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.

Symposium to Look at Biodiesel Feedstocks

A symposium for biodiesel feedstocks is slated for November 21st in St. Louis, Mo. The Center for Evergreen Energy at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will host the event, designed to address some of the current challenges in biofuel feedstock research and production:

Biodiesel producers, marketers and feedstock producers will hear from presenters including Monsanto, NASA, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car Institute and the National Biodiesel Board as well as scientists from the Center for Evergreen Energy and Danforth. Participants will address feedstock production, oil content, and innovation. For the purpose of the symposium, feedstock is separated into three categories: algae; near-term feedstock; and long-term feedstock. At the end of the day, each group will provide policy recommendations that will help fulfill future biodiesel goals.

“Increased availability of diversified feedstocks used in biodiesel is vital to the future growth of the biodiesel industry,” said J. Alan Weber, feedstock consultant to NBB. “This symposium grew out of a need to explore alternatives and educate the biodiesel industry on the short and long-term future of feedstocks.”

First Solar Reaches for the Sky

An Arizona-based maker solar panels has really taken off, as it has signed a long-term agreement to provide solar panels and its profits have doubled.

This story from Forbes says First Solar Inc. has seen its stocks surge as its solar business takes off:

First Solar also said Wednesday it is entering the U.S. residential market through a five-year contract with SolarCity Corp.

First Solar, which produces cadmium telluride-based solar panels, will supply 100 megawatts of modules to SolarCity, a Foster City, Calif.-based residential solar installer, beginning in the first quarter of 2009. First Solar will also make a $25 million equity investment in SolarCity, which is part of a $30 million round of financing that will fund SolarCity’s continued U.S. expansion.

Analysts say that First Solar is on track in its strategy to expand its U.S. utility presence.

New York Looks to Regulate Wind Energy

Wind energy is a popular alternative energy source… so popular that New York’s Attorney General wants to make sure it’s done legally.

This story from WRGB-TV in Albany, NY has details:

Cuomo announced Thursday a new Wind Industry Ethics Code to ensure that development of alternative energy continues in New York properly and legally.

“Wind power is an exciting industry for the state that will be a cornerstone of our energy future,” Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “But it is important to make sure that this alternative energy sector develops in a way that maintains the public’s confidence, and that is what this new code of conduct does.”

Two companies have already signed on to the ethics code: Noble Environmental Power, based in Essex, Connecticut, and First Wind, based in Newton, Mass.

The attorney general has previously investigated whether wind-farm companies improperly sought land-use agreements with citizens and public officials, and whether those companies have tried to sway lawmakers into backing wind farm development with improper benefits.

The Wind Industry Ethics Code prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies, and establishes new public disclosure requirements.

Improved Filter for Biodiesel Hits Market

An eco-friendly filter could help purify biodiesel, no matter what is used as a feedstock.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says Schroeder Biofuels out of Pennsylvania has introduced the Eco2Pure, a filter made of cellulose and is considered natural and sustainable:

“It has the powerful dry washing capability of a magnesol, but has the applicability of a column-based treatment,” said Jonathan Dugan, Schroeder biofuels product specialist.

“We’ve also built a system which we’ve applied to the Eco2Pure product – an industry proven technology, which allows for a producer to be able to tell hundreds of gallons before the Eco2Pure system is exhausted that it is going to be exhausted shortly, instead of producing lots of bad fuel and finding out afterwards,” Dugan said. “We think it is important if you want to produce spec fuel.” The system indicates expiration through pressure indication, flow measurement and particle counts.

The Eco2Pure system works by passing unwashed biodiesel through a fixed bed of purification media, cleaning the fuel and removing residues, fuel contaminants and soaps. “Each kilogram of the system is capable of purifying between 93 to 185 gallons of biodiesel, keeping the frequency of media replacement to a minimum,” Dugan said.

Schroeder Biofuels officials say the new filter will bring down biodiesel purification costs about two cents a gallon, capable of cleaning batches of biodiesel from homebrew to million-gallon operations.

South Florida Trains to Run on Biodiesel

Some trains in South Florida will be running on a nearly pure mix of biodiesel.

This story from the Miami Herald says the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s commuter train system, Tri-Rail, is planning to run eight of its 10 locomotives on a 99-percent biodiesel blend:

Thanks to South Florida’s comparatively temperate climate, Tri-Rail is one of the few commuter rail systems in the country that can operate on such a pure blend of bio-fuel.

The nation’s top transit regulator praised the authority for taking an important step toward energy independence at a press conference Wednesday morning in West Palm Beach.

”The Federal Transit Administration is committed to encouraging the use of alternative fuels in the nation’s rail and bus systems,” said FTA Administrator James S. Simpson.

The article does point out that the trains use a bit more fuel when using biodiesel, but the biodiesel costs are significantly lower… making the green fuel a good deal for the environment and taxpayers.

Summit Looks at Algae Biodiesel Future

More than 650 attendees and 50 speakers looked at the future of algae biodiesel at a recent conference in Seattle.

The Algae Biomass Summit, hosted by firms Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Byrne and Company, brought together those exploring the scientific and commercial advances of the field of the slimy green biodiesel feedstock. Our friends at Biodiesel Magazine covered the event sponsored by the Algal Biomass Organization and filed this report (and, of course, several others):

Mario Tredici from the department of agricultural biotechnology at the University of Florence in Italy said algae has many of the properties for a second green revolution that could help satisfy the world’s energy and food needs. However, algae have very specific culture requirements to produce near their theoretical potential. Changing light conditions as the density of cultures increase can limit the efficiency of the plants ability to convert sunlight into biomass. “Algae are not a miracle,” he said. “It must obey the laws of thermodynamics.” He does believe, with the proper technology and understanding of algae’s biology, that yields of 70 to 80 tons of algae can be produced per hectare (approximately 2.5 acres), producing 15 to 20 tons of oil and about twice that much protein.

The true value of algae will rely on the total amount of biomass not just the oil content, said Mark Tegan, chief executive officer of Inventure Chemical. Inventure processes biomass products into value-added products. Algae produce three distinct products – oil, carbohydrates and protein. Each component can be processed downstream into a variety of valuable products. “There is a lot of opportunity available in the chemical market,” Tegan said.

The coverage included discussions on how the current credit crisis might actually be good for the algae biodiesel business and the market potential of the feedstock and fuel.

Biodiesel Conference Early Bird Registration

It’s that time of year again… to start making plans to attend the National Biodiesel Board’s Conference & Expo! This year’s event takes place Feb. 1-4th, 2009, in San Francisco. While that is a while off, now is the time to sign up to save some serious money on your registration.

It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Conference features include:
Keynote Speakers
Gavin Newsom – Mayor, City and County of San Francisco
Pete Bethune and Bryan Peterson – Around the World on Biodiesel
Hear the harrowing tales from two men who led pioneering expeditions powered by Biodiesel!
Educational Tracks
Production, technical, fuel distribution, policy/regulations, and markets/users sessions
Exciting Networking Events
Golf Tournament
Super Bowl Party
Special California Wine Tasting & Jazz Reception

You can do your registration online by clicking here!

EPA, UPS Team Up for Green Brown Trucks

""Shipping giant UPS has teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put more eco-friendly delivery trucks on the road.

""This story from CNN says UPS will order some new vehicles that uses technology developed by the feds, namely, a hydraulic hybrid system:

The Environmental Protection Agency holds many of the patents on the innovative technology, which was developed in an EPA fuel-emissions lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the help of engineers from Eaton Corp., which designs hydraulics systems.

"This vehicle to my right may look like a brown package truck that you'd see every day in your neighborhood," said UPS Chief Operating Officer David Abney, standing beside a prototype of the hybrid truck at a news conference Monday. "But underneath the hood is a whole different kind of technology."

The trucks combine a diesel engine with a unique hydraulic propulsion system that replaces the conventional drivetrain and transmission. Using hydraulic pumps and storage tanks, the vehicle captures and stores energy the way a battery does on an electric hybrid car.

The motor converts pressure from the hydraulic fluid into rotating power for the wheels and uses stored energy to accelerate the vehicle, thereby recovering more than 70 percent of the energy normally wasted during braking.

The article goes on to say that the design is perfect for the stop-and-start driving UPS does in cities. The first truck will hit the road in Minneapolis soon after the first of the year.

Reaching out: as the audience diversifies, MTV networks scores points at connecting with its many segments.(MTV Networks: targeting the multicultural customer)(Music Television)

Multichannel News September 20, 2004 MULTICULTURAL MARKETING. CABLE OPERATORS HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT FOR DECADES BUT IT’S ONLY IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS THAT MOST HAVE REALIZED IT HOLDS THE KEY TO A BIG PART OF THEIR FUTURE SUBSCRIBER GROWTH As the U.S. population continues towards a much more diverse mix of racial, ethnic and social backgrounds, cable companies must work harder than ever to reach out to important segments of their audience. Most know the first step in accomplishing that goal: offer programming that grabs viewers and connects with them each time they tune in.

All of this adds up to growing demand for shows that can pull off that vital connection, and that’s a trend that bodes well for MTV Networks.

Known since its early days as a company that stays tuned to its viewers’ every whim, MTVN has been honing its skills at serving the needs of increasingly diverse audience segments. website keenan and kel

Hence, the growing viewership at VH1 includes a sizable complement of African Americans, who didn’t used to consider the network an entertainment option, but now routinely do. Ditto MTV2, where a hip approach to hip hop fans has helped produce the highest ratings in the network’s history.

MTVN’s multicultural roots go way back. At the flagship network, pioneering shows like Real World have included racially diverse casts since their creation two decades ago, while Nickelodeon’s first original series, Clarissa Explains It All, smashed the long-held axiom that boys wouldn’t watch a show built around a female main character.

Today, the diversification continues and the audience has taken notice. A recent Horowitz Urban Market study singled out MTV as the top brand among Hispanic young people, while a Beta Research survey found the same group of viewers ranks MTV Espanol and VH Uno first and second among their favorite Spanish language digital networks.

VH1 Soul, another digital channel, has cultivated a unique audience of upscale, high income African Americans, while MTV Jams puts a 24-hour-a-day spotlight on one of the most influential contemporary music genres: hip hop.

At Nickelodeon, groundbreaking bilingual series Dora the Explorer entertains while teaching little kids Spanish words. Its digital spinoff, Nicktoons, will add a Spanish language riced next month while another digital sibling, The N, has wrapped production on Miracle’s Boys, a five-part drama about a young man who gives up a scholarship to MI’I” to come home to Harlem and raise his two brothers after the death of their mother. see here keenan and kel

Executives at MTV Networks have long attributed their ability to stay steeped in popular currents to their constant trolling for different points of view and a workforce that mirrors the audience at large. Company chairman Judy McGrath, in an interview earlier this year, described her approach this way: “It’s not about getting advice from the most powerful people. It’s about finding the person with the next idea for The Apprentice or The Osbournes and making sure that person has nay phone number.” MTVN’s penchant for diverse casts, evident in shows ranging from Nickelodeon’s Keenan and Kel to MTV’s Pimp My Ride, MTV2’s Sucker Free Sundays, and VH l’s Hip Hop Honors, make its portfolio of networks an attractive option for cable operators segmenting their marketing to different sectors of an increasingly multiethnic audience.

It’s an approach that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Jenny Alonzo, president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, singled out the company as an industry leader last year during an interview with Multichannel News. “MTV [Networks] is very forward thinking and they have been for many years,” Alonzo said. “They have a great story to tell, not just on air, but also off-air within their ranks and within their corporate offices. I think they represent diversity at every level–not just color diversity–but gender, sexual orientation, etc. They really do understand the value of having a team that represents our people.”

CAST Comments on Biodiesel

A new report looks at the technology behind biodiesel production.

The Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a new CAST Commentary—Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production:

This new CAST Commentary reviews the technology of biodiesel production in the United States and outlines major issues and policy implications associated with its expanded production and use. Specific topics include:

· Introduction to biodiesel fuels, their current use and future needs for development
· Summary and illustration of the biofuel production process
· Overview of quality requirements and concerns
· General characteristics of biofuels; advantages and disadvantages compared with petroleum diesel
· Economics of biodiesel production—current supply and demand, role of the U.S. government, existing and potential feedstocks, production costs, and technological advances
· Balance of energy—both energy requirements for production and potential energy output
· Conclusion, glossary, and complete reference list

“Biodiesel is developing into a widely accepted alternative fuel,” says Task Force Chair Dr. Jon Van Gerpen, University of Idaho, Moscow. “Quality concerns have been addressed, and most fuel today integrates easily into the existing diesel fuel infrastructure. Further expansion of the industry will require new or larger sources of vegetable oils and animal fats that can be produced at prices that allow biodiesel to compete with petroleum-based diesel fuel.”

The commentary will be presented at the National Farmers Union and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research in Washington, D.C. You can get a free copy of the commentary at the CAST web site, www.cast-science.org.

Birmingham, AL to Test Hydrogen Bus

The City of Birmingham, Alabama will test a transit bus that will run on hydrogen next year.

This story from the Birmingham (AL) News says it’s the work of a University of Alabama-Birmingham engineering team, along with Auburn University… among others:

“This testing in Birmingham gives us a chance to evaluate the fuel cell in a unique, real world setting,” said Fouad Fouad, UAB team leader and chair of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

“We want to monitor the bus’s performance in our brutally hot and humid summers and the fuel cell’s ability to power the bus over the city’s hills and terrain,” Fouad said. “Only after studying these elements can we decide whether the hydrogen fuel cell is a viable option.”

The bus will be operated and maintained by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority. It will be compared to regular diesel and natural gas buses in the fleet.

The project is funded through a congressional earmark from U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby to research alternative fuels and hydrogen as an energy source.

The article goes on to say that the first phase of the test will use to small hydrogen fuel cells to run the bus, working up to a larger cell.

Teaching Biodiesel Production On the Run

Students from the University of Colorado are spreading the good news of biodiesel… and going mobile to do it.

This story from the Colorado Daily says the CU Biodiesel program is using donated, used restaurant cooking oil in a production facility that is contained in a trailer:

“I’ve taught everyone from post-graduate students to second-graders how to brew their own biodiesel,” said CU senior Mike West, director of education for CU Biodiesel. “That’s the whole point of the project — to show people how easy it is to brew biodiesel.”

The project West is referring to is a self-contained biodiesel trailer called ESTER, short for “fatty acid methylester,” or scientific name for biodiesel…

According to CU junior Josh Jaffe, director of outreach for CU Biodiesel, both byproducts of the conversion go right back to the benefit of CU causes. The biodiesel is used by the Buff buses to transport students and the glycerine is donated to the CU Recycling Center to be used as a fertilizing agent for composting.

“This is going to be CU’s in-house, or in-parking lot, biodiesel production facility,” Jaffe said of ESTER, which began construction three years ago through a $46,000 grant from the CU Environmental Center.

The trailer is capable of producing 500 gallons of biodiesel a month, but more importantly, can go to schools to teach more people how to brew their own biodiesel.

CU is also holding a contest to come up with a winning design for the trailer. Students with ideas are invited to download a blank form and submit their ideas by November 19th at www.cubiodiesel.org.

Thinking Small for Big Biodiesel Production

Iowa State University has received an $885,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant to see how small particles can be used to help make biodiesel production bigger.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the school’s Ames Laboratory is researching how nanoscale particles can be used to get chemical compounds (triglycerides, neutral lipids, and fatty acids) from microalgae for biodiesel production.

According to Kerry Gibson, a media relations staff member at Ames Lab, ISU just completed a research project that successfully used chemically-coated, honeycomb-like silica nanoscale particles to penetrate plant cell walls to deliver molecules to the cells. The biodiesel research project will attempt to use the nanoscale particles to penetrate the cell walls of microalgae to harvest chemicals from the algae to produce biodiesel without destroying the organisms. “It’s basically nanofarming,” Gibson said.

The lab will need to get another nearly $250,000 in funding for the three-year project, which is being headed by Victor Lin, Ames Lab chemist and ISU chemical and biological science program director.

Wind Turbine Maker Locates in Arkansas

A German maker of wind turbines is locating to Arkansas, part of that state’s growing wind turbine manufacturing industry.

This article from the Northwest Arkansas Morning News says Nordex USA Inc will build a $100 million plant, employing 700 people in Jonesboro and beginning production in January 2010:

Nordex is an original equipment manufacturer, meaning some of its parts and components suppliers are expected to locate in the area, officials said.

Jonesboro’s location was a main consideration in the company’s decision to locate there, according to Nordex USA CEO Ralf Sigrist.

“Logistics is one of the main concerns, main constraints, main challenges for our industry,” Sigrist said. “The unique location in this area — it’s in the midst of the various possible wind markets: West Coast, Texas and the South up to North Dakota and the eastern corridor.”

Friday’s announcement broadens Arkansas’ rapidly growing wind energy industry.

Earlier this month, Netherlands-based Polymarin Composites, a fully owned subsidiary of Emergya Wind Technologies, said it would invest $16 million in a windmill blade plant in Little Rock that would employ 630 people within four years. One of the company’s suppliers, Wind Water Technology, simultaneously planned to employ 200 at the plant.

Last year, Danish-based LM Glasfiber announced it would build a $150 million windmill blade plant and eventually employ 1,000 people in Little Rock. That company also planned to open a training academy there as well as its North American headquarters.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe praised the move, saying this is an indication of the type of business that will only grow in the future.

Tampa Could Become Major Biodiesel Port

Tampa, Florida could become a major port for alternative fuels… just in time as an area just up the road is expanding its potential to produce biodiesel.

Yesterday, I told you about how Groveland is expanding its biodiesel production capabilities and hopes to rival Houston, Texas in terms of green fuel refining. Now, GreenHunter Energy Inc. of Houston might be building a $70 million facility to store and produce biofuels at the Port of Tampa and has paid $1 million to lease a 22-acre site, according to this story in the Tampa Tribune:

The project would give GreenHunter a “foothold in a deep-water port that handles over half of the transportation fuel used in the state of Florida,” GreenHunter Chairman and CEO Gary Evans said.

The publicly held energy company owns and operates the nation’s largest biodiesel plant, a 105 million-gallon-per-year refinery in Houston.

The company is also developing six wind-power projects in Montana, California and New Mexico. In addition, it recently paid $2.5 million for a 14-megawatt power plant near Tallahassee that uses wood waste to generate electricity.

Credit Crunch Helps Wind Turbines Catch Up

It’s kind of a good news/bad news thing.

One the one hand, the wait to get wind turbines seems to be easing. But as this article from Greentech Media says, the credit crunch is helping ease that backlog:

“Turbines are available now, which is refreshing,” said Brad Johnson, director of business development at John Deere Renewables, on Thursday. “Before the credit crisis, it was very difficult to get turbines. We are finding a variety of choices.”

Johnson’s comment comes a day after one of the world’s largest wind turbine makers, Gamesa, said it would shut production at some of its factories temporarily, Reuters reported. Gamesa managers said they are waiting for customers to confirm their purchase plans before providing specific sales or production targets for 2009 and beyond.

It wasn’t so long ago when wind farm developers had to scramble to find turbines for their projects. Vestas Wind Systems in Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, said earlier this year that it had a huge backlog of turbine orders.

The turbine shortage has fueled aggressive efforts by turbine parts makers to increase production. In fact, eight new turbine components factories went online in the United States this year while nine manufacturing centers expanded their production capacity, said the American Wind Energy Association on Wednesday. Nineteen more new factory projects have been announced, the association said.

But the credit crunch and faltering economy are sending a cold breeze through the wind industry, which typically borrows money from banks and other investors to build wind farms.

Another bit of good news is, American wind power production is on track for another record year… and is expected to do even better next year. Sooner or later, the credit crisis will pass as the finance industry jumps back into the wind energy game.