat, and other biofuels to meet the anticipated demand of 40 million gallons a year for Georgia.

Keep an eye on this one. I expect that this could be a real fight.

Ohio Farm Family Opens Biodiesel Plant

I’m a sucker for the grassroots biodiesel projects out there, especially when they include a family of farmers.

This story from the Springfield, Ohio News-Sun caught my eye as it is a story of the Purdy family opening its own biodiesel plant on the family farm:

pkbiodiesel.jpgJack Purdy, who has farmed in Woodstock for more than 30 years, now also is the owner of P.K. Biodiesel — a plant on his farm that makes fuel from soybean oil.

P.K. Biodiesel celebrated its grand opening Friday, with family, friends and local leaders.

Representatives from the offices of senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich and Congressman Jim Jordan presented commendations to the business for the progressive development in agriculture.

There’s not a lot of information on the company’s web site PKBiodiesel.com yet, but it might be worth a look, especially as the plant gets closer to the 5-6 million gallons of biodiesel it is capable of producing.

Algae Association Opens New HQ

The National Algae Association has moved into a new headquarters at the group’s Texas location.

In a press release e-mailed to Domestic Fuel, the group says the new headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas will serve all areas of the algae industry… touted as the next great feedstock for biofuels:

Algae researchers and producers can come together to exchange ideas concerning the latest developments in Algae production and the products made from Algae. The Association provides an open exchange forum for the publishing of technical papers and the announcement of the results of research into the latest Algae related technologies. The Association also supports discussion and development of new markets that take advantage of the tremendous potential of Algae, not only as a source of renewable energy, but also in the exploration and development of other markets for algae products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

biodieselconference.gifNow I can tell you that algae as an additional feedstock for biodiesel was a hot topic of discussion at the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida. In fact, the last general session of the conference included a discussion of the various feedstocks, including talk about how algae could produce a thousand gallons of oil for every acre grown.

You can click on this conference blog entry to hear some of that discussion.

Growing a Seed for Biodiesel and Plastics

danforthmetabolix.jpgA Massachusetts biotechnology company has joined with a Missouri research firm to develop an oilseed that can produce both biodiesel and plastics.

And this story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Metabolix Inc. and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will get some money from the state of Missouri to work on the idea:

“It’s exactly what the civic leadership in St. Louis has been positioning St. Louis and the state to become,” said Rob Monsees, executive director of the Missouri Technology Corp., which gave a $1.14 million state grant to the project. “Metabolix is hopefully the first of many examples of plant biotechnology companies that are going to be finding their way to Missouri.”

Scientists from the company and the Danforth Center are working to genetically modify certain oilseeds to produce plastic polymers as they grow. Once harvested, the crop would be broken down into oil for biodiesel refineries and polymers for the production of bioplastics that break down into environmentally friendly waste.

Bioplastics — plastic derived from plant or microbial sources, rather than petroleum — would provide biodiesel facilities with a valuable co-product that they could sell to offset the cost of producing fuel for autos and trucks.

“This is an opportunity that’s potentially very good in terms of the economics,” said Oliver Peoples, Metabolix co-founder and chief scientific officer.

The work will go on near the Danforth Center near St. Louis with plans to open a pilot plant in 2011.

Biodiesel Conference Wraps Up with Feedstock Forum

biodieselconference.gifProbably the biggest issue facing biodiesel producers today is what to use as a feedstock. With soybean prices going through the roof, refiners are trying to find additional feedstocks. During the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida, the last general morning session focused on the question of what to use for the green fuel.

The forum, led by Alan Weber, economic consultant to National Biodiesel Board, with Dr. Jack Brown from the University of Idaho, Keith Bruinsma, Vice President of Corporate Development for ethanol producer VersaSun, John Sheehan, Vice President of Strategy and Sustainability for Live Fuels, and John Soper, Senior Research Director for Soybean Product Development for Pioneer International.

nbbfeedstock.jpgBrown, who is Scottish, brought a European perspective and made the case for feedstocks made from non-traditional (at least in America) oilseeds, such as rapeseed. Bruinsma talked about how you can also get biodiesel from the same grain of corn used to make ethanol, while Soper talked about high oil corn and soybean seeds his company is developing. Sheehan, whose company makes biodiesel from algae, pointed out that they can get thousands of gallons for every acre of green pond scum they grow.

But most importantly, all of them agreed that ALL of the feedstocks are necessary, and no one gets ahead by tearing down the other guy. It wa’s a good point, and a great discussion.

Listen to some of that discussion here: nbb-08-feb6session.mp3

You can read more about what happened this week in Orlando by going to the conference blog.

U. of Washington Moving Up to B20 and Beyond

washington.GIFThe University of Washington, already running its diesel vehicles on 5 percent biodiesel, is moving its mix up to a 20 percent blend… with plans to use an even higher percentage in the future.

This story in the university’s newspaper, The Daily, is wrapping up a trial period started in 2006 with just the 5 percent blend:

“The UW Motor Pool is going to start using B20 in the next few weeks, and there are plans for B90 in the future,” said Ari Kasapyan, marketing and communications manager at the UW Motor Pool.

The move to B20 in the coming weeks places the UW Motor Pool ahead of schedule on the biodiesel front. The spring 2006 UW Motor Pool newsletter, the first to outline plans for the implementation of biodiesel, pegged the starting date of the B20 biodiesel blends in 2009.

All of these changes are coming along as part of the Green Fleet Initiative for the University, originally authored by David Carr, the manager of Motor Pool Operations. The initiative covers a vast range of recycling, sustainability and other “green” policies meant to reduce the environmental impact of the University’s day-to-day operations.

“Each of us must be the change agent that moves the sustainability effort forward,” Carr said upon the creation of the Green Fleet Initiative.

The Green Fleet Initiative also includes a car-sharing program by the motor pool, along with replacing outgoing vehicles with hybrid and high-mileage ones.

World’s First Oil Producers At It Again

solazyme.jpgOne of the companies at the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo is Solazyme, a company that is making biodiesel out of algae. In fact, the folks from Solazyme brought a sweet ride to the conference… a Mercedes Benz C320 that runs on the green fuel made from the green algae.

I caught up with Jonathon Wolfson from Solazyme and asked him some questions about how his company was able to produce the fuel from what some people might see as an unlikely source.

He pointed out that algae are the original oil producers on the planet. “Frankly, the last time you filled up your car with any petroleum fuel, chances are the oil that fuel was made from came from algae, maybe a hundred million years ago. The strategy has been to take the original oil producers, which, by the way, are the most efficient oil producers and collapse that 100-million-year process into a few days,” Wolfson says.

Wolfson his algal-biodiesel is meeting tough American standards for diesel and the even more stringent Euopean standards. For the consumer, he says they’ll find the fuel performs superbly, sometimes even better than conventional petroleum diesel.

Right now, his company is producing the algal-biodiesel in small quantities, but he hopes that within the next couple of years, they’ll be on a commercially-viable scale of production.

Listen to my entire interview with Wolfson by clicking here: nbb-08-wolfson.mp3

Check out the conference blog to see more stories and pictures and see more pictures.

Riding on Biodiesel with Michael Peterson

biodieselconference3.gifCountry music star Michael Peterson was one of the featured speakers at this morning’s “Ride-and-drive” event at the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida.

michael.jpgCindy grabbed Michael for a quick interview right after he returned from a test drive of a 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 diesel pick up truck running on B20. As he stepped out of the vehicle, he joked how he was just sure the organizers meant for him to take the truck home (sorry, Michael!). But, seriously, he really loved the way the vehicle drove and its acceleration.

During his interview, Michael said he’s been traveling the country, spreading the good news of biodiesel: what it means for our economy, ecology, and the education of our youth. “There are so many possibilities inherent in this product and the development of it,” Michael told Cindy.

He says the whole nature of the biodiesel business is one of innovation because the people involved are not afraid to look at things in a new way. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Michael here: nbb-08-Peterson1.mp3

Also, you can see more news, pictures, and hear more audio from the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo by clicking on the conference blog.

Interview with NBB Chairman Ed Hegland

biodieselconference2.gifDomestic Fuel is here at the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida, bringing you the latest updates from this gathering of biodiesel industry experts.

hegland1.jpgJust after we flew into the sun and warmth of a beautiful Central Florida day, Cindy was off to track down Ed Hegland, chairman of the National Biodiedsel Board. She caught up with Ed at a session on sustainable biodiesel production where it was announced a new task force would be formed to look at making biodiesel more sustainable and possibly move away from more expensive feedstocks, such as soybeans.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Ed: nbb-08-hegland.MP3

You can also stay up-to-date on all of the latest happening from the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo by going to the conference blog, where you can see even more pictures and hear more interviews. Check it out!

Domestic Fuel at the NBB Conference

biodieselconference1.gifThe 2008 National Biodiesel Board Conference and Exp is underway in sunny Orlando, Florida, where thousands of biodiesel producers, marketers, and industry folks gathered for the four-day event.

youngblood.jpgDomestic Fuel is there as well, covering the events of the conference. We’ve already heard presentations on sustainable biodiesel efforts, the state of the industry, and even a Super Bowl party featuring NFL Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood (shown with me… Jack is on the left), who was signing footballs and helmets to raise money for the National Biodiesel Foundation… a group that is promoting education and research efforts to advance the biodiesel industry.

A little later on today, we’ll hear from actress Darryl Hannah and get to go on a ride-and-drive event to take a spin in some of the latest biodiesel-powered vehicles.

Keep checking back here at Domestic Fuel to see updates, and you can go to the NBB’s conference blog, where we are posting more pictures and interviews on this week’s events.

Biofuels from Leftovers and Food By-Products

planzero.jpgA food bank association and a renewable energy company have joined to produce electricity from food and food by-products that would have been just thrown away.

oafbstorm.jpgThe Ontario Association of Food Banks and StormFisher Biogas, an Ontario-based renewable energy utility will work together to produce the power through what’s being called Plan Zero, according to this association press release:

Plan Zero will work with food industry producers, growers and manufacturers to direct organic by-products to StormFisher’s biogas production facilities – called anaerobic digesters – which accelerate the decomposition of organic matter to create biogas for use in producing electricity, natural gas and heat. Plan Zero will direct a portion of the proceeds from the sale of energy to Ontario’s electricity grid to the OAFB.

StormFisher’s anaerobic digesters can produce energy using a wide range of organic materials, from used cooking oils to cow manure. The company also formed relationships with farms, food processing facilities, universities and technology providers. Its first three biogas facilities are currently in early development in London, Drayton and Port Colborne, Ont. and will be operational by 2009.

This is truly a win-win-win situation with million of tons of food being kept out of landfills while helping food companies’ bottom lines and providing a way to get surplus food to more than 100 communities throughout Ontario through Plan Zero.

Do You Know This Man?

johndavispic.jpgWell, if you don’t, you will by the end of the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida next week. I’ll be there covering the event for DomesticFuel.com and posting on the conference blog as well.biodieselconference.gif

One of the items I hope to see (and bring to you) is a press event that will highlight the use of biodiesel by some of Florida’s biggest fleets, such as NASA and Universal studios:

WHAT: A press event announcing expanded usage of biodiesel in Florida, including some leaders of the local tourism industry. You will meet the innovators and hear news on biodiesel honors and usage from Florida fleets including NASA, Universal Studios and Florida Power & Light. These fleets are using biodiesel blends and leading the way to protect Florida’s delicate ecosystem by reducing their carbon footprint. Vehicles from these biodiesel users will be on display outside at the Gaylord Palms Resort Convention Center Main Entrance and Parking Area.

At the press conference, Universal Studios will announce the expansion of biodiesel to marine crafts.

The press conference will start 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, February 5th in the Miami 2 Room at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Hope to see you there!