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.

$550 Bil in Fossil Fuel Subsidies Hurt Efficiencies, Renewables

GRFA1More than half a trillion dollars in subsidies for fossil fuels are discouraging energy efficiencies and renewable alternatives. This news release from the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) cites an International Energy Agency (IEA) report that shows worldwide fossil fuel consumption subsidies reached $550 billion in 2013, keeping down investments to make energy more efficient and renewable.

“Fossil fuel subsidies are theoretically intended to increase energy access, but according to the IEA these subsidies are failing while discouraging investment in energy efficiencies and renewables. This raises a glaring question; who’s the $550 billion benefiting?” asked Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

Despite falling oil prices, fossil fuel consumption subsidies rose by $6 billion, to $550 billion in 2013, up from $544 billion in 2012. By comparison, all global renewable energy sources received less than a quarter of that amount in subsidies.

“It seems counter productive to subsidize the most profitable industry on Earth that contributes the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions, especially when biofuels are growing and are the only commercial alternative to transport fossil fuels,” stated Baker.

GRFA also says that by 2040, biofuels use will more than triple, rising from 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2012 to 4.6 million barrels per day in 2040, about 8 percent of road-transport fuel demand.

India’s Railways to Power Trains with Biodiesel

indiatrain1Biodiesel in India gets a big boost as that country’s train company, Railways, decides to use the green fuel to power a fleet of 4,000 locomotives. This Times of India article says the move is to help clean up the environment and use less petroleum-based diesel.

Announcing the railway ministry’s move at a convention organized by Bio Diesel Association of India (BAI) on Wednesday, minister Sadanand Gowda said, “Railways is the single largest bulk consumer of diesel in the country and as mentioned in railway budget 2014-15, it will start using bio-diesel up to 5% of the total fuel consumption in diesel locomotives.” He added this will save foreign exchange substantially.

The national transporter annually consumes over two billion litres of diesel and foots a bill of over Rs 15,000 crore.

Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari also said that while his ministry is pushing for more use of clean and domestically produced fuel, he would take up the issue of allowing bio-diesel producers to sell their produce directly to bulk consumers in India. At present, only 20% of bio-diesel produced in India is sold here and the rest is exported.

Indian ministers added they are looking at plans to use waste land to grow the edible and non-edible oilseeds for the biodiesel.

Biodiesel Great But Broken Drivetrain Delays Trip

Ricketts shows problemWhile the biodiesel performed well, a busted drivetrain is postponing a cross-country trip featuring the chicken fat fuel. Earlier this week, we told you how Middle Tennessee State University Cliff Ricketts was driving from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, a 3,550-mile journey being made on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat. But this update from the school says a broken drivetrain transmission on the left side of the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup that happened near Kansas City, plus winter weather affecting the Great Plains, combined to now postpone the alternative fuel researcher’s “Southern-Fried Fuel” quest until spring 2015.

“I said at the beginning of this journey that we are on an adventure, and it has been,” Ricketts said.

“We’ll just postpone it until a later date. That is the common-sense thing to do.”

Traveling from the southernmost point in Florida up through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri — six of 13 states along his planned route — the 38-year MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member called the trip an amazing experience.

His fuel source, totally pure biodiesel, did not include petroleum. The mechanical problems had nothing to do with the fuel he was testing in the research.

“The biodiesel did great,” said Ricketts, who added that data showed miles-per-gallon ranges were from 36 to 45-plus.

“Equal speed, power, torque. The diesel vehicle has shown it is a viable fuel option as and when needed. Any issues we had had nothing to do with the biodiesel.”

The trip is now expected to resume this coming March or May.

Biodiesel Ingredient Maker Gets State, Fed Incentives

ia-flag1An Iowa company that will make a key ingredient for biodiesel is getting some important loans, loan guarantees and tax incentives from the state and federal governments. This article from the Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette says New Heaven Chemical will get $128,000 in state loans and $402,000 in tax incentives, along with the chance for a U.S. Department of Agriculture $5 million loan guarantee, for the company’s plant at the Manly Terminal.

The Manly plant will produce sodium methylate, which is used to turn fat and oil into biodiesel.

Completion is expected by the end of the year. Startup is set for January.

New Heaven’s plant will bring money into the county, [Worth County Supervisor Ken] Abrams said.

“It’s gonna get jobs and people here,” he said.

County officials are expected to sign the contract later this week.

Growth Energy Comments on LCFS & Ethanol

growth-energy-logoA group representing ethanol producers in this country is giving the state of Washington a piece of its mind on the state’s draft report on the potential implementation of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). This news release from Growth Energy says the comments outline how implementation of a LCFS could potentially displace clean burning, domestically-produced renewable fuels without significant environmental benefit.

Upon submission of the comments, Chris Bliley, Director of Regulatory Affairs for Growth Energy, noted, “As Washington considers a potential low carbon fuel standard, we wanted to make them aware of our strong objection to the inclusion of controversial theories such as indirect land use change. Ethanol continues to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions in our transportation fuel. Washington should carefully consider these issues before moving forward with a California-style LCFS regulation.”

The comments outlined that, “With the success of a national biofuels program in mind, Washington’s draft report raises a number of issues related to the potential adoption of a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in Washington. One of the most controversial features of a potential state-level LCFS regulation is the belief that by regulating the carbon intensity of alternative fuels somehow value is added separate and apart from other efforts to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions by causing changes in biofuel production methods… To date there has been no net reduction in GHG emissions nationwide; the only impact has been ‘fuel shuffling,’ a resulting phenomenon which itself is likely to increase GHG emissions by requiring the transport of ethanol and other fuels further distances than if states did not try to regulate the carbon intensity of the ethanol sold or used within their borders.”

You can read all of Growth Energy’s comments here.

Biodiesel, Solar Turn Cheese Guy’s Truck Green

cheese_truck1A food truck entrepreneur known for his cheese is turning his vehicle – not his cheese – green using biodiesel and solar power. This news release posted on EIN News says Oklahoma-based Wil Braggs, aka “The Cheese Guy,” has started a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help him buy a brand new gourmet green energy food truck called the Mean Green Purple Machine.

This truck is intended to be powered by solar generated energy. Sunlight is free obviously and solar power is an effective, simple and often overlooked energy choice. The Cheese Guy is committed to implementing solar inverter technology in order to charge batteries with sunlight. A new food truck would enable The Cheese Guy to utilize solar power for the brand new Mean green purple machine. Another form of alternative energy is biodiesel which is formed from vegetable oil. Biodiesel is quieter than traditional fuel and only has organic emissions. The Cheese Guy intends to use biodiesel from recycled plant oil to run their engine and also their generator. This would be the first true biodiesel powered food truck. It is this groundbreaking innovation that has the ability to change the thinking of food truck owners everywhere.

Another alternative fuel addition The Cheese Guy wants to make is replacing propane with natural gas.

You can visit his Kickstarter campaign here.

Chicken Fat Biodiesel Powering Truck from FL to WA

MTSUpickup1A professor of alternative fuels is making a 3,550-mile journey cross country to show how well chicken fat biodiesel can perform. This article from the Murfreesboro (TN) Daily News Journal says hometown Middle Tennessee State University alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts is driving a 34-year-old truck from Key West, Florida to Seattle, Washington on the green fuel.

[B]eing well aware some of the 13 states he will be driving through are northern and in the Pacific Northwest, he heard about a potential weather situation totally opposite of the 82-degree mostly sunny weather he was enjoying in South Florida.

“This is going to be an adventure,” said Ricketts, 66, a 38-year veteran MTSU professor, just before departing from Key West to head toward Miami, Fort Lauderdale and an eventual overnight stay in Bradenton.

“It’s 72 degrees this morning in Key West,” he added. “We’ll hit 30-degree temperatures when we reach Tennessee (Sunday night) and hit 20 degrees in Kansas City (Monday). In Montana, and we’ll go through Billings, we could hit 12-degree temperatures” after an arctic vortex blew through the region.

The researcher, who grew up on a farm and still lives on the family farm outside of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said the team “will go as far as we can with the research, experiencing as much as we can, but we will use wisdom if we have to call off or change a route later on.”

Apparently, according to the article, the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup is loud, as it has an exhaust stack system, vertically protruding from the truck bed. But Ricketts says the loud exhaust smelling like French fries amuses and entertains the kids they encounter along the way.

Growth Energy Looks for Ethanol Exports to Panama & Peru

growth-energy-logoAmerican ethanol exports could be expanding to Panama and Peru. Growth Energy officials, along with the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association, took part in a market development mission to explore export opportunities for the green fuel to the Central and South American countries.

“The mission has been a great experience,” said [Alex Marquis, Logistics Manager of Marquis Energy, who represented Growth]. “The mission delegates met with a number of Peruvian government officials over the span of two days, and the access provided was impressive. Though more work and dialogue is needed to cultivate relationships with key Peruvian contacts, these discussions revealed that Peru’s burgeoning economy offers growth potential for American renewable energy groups,” Marquis added.

“Exploratory trade missions like these allow the industry to identify new market opportunities across the globe and raise awareness of the benefits of renewable fuels. Ethanol can play a key role in improving the global environment and reducing the world’s dangerous dependence on fossil fuels,” stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Growth Energy also participated in trade missions to China, Korea and Japan earlier this year.

British Columbia OKs Trestle Energy’s Ethanol

trestleCalifornia-based ethanol producer Trestle Energy gets the green light to produce its advanced biofuel in British Columbia, Canada. Trestle, with production facilities in Iowa, can now start producing and selling its low-emissions biofuel in the province, as BC recognized the company as the lowest emissions ethanol producer in America.

Trestle Energy will now begin partnering with existing ethanol plants in Iowa, Minnesota, and across the Midwest to ramp up production of its low carbon biofuels and make the fuel available to BC consumers. Trestle’s method of production will strengthen export markets for American companies and help them effectively compete with overseas biofuel producers, while also helping advance important climate and energy security objectives.

“We are thrilled that British Columbia has moved quickly to approve our fuel pathways, so that we can begin to get our advanced biofuels to market,” said James Rhodes, co-founder and president of Trestle Energy. “We look forward to partnering with ethanol plants to supply Canada with low carbon biofuels, and we hope to bring them to the United States as soon as possible so that we can provide Americans with clean, affordable, low carbon energy.”

Trestle Energy also has petitions currently pending with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—filed in November 2013—and with the California Air Resources Board (CARB)—filed in May 2014.

RFA to Oregon: Treat Ethanol Same as All Clean Fuels

RFANewlogoA group representing ethanol interests is calling on Oregon to treat ethanol the same as other clean fuels in the state. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent in comments to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) detailing a number of requested changes to the proposed rule for Phase 2 of the Oregon Clean Fuels Program (CFP), including the recommendation that indirect effects be withheld from the program’s lifecycle carbon intensity analyses for various fuel pathways.

Phase 1 of the Oregon CFP, which is structured similarly to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), included carbon intensity scores for ethanol and all other fuel pathways that were based strictly on verifiable direct emissions. However, for Phase 2 of the program, Oregon DEQ is proposing to introduce subjective and uncertain penalty factors for hypothetical indirect land use changes (ILUC) for select biofuels, but no indirect effect penalty factors for any other fuel types. RFA’s comments underscore the fact that “Inclusion of highly uncertain and prescriptive ILUC factors creates an asymmetrical and discriminatory framework for the CFP.”

RFA urged that DEQ remove ILUC from the proposed rule “…until such time as there is broad scientific agreement on the best methodology for estimating the indirect effects for all fuels” and that “If DEQ includes ILUC for biofuels, it must also include indirect emissions associated with all other regulated fuels (including baseline petroleum).”

Even if DEQ’s proposal to include ILUC was justified, the letter points out that “…DEQ is proposing to use factors that have been shown to be grossly exaggerated and based on outdated information and data.” In fact, DEQ is planning to adopt ILUC penalties developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2009 for that state’s LCFS. Even CARB has recognized that its 2009 ILUC factors are flawed and is planning to propose revisions to those values.

RFA added that it will support “performance-based low carbon fuel programs that are grounded in the principles of fairness, sound science, and consistent analytical boundaries.” The group continued that introducing into the regulatory framework concepts without scientific integrity and balance “only creates stakeholder division and controversy.”

Video Contest Looks to ‘Fuel the Future’ of Ethanol, Biodiesel

IRFA2015VideoContestIowa high school students will once again compete to see who can produce the best video to promote the future of biodiesel, ethanol and E15. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) launched the 5th Annual “Fuel the Future” Video Contest for Iowa high school students with the top three video entries receiving prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $600 and $400 respectively; airing at the 2015 Iowa Renewable Fuel Summit on January 27; and being featured on IRFA’s YouTube® channel.

“The IRFA video contest is now open, and we’re excited to see the creative ways Iowa high school students promote ethanol and biodiesel this year,” stated IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “With attacks from ethanol and biodiesel opponents ramping up, we can’t wait to see how Iowa high school students set the record straight on renewable fuels through their highly entertaining and informative videos.”

The Fuel the Future contest is limited to students currently attending high school in Iowa (grades 9-12 in a public, private or home school). Video entries may not exceed two minutes in length and must be submitted to IRFA via DVD, flash drive, or secure web link. To be considered for the contest, all completed video entries must be received in the IRFA office by January 16, 2015. For more information, including the official entry form and contest rules, please visit www.iowarfa.org/FueltheFuture.php. For additional questions, please contact T.J. Page at (515) 252-6249 or tpage@IowaRFA.org.

To get some ideas, check out last year’s winner, produced by John Low of Marion and titled “E15: The Fuel of the Future,” here.

Biodiesel to Play Role in Lower Heating Oil Prices

nora1Biodiesel is expected to play a role in lower home heating oil prices this winter. The National Oilheat Research Allianace (NORA) cites a conference from last month where the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted the lower prices for consumers.

John Huber, President of [NORA], described the efforts of the heating oil industry to improve its product. He reported on the efforts of the Northeastern states to move to a low-sulfur heating oil product which improves efficiency and dramatically reduces emissions. He said that this step would also lead to long-term improvements in heating equipment as it is offered to consumers.

Additionally, Mr. Huber described the efforts of the Oilheating industry to move to ever-increasing blends of heating oil and renewable biodiesel. These steps will reduced greenhouse gas emissions and position the industry to be a long-term solution as a renewable fuel for millions of American customers.

NORA says that EIA predicts homeowners will spend, on average, 15 percent less, on average, than last year if long-term weather forecasts hold. Other factors cited for expected overall lower energy prices this winter include pipeline and other infrastructure developments in the U.S., more shale oil coming onto the market, and speculators trading crude oil for less.

Forum to Address Ag’s Challenges in Transportation

farmfoundationlogo3News of too few rail cars to move this year’s grain harvest from farming areas to consumers has grabbed the headlines most recently, but agriculture and rural America are facing several other transportation issues this year. Farm Foundation will look to address some key issues, including the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure, which is also important to the movement of biofuels – roads, bridges and waterways – during its next free forum, Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. EST at the National Press Club, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C. with a live audiocast being made available for those unable to attend in person.

The Forum will begin with presentations by four industry leaders:

Eric Jessup, Vice President, Transportation, Industrials & Energy Services, Informa Economics;
John H. Miller, Group Vice President, Agricultural Products, BNSF Railroad;
Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation Coalition; and
Jon Samson, Executive Director of the American Trucking Associations’ Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference.

Moderating the session will be grain farmer Mark Scholl of J&M Scholl, Inc. Mr. Scholl and Mr. Miller are both Trustees of Farm Foundation.

More information and sign-up is available here.

Springboard Biodiesel Offers New Equipment

springboardbiodiesel2A California-based biodiesel equipment manufacturer is offering a new line of automated equipment that it says will further improve the performance and efficiency of small-scale biodiesel producers. Springboard Biodiesel announced the equipment will recover methanol and treat glycerin better.

The GL95/MC12/BD380 trio will recover more than 99% of the excess methanol that is mixed in with the glycerin by-product produced while making biodiesel. After the methanol is recovered at a purity of approximately 98%, the equipment will then eject a quickly cooling block of glycerin soap.

This trio of equipment will also remove and recover excess methanol from biodiesel that rates too high for sale, based on methanol content. This can be a factor for groups that are using a drywash system to filter and clean their raw biodiesel after it has been produced.

“In the biodiesel production world, some groups struggle to manage their glycerin disposal, others struggle to meet ASTM-grade when using a drywash system,” says Springboard CEO Mark Roberts. “Recognizing this, we have turned their struggle into an opportunity with the elegant and automated GL95/MC12/BD380 trio. Not only will a biodiesel producer recover the vast majority of the extra methanol used in the reactions, but the equipment will also cast the remaining material into a large block of soap and glycerin, giving a small scale producer more options for revenue.”

Springboard is best known for its small-scale biodiesel processing equipment under the trademarks of BioPro™ and SpringPro™. The BioPro™.

Iowa Biodiesel Board Optimistic on Election Results

iowabiodieselboardA group representing one of the largest biodiesel producing states in the country is optimistic about Tuesday’s election results. The Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) congratulated those in the Hawkeye State winning, in particular Joni Ernst winning the U.S. Senate seat and David Young winning the U.S. House seat. And IBB is optimistic about what the election means for biodiesel nationally.

Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director, issued the following statement:

“We congratulate Iowa’s election winners, and look forward to working with all of them in the effort to diversify our nation’s fuel supply with biodiesel, America’s Advanced Biofuel. We are confident the new Senate and House winners will support biodiesel and biofuel issues. Having hosted Senator Joni Ernst at a biodiesel plant during the campaign, we were pleased to hear her declare strong support for biodiesel and the Renewable Fuel Standard to IBB members. IBB will continue to be a resource for her and all of our elected officials.

“Sen. Ernst and Rep. David Young in particular have strong ties to Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley, who have been tireless champions for biofuel and agriculture issues. We’re confident these newly elected officials will be just as supportive in providing leadership on these important issues. We also look forward to working with Rep. Rod Blum. Likewise, we believe the House incumbents, Reps. Dave Loebsack and Steve King, will continue to support biodiesel and our nation’s drive for smart, consistent federal energy policy. The economic and energy security benefits biodiesel provides are second to none, making the RFS one of the most effective policies we have.”

IBB was also thankful to defeated Senate candidate Democrat Bruce Braley for his efforts on behalf of the green fuel while in the U.S. House, as well as retiring Senator Tom Harkin.