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.

CHS Co-Op to Open Wisc. Propane Rail Terminal

CHSpropane1The nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a leading energy, grains and foods company is opening a new propane rail terminal in Wisconsin. CHS announced the opening of the new terminal in Hixton, just in time to meet demand for the upcoming heating season.

The new terminal is owned by CHS and operated by Federation Cooperative of Black River Falls, Wis. Served by the CN railroad, the terminal will initially have 360,000 gallons of storage, the ability to unload six railcars every 4.5 hours, and two truck loading bays capable of loading six trucks per hour. The secure terminal, which uses modern automation and safety technologies, will be completed in mid-November.

“CHS invested in this terminal as part of a broader $24 million investment to develop a robust supply network for propane marketers in the Northern Tier region affected by the Cochin pipeline reversal,” according to Drew Combs, CHS vice president of propane. “Our goal is to help marketers serve homeowners, farms and businesses with a safe, reliable supply of propane, and to position our customers for future growth while adding value for our member owners,” says Combs.

State officials on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony said the new terminal will be a major asset for the state.

Algae Biomass Organization Gets New Leaders

ABONew leadership is coming aboard the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO). The trade association for the algae industry announced that Tim Burns, Co-founder and Board Member of BioProcess Algae LLC, has been appointed Chair and Martin Sabarsky, CEO of Cellana, Inc. has been appointed Vice Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors for the 2014-2016 term.

Burns and Sabarsky will be leading ABO’s board, which guides the organization in its mission to educate the general public, policymakers, and industry about the benefits and potential of algae to provide sustainable solutions for commodity chemicals, fuels, food, and feed applications, as well as for high-value applications such as, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, among other applications. In addition, ABO’s board works closely with its executive director to advocate for policies that can accelerate the development of key market segments and commercial-scale algae production facilities for the full range of products that can be made from algae.

ABO’s board is comprised of representatives from multiple sectors of an industry that is experiencing more investment and seeing new commercial facilities opening or being planned around the world. Board members come from industry sectors that include academia, professional services, algae biomass producers, technology suppliers, project developers, and end-users.

“Tim and Martin are highly regarded algae industry leaders, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with them as we move the industry forward,” said Matt Carr, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “Their expertise in CO2 utilization and the entire range of algae-derived products will be invaluable to ABO’s efforts to improve policy, markets, and investment opportunities for all our members.”

ABO also thanked outgoing Board Chair Margaret McCormick for her contributions made to ABO and the algae industry at large. She’ll maintain a position on the board.

REG to Offer More Biodiesel Blends in NE and Midwest

reg-logoBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group is adding to the locations that will be selling its green fuel. This company news release says REG Energy Services will be offering additional biofuel blends in New York, Minnesota and Iowa.

REG Energy Services, LLC will offer ultra-low sulfur heating oil and diesel (ULSHO/ULSD) blended with up to 20 percent biodiesel at its New Hyde Park, NY terminal. In addition, ULSD blended with biodiesel will be offered at Minnesota terminals in Alexandria, Mankato, Roseville and Rochester and Iowa terminals in Mason City and Des Moines. This adds ULSD to REG’s existing biodiesel offerings at those locations.

This is the first time REG Energy Services will offer biodiesel fuel blends along the Magellan Midstream Partners terminal system in Iowa and Minnesota. Iowa has a 4.5 cent per gallon incentive for retailers utilizing blends of 5 percent and above. Minnesota has a B5 requirement in the winter when using ULSD and B10 during the summer months.

“This expansion of REG Energy Services provides further access to our fuel portfolio in the Northeast and Midwest markets where we will now offer biodiesel fuel blends in addition to REG-9000™ biodiesel,” said Gary Haer, REG Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “Biodiesel blended fuel provides a convenient solution that further improves REG’s ability to better meet our customers’ needs and growing demand, while enhancing America’s energy and food security, and our environment.”

Iowa-based REG now offers fuel at 34 locations across the US.

Latest School Fundraiser: Biodiesel

biodiesel4schools1Tired of buying lop-sided candles or ugly wrapping paper just because you want to help your school make a few bucks? Well, maybe you can do like another school in North Carolina is doing in this story from WNCT-TV and sign up for the Biodiesel 4 Schools program, an initiative that helps school districts raise money by collecting cooking oil from local restaurants, and then selling the green fuel to businesses with school districts getting a cut of the profit.

Beaufort County Schools officially signed on with the Biodiesel 4 Schools program this month…

Pitt County was the pilot school for the program, and after seeing its success, Beaufort County wants in on it too.

“In some ways for us it’s like liquid gold for what it can bring in,” said Beaufort County superintendent Dr. Don Phipps. He hopes to put that gold towards technology in the classroom…

The program is just getting started in Beaufort County and the Green Circle NC Biodiesel 4 Schools representative says the next few weeks are all about recruiting restaurants and businesses with cafeterias.

“The local budget for schools is getting smaller and smaller every year, and this is the easiest way for people to give back,” said program representative, Ken Weeks.

Learn more about the program on the Biodiesel 4 Schools website.

Virginia to Get New Enymatic Biodiesel Refinery

virginiaflagVirginia will soon be home to a new enzymatic biodiesel production facility. In this news release from Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office, Appalachian Biofuels LLC says it will invest $3.5 million in the new production facility that will process multiple waste feedstock material and refine it using an enzyme, developed and manufactured in Haifa, Israel, to produce biodiesel.

“We were introduced to Southwest Virginia and to this new ‘immobilized enzyme’ through the Virginia Israel Advisory Board and its Director, Ralph Robbins,” said Chuck Lessin, President and CEO of Appalachian Biofuels LLC. “This revolutionary process will allow us to use the many tools, information and human resources that the Commonwealth has available. We are proud to be hiring former coal miners in the region who will transfer their significant experience in mining energy underground to our new green energy above ground in beautiful Russell County. We are excited to call Virginia our home, and we hope to grow and expand our business here in Southwest.”

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “The addition of a new company and job creator in Russell County is tremendous for a region that has been hard hit by economic loss. Appalachian Biofuels has the advantage of locating its headquarters and center of operations in a formerly vacant facility that can be retrofitted to meet its needs, allowing for quick start-up to production. This green energy company processes multiple waste feedstock material and refines it to produce biofuel to be blended with petroleum diesel fuel as mandated by the federal government. My recently released Virginia Energy Plan aims to catalyze the growth of green energy companies in the Commonwealth, and we are proud that Appalachian Biofuels will produce this alternative fuel right here in Virginia. Jobs in the energy industry aid in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy with diverse opportunities for growth, and we look forward to the company’s success in the Commonwealth.”

McAuliffe approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Russell County with the project. Another $210,000 for the project came from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

No timetable was given for when it might open.

Group Wants Same Exemptions for Biodiesel that Oil Gets

BRAGA group that advocates for organizations engaged in biobased chemistries wants the government to give biodiesel the same environmental reporting exemptions that petroleum enjoys. The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking that biodiesel fuel manufacturers be granted the same Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) exemptions that petroleum-based diesel manufacturers already receive.

Specifically, BRAG petitioned EPA to add “biodiesel” as a chemical category for partial exemption for the same reasons as those given for petroleum chemicals already included, which occurred via a rulemaking process based on proposals submitted by the American Petroleum Institute (API). BRAG contends that biodiesel products should be treated similarly to the petroleum products included in the (b)(1) List due to the conditions of manufacture and the properties and uses of the substances.

The second petition, “Petition for Partial Exemption of Biodiesel Products,” was submitted to the CDR Coordinator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). In it, BRAG petitions to add “biodiesel” as a chemical category in the partially exempted chemical list at 40 C.F.R. Section 711.6(b)(2)(iv), referred to as the (b)(2) List. EPA has stated that CDR processing and use information for chemicals on the (b)(2) List is of “low current interest” and has established a petition process to enable stakeholders to add chemicals to the (b)(2) list.

BRAG believes biodiesel belongs on the (b)(1) List but because there is no formal petition process to amend the (b)(1) List, it decided to proceed with the “low current interest” petition process to amend the (b)(2) List as well.

BRAG officials say they just want to level the playing field for biodiesel and petroleum-derived diesel manufacturers, since biodiesel producers are required to spend significant amounts of time and money gathering and providing CDR information to EPA while petroleum-derived producers are not, for chemicals that are very similar, serve the same purpose, and are managed in equivalent ways.

Study: Biodiesel in Buses Cuts Pollution

MadisonCountybus1A new study shows that biodiesel used in buses cuts down on the amount of air pollution compared to buses using more conventional diesel. This news release from the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC), a coalition of nine university transportation centers led by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, showed that using biodiesel could effectively reduce the mass of particulate matter released in both hot and cold idle modes.

[Principal co-investigators were Dr. Ashok Kumar] said, “Physical properties of biodiesel blends are very important during engine combustion. Higher viscosity causes reduced fuel leakage during injection, which drives an advance in injection timing and an increase of mass injection rate. Density of the fuels affects the start of injection, injection pressure, fuel spray characteristics, etc. When the fuel temperature changes and enters an engine with different temperatures (hot or cold), fuel acts differently and the emissions are different.”

In sum, it is recommended that governments consider using blends of biodiesel in urban and commercial vehicles to enhance the quality of air and to promote healthy living. Continue reading

Biodiesel Would Be Projected Winner, If on the Ballot

nbb-advancedVoters in this country might be split along political party loyalties, but if biodiesel were on the ticket, it would be a landslide victory for the green fuel. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says tax incentives and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are polling a lot better than lots of pols.

Three out of four voters (75 percent) support a tax incentive for biodiesel, the survey found. Seventy-six percent said they support a national renewable fuel standard. The survey of nearly 1,200 registered U.S. voters was conducted by Moore Information Opinion Research between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. It was commissioned by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

“These numbers reflect overwhelming public support for developing cleaner, alternative fuels so that we’re not so dangerously dependent on petroleum,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “These policies are popular because they are effective. We’re gradually reducing our dependence on oil. We’re reducing harmful and costly pollution. And we’re creating jobs and economic activity at home. Congress and the Obama administration should take cues from the people who elected them and step up to make sure we have strong, stable policies supporting biodiesel production.”

Despite the popularity of biodiesel, NBB says it’s being held hostage by folks in Washington who maybe aren’t reading the same polls, as the Environmental Protection Agency still has its proposal to drastically cut the amount of biodiesel to be blended into the country’s fuel supply, and Congress has failed to renew the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax incentive that expired at the end of 2013.

“This is one of those issues that illustrates why voters are so fed up with Washington,” Steckel said. “You have policies with overwhelming support from the public and strong bipartisan support in Congress, yet Washington seems paralyzed with inaction. Jobs are at stake here, and we urge the Obama administration and Congress to act quickly to get this industry back on track.”

NBB’s survey also found that 85 percent of respondents said a candidate’s position on energy issues was somewhat important or very important in their voting decision, and 78 percent said a candidate’s position on alternative fuels was very important or somewhat important.

Growth Energy Shows Ethanol’s Commitment to Ag Future

growth-energy-logoA group that represents the producers and supporters of ethanol who feed the world and fuel America is showing its commitment to the future of agriculture. Growth Energy announced a multi-year commitment and new partnership with the National FFA Organization to build on critical projects that prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders in American agriculture, starting with teacher and student workshops presented by Growth Energy this week at the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Growth Energy is thrilled to help sponsor several important programs for FFA, including expanded opportunities to continue to educate FFA’s members on critical issues such as the important role that biofuels and energy play in American agriculture. Additionally, together, we will continue to build a robust networking system to attract new agricultural teachers and highlight the opportunities FFA members have as they enter the workforce. Ultimately, this comes down to investing in our most valuable resource —tomorrow’s leaders of American agriculture,” stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Specifically, the Growth Energy partnership will focus on assistance in supporting the Curriculum for Ag Science Education (CASE), as well as a personalized career exploration and development resource called “My Journey.” Furthermore, Growth Energy will also support the TeachAg program in efforts to attract more teachers for the enhanced education of FFA members. Additionally, Growth Energy will be leading select National FFA Convention sessions and providing support for FFA during their Washington, D.C. leadership conference.

“FFA is critical to the future of American agriculture. As our nation’s farmers become more productive and efficient, it is important that the next generation learns the best ways to provide both food and fuel while understanding the significance of being a true steward of the land and ensuring sustainable farming for generations to come,” added Buis.

Buis added that he was an FFA member, as was Jeff Broin, the co-chairman of Growth Energy’s Board of Directors. They called the programs and services FFA provides “immeasurable” and a preparation for students “for the challenges of tomorrow,” while also fostering leadership, innovation and stewardship of the land.

Energy Fuels Big Year for GROWMARK

Growmark_logoEnergy was a big reason that regional cooperative GROWMARK had such a big year this year. This company news release says Fiscal Year 2014 was in the top five income years in company history, and a lot of the credit goes to record volumes in the company’s propane and biofuels business.

bohbrinkMarshall Bohbrink, vice president and chief financial officer, reported record sales of $10.4 billion; consolidated pretax income of $194 million; and total patronage in the amount of $112 million will be returned to GROWMARK member-owners.

“GROWMARK is in extremely strong financial condition and we are well positioned in the event the Ag economy is more challenging in the next few years,” said Bohbrink.

Key highlights of FY2014 operational results include:

GROWMARK Energy reported record fuel volume with an increase in gasoline and distillate sales of 11% and an increase of 29 percent in propane gallons.

REG Sells First Gallons of Renewable Diesel from La. Plant

REGrenewdiesel1Biodiesel behemoth Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) rolled out the first commercial-scale quantities of renewable diesel from its Geismar, Louisiana biorefinery. This company news release says that fuel is now available for sale.

The first truckloads of REG-9000™/RHD produced at the 75-million gallon nameplate biorefinery since REG acquired it in June left the plant October 23. The advanced biofuel from REG Geismar, located south of Baton Rouge, meets or exceeds ASTM D975 specifications.

“We are pleased to be offering REG-9000/RHD for sale,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “REG-9000/RHD is a new addition to our fuel product line-up designed to serve our customers’ needs for great fuel that also delivers towards our nation’s energy diversity, environmental and food security goals.”

Iowa-based REG is one of the nation’s biggest producers of biofuels, with 10 active biorefineries across the country and a developer of renewable chemicals.

Tri-State Biodiesel Expanding Operations

tsb-logo1A New York City biodiesel maker is expanding its operation at its Connecticut location. This story from the Connecticut Post says Tri-State’s operation, Bridgeport Biodiesel, which Tri-State bought last year, had a groundbreaking ceremony for a 12,000-square-foot addition.

With the added capacity, the company’s workforce will increase from five employees to 25 next year. Construction should begin within the next 60 days and is expected to last about six months, according to Robert Hauer, plant manager for the Bridgeport facility.

“We’re adding a couple hundred thousand gallons of biodiesel storage, making it a central hub for distribution of biodiesel in the region,” said Brent Baker, CEO at Tri-State Biodiesel.

The $4 million project is being financed with help from a $2.5 million loan from the National Development Council’s Grow America Fund. The fund also partnered with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation’s Collaboratives Program.

Tri-State Biodiesel makes the green fuel from waste cooking oil. This latest addition will allow the company go from making 3 million gallons a year to 10 million gallons. The timing is perfect, too, as two years ago, New York City instituted a 2 percent biodiesel requirement throughout the city, and the city’s fleet of cars are now going to a 5 percent blend.

REG Finishes Upgrade at 30 Mil Gallon Biodiesel Plant

REGmasoncityBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group will be able to crank out high quality biodiesel from a wide variety of raw materials at its Mason City, Iowa plant, thanks to a major upgrade to the 30 million gallon per year facility. This $20 million project has been a year in the making, and the ribbon cutting attracted several state and local government and business leaders.

The upgrades enable the Mason City biorefinery to utilize multiple raw materials, such as inedible corn oil, animal fats and greases, in addition to the refined vegetable oils the plant was originally designed to process. The upgrades were completed almost two months ahead of schedule and within budget.

“These upgrades further expand and strengthen our multi-feedstock business model, which allows REG to produce and deliver high-quality biomass-based diesel at an affordable price to growing regional and national markets,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are well-positioned to meet growing demand in Iowa, with its retail incentive for advanced biofuels, and in Minnesota as it increases its use of higher biodiesel blends.”

REG also improved the existing front-end technology at the biorefinery that enables higher yields from free fatty acids in the production process.

“Enhancing the plant’s pretreatment and distillation capabilities will enable us to take a broader spectrum of lower-cost feedstocks and produce a high quality product,” said Brad Albin, REG Vice President, Manufacturing. “The increased feedstock flexibility helps drive greater demand for local feedstock suppliers and keeps more of their products in the Midwest.”

REG bought the Mason City biorefinery a year ago this past summer, reopening it just a few months later. The state and local governments kicked in about $2.5 million in incentives to make it a reality. REG completed a similar upgrade to another 30-million-gallon per year plant just up the road in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Biodiesel Researcher Flys High with Scholarship

Jeni_Sorli1A University of Colorado student who includes biodiesel in her research will be flying high – WAYYYY high – as she is awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Senior Jeni Sorli picks up the scholarship when former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless presents the honor on campus on Thursday, Oct. 30.

Sorli, a chemical engineering major from Billings, Montana, is the recipient of a number of other prestigious awards. She is a Goldwater Scholar, an Engineering Merit Scholar, a Norlin Scholar, a Presidential Scholar and a Conoco Phillips engineering intern.

Sorli currently is involved with the Engineering Honors Program, the CU Chapter of Engineers without Borders and CU Biodiesel. She has been studying renewable fuels, including working in the lab of Professor Alan Weimer researching biomass degasification.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit.

Bioenergy Day Recognizes Importance of Biomass

bioenergydayYesterday was the Second Annual National Bioenergy Day, and more than 40 facilities and organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada opened their doors to show folks the benefits of using woody biomass for heating and electrical power production.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has continued to support bioenergy’s role in protecting the health of forests on federal lands, saying, “Renewable wood energy is part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. The Forest Service works with its partners to support the development of wood energy projects that promote sound forest management, expand regional economies and create new rural jobs.”

“The continuation of National Bioenergy Day into a second year is truly exciting. We are grateful to our sponsors, particularly the U.S. Forest Service, for their dedication to raising awareness about the role of bioenergy in communities across the nation,” said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of Biomass Power Association. “Today, all across the country, people are learning about bioenergy and how it helps local economies and forests.”

Some of the National Bioenergy Day sponsors include Biomass Power Association, U.S. Forest Service, Plum Creek, Pellet Fuels Institute, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, and the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. You can learn more at www.bioenergyday.com.