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.

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!

New BioExtend Test Results at NBB Conference

biodieselconference.gifJust a couple of more days until the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida, and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the biodiesel movers and shakers I’ve had the pleasure to blog about for the last year.

eastman.jpgOne of the best things about a conference like this is all the new information that will debut… including the results of testing BioExtend , a high-performance antioxidant for biodiesel fuels that increases shelf life and enhances product protection. This Eastman Chemical Company (maker of BioExtend) press release gives us a glimpse at what we’ll be seeing at the conference:

“We are eager to share our test data at the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo,” says [Dr. Sharon Cline, Eastman’s BioExtend technology leader]. “Eastman hopes the new findings will help the marketplace make informed decisions on how to improve the oxidative stability of biodiesel.”

The testing explored a number of factors that affect the natural oxidative stability of biodiesel including feedstock choice, the production process, product handling, and contaminants. The impact of metal contamination was investigated using the Oil Stability Index (OSI) as a measure of oxidative stability. Biodiesel handling issues, including air intrusion, UV exposure and storage temperature, was also investigated. In addition to OSI, UV absorbance, peroxide value, and Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) were measured.

You can check out the results for yourself at booths 119-218 on Monday, Feb. 4, 2008 from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

The Pros and Cons of Biodiesel Investment

A column entitled “Should America invest in bio diesel in a big way?” debates the merits of making investments into biodiesel… and the conclusion seems to be a big positive endorsement of putting greenbacks into the development of green fuel.

Here are some of the highlights posted on Helium.com:

-Benefits of biodiesel-

Biodiesel is a clean and renewable fuel to other energy sources like petroleum, which means using it reduces air pollution and relieves fossil fuels reliance. Jatropha nut has been an increasing favourite raw material over others for biodiesel production because the plant can survive in tough conditions and it is inedible. Thus, it will not compete with other crops for valuable fertile land and the production will not be at the deprivation of food supplies. There are developing new technologies, such as, enzymes usage to speed up the production rate, removing the extreme condition requirements…

According to a United Nations official, biofuels like biodiesel is expected to provide for 25% of the world’s energy needs (Paul, 2007). Although the use of biodiesel locally is still in its infancy, biodiesel is projected to serve ready markets in Asia, Europe and United States. The European Union has mandated that 2% of petrol-based diesel must be mixed with biodiesel (Seng, 2007). There are plans to augment biodiesel blend to 5% in South Korea and to tighten diesel sulphur standards in Japan (Chan, 2007). Already, biodiesel blends is compulsory in Thailand while India wants to substitute 5% of the diesel consumption with biodiesel (Mukherji and Ramachandran, 2006). As such, the emergent biodiesel market is estimated to be worth US$1 trillion by 2020 (Wong, 2006).

But not everything’s perfect and the article offers caution:

-Uncertainty in biodiesel business-

Rising prices of the biodiesel supplies and decreasing diesel price is shaking investors’ confidence. Feedstock’s costs comprise 80% of biodiesel production and investment analysts have stated that palm oil diesel can remain lucrative only if palm oil, a raw material for biodiesel, is below US$450/ton (Foo, 2007). From 2006, the price of palm oil has increased to US$556/ton (Thukral, 2007). Moreover, regular diesel prices have dropped by 23% (Reuters, 2006)

In conclusion, the article encourages America to invest heavily in biodiesel because of the push worldwide for the cleaner fuel and favorable conditions in this country to make it happen. It says hedging investments can help diminish problems caused by rising biodiesel and feedstock prices.

Ethanol is Big Bucks for Tax Coffers

eaalogo.gifEthanol poured more than $2.2 billion in revenues into local, state, and federal tax coffers in 2006… and is expected to go over $3 billion this year.

In this press release from the Nebraska Ethanol Board, The Economic Impacts of Ethanol Production produced by the group Ethanol Across America purports that ethanol plants are also producing hundreds of million of dollars in direct and indirect economic for local communities:

“These are substantial sums that result directly from these facilities,” said U.S. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), Co-Chairman of the Ethanol Across America campaign. “When indirect and induced jobs are considered, along with capital spending and investment, the ethanol industry is adding more than $40 billion of gross output to the U.S. economy. These are monies that are being returned to our local communities and providing improved public services,” said Senator Nelson.

The report looks at the ripple effect of these facilities and ethanol’s role in reducing gasoline prices. By displacing oil imports, ethanol can reduce the U.S. trade deficit by $13 billion annually. The USDA estimates that ethanol production will reduce federal farm subsidies by nearly $1 billion over the next seven years.

”We are keeping U.S. dollars at home—plain and simple,” said U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), another member of the Ethanol Across American Advisory Board. “We are increasing net farm receipts, reducing federal farm subsidies, and lowering gasoline prices by expanding the overall fuel supply. And we are doing this with little if any impact on food prices.”

You can read the full report by clicking here.

Backing Hillary with Biodiesel

hillaryclinton.jpgSome prominent Democratic mayors in California have taken to the road to campaign for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton in a bus fueled by biodiesel.

This story from San Francisco’s NBC 11 says Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk have hit the road in the Golden State to praise Clinton’s proposals for “green-collar” job training:

In both Southern and Northern California companies have begun to sprout up that focus on solar, thermal and wind energy. Each mayor has expressed their approval for programs that would train former blue-collar workers for jobs in such companies.

“(Hillary Clinton) understands the importance of taking those ideals and working together to really make progress and sustainable change,” Newsom said. “Nowhere is it more important though, than in making sure that those who have been locked out of the industrial economy are locked into this green economy. We’re all lamenting the loss of blue collar jobs and here we are talking about this green wave, and locking folks into this green, sustainable economy.”

The campaigning is part of the run-up to February 5th’s Super Tuesday when 24 states will hold primaries and caucuses to help decide the Democratic and Republican nominees for president.

REG Making Biodiesel More Available at Truck Stops

deckertruck.jpgAs we mentioned here before, one of the best ways to make biodiesel more mainstream is to get it into the mainstream of the trucking industry in this country.

This story on eTrucker.com says Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group (REG) is offering a service to truck stops across the country to make biodiesel more available:

reglogo1.gifREG’s Retail Biodiesel Blending Program, announced at the NATSO Show in Orlando, Fla., offers truck-stop operators both biodiesel injection equipment and a regular supply of high-quality biodiesel.

Because REG can remotely monitor fuel levels in its biodiesel tanks, truck-stop operators can enjoy an automated reorder process to ensure they don’t run out, REG said. Truck stops also will be able to remotely adjust biodiesel blends daily, the company said.

The new service “offers a tremendous incentive for truck stops to adopt a biodiesel blend program while ensuring their customers have access to the highest-quality biodiesel available on the market today,” said Gary Haer, REG vice president of sales and marketing.

REG is also keeping up its end of the supply line as it has seven biodiesel plants in production, three under construction, and another two being developed.

Biodiesel Saving & Making Americans Green

universalbioenergy.jpgBiodiesel could save Americans billions of dollars, while making the country cleaner… that according to a spokesman for a Mississippi-based biodiesel manufacturer.

Dr. Richard Craven, of Mississippi-based Universal Bioenergy, tells AllHeadlineNews.com that the U.S. is going through 40 billion gallons of pertoleum worth $100 billion a year in the form of diesel:

But Craven says the U.S. can produce biodiesel as an alternative to diesel and purchasing this locally “can stimulate the economy by keeping our U.S. dollars in U.S. pockets.”

Craven says American farmers and cooperatives can utilize formerly unused land for producing biodiesel ‘feedstocks’ to generate increased revenues for the agricultural industry and its associated service industries.

Craven acknowledges that an increase in the usage of biodiesel would profit Universal Bioenergy. But he points out that its benefits to other companies and industries, as well as to the environment, far outstrip those of the biofuel manufacturers.

He adds that since biodiesel contains no sulfur, it burns much cleaner than regular diesel and produces much less carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other hydrocarbon emissions. In addition, the plant feedstocks to make biodiesel help clean up carbon emissions.

Colorado Springs Top Biodiesel Fleet

colosprings.jpgColorado Springs, Colorado has been picked as the top municipal biodiesel fleet in the nation, according to Government Fleet Magazine.

The Colorado Springs Gazette says the city beat out San Francisco and Austin, Texas for the honor:

The magazine also awarded the city 17th in its overall rankings of public sector fleets using alternative fuels.

Since 2003, more than 2,400 pieces of city equipment have run on biodiesel, consuming almost 1.6 million gallons of B20 biodiesel. That is the equivalent of more than 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide not making it into the atmosphere, or 491 passenger cars not driving for one year.

Fields of Fuel Wins at Sundance

sundance-selection.pngThe biodiesel documentary “Fields of Fuel” has walked away with one of the top honors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival at Park City, Utah.

fields-fuel-2.jpgThis story from Biodiesel Magazine has more about Josh Tickell’s documentary regarding biodiesel and America’s need to become independent from foreign oil:

joshtickell.jpg“Fields of Fuel” was chosen for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film and was presented to Tickell by host William H. Macy. The film’s producer and other crew members accompanied Tickell onstage to accept the award. In his acceptance speech, Tickell said, “May we work together to create a green and sustainable future.”

Tickell has been working on the film for the past 10 years. After being accepted for Sundance, Tickell was invited to Sundance founder Robert Redford’s private resort for a screening of the film the night before the kickoff of the festival.

The movie got a standing ovation from its first showing, and it was sold out for every screening at Sundance.

Sago Palm Bioethanol Plant Planned

necfer.jpgA Japanese company is planning on building a bioethanol making the green fuel from a plant that is said to yield more ethanol per hectare than any other biofuel crop currently being grown.

This story posted on Checkbiotech.org says Necfer Corp. will make ethanol from sago palm trees at a testing refinery in Malaysia:

Necfer has developed its own dedicated fermentation technology to convert the resource into biofuel.The true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) has been described as mankind’s oldest food plant with the starch contained in the trunk used as a staple food in southeast Asia. Traditionally, hunter-gatherers use a complex and labor-intensive process of felling the tree, splitting it open, removing the starch and cleaning out its poisonous substances, after which it is ready to be consumed. The carbohydrate itself is very nutritious and some of us may have even tasted it because some modern starch products (tapioca flour) are made from it. As these sago-growing hunter-gatherers migrate to the cities, they abandon their healthy starch-rich diet and choose for fat and sugar food habits that don’t differ much from ours.

Sago palm is estimated to yield between about 2,000 and 2,500 gallons of ethanol for each hectare grown… even more than sugarcane.