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.

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.

Cooper Looks to Get Tires & Biofuels from Biomass

cooper-tires1A tire maker is looking to get tires and biofuels to keep those wheels rolling from the biomass of a plant. This news release from Cooper Tire says the company completed tire builds using rubber derived from guayule plants and new guayule related materials and also hopes to get biofuels from those plant materials.

This development was reported by Cooper to its consortium partners—PanAridus, Arizona State University, Cornell University, and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS)—as the group met recently in Maricopa, Arizona for its third annual meeting and progress report on their $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant, “Securing the Future of Natural Rubber—An American Tire and Bioenergy Platform from Guayule.” The consortium received the BRDI grant in 2012 from the USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct research aimed at developing enhanced manufacturing processes for the production of solid rubber from the guayule plant as a biomaterial for tire applications, as well as evaluating the plant’s residual biomass for fuel applications. The consortium aims to harness biopolymers extracted from guayule as a replacement for synthetic rubbers and Hevea natural rubber used in the production of tires. It is also focused on genomic and agronomic development of guayule and the sustainability impact these biomaterial and bioenergy industries have on the American Southwest, where guayule is grown.

So far, the testing shows the tires are at least equal to tires made of components derived from the more traditional Hevea rubber plant.

Biodiesel By-Product Makes Viable Marine Fuel

A by-product of biodiesel refining could make for a viable alternative fuel for ships. This article from Seatrade Global says the Glycerine Fuel for Engines and Marine Sustainability (GLEAMS) project has concluded that glycerine is fine to use in marine vessels.

The group, comprising Lloyd’s Register EMEA, Marine South East, Aquafuel Research, Gardline Marine Sciences, and Redwing Environmental, proved that the fuel will be a viable option for ship engines. If adopted, the fuel, sometimes called glycerol, could offer a cheaper alternative to LNG and distillates, while also offering a higher efficiency than diesel, with no sulphur emissions, very low NOx emissions and virtually no particulates.

On top of this, retrofit is said to require nothing more than a modification to the engine’s external engine aspiration system; is water-soluble, with little to no damage caused to sea life in the event of a spill; and is “nearly impossible to ignite accidentally”.

A press statement by the group indicated “The GLEAMS project has been particularly successful in dispelling the widely held view that glycerine is unsuitable for use as a fuel due to its physical and chemical properties. The project very publicly demonstrated that glycerine could be used as a fuel in compression ignition engines by displaying the glycerine powered GLEAMS emissions test engine for three days at Seawork International 2014.”

GLEAMS project officials say there are several early adopters they hope to get on board with this technology, including some offshore vessels as well as research vessels.

German Firm to Optimize California Biodiesel Plant

BDIGerman firm BDI – BioEnergy International AG will optimize the operations at a California biodiesel plant. The company says it will retrofit the Crimson Renewable Energy LP refinery in Bakersfield, turning waste oil and grease into the green fuel.

BDI will supply engineering services and equipment for several important process phases in order to increase plant capacity to 75,000 tons a year and to modernise the existing biodiesel plant. This will also enable waste materials to be processed more efficiently and more sustainably into high quality, ultra-low carbon biodiesel transportation fuel.

The plant optimization project represents the next milestone in the 8-step BDI RetroFit programme “One Stop Shop” that BDI began work on in 2013 with Crimson to develop the necessary technical data and basic engineering for the RetroFit to improve Crimson’s biodiesel production operations.

BDI officials say this project strengthens the company’s presence in the American biodiesel market. Crimson Renewable Energy is the largest biodiesel producer in California and has been producing the fuel in Bakersfield since 2010.

Pacific Biodiesel Once Again Fueling Boats

pacificbiodieselAfter the last couple of years filling up vehicles for dry land transportation, Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel is once again topping off boat tanks. This article from Pacific Business News says Pacific Biodiesel got a new permit and has expanded its production of the green fuel so everyone can enjoy clean-burning biodiesel.

“Now that we have the larger capacity, and advanced technology that produces the highest quality biodiesel in America, we are expanding into high-value tourism markets with customers who care about the environment and want to attract eco-conscious visitors to their activities,” Bob King, president and founder of Pacific Biodiesel, said in a statement. “The marine industry should be first and foremost about protecting the ocean and delivering a healthier experience for ocean-goers.”

Biodiesel, a cleaner-burning, renewable alternative fuel produced in Hawaii from recycled waste vegetable oil, is safe for all diesel engines and has been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a fuel and a fuel additive.

In April, Pacific Biodiesel said it closed its facility at the Central Maui Landfill after being open since 1996 because it couldn’t justify the costly site improvements that were required to meet the county’s demands.

The article says Aqua Adventures Maui, a customer of Pacific Biodiesel from more than a decade ago, is the first boat company to fuel under the new permit.

Loyola Students Get Hands-On Biodiesel Experience

loyola biodiesel-lab1Even in the pristine halls of academia, you can learn a lot by getting your hands dirty, especially when it comes to biodiesel. This article from Loyola University Chicago explains how the school’s Clean Energy Lab, the first and only school with an operation license to sell biodiesel in the U.S., is providing a student-run initiative that’s also a certified green business by the Illinois Green Business Association

“The Biodiesel lab is a good experience for students because it gets students involved hands-on in the field they might be interested in,” sophomore Biology major Najla Zayed said. “It helps us realize that sustainability is a practical thing and we can use the knowledge we gain from our labs and classes and project it out in the world, mainly in Chicago.”

Students involved in these course look at the inputs — such as what energy might go into the process — and the outputs such as productivity and byproducts of the process.

“[The students] identified glycerin as byproduct,” said Loyola’s Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh said while giving a tour Oct. 9. “So they used that to create BioSoap, in which they marketed, and tested.” The BioSoap is used in main bathrooms around the Lake Shore and Water Towers campuses. It is now fully certified as green chemistry by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Loyola’s Clean Energy Lab has several other biodiesel-related projects going on, including Bio-Soap, methanol recovery, production efficiency and the creation of household cleaning products.