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.

Biodiesel By-Product Glycerol to Hit $2.52 Bil Global Worth

A new study says the global worth of the biodiesel by-product glycerol will hit $2.52 billion by the year 2020. The report, “Glycerol Market By Source (Biodiesel, Fatty Acids, Fatty Alcohols), By Application (Personal Care, Alkyd Resins, Polyether Polyols), Downstream Opportunities (Propylene Glycol, Epichlorohydrin, 1,3 Propanediol) And Segment Forecasts To 2020,” from Grand View Research also says biodiesel is the leading source of the ingredient now found in personal care products, alkyd resins, and polyether polyols applications.

Biodiesel emerged as the leading source of glycerol, accounting for over 1,400 kilo tons of glycerol production in 2013. Growing application market coupled with increased production of oleochemicals in Asia Pacific is expected to augment glycerol demand over the forecast period.

Personal care and pharmaceuticals were the largest application segment, with glycerol consumption exceeding 870 kilo tons in 2013. However, food & beverage is expected to be the fastest growing application segment at an estimated CAGR of 8.4% from 2014 to 2020, owing to improving lifestyle in emerging economies leading to increased consumption of processed and packed foods.

The report went on to say that the Asia-Pacific region was the leading market and accounted for more than one-third of market volume in 2013 and will be the fastest growing market over the next six years. In addition, the global glycerol market is highly concentrated with the top four companies including IOI Group, KL Kepong, Emery Oleochemicals and Wilmar International accounting for more than 65 percent of market revenue last year.

You can read the full report here.

US Trade Rep Warned About Letting in Imported Biodiesel

IBBFroman1The prospect of Argentine biodiesel replacing U.S. biodiesel… while American biodiesel producers take a hit on the government’s requirement for the amount to be blended… is something not sitting well with the green fuel’s advocates in this country. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman got an earful about the issue while on a trip to Iowa, where he visited on the family farm of Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board just outside Des Moines.

During Ambassador Froman’s tour of the farm where the Kimberleys raise corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres, Kimberley discussed a concerning application made to the Environmental Protection Agency. Submitted by the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, the organization is asking EPA to approve an “Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement.” If approved, it would in effect replace the stringent feedstock recordkeeping requirements of the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] regulations and allow Argentine biodiesel to qualify for the U.S. biomass-based diesel program under a more streamlined review process.

“The unfortunate fact is that if EPA approves Argentina’s application, we could be looking at 600 million gallons or more of Argentine biodiesel imported to the U.S., displacing our own domestic production,” Kimberley said. “We know this because an Argentinean tax subsidy would allow each gallon of biodiesel from Argentina to enter the United States at prices lower than biodiesel produced in the U.S.”

“Flooding the market with Argentine biodiesel in addition to this sharp cut would lead to a devastating loss of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel market,” Kimberley said. “Until the proposed cuts, the RFS had been working as intended, but now we’re in the unfathomable position of also replacing imported oil with imported biodiesel. It makes no sense.”

The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, about 600 million gallons… or the same amount threatened to come in from Argentina… less that what American biodiesel producers turned out last year. Kimberley said Ambassador Froman and his staff were aware of the issue and receptive to the Iowa Biodiesel Board’s point of view.

Biodiesel Bike & Truck to Race at Bonneville

Bonneville_MorganMcCurdy1A motorcycle and a truck powered by biodiesel are among those to race this year at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats… when it finally dries out enough! The arid region that hosts the yearly Nationals Speed Week, scheduled this year to run Aug. 9-15, recently received a couple of inches of rain, flooding the usually perfectly dry race course. Officials are aiming to try to put on the event in late September/early October, and once they do, racers from Utah State University will be putting biodiesel to the ultimate speed test.

At this year’s event, Utah State will race two vehicles powered by USU-made biodiesel: a 2011 Kawasaki KLR motorcycle with a 0.9 liter Kobuta engine and a 1984 Dodge Rampage subcompact utility truck powered by a 1.5 liter Volkswagen turbo-diesel engine. Both vehicles are privately owned and were offered for use after the owners witnessed the Aggies’ successful racing performances in 2012 and 2013.

“We’re tapping years of outstanding research by USU scientists Bruce Bugbee, Ralph Whitesides, Clark Israelsen and Mike Pace, who are perfecting ways to grow and extract the maximum yield from these sources in the most cost-effective manner possible,” says [undergrad biochemist Mike Morgan, driver of the race car that set USU’s previous records], who is also a USU Extension research intern working with Whitesides, Extension weeds specialist and professor in USU’s Department of Plants, Soils and Climate.

With Whitesides, Morgan is investigating use of safflower and other oilseed crops, grown in areas unsuitable for tillable agriculture such as highway roadsides and military land, for biodiesel production. The young scholar, who was recently named co-chair of the National Biodiesel Board’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel partnership program, is following in the footsteps of the late USU researcher Dallas Hanks, who pioneered Utah’s innovative “Freeways-to-Fuel” program. Hanks, who died June 25, 2014, from cancer, received posthumous honors from Salt Lake County during the county council’s Aug. 5, meeting.

“You’ll see ‘This One’s for Dallas’ on my helmet and on the truck at Bonneville,” says Morgan. “Dallas was a great mentor to me and I’m humbled and proud to carry on his legacy.”

In the past, Utah State researchers have run vehicle powered by biofuels made from yeast and algae.

American Ethanol Driver Picks Up Trophy at Pocono

dillon1Ethanol-powered engines and sponsorship helped a young NASCAR driver to a recent win and could propel him to rookie of the year honor’s in NASCAR’s top division. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Ethanol spokesman Austin Dillon picked up a trophy at Pocono in the Camping World Truck Series this past weekend and has himself racing for a slot in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Championship.

The feat accomplished three things: it reminded people how the rising race star got to be the truck champion in 2010; the win in a Chevy truck ended Toyota’s 12-race winning streak in the series; and it showcased American Ethanol, which was displayed on the side of his truck. Dillon scored his sixth career Truck Series win by surviving a green-white-checkered finish.

Ethanol supporters behind American Ethanol hitched a ride with Dillon three years ago as we he was just emerging as a household name in the sport. The move has proven to be a good one, with Dillon moving through the ranks of NASCAR’s finest, first winning the truck series in 2010, capturing the intermediate Nationwide title last year, and now vying for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

Some experts say this year’s competition has been the best in a decade, as Dillon and fellow rookie Kyle Larson have been battling for one of the 16 spots in the race for the chase where the Sprint Cup Champion will be determined.

Algae, Power Tech Companies Collaborate for Biodiesel

RAEA company in the algae business is teaming up with a giant in power technology to produce algae for biodiesel at a commercial level. Tennessee-based Renewable Algal Energy, LLC (RAE) and Swiss-based ABB, a leader in power and automation technology, will collaborate to use ABB’s technology for control and efficiency of algae harvesting and conversion process.

“We are honored that ABB has selected to work with RAE in the development of infrastructure for RAE’s unique technology in complete integrated algal production systems,” stated Jeffrey S. Kanel, Ph.D. and CEO of RAE. “To have the global leader in power and automation technologies as a strategic partner is a huge endorsement of RAE’s ability to commercialize our technology in the creation of sustainable algal products.”

RAE will produce the equipment that harvest and extract algae and its co-products, including oil, for renewable fuels, as well as proteins and carotenoids for animal feed and nutritional supplements. The scalable systems are designed for medium to large scale algae farms, up to 2,000 hectares (10,000 square meters). ABB will supply 800xA control systems, instrumentation, low voltage electrical equipment and variable speed drives that will help those integrated algal production systems operate efficiently and reliably. In addition to process control, 800xA provides remote access to the base control room on each algae farm, so that multiple locations can be viewed and managed by one operator. The variable speed drives help the pumps and motors operate at their peak energy efficiency, using up to 10% less electricity.

Officials from both companies say this will make the harvesting of oil from algae, as well as other products for nutraceuticals and animal nutrition, a much more efficient process, one of the biggest hurdles algae growers have faced in trying to make algae oil commercially viable for biodiesel production.

Florida Biodiesel Brings Green Fuel to Africa

Florida-Biodiesel1Biodiesel-brewing equipment maker Florida Biodiesel, Inc. is sending another one of its biodiesel processors to Africa. Back in April, we told you about the company’s B-500 biodiesel plant was sold to the Lorymat Corporation in the Ivory Coast. Now, Florida Biodiesel has sold a B-60 biodiesel plant sale to Avandith Energy in Lagos, Nigeria.

Avandith Energy has chosen the B-60 Biodiesel processor for their pilot transesterification facility. The B-60 Biodiesel plant is economical to operate and will allow Avandith Energy to safely produce 4 batches of Biodiesel each 24 hours. The B-60 will also be used as a hands-on educational tool to show students and government agencies how to make renewable energy. “We will process Jatropha oil collected locally into Biodiesel fuel,” says Oladunjoye Waleola, of Avandith Energy. “The B-60 is very user friendly, has a low carbon footprint, and will economically produce Biodiesel for us.”

Florida Biodiesel has been producing biodiesel making equipment since 2006 and touts its safety external heat exchanger, cyclonic mixer, methanol recovery module, and the AUTOBIO biodiesel plant automation system technologies.

MN Gubernatorial Candidates Differ on Biofuels

mn-flagAll politics is local, and how some local and regional elections this year could help determine the fate of biodiesel and ethanol for a much larger area. Case in point, this article from the St. Cloud (MN) Times looks at how the four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to take on current Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in November have differing views on biofuels as they go into the August 12 Republican primary in that state.

A Marshall resident and former state representative, [Marty] Siefert said the state has created thousands of jobs, and the state should not change the requirement that gasoline include 10 percent ethanol.

“I see this as the status quo for now,” he said, not jumping on a bandwagon to increase ethanol percentages.

For diesel, Seifert said, he can understand concerns about biodiesel gumming up fuel filters in cold weather. “Biodiesel mandates are not going to go up if I’m governor.”

Raised on a North Dakota farm and now a Maple Grove resident, [Kurt] Zellers said he wants to look into increasing the ethanol mandate to 15 percent but needs more information before fully supporting it.

At minimum, he said, he wants to keep existing mandates in place.

[Jeff] Johnson, who grew up in Detroit Lakes and lives in Plymouth, said he favors eliminating mandates from state law, including those affecting biofuels.

However, he added, he has been around government enough to know that the mandates cannot be eliminated right away.

“Government has created somewhat of a dependency,” Johnson said, adding that eliminating biofuel mandates is not a priority and that he would like to phase them out.

There is none of that waiting for [Orono businessman Scott] Honour.

“I would try to push away from mandates as quickly as possible,” Honour said. “My view is that the less government is trying to influence a free market, the better.”

So there you have it Minnesotans. Choose wisely when you go to the polls on August 12.

Camelina Researched for Biodiesel and Drop-in Fuel

camelinaResearchers at several universities are looking at the potential camelina has as a feedstock for biodiesel or even using the oil as a straight drop-in fuel. This news release from Kansas State University says Timothy Durrett, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at KSU, has joined researchers from Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and the University of California, Davis, in using a $1.5 million joint U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy grant to see how to get the most out of a promising crop: Camelina sativa.

Camelina, a nonfood oilseed crop, can be a valuable biofuel crop because it can grow on poorer quality farmland and needs little irrigation and fertilizer. It also can be rotated with wheat, Durrett said.

“Camelina could give farmers an extra biofuel crop that wouldn’t be competing with food production,” Durrett said. “This research can add value to the local agricultural economy by creating an additional crop that could fit in with the crop rotation.”

The research will take advantage of the recently sequenced camelina genome. For the project, Durrett is improving camelina’s oil properties and by altering the plant’s biochemistry to make it capable of producing low-viscosity oil.

The article says developing a low-viscosity oil is crucial to improving biofuels and could allow camelina oil to be able to be dropped in as a fuel without any kind of chemical modification.

New Leaders for Next Gen. Scientists for Biodiesel

nbb-logoNew leadership for the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel have been chosen. This National Biodiesel Board program aims to educate young scientists with factual information about biodiesel.

Selected through a competitive application process, the new co-chairs are:
• James Anderson, Southern Illinois University, a PhD student in Agricultural Science
• Katie Heil, University of Colorado – Boulder, an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering
• Mike Morgan, Utah State University, an undergraduate in Biochemistry

They join senior co-chair Dan Browne, a graduate research assistant in the Dept. of Biochemistry & Biophysics at Texas A&M University. They replace three previous co-chairs who have graduated from their studies.

“By engaging with student scientists, our industry has not only learned about their upcoming research, but has opened new lines of communication with their professors and university researchers,” said Don Scott, NBB’s director of sustainability. “The new co-chairs are passionate, energetic and innovative, and will do a great job taking this program to the next level.”

The program was first launched in 2010 and has led to increased communication and collaboration between the biodiesel industry and colleges and universities involved in biodiesel research.

Sales Up But Revenues Down for Biodiesel’s REG

reg-logoBiodiesel behemoth Renewable Energy Group (REG) says while sales of its biomass-based diesel are up, revenues have fallen. The company released its second quarter 2014 financial results, showing REG sold 11 percent more biodiesel than the same time a year earlier. But revenues of $332.9 million are a decrease of 13 percent and an adjusted EBITDA decreased by 86 percent.

“Our second quarter results demonstrate the resilience of our business in the face of challenging market conditions,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe the industry has worked through the excess inventory from year-end and we have seen demand increase since the first quarter.”

Oh continued, “During second quarter, REG demonstrated its ability to operate an expanding business while also investing for future growth. On top of ramping up gallons sold 63% from first quarter, we executed a complex series of transactions in order to acquire Syntroleum and Dynamic Fuels. Integration of both are underway and we are excited about the new employees, technology and products added to REG. With these acquisitions, our total assets now exceed $1 billion.”

You can read more details of the report here.

PERC Consolidates Propane Info on One Website

PERCUsers of propane will now be able to find information on the clean fuel consolidated on one website. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) announced it is combining information that used to be available on several sites, including autogasusa.org, agpropane.com, poweredbypropane.com, and usepropane.com, into one place Propane.com, where customers can find information on propane’s many uses in transportation, commercial landscaping, agriculture, residential, and industrial markets.

PERC hopes the consolidated web presence will promote a “one-fuel solution” by encouraging business and residential customers currently using or considering propane in one application to explore new fuel-efficient equipment for other uses as well.

“Propane.com gives our industry a chance to showcase the versatility of propane, and the economic and environmental benefits of using this American-made fuel across top performing markets,” says Roy Willis, president and CEO of PERC. “The consolidation also gives propane customers the opportunity to realize all the technologies available for their home, fleet, or business.”

The previous sites managed by PERC still exist but redirect to Propane.com. Customers can also use the “Find a Propane Retailer” application on the site to locate their nearest retailer by zip code and services provided.

Pacific Ethanol Gets $3 Mil Grant for Sorghum

Pacific Ethanol logoCalifornia-based Pacific Ethanol, Inc. received a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission to develop sorghum as a feedstock for ethanol. This company news release says it will work with Chromatin, Inc., CSU Fresno’s Center for Irrigation Technology and the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

This undertaking also includes the California In-State Sorghum Program to support a lasting expansion in California’s ability to produce low-carbon ethanol from in-state feedstock that meets both the renewable fuel and greenhouse gas reduction goals stipulated under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard.

Neil Koehler, the company’s president and CEO, stated: “We are honored to receive this important grant, which supports Pacific Ethanol’s collaboration with California Agriculture and the other ethanol producers in California toward the long-term development of sorghum feedstock for advanced biofuel production at both our Madera and Stockton California facilities.”

Pacific Ethanol is the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States with four ethanol production facilities capable of producing a total of 200 million gallons each year.

Murphy USA Expands E15, E85 and Biodiesel Iowa Offerings

logo-murphy-usaFuels retailer Murphy USA expands its list of stations offering E15, E85 and biodiesel in Iowa. The move to convert stations in Fort Dodge, Mason City, Clinton and Davenport, along with the previously converted Indianola location, won praise from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA).

“It’s exciting to welcome four more Murphy USA fueling sites to the growing list of stations in Iowa providing more American-made fuel choices to motorists,” stated IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “With five Murphy USA stations already converted, and another two stations on the way, motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have greater access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol and biodiesel blends.”

“Murphy USA is excited to expand our product offerings with E15 and E85,” stated Murphy UA Senior Retail Fuel Supply Specialist Jennifer Forbess. “We proudly support communities across the state of Iowa who have called for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85. Murphy USA will continue to pursue opportunities to offer the fuels our customer’s desire.”

The newly converted Murphy USA fueling sites are located at:

3010 1st Ave., South in Fort Dodge, IA
4059 4th St., SW in Mason City, IA
5805 Elmore Ave. in Davenport, IA
2346 Virginia Ave. in Clinton, IA

To meet summertime fuel regulations, E15 will initially be sold to flex-fuel vehicles throughout the summer driving season at Murphy USA locations and will be offered as a registered fuel to 2001 and newer vehicles starting in mid-September.

Murphy USA has 1,200 stations in 23 states. The chain already offers E10, a 10 percent ethanol blend, in three grades of gasoline at Iowa stations.

China Solar Panel Maker to Install Panels in Malaysia

Wuxi Suntech Power Co LtdOne of the world’s biggest makers of solar panels will work to power rural schools and villages in Malaysia. China-based Wuxi Suntech will put in photovoltaic (PV) panels that will generate 7.5 MW of power under the Rural Solar Hybrid Electricity Project for Villages and Schools in the Interior.

The project was launched recently and is set to be completed in several phases and continue into 2017. The first phase will provide 960 kW to power three schools – SK Nanga Metah, SK Nanga Janan and SK Sungai Tunoh – as well as to 20 surrounding villages. The subsequent rollout of the project will reach a total of 7.5 MW of electricity to additional rural schools and villages.

The PV modules will form a micro-grid system set to provide 24 hour electricity to three schools and 20 surrounding villages. The system will consist of Suntech’s high-efficiency, VDE Quality Tested modules.

“We have been working diligently with our partners Helios Photovoltaics and the Malaysian government for several years to launch this revolutionary project. We’re using diesel generators and German battery packs to backup Suntech’s best in class PV Modules in this system. Many locations in the region are only accessible via boat or helicopter and have previously been left to rely on diesel generation for power. These new micro-grid systems will help to significantly reduce diesel costs and cut 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, providing clean, reliable energy for the schools and villages in Sarawak. We are extremely proud of our work with Helios and the Malaysian Government that has enabled us to bring this project to fruition,” said Samuel Zhang, sales director for APMEA & China at Suntech.

Suntech officials say the company’s recent acquisition by Hong Kong-based Shunfeng Photovoltaics Ltd. has helped its balance sheet and allows it to pursue a a new business strategy that will make it the largest integrated clean energy provider globally.

DF Cast: Syngenta Helps Ethanol Infrastructure Efforts

A company that is getting more ethanol out of corn is trying to get more infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol. Recently, Syngenta announced a new fund to help fuel retailers put in infrastructure to handle higher blends of ethanol from E15 to E85. The announcement was made at a NASCAR event, where fans have been able to witness just how good the higher blends are for engines.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Syngenta’s David Witherspoon and Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning, as they talk about the effort to get more ethanol infrastructure into gas stations and how Americans, especially NASCAR fans, have really come around to the green fuel.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Increasing Ethanol Blends

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