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.

Study: 20% Biodiesel Fine for Heating Homes

nora1A new study shows that a 20 percent biodiesel blend is fine for home heating use. The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) says they tested blends of ASTM D6751 biodiesel with both standard and low sulfur heating oil and found that the 20 percent blend can be used in heating oil without incident.

Field experience with Bioheat® fuel (blended heating oil and biodiesel) has been overwhelmingly positive. A recent service organization survey conducted by NORA and Brookhaven National Laboratory observed that some 35,000 buildings are currently using Bioheat® containing more than 5% biodiesel with no issues…

Winter operability is essential in serving oilheat’s customers. Biodiesel blends can have a significant impact as the feedstock affects its winter characteristics. Wholesale suppliers and retail marketers need to be sure the product they sell is right for the temperatures at which it will be stored at and used. An outside tank in Maine may need a different product than an indoor tank.

NORA says it has been working with the National Biodiesel Board and the oil heating industry state leadership groups to make sure biodiesel used in home heating oil is of the highest quality to eliminate any issues, especially during the coldest weather when homes need to be heated most.

California Biodiesel Maker Gets $4 Mil State Grant

communityfuelsA California biodiesel maker is the beneficiary of a $4 million state grant to help the refinery become more efficient and expand its range of feedstocks. This news release from Encinitas-based Community Fuels says the California Energy Commission grant will help put in the new equipment at the company’s Port of Stockton advanced biorefinery and help the state meet its goals of reducing emissions and increasing production and use of renewable fuels within California.

“Community Fuels is currently completing two projects: expanding production capacity and building an advanced biofuel terminal. This new award is for a third, distinct project that is complementary to our current projects. We planned our business to be built in an incremental manner while we validated various technologies and market conditions. This new project will position Community Fuels to serve the future needs of California’s transportation fuel market.” says Lisa Mortenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Community Fuels.

“Grant funding accelerates the pace at which we expand our capabilities. Our team has a strong track record of completing grant-funded projects; each project that we successfully complete helps to build confidence in our business and our long-term growth opportunities.” says William Crooks, Corporate Controller of Community Fuels.

Community Fuels officials added they will use their on-site, BQ9000 laboratory to help in design and commissioning efforts.

Cavitation Tech Inks Deal for Biodiesel, Food Oil Reactor

cti-logoMaker of devices and systems for refining edible oils and biofuels, including biodiesel and ethanol, Cavitation Technologies, Inc. (CTi) will have one of its reactors installed at a soybean processing plant. The company’s agreement with Desmet Ballestra Group will see CTi’s vegetable oil refining system process approximately 500 tons of soybean oil with full installation and operations coming in 2015.

President Igor Gorodnitsky comments, “We are excited to have our first system sale in fiscal 2015. We believe that fiscal 2015 will encompass a combination of the benefits our technology brings in vegetable oil refining, production of ethanol and biodiesel, water and petroleum treatment. Our invaluable relationships with our licensees, the Desmet Ballestra Group and GEA Westfalia provide our company with very strong business partnership with global technology leaders.”

CTi anticipates approximately $350,000 in revenue from this sale. This is CTi’s 12th system put in North America.

ADM, Mizzou to Open New Biofuel Research Center

cafnr1The University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and its College of Engineering have teamed up with Archer Daniels Midland Company to open a new research center focusing on biofuels and food production. The ADM Center for Agricultural Development was designed to give students more of a hands on approach in learning the latest theories of biofuel development, food production and energy processing.

“As the global population continues to grow, the world is looking toward agriculture to create viable, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing needs – like an abundant food supply and advanced renewable fuels,” said Michael D’Ambrose, ADM senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “To help our industry meet this challenge, ADM is pleased to invest in the University of Missouri and the next generation of agricultural leaders.”

Leon Schumacher, professor of agricultural systems management helped coordinate the project and said the lab will allow students to step out of the classroom and into the lab where they will team with peers and faculty on projects and equipment typical in the rapidly-changing agricultural industries

Schumacher said the lab allows students to select critical issues facing agriculture and brainstorm solutions, develop a timeline and budget, make decisions, take the initiative to test solutions in the lab, and be accountable for results. Schumacher said this is the best approach to develop team skills needed by industry.

ADM donated $1 million to renovate the labs that will help students to “learn to work as a team and tackle problems in a systematic way,” officials said. They also expect the labs will be key in finding solutions to the problem of fueling and feeding an expected world population of 9 billion by the year 2050.

MN Lung Association MN Picks Biodiesel Essay Winners

Cleanairchoicelogo2The American Lung Association in Minnesota has picked the two winners for its 2014 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay contest.

John Wheaton, a recent graduate of Minnetonka High School, was the first place winner with his essay, “Impacting a new generation: my journey toward educating the community on the benefits of biodiesel.”

Wheaton, a resident of Deephaven, Minn., has long had an interest in alternative fuels and vehicle technologies. He heard about the scholarship while attending a meeting at the American Lung Association in Minnesota headquarters. He will receive a $1,000 check for his winning essay.

The second place winner is Hannah Korri of Duluth. A recent graduate of Two Harbors High School, Hannah wrote of her concerns that vehicle emissions from traditional petroleum fuels threatened the “…crisp, clean air found only in our Northland.” She will receive a $500 check for her winning essay.

The Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay contest is open to all high school seniors in Minnesota, and officials will be announcing information on the 2015 contest soon.

Renderer Acquires Biodiesel Operation

bakernewleafA renderer and recycler has acquired a controlling interest in a Southern California biodiesel operation that turns fats and oils into the green fuel. This article posted on Feedstocks.com says Baker Commodities, Inc., which has been a long-time supplier of fats and oils to the biodiesel industry, now controls San Diego-based New Leaf Biofuel, and the move will allow Baker to expand into other markets that vertically integrate with its rendering operations.

“We are excited to have New Leaf Biofuel as a division that will continue the recycling of fats and oils into an environmentally clean and sustainable fuel for all Californians to use,” said Jim Andreoli, Jr, Co-President, Baker Commodities. “As renderers, we in the industry have been recycling fats and proteins for hundreds of years, and to be able to use these materials to further support our society’s needs is a natural fit for our rendering business.”

Since 2006, New Leaf Biofuel has been converting used cooking oil into ultra-low carbon biodiesel, which is used in commercial and municipal fleets throughout California. New Leaf Biofuel President Jennifer Case and her husband Tyler Case, Vice President of Operations, are excited to work with Baker as the general operators of New Leaf Biofuel. “We couldn’t be happier about becoming part of Baker Commodities,” said Case. “We are both family-owned businesses and share very similar philosophies and corporate sustainability goals. We’re excited to help the company in its future growth.”

Baker has been rendering and removing grease since 1937.

Neste Oil Moves Away from Microbes for Renewable Diesel

nesteoil_logoRenewable diesel maker Neste Oil says it will move away from turning microbes into the green fuel and concentrate on other feedstocks, such as forestry and agricultural waste. This company news release says the Finland-based Neste Oil wants to increase the number of renewable inputs used for the renewable diesel.

“Our microbial oil pilot plant at Porvoo has demonstrated that we have the technical capability for producing microbial oil,” says Neste Oil’s Senior Vice President, Technology, Lars Peter Lindfors. “Seen in terms of sustainability, using waste and sidestreams generated by agriculture and forestry as well as industry has a very important role to play in the future, and we have successfully used straw, for example, to produce microbial oil. Two years of in-depth microbial oil research at the pilot plant has generated a lot of valuable know-how and extended our patent portfolio, and we will be able to use the results of this work in other research projects.

“The time is not yet ripe for a commercial-scale microbial oil plant, however. Lignocellulose material is not a financially competitive industrial feedstock for producing renewable diesel using the microbial oil process at the moment. We will continue researching agricultural and forestry waste and residues, and believe that lignocellulose inputs will play an important role in future renewable applications,” says Lindfors.

The release does not say how this could affect a recent deal with U.S. algae producer Renewable Algae Energy (RAE) to supply algae oil as an alternative feedstock for Neste Oil’s NEXBTL renewable diesel for the future.

More Biodiesel Use Means More Attention to Seals

More use of biodiesel in heavy machinery, such as construction and agricultural equipment, means operators need to pay more attention to what kind of seals they use in the machines. This news release from Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies says that those engine and transmission seals need to be made of validated elastomeric materials that withstand unique operating conditions or they will prematurely fail.

“As the large earth moving equipment and other heavy machinery becomes cleaner by using biodiesel fuels, manufacturers are going to experience more motor oil contamination in their engines from this fuel,” [Joseph Walker, global director, Advanced Materials Development for Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies] said. “Biodiesel fuels have a much higher boiling point and the fuel is miscible with the engine oil. This means more fuel remains in the oil during use and this diluted oil mixture impacts engine and component operation.”

While industry studies that examine the impact of oil-fuel dilution on lubricants exist, this is the first time a company has undertaken efforts to understand how oil-fuel dilution affects sealing elements, he noted.

“This comprehensive study was designed to close that gap,” Walker said. “We realized that if we understood how these biodiesel fuel oil mixtures impacted elastomeric materials on a molecular level, we could determine which ones would perform best and longest for our customers and require the fewest seal replacements. And the dilution of the engine oil with biodiesel fuel does have pronounced effects on both lubricant and seal life.”

Freudenberg-NOK officials also note that the issue can be more pronounced in the construction industry where heavy machinery is being constantly leased and operated for long periods between maintenance cycles.

Walker will present his company’s finding’s at today’s SAE 2014 Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress (COMVEC) in Rosemont, Ill.

Minnesota Biodiesel Exceeds Quality Standards

nbb-logoBiodiesel in Minnesota is more than meeting quality standards – it’s exceeding them! The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reports that some recent field testing from more than 30 random retail stations scattered throughout the state of Minnesota showed biodiesel blends greatly exceeding important fuel quality parameters set by the industry.

“Biodiesel fuel quality is at an all-time high across the industry,” said Scott Fenwick, National Biodiesel Board technical director. “The recent results from the Minnesota testing is just another example of why consumers can feel confident filling up with biodiesel blends.”

A key indicator of fuel quality in biodiesel blends is oxidative stability, which is a measure of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. Plymouth, Minn., based MEG Corp., a fuel consulting company, took blind samples in September from retailers across three regions in Minnesota — north, metro and south.

All of the samples taken surpassed the minimum required specification for oxidative stability and most of the samples were three to four times better than the minimum. Fenwick said higher values indicate even better stability, and this new real-world data is important as some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) look for more assurances that biodiesel blends are meeting specifications at the pump. The minimum stability requirements within the current biodiesel specs only recommend for biodiesel to be stored for up to six months which is more than enough time for most diesel applications.

Minnesota just completed the first summer of a successful run with 10 percent biodiesel (B10) in diesel fuel statewide, which was considered a success in no small part because of the high quality of the fuel in the system.

Homemade Biodiesel Works As Well As Conventional

EECLResearchers at Colorado State University (CSU) have found that a homemade mix of unleaded gasoline and crushed oilseeds works about as well as diesel or biodiesel produced by more conventional means. This article on the Lab Manager website says the mix was tested by farmers who operate an oilseed processing facility and CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory in Fort Collins.

“There was an 8 to 10 percent drop in maximum power,” said Aaron Drenth, a CSU doctoral student who led the most recent testing of the homemade fuel. “That’s not very much — most drivers would never notice it. It’s also consistent with what the farmers who use it have been telling us.”

Drenth and Daniel B. Olsen, a professor of mechanical engineering at CSU, have spent the past two years testing different versions of the homemade fuel, called TGBs (triglyceride blends), and comparing the performance to biodiesel, renewable petroleum diesel, and traditional diesel fuels.

They swapped out oils made from sunflower, corn, canola, soybean, pennycress, camelina and carinata seeds to make different TGBs…

In addition to performance, Drenth and Olsen also evaluated the TGBs’s emissions, fuel consumption and thermal efficiency. TGBs were comparable to biodiesel, renewable diesel, and diesel in each of those areas; in some cases, they outperformed one of the conventional fuels.

For example, the engine got better “mileage” with TGB than biodiesel.

“We were surprised at how well TGBs did overall,” Olsen said.

The researchers did say that people should not necessarily start making their own fuel, because more study is needed on long-term effects on engines and potential safety concerns.

Biomass-to-Biofuel Plant Gets USDA Loan Guarantee

coolplanetA Louisiana biomass-to-biofuel operation received a $91 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This news release from USDA says the agency will back the loan under the Biorefinery Assistance Program to finish building the Cool Planet plant at the Port of Alexandria in Louisiana.

The Cool Planet facilities will produce approximately 8 million to 10 million gallons of reformate per year at full capacity. Often referred to as a “drop-in” fuel, reformate is an ingredient in gasoline and jet fuel that can be added during the regular refinery process. Many biofuels, like ethanol, are fuel additives that are instead blended into a finished product to oxygenate fuel. Reformate enhances the energy content of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Pine chips will be the feedstock source for the Cool Planet facility, but the company can use almost any type of renewable cellulosic material.

Another benefit of Cool Planet’s facility is that it will produce biochar, a bioenergy byproduct that has been noted for its ability to sequester carbon and potentially reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.

Google Ventures, BP, ConocoPhillips, GE, Exelon and NRG Energy are also kicking in on the project, in addition to USDA’s contribution. Cool Planet is putting $50 million in its own equity into the project.

B10 Biodiesel Blend in Minnesota a Success

msga-logo1The first summer of Minnesota running a 10 percent biodiesel (B10) mandate is being called a success. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) says as the state moves back to a B5 mandate over the winter months, the group is celebrating how well the higher blend made mostly from its soybeans went.

“The implementation of B10 went very well,” said George Goblish, President of the MSGA. “I think we alleviated the concerns of truckers and auto manufacturers.”

Steve Howell, president of MARC-IV Consulting, said Minnesota has proven biodiesel blends can be a high-quality fuel at the retail pump level.

“The stability of the product in Minnesota far exceeded the stability specs, and people in Minnesota can feel good about the fuel they are getting,” he said.

Howell said the high quality of B10 in Minnesota at the pump is because of the quality control measures in place throughout the state.

Officials from the fuel consulting company MEG Corp. say the B10 easily met and exceeded the key quality indicator of oxidative stability, a measure of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. This means consumers can expect the B10 they buy to be good for at least a year after purchase, allaying fears some automobile groups had that the green fuel would drop in quality by the time it hit fuel tanks.

From now through April 1, 2015, Minnesota goes back to a 5 percent biodiesel blend, with B10 kicking back in after that for the next summer.

Corn Harvest Could Affect Propane Supplies, Prices

A big corn harvest this year could affect the supply and price of propane, a big fuel for drying the crop. This story from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says if the weather allows farmers to dry their crops in the field before harvest, there will be plenty of supply, and prices will be stable … unlike last year’s wet harvest time.
propanechart2
Last year, propane demand in the top five corn-producing states increased in October to levels that rivaled the normal peak demand in January, drawing down propane inventories before the heating season began. Propane inventories in the Midwest were drawn down by 4.1 million barrels (130,000 bbl/d) in October, which was the largest October stock draw since 1985.

As a result, Midwest inventories of propane started the heating season at relatively low levels and remained at the bottom of the five-year range through December. Logistical problems, including the closure for maintenance of the Cochin Pipeline that transported propane from Canada to the Upper Midwest and disruptions of rail transportation, prevented Midwest inventories from being replenished before winter began. With prolonged cold weather in January and February, propane inventories dipped well below the five-year range.

EIA says propane inventories in the Midwest are higher going into this harvest season, and the supplies should be in good shape, despite the fact that the Cochin Pipeline was reversed earlier this year and now moves condensate from the Midwest to Canada. Those supplies going to Canada will be replaced by additional supplies from domestic sources and better rail and storage capacity.

Arizona Pellet Fuel Maker Gains Quality Standard

forestenergyproductsAn Arizona company that makes wood pellets and biomass into residential and commercial-grade pellet fuel gained an important quality acccreditation. Show Low, Arizona’s Forest Energy Corporation is the sixth company to qualify for the Pellet Fuels Institute’s (PFI) Standards Program, a third-party accreditation program providing specifications for those types of fuels.

“We are thrilled to welcome Forest Energy Corporation into the PFI Standards Program,” said Jennifer Hedrick, Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute. “It takes time, effort and dedication to qualify for the program and we are proud to see how much the Standards Program has grown in a year and a half. We thank these companies for leading the way and we look forward to many more program members.”

To meet the criteria of the PFI Standards Program, participants work with an independent accredited auditing agency and testing laboratory. Random monthly audits are performed at production facilities to ensure qualified companies are following a quality assurance and quality control program. Pellets are tested according to the program specifications, also on a monthly basis. By taking these steps, participants ensure that their pellet quality remains consistent.

Forest Energy Corporation joins existing program members New England Wood Pellet, Curran Renewable Energy, American Wood Fibers, Lignetics Inc., and Marth Peshtigo Pellet Co. meeting the standard that now covers nearly half of the pellets manufactured for residential heat consumption within the United States. Those qualifying are able to display the PFI Quality Mark on their pellet bags, showing consumers their qualification to the program requirements.

U of Wyoming Gets $4.25 Mil for Wind Research

windfarm1The University of Wyoming receives $4.25 million for the federal government for wind energy research. This school news release says the three-year, Department of Energy-EPSCoR grant will fund wind farm modeling, transmission grid monitoring and the economics derived from wind-generated power.

The grant will support 12 researchers from those five UW departments as well as researchers from Montana Tech. Researchers from other academic institutions, Cornell University and Western Ontario University, and four national government labs — the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and Boulder, Colo.; Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. — are expected to be involved in the work.

naughton“The grant will be used to look at barriers for penetration of renewables into the electrical grid,” says Jonathan Naughton, a UW professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of UW’s Wind Energy Research Center. Naughton is the principal investigator of the grant. “Our focus is on wind. Obviously, for Wyoming, that’s most prevalent. This is work relevant to the state’s economy.”

Potential impacts of the project include: improved location placement of wind farms; better control and efficiency of wind farm generation; more reliable integration of wind generation with the power grid; and a better understanding of the economic benefits of wind farms and grid optimization.

The release goes on to say rthe project will focus on three interdependent areas: 1. Development of and optimization of wind plant performance, 2. Development of a measurement-based transmission grid modeling capability, and 3. Development of fully integrated economic models for more diverse and variable energy generation and transmission scenarios.