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.

ASTM Ups FAME Tolerance, Helps Biodiesel for Jets

ASTMlogoA change in the amount of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) allowed in jet fuel will open the door for more biodiesel to be used in aviation. This news release from ASTM, a group that sets quality standards for a number of items including fuels, says that revising the safety standard of the allowable cross-contamination of FAME in jet fuel from 5.0 parts per million to 50 parts per million under the Aviation Turbine Fuel Standard (ASTM D1655) will help get more biodiesel into aviation fuels without compromising safety.

“The jet fuel specification keeps the aviation industry safe while adapting to the expanded presence of biofuels,” says ASTM member David J. Abdallah, Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering. “In fact, no discernible negative impact on jet fuel product quality was observed with up to 400 ppm of biodiesel.” Abdallah noted that a potential future revision could further increase the standard to allow 100 parts per million.

ASTM D1655 was developed by ASTM Subcommittee D02.J0 on Aviation Fuels and D02.J0.01 on Jet Fuel Specifications, part of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants.

ASTM used information from the EI-JIP Report, Joint Industry Project: Seeking original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approvals for 100 mg/kg fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) in aviation turbine fuel as the basis for the change.

Bacterium, Nitrogen Gas to Partner for Ethanol

nitrogenbacteria1Researchers at the University of Indiana might have come upon a way to partner bacterium with nitrogen gas to make more ethanol. This news release from the school says biologists there have found a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to increase ethanol production by using nitrogen gas, the most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere. The discovery could help make cellulosic ethanol more competitive with corn-based ethanol.

The raw materials for cellulosic ethanol are low in nitrogen, a nutrient required for ethanol-producing microbes to grow, so cellulosic ethanol producers are estimated to spend millions of dollars annually on nitrogen fertilizers like corn steep liquor and diammonium phosphate. But an IU team led by biologist James B. McKinlay has found that the bioethanol-producing bacterium Zymomonas mobilis can use nitrogen gas (N2) as a nitrogen source, something that the more traditional ethanol-producer, baker’s yeast, cannot do.

“When we discovered that Z. mobilis could use N2 we expected that it would make less ethanol. N2 utilization and ethanol production demand similar resources within the bacterial cell so we expected resources to be pulled away from ethanol production to allow the bacteria to grow with N2,” McKinlay said. “To our surprise the ethanol yield was unchanged when the bacteria used N2. In fact, under certain conditions, the bacteria converted sugars to ethanol much faster when they were fed N2.”

Knowing the bacterium could use N2 without hindering ethanol production, the team reasoned that N2 gas could serve as an inexpensive substitute for nitrogen fertilizers during cellulosic ethanol production.

“Until recently, ethanol has been produced almost entirely from food crops, but last year there was a surge in cellulosic ethanol production as several commercial facilities opened,” McKinlay said. “Cellulosic ethanol offers more favorable land use and lower carbon emissions than conventional ethanol production. Even so, cellulosic ethanol is struggling to be cost-competitive against corn ethanol and gasoline.”

The researchers believe N2 gas, which can be produced on-site at production facilities, could save an ethanol production facility more than $1 million dollars a year. They have filed for a provisional patent on the idea.

Springboard Biodiesel Partners with 75th School

springboardbiodiesel2Biodiesel equipment manufacturer Springboard Biodiesel has hit a bit of a milestone. The company says the Putnam County School system of Georgia will be the 75th school to own and operate a BioPro™ biodiesel processor.

“Putnam is doing what any school with dining facilities on campus can do,” reports Springboard Biodiesel CEO Mark Roberts. “Converting used cooking oil into locally made fuel for less than a dollar per gallon saves money on fuel costs, significantly reduces a school’s carbon footprint and makes students smarter.”

Springboard offers financing through several third party lenders thereby enabling any accredited US educational institution to get started quickly with a program that compliments many existing recycling programs.

Some of Springboard Biodiesel’s other customers for its small-scale biodiesel processing systems include Toyota, Honda, The Florida National Guard, The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Jimmy Dean Sausages, many restaurants and schools, and the Federal Prison system.

Process to Make Renewable Fuel for Under $1/Gallon

duckweedusaA new process looks to make renewable fuel out of algae, waste water and even vegetable for under $1 per gallon. Duckweed USA says its new thermodynamically reversible process can make clean jet fuel, diesel fuel or gasoline from the less common feedstocks.

Using the patented Linear Venturi Kinetic Nozzle changes the aquatic-mass-to-energy process to one that requires no high-heat processes nor chemicals. 90% of the energy used in production is recoverable and feedstock is self-replenishing. With 3 variables in production cost nearly eliminated, the ideas of energy independence and financial self-sufficiency are now viable options at any level. For investors, no plummet in oil prices can spoil profitability projections when production is under $40 per barrel. Domestically and globally, this breakthrough opens doors to new opportunities of growth never before seen.

For stakeholders at any level, the bottom line is, as Michael Rigolizzo states, “Our system turns energy liabilities into assets. Every school bus that needs gasoline to every jet that needs fuel is a point of profit for synfuel-producing communities instead of a cost.” Duckweed believes its patented process could revolutionize the President’s action plan, the combination of energy types needed and especially the costs to be incurred by taxpayers. “By the time the 5-year initial phase of the action plan would be completed, the Duckweed process could be established – and turning profits – in every community along the Keystone Pipeline,” says Rigolizzo.

Duckweed says it already has interest from groups, such as Sparta, Georgia, Rutgers University and countries from Europe to Africa.

Researchers Make Biodiesel, Jet Fuel from Algae

woodsholeResearchers have figured out how to make biodiesel and jet fuel from a single algae. This news release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says Greg O’Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, exploited an unusual and untapped class of chemical compounds in a common algae to make the two different fuel products at the same time.

“It’s novel,” says O’Neil, the study’s lead author. “It’s far from a cost-competitive product at this stage, but it’s an interesting new strategy for making renewable fuel from algae.”

Algae contain fatty acids that can be converted into fatty acid methyl esters, or FAMEs, the molecules in biodiesel. For their study, O’Neil, Reddy, and colleagues targeted a specific algal species called Isochrysis for two reasons: First, because growers have already demonstrated they can produce it in large batches to make fish food. Second, because it is among only a handful of algal species around the globe that produce fats called alkenones. These compounds are composed of long chains with 37 to 39 carbon atoms, which the researchers believed held potential as a fuel source.

Isochrysis had been dismissed by biodiesel makers because its oil is a dark, sludgy solid at room temperature, rather than a clear liquid that looks like cooking oil. But the researchers found a way to make biodiesel from the FAMEs in Isochrysis and then devised a method to separate the FAMEs and alkenones in order to achieve a free-flowing fuel. The method added steps to the overall biodiesel process, but it supplied a superior quality biodiesel, as well as “an alkenone-rich . . . fraction as a potential secondary product stream,” the authors write.

The scientists believe that by producing the two fuels from the single algae will help in commercializing the process.

POET Fights Pollution in Haiti with Ethanol Stoves

ethanolstove1An American ethanol company is fighting fighting pollution and deforestation in Haiti with ethanol-fueled cook stoves. This news release from POET says the company has partnered with with Project Gaia to replace wood-burning stoves with the clean-burning, ethanol-fueled ones.

Today, most Haitians rely on charcoal and firewood to cook their daily meals. Consequentially, the nation has experienced extreme deforestation over the years, and now less than 2 percent of Haiti’s forest cover remains. Additionally, the United Nations estimates that the average lifespan in Haiti is shortened by 6.6 years due to illnesses caused by household air pollution, which results from burning wood and charcoal indoors.

To help remedy this problem, POET is teaming up with Project Gaia to supply the ethanol needed to power clean-burning stoves. Dometic, another partner in the project, is supplying the stoves, which will eventually be made locally, and Novogaz is organizing local distribution in Haiti. POET has selected POET Biorefining – Jewell to produce the ethanol needed to fuel the cook stoves. Project partners gathered in Haiti this past April to develop and discuss a plan to bring U.S. ethanol to Haiti for home cooking.

“The vision for this project is clear: to bring clean-burning ethanol fuel to the homes in third-world countries in order to improve the standard of living and drive positive socio-economic change,” said [POET Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board Jeff ]Broin. “For decades, we’ve known ethanol to be a clean, renewable fuel for our automobiles, and I look forward to bringing this same clean, renewable fuel to homes across the globe. With the help of our partners at Project Gaia, Dometic and Novogaz, I know we will be successful in our journey to bring clean cookstoves and clean energy to the world.”

POET is donating about 12,000 gallons of ethanol to jumpstart the project.

Project Gaia officials say that if every home in Africa, Developing Asia, Latin America and the Middle East currently using traditional solid fuels (charcoal, wood and other biomass substrates) would switch to ethanol fuel for cooking, it would save between 250 and 550 million forest acres per year.

Greenbelt to Capture Ethanol from Wine Making

greenbelt_logoA California company will make a new system to capture the ethanol from wine production to sell the gas for commercial purposes. This news release from sustainable energy company Greenbelt Resources says the company will make the system for EcoPAS, engineering company for the California wine industry, that keeps the gaseous ethanol from the fermentation process from becoming an environmental emission.

“After a rigorous bidding process and extensive consideration, we chose Greenbelt Resources. With their cutting-edge ethanol technology and expertise we see a long-term relationship with Greenbelt as our partner,” said Marci Norkin-Schoepel, co-founder of EcoPAS. “By selecting Greenbelt Resources, we benefit not only from their innovative, green manufacturing capabilities, but also their experience in ethanol condensation, which allows the potential for future collaboration beyond contract manufacturing.”

EcoPAS selected Greenbelt Resources as a manufacturing partner to fabricate the initial full-scale PAS units based on Greenbelt’s technology accolades, extensive industry experience and reputation for delivering performance outcomes that exceed customer expectations. A portion of the product produced by the PAS may serve as an excellent feedstock for Greenbelt’s traditional modular distillation and dehydration systems.

“The invention of the PAS by EcoPAS is significant because of its ability to passively perform ethanol vapor-capture without the need for complex controls or major energy inputs – making it a truly environmentally friendly pollution control system,” said Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation. “The EcoPAS management and design team share our vision and have created a growth industry simply by producing a much needed passive, pollution-control solution. Once a critical mass of Passive Alcohol Systems is deployed, the resulting volume of ethanol-containing product can generate demand for distillation and dehydration systems built by Greenbelt Resources from wineries and other fermentation processers in the US and internationally.”

Completion of this full-scale system is expected by the middle of this year.

Corn and Ethanol Groups Blast Report

A report critical of corn-based ethanol is being blasted by groups representing the corn and ethanol industries as being the same old arguments that have been roundly rejected and criticized by the scientific community and disproven by the empirical data, as well as smacking of Big Oil’s efforts to discredit an American success story. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy all released statements critical of “new” research from the World Resources Institute, where Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich re-hash their already disproven theories of “food vs. fuel” and “Indirect Land Use Change.”

ace14-dc-alversonSouth Dakota corn grower and a member of the Corn Board Keith Alverson said:

“This ‘new’ study is just more of the same, tired arguments Big Oil have been using for years. They simply are not true. In fact, numerous studies by independent, unbiased third parties have come to vastly different conclusions.

The fact is, ethanol is a very efficient energy source. When calculating the amount of energy used to produce ethanol, from farm to pump, ethanol represents a 40 percent net energy gain. No other energy source comes close. Ethanol is also better for the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road.

There is more than enough corn to meet all demands: food, fuel, feed, and fiber.”

nafb-14-dinneenBob Dinneen, the Renewable Fuels Association’s president and CEO, said:

“Providing a cursory update of a failed theory is not science and does nothing to enlighten the debate about biofuels. For the better part of a decade, lawyer-activist Tim Searchinger has been promoting the flawed notion that increased biofuel use places unnecessary constraints on finite agricultural land resources. But, the “land use change” and “food vs. fuel” arguments are as wrong today as they were seven years ago when Searchinger first gained notoriety with his doomsday predictions…. In fact, Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development put this issue to bed last November, finding that ‘…the primary land use change response of the world’s farmers in the last 10 years has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land brought into production.’”

fps12-buisTom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, released the following statement:

“The World Resources Institute’s latest report repackages old, previously debunked food and fuel, as well as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) myths in attempts to discredit an American success story, one that is producing both food and fuel, while also improving our environment. Slapping a new title on this previously discredited research won’t change the facts—the American farmer is more than capable of producing an abundant amount of food, feed and fuel, and the air we breathe and our environment, as a whole, is better off for it.”

Buis added that without biofuels, the U.S. actually “might be producing less, not more food, in order to control the expansion of surplus stocks and assistance payments to farmers.” In addition, WRI fails to mention the last two record corn crops, falling corn prices, and co-products such as distiller’s grains that displace the need for other livestock feed crops and reduce the net acreage used to produce ethanol.

Inspiring Words from Inspiring Biodiesel Advocate

nbc-15-andersonThere are many in the biodiesel industry who serve as inspirations, but maybe none as much as Greg Anderson with the Nebraska Soybean Board. The soybean farmer has been a long-time biodiesel advocate and has shown his full-time devotion to his fellow soybean farmers and the biodiesel industry in so many ways. Even after suffering a near-fatal accident involving a propane tank explosion on the family farm back in Nebraska this past August, he remained positive, grateful, and upbeat during his recovery from the painful injuries. And during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, he reminded the group gathered for the Eye on Biodiesel Awards, of which he is the Inspiration winner, of just how safe biodiesel is.

“Biodiesel is the safest of all fuels to handle, transport and store. I’ll be towing biodiesel from now on,” he said with an inspirational smile and applause from the crowd.

Greg said while his recovery was painful, he was helped by all the support of so many people. He found himself thankful for not only his life but a full recovery. He likens his recovery to the recovery the biodiesel industry is having to face now. He also reminded the group not to forget what’s important in life.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what we accomplished or the material possessions that we have. But it’s truly about making others better, inspiring others, really giving back. And I’ve been blessed so much by you all.”

Listen to Greg’s inspiring remarks here: Greg Anderson

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Innovations Helped Grow Biodiesel Industry

nbc-15-butcherIt’s many of the innovations that have helped grow biodiesel from what could be considered just a cottage industry not that long ago to the major fuel it is today. During the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Tom Butcher from Brookhaven National Laboratory was recognized for his contributions to the industry. He told the group that as a researcher, he has worked on a lot of different energy technologies and was impressed with biodiesel’s impact.

“The impact that it’s had on the Northeast, the impact on the heating oil industry across the country. This is an industry that because of biodiesel has been rejuvenated,” he said.

Tom played an instrumental role in the technical research that has been done over the last six years that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for 6 percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard. His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing the research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the NORA/NBB-lead Bioheat Technical Steering Committee.

He concluded saying he was lucky to be part of this group and is looking forward to the innovations of the future.

Listen to Tom’s remarks here: Tom Butcher

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

First Biodiesel Mandate Cited in Influence Award

nbc-15-schoenfeldThe mandate that inspired other states to put in their own biodiesel requirements and the man who helped start it all were recognized during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis-based Greater States Advisors picked up the Eye on Biodiesel Influence Award for his instrumental part in the development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota after soybean growers came to him in 2000.

He admits he didn’t know much about biodiesel back then, as there was just 2 million gallons produced nationwide each year – a dramatic difference from today’s 1.8 BILLION gallons annually. Jerry said he had to work with a state legislature that was split between Republicans and Democrats and an Independent governor. The nation’s first 2 percent biodiesel standard for all diesel was finally made into law and served as a blueprint for other states’ mandates.

“In many ways, that measure worked, along with many others in your respective states,” Jerry told the group. He added that working with the split legislature and governor’s office taught him important lessons in legislative matters. “If you work hard and you keep at it, you will succeed. And secondly, you can’t always assume who your friends and who your enemies are, because on any given day, different politicians will be both!”

Listen to Jerry’s remarks here: Interview with Jerry Schoenfeld, biodiesel award winner

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Conference Honors Franken for Impact

nbc-15-frankenA long-time advocate for biodiesel was honored during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota was honored with the the 2015 “Eye on Biodiesel” Impact award for his work for biodiesel in Washington, taking a particular leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes.

Sen. Franken has helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress. And he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits in Minnesota and across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. Additionally, Sen. Franken has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the biodiesel tax incentive. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

In recorded remarks played for the crowd gathered at the conference, Franken thanked the group for the honor and reiterated his opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut biodiesel requirement under the RFS to 1.3 billion gallons annually.

“Our annual biodiesel production meets and even exceeds the expectations set in the [RFS]. Last year, you produced 1.8 billion gallons – each one of those gallons is helping improve our energy security and creating good jobs here at home,” said Franken, pointing out that he’s talked with anyone who would listen in the administration, including President Obama, telling them all how opposed he was to the proposal. “We need a strong RFS, not a weak one.”

Franken vows to keep fighting for the biodiesel industry, also working to reinstate the federal biodiesel tax credit.

“It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing Big Oil, while letting investments in clean, homegrown energy, like biodiesel, lapse.”

Listen to Franken’s remarks here: Sen. Al Franken speaks to biodiesel conference by video

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel, Soybean Groups Criticize Import Decision

Proponents of the biodiesel industry in this country and the feedstocks that make it are blasting the U.S government’s decision to allow Argentinian biodiesel easier access to American markets. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) say the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ease sustainability requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to fast-track the South American fuel couldn’t come at a worse time.

nbb-advanced“This decision poses a tremendous threat to U.S. industry and jobs, not to mention the overriding goal of the RFS of developing clean, homegrown renewable fuels,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is incredibly damaging, particularly in light of the continued delays in establishing RFS volumes. The Obama administration has effectively run the U.S. biodiesel industry into a ditch over the past year by failing to establish a functioning renewable fuels policy, and instead of pulling the domestic industry out, it is fast-tracking foreign competition.”

ASAlogo1“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”

Under the RFS, feedstocks generally must be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007 – when the RFS was implemented. Typically, foreign producers must closely map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels. EPA’s decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to use a survey plan for certifying that feedstocks used, far less stringent than the current map and track requirement and more difficult to verify. NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. as a result of the change.

“At a time when our U.S. industry needs a lifeline, it feels instead like we’re being pushed back under water,” Steckel said. “This decision simply makes no sense from an economic perspective, an energy security perspective or an environmental perspective. It is baffling.”

Students Recognized for Biodiesel, Ethanol Videos

Students from Iowa have been recognized for their efforts to promote biodiesel and ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) awarded prizes in its “Fuel the Future” Iowa High School Video Contest.

Anna Steenson of Des Moines won first place in the contest for Iowa high school students. The IRFA awarded the senior from Central Campus a $1,000 grand prize for her creative and informative video titled “E15: Powering the Future.”

Karly Lent of Bettendorf, Iowa won the $600 second place prize for her video entitled, “Let’s Fuel the Future.” Karly is a junior at Bettendorf High School.

Jacquelyn Huynh, Dakota Karthan, Maria Babcock and Jordan Bacon won the $400 third place prize for their video entitled, “Good for Your Car, Better for Iowa.” This group of girls is a collection of juniors and seniors from Ankeny High School.

“First, I want to thank all of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this year’s contest and learning about the benefits of using renewable fuels,” stated IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “This year’s video contest winners all created highly imaginative, entertaining, and informative videos that do a great job of explaining the benefits of using cleaner-burning biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel.”

The top three videos were featured at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.

New Propane Autogas Nozzle to Modernize Refueling

nozzle plus connector1A new nozzle for fueling propane vehicles is being touted as being able to “brings autogas refueling into the modern age at the fuel pump.” Staubli‘s new Autogas Nozzle is suited for new installations, as well as being able to be retrofitted for existing autogas vehicles.

Developed by Cavagna Group, the nozzle accessories feature Euro Nozzle-Acme adaptors as well as the current ACME Nozzle-Euro Fill valves. Adapters allow the transition to happen between the ACME nozzle and the new Euro Fill Nozzle and the old Acme fill valve that might be on the vehicle…

The Staubli nozzle is available from industry equipment distributors such as Superior Energy Systems, Bergquist Distributors, and others within the industry. Plans are for the distribution of the nozzle and accessory components are to begin this month. The Alliance AutoGas network will begin installing the new connector and using the new nozzle for all new autogas installations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 2,700 fueling stations in the U.S. alone, in addition to the Alliance’s 460 fleet locations.

Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council notes, “We want to move forward promoting this [European] connection to industry customers, and that means getting manufacturers of connectors and adapters involved such as Cavagna Group, as well as the propane industry’s equipment distributors in the United States and Canada.”