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.

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

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

Grassley Adds Biodiesel, Wind Amendments to Jobs Bill

grassley-headA U.S. senator has filed amendments to a jobs bill that would renew the expired wind energy and biodiesel tax incentives… although he admits it could be just political posturing. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to add the renewals to the Bring Jobs Home Act, which he says really is just political messaging and not a serious jobs bill.

“I don’t expect to be allowed to offer my amendments because the Senate majority leader shuts out amendments from the Republican side,” Grassley said. “But I want to draw attention to the potential growth in a sector of the economy that’s right under our noses. This area could get a real boost if the majority in Congress chooses to act to restore these tax incentives.

“In fact, if the majority leader were really interested in jobs, he would devote floor time to debating and processing the pending bipartisan tax extenders legislation as it should be processed, in its entirety, to provide certainty to businesses and individuals alike. There’s no reason this tax relief legislation should be left to sit on the sidelines. Instead, it should be front and center in any effort to spur job-generating economic activity.”

Grassley had already secured renewal of the expired wind energy and biodiesel tax provisions, which expired at the beginning of this year, in a tax measure passed out of the Finance Committee back in April, but that bill is still awaiting action from the full Senate.

New England Biodiesel Maker Turns to Crowd for Improvements

GSB1A biodiesel maker in New England is turning to the crowd to get a little help with its next upgrade and expansion. New Hampshire-based Granite State Biofuels has set up a crowdsourcing website to solicit money for a new piece of equipment with a goal of raising $50,000 total.

We need to purchase analytical equipment which will help us to refine our process in real time. Right now, independent testing labs take several days to report results and are expensive. This $40,000 investment will significantly increase our speed of development and lower our cost of production.

If we are fortunate to secure additional funding, we will use this to begin the process of establishing our second production facility. It has always been our plan to establish a source of clean renewable fuels suitable for marine and then jet applications. Biodiesel is truly biodegradable, it is less caustic than salt and biodegrades faster than sugar making it an ideal fuel for use on and around our precious oceans and fragile atmosphere. These industries know they need to have alternatives but they are simply not there in the quantities required. Numerous market research efforts are predicting very high demand and growth in these areas and we feel we have the technology to deliver in these markets.

Granite State Biofuels currently operates a 3.75 million gallons per year biodiesel production facility.

Navy Adds Biofuels to Fuel Shopping Cart

greenfleetbiofuels1The latest government procurement report shows the U.S. Navy has for the first time put biofuels in the mix for requests for military-specification diesel fuel and jet fuel. This story from U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) says the request is for the eastern and inland United States and Gulf Coast and is expected to the Rocky Mountains and West Coast later this year.

The U.S. Navy’s interest in biofuels is part of its goal to generate 50% of its energy from alternative sources by 2020: nuclear energy, electricity from renewable sources, and biofuels. The Navy currently sources about 17% of its energy supplies from renewable and nuclear sources of electricity. No biofuels are currently included in that percentage.

The Navy’s interest in biofuels is limited to those fuels that can be used as direct replacements for petroleum-based gasoline and distillate fuels, also known as drop-in biofuels. These fuels require no modification or operational changes to distribution infrastructure, aircraft, or ships. Although biodiesel blends readily with diesel fuel or jet fuel, and is compatible with most diesel engines, it is not a drop-in fuel. Certain properties limit biodiesel blends from being used in some applications: potential fuel system clogging and poor performance at low temperatures prevent its use in jet fuel for civilian or military use, and water separation problems prevent its use as a marine diesel fuel. Drop-in biofuels are available today on a limited commercial basis, and operable U.S. production capacity is about 210 million gallons per year.

Companies wanting to make a bid to offer drop-in biofuels under the current solicitation can apply to the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation for grants to offset the cost of feedstocks used to produce the biofuels. Some drop-in biofuels might also qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

New Leaders Found for NE Biodiesel Plant Readying to Open

flinthillslogoA Nebraska biodiesel plant completed in 2007 but never opened has received new leadership as company officials prepare to open the refinery. This article from the Beatrice (NE) Daily Sun says Flint Hills Resources named Russell Leighton as plant manager and Jeremy Morse as production manager as Flint Hills and Benefuel eye next year’s opening of their joint Duonix biodiesel plant in Beatrice.

Leighton has more than 25 years experience in the oil, gas and chemical industries and will be responsible for overall management and administration of the facility.

Prior to joining Flint Hills Resources, Russell oversaw quality management systems in the U.S. and abroad as Director of Operations for TETRA Technologies.

Morse will serve as production manager, focusing on the startup and commissioning of the new plant. He was previously the plant superintendent of AGP in Algona, Iowa, where he was responsible for maintaining plant operations and product quality.

Michael Harris, biofuels ventures manager for Flint Hills Resources, said in a press release the pair’s experience will be a beneficial addition to the business.

“We are excited to welcome Russell and Jeremy to the Flint Hills Resources team,” he said. “Their leadership will help drive our biodiesel operations as we prepare to start full-scale production next year and bring this innovative new biodiesel technology to life.”

When the plant is operational, hopefully next summer, officials say it will produce 50 million gallons of biodiesel per year using an innovative biodiesel technology from Benefuel, Inc. called ENSEL.

Grease Still Hot Item in Biodiesel Feedstock Thefts

scalesofjustice1We’re still seeing stories pop up about how thieves are targeting the used grease from restaurants for biodiesel production. The latest story comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where police broke up a mutli-state ring of stolen used grease and cooking oil from O’Fallon, Ill. and the surrounding area.

The suspects — Bo Lin, 32, of Fairview Heights; Tuo Li, 25, of Chicago; and Kentvy Wong, 30, of Flushing, N.Y. — were arrested overnight July 16 at a barn here in the 900 block of Talon Drive. The building, police said, contained about 10,000 gallons of filched grease.

[Police detective Lt. Robert] Schmidtke said the suspects had been selling it to rendering and biodiesel plants.

He said estimating the value of the grease was difficult, but that it easily exceeded $10,000. The National Renderers Association has estimated that grease sells nationally for about $3 a gallon.

Grease thefts have increased since biofuels were introduced to a market once dominated by animal feed and soap industries.

Police say most restaurants might not even report grease thefts, because they don’t realize the value of the commodity being stolen. I guess that’s understandable when you figure it wasn’t that many years ago when before biodiesel became so popular that restaurants paid a price (and many still do) to have it hauled away.