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.

Houston Man Charged with Biodiesel RINs Fraud

scalesofjustice1The feds are continuing their crackdown on Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) fraud. This story from Bloomberg says a Houston man has been charged with selling more than $29 million in fake RINs to several oil companies.

Philip Joseph Rivkin sold about 45 million fake renewable identification numbers representing millions of gallons of non-existent biofuel to oil companies that were required to buy them under federal energy law, according to charging documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas June 19.

The charges, which represent a string of cases of alleged scams involving fake fuel credits, comes as an Environmental Protection Agency program designed to ensure their validity has yet to be finalized by the Obama administration.

According to the indictment, Rivkin operated and controlled several companies in the fuel and biodiesel industries, including Green Diesel LLC, Fuel Streamers Inc. and Petro Constructors LLC, all based in Houston.

Rivkin also was charged with fraudulent tax credit claims based on fictitious biodiesel production, making Clean Air Act false statements and money laundering, according to charging documents.

The EPA is still working on finalizing its rule for verification of RINs.

Genera Partners with Tennessee on Biomass Project

genera1An innovator on biomass feedstock supplies has teamed up with the University of Tennessee (UT) on a program to develop regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy. This Genera Energy news release says part of the company’s partnership on the Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) with UT’s Center for Renewable Carbon program includes bringing on two summer interns from Auburn University: Alexus Brown, from Birmingham, Alabama, a senior majoring in ecological engineering, and Mary Catherine Rubisch, from Weaverville, North Carolina, a senior majoring in biosystems engineering.

The internship program is part of the Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS), which also includes North Carolina State University, the University of Georgia, ArborGen, Inc., and Ceres, Inc. IBSS is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which focuses on developing regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and biobased products. The goal of the IBSS Partnership is to demonstrate the production of advanced biofuels from sustainable sources of lignocellulosic biomass. The program focuses on perennial switchgrass, and short-rotation woody crops such as eucalyptus and pine.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alexus and Mary Catherine to Genera Energy this summer as part of the IBSS Partnership,” said Kelly Tiller, president and CEO of Genera Energy. “They have both come to East Tennessee eager to learn about innovative biomass feedstock supply chain solutions. The IBSS program is a key resource in training the next generation of biomass industry leaders in the Southeast.”

IBSS partners aim to find cost-efficient, effective ways to fulfill the supply and demand for biofuels, while minimizing and managing risk, and providing satisfactory return on investment for farmers, to meet the USDA’s goal of producing 22 billion gallons of biofuel, annually, by 2022.

Indonesia Coming Up Short on Big Biodiesel Goals

Indonesia flag1Indonesia looks to miss some pretty ambitious goals this year for its biodiesel program. Reuters reports that problems with logistics and infrastructure are what government officials cite as the reason for the miss.

The government has set a biodiesel consumption target in 2014 of 4 million kilolitres, of which 1.56 million kilolitres is for subsidised diesel for vehicles, with the rest to used by power plants and non-subsidised sectors such as mining and plantations.

But by end-May, only 447,000 kilolitres had been used in the subsidised diesel sector, Dadan Kusdiana, director of renewable energy and energy conservation at the mining ministry, told Reuters by text. He was unable to give data for other sectors.

Kusdiana said the figure for subsidised diesel was forecast to rise to 1.34 million kilolitres by the end of the year.

Analysts, however, have been sceptical the government could meet its targets due to issues in making biodiesel available throughout the island archipelago, particularly in more remote eastern provinces, and providing adequate supervision to ensure the new standards were being adopted.

The shortfall from the goals also comes as the country tried to spark more internal use, boosting the mandate for transportation fuels from 3 percent to 10 percent and doubling the power generation industry’s mandate to 20 percent. Another reason for the shortfall not mentioned in the article might be the trouble Indonesia is having exporting its biodiesel to Europe right now.

Nebraska Wind Farm Dedicated

steeleflatsA new wind farm has been dedicated in Nebraska. This story from the Lincoln Journal Star says Gov. Dave Heineman, along with about 100 local residents and officials, attended the dedication of the Steele Flats wind farm.

The wind farm sits on about 10,500 acres of privately owned agricultural and ranch land. Its 44 General Electric turbines can generate as many as 1.7 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the energy needs of about 19,000 homes.

The wind farm began generating power in November 2013, two months ahead of schedule. The project represents a $138 million capital investment and is owned and operated by an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources.

“I’m excited that NextEra Energy has built a wind farm in Nebraska,” Heineman said in a news release. “Wind energy helps our local and state economy and is an important step toward our own energy future.”

The project has a 20-year contract that has the Nebraska Public Power District buying all of the power generated.

Targray Achieves Biodiesel Certification

targrayCanadian biodiesel maker Targray has achieved a key market certification. This company news release says its biodiesel gained BQ-9000 Marketer Certification through the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC).

“We’re always actively seeking to be a steward for responsibility within the biodiesel industry,” said Andrew Richardson, President of Targray. “Being able to achieve this quality standard is something we are proud of and we’re certain that it will project a message of responsibility to our clients. Targray biodiesel clients can be sure that the fuel they are buying is of the highest quality, has been thoroughly tested, and that our organization is being regularly audited to assure quality throughout each link of our supply chain. At Targray we take quality and compliance seriously.”

Targray’s BQ-9000 Marketer Certification applies to its entire inventory and will span every gallon of biodiesel sold by the company. Targray markets to both United States and Canadian fuel industries.

The accreditation represents a combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751 and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution and fuel management practices.

Solar to Grab Spotlight in Iowa

Solar power in Iowa will step into the spotlight this weekend as the state hosts a series of workshops today and tomorrow. This story from the Des Moines Register says the events at 10 locations throughout the state start at 10 this morning when state Sen. Robert Hogg hosts an the kick off for “Solar Works For Iowa” at Des Moines Onstage, which recently added a 22.6 kilowatt solar generating facility installed by Green Light Renewable Service and EcoWise Power.

Hogg-RobHogg said recently expanded state solar tax credits will help Iowa homeowners, farmers, and businesses invest in solar power. As of mid-June, solar energy tax credits passed in 2012 had helped a total of 739 solar projects worth $28.8 million in investment, he said. The amount of state tax credits awarded was $3,430,502.

Here is the schedule for other events being held around the state:

> Friday, June 20, 12:30 p.m. – University of Iowa, Madison Street Services Building, 640 South Madison Street, Iowa City.

> Friday, June 20, 1:00 p.m. – Eagle Point Solar, 900 Jackson Street Suite 108, Dubuque.

> Friday, June 20, 2:30 p.m. – John T. Blong Tech Center, Eastern Iowa Community College, 8500 Hillandale Road, in Davenport.

> Saturday, June 21, 10:00 a.m. – Residence, 1902 West 12th Street, Cedar Falls.

> Saturday, June 21, 11:00 a.m. – IBEW Local 405, 1211 Wiley Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids.

> Saturday, June 21, 11:00 a.m. – Guided tour of solar installations and the wind turbine at Luther College departs from Decorah Farmers’ Market.

> Saturday, June 21, 11:00 a.m. – Home of Joe Olsen, 2003 206th Street, just northeast of Independence.

> Saturday, June 21, 11:00 a.m. – Sustainable Living Center, MUM, Fairfield.

> Saturday, June 21, 2:00 p.m. – Marshalltown Public Library, 105 W. Boone Street, Marshalltown.

Ethanol Production Hits Record High

eiaU.S. ethanol production has hit a record high. This story from Reuters says it was the the sixth week in a row production rose for ethanol, which was helped by rising gasoline prices.

Ethanol production surged 28,000 barrels per day, or about 3 percent, to an average of 972,000 bpd in the week ending June 13, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production surpassed the previous record of 963,000 bpd reached in the last week of 2011.

Despite the higher output, strong demand squeezed stocks of ethanol, which fell 572,000 barrels to 17.85 million barrels, a three-week low.

Makers of the biofuel are earning near-record profits as prices for corn, the main feedstock used in ethanol production, hovered near a four-month low.

The story goes on to say that gasoline futures have a $1-per-gallon premium over ethanol futures that makes ethanol good for fuel blenders.

Missouri School Gets Upgrade to Biodiesel Center

morockwoodschoolA Missouri high school is getting a major upgrade to its biodiesel center. Officials at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton, Mo. broke ground on the new Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions, a facility to teach students the value of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel.

The Monsanto Company, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, St. Louis Community Foundation and Rockwood Summit High School announced the establishment of the Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions in January 2014.

The center will be housed in a new building constructed on Rockwood Summit’s campus and will include an area where students and advisors can plant row crops to study how plants such as corn and soybeans produce a renewable source of fuel.

The Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions will serve as a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) educational resource for teachers and students in the St. Louis community who want to experience hands-on, project-based learning on the fundamentals of biofuels, specifically biodiesel.

For the past four years, the RSHS biodiesel project has become a leading program for K-12 STEM in the St. Louis region. Student work includes executing experim​ents to convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel and designing methods to test biodiesel quality.

Monsanto donated $100,000 to the building of the facility. You can read more about the project here.

Biodiesel Car Highlighted at White House Event

biodieselcarWH1A biodiesel-fueled car that can go 150 miles per hour and get 100 miles per gallon was on display at the White House today. This story from GovTech.com says the Factory Five 818 electric blue race car built by the EVX Team at The Workshop School in West Philadelphia, Penn. was part of the first-ever White House Maker Faire, an innovation showcase for tinkerers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

“When I heard I was going to the White House I was like ‘This can’t be I true.’ ” said Joshua Pigford, an 11th-grader who has worked on the car all year and will be visiting D.C. for the first time. “I couldn’t really believe it.”

The students have been building the 818 for the entire school year. [Simon Hauger, creator and leader of the EVX Team] said it wasn’t hard to get a group of teenagers excited about building a race car.

The goal of the project: Take the kit donated by Massachusetts company Factory Five Racing for the 818 chassis and adjust and adapt the car to make it not only fast, but also environmentally friendly.

As Hauger described it, they were to design “something that was fuel efficient and cool.”

Not only is the car efficient and cool, since it runs on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil leftover from frying chicken and making doughnuts, it’s also doing another chore in helping clean up the environment.

Methes Sending $6 million+ of Biodiesel to U.S.

Methes1Canadian biodiesel maker Methes Energies will send more than $6 Million of biodiesel to clients in the U.S. by the end of September. This company news release says Methes Energies also will get the share of the expected biodiesel blender’s tax credit if it is renewed.

The agreements require shipment of approximately 1.4 million gallons of biodiesel over this period, commencing around June 23rd. Though these agreements are part of an expected longer term relationship, Methes Energies did not want to commit to shipments over a longer period in a sometimes volatile market.

The agreements also cover the potential reinstatement of the Biodiesel Blender’s Tax Credit (“BTC”) of $1.00 per gallon in the United States. In the event that the BTC is reinstated retroactively, a majority of the BTC claimed by Methes Energies’ clients will be transferred to Methes Energies.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes Energies, said, “Production is currently going very well and we’ll be ramping up very quickly over the next few weeks. We’ve locked in our feedstock price as well as our selling price for the next 3 months. We see some upside moving forward so we are comfortable with a 3-month at the time strategy with the volume committed in these agreements. We are also in a great position to move more biodiesel on the spot market where we believe we can make more money.”

Methes Energies has refineries in Mississauga and Sombra, Ontario.

Wastewater Has Potential as Biodiesel Feedstock

luxresearchWastewater streams could provide the feedstocks for biodiesel production. This article from Water Technology says a new study from Lux Research shows the potential to capture industrial fats, oils and greases (FOG) from the streams to make the green fuel.

Growing demand for biodiesel amid a restricted supply of feedstocks drives recovery of industrial FOG. However, current economics don’t favor lithium and phosphate recovery, noted the release.

“Many current wastewater streams contain resources worth billions of dollars of lost product and lost opportunity,” said Tess Murray, research associate and author of the report titled, “Recovering Valuable Resources from Wastewater.”

“As the value of resources rises, recovery technologies are beginning to make sense for even parts-per-million traces of materials such as precious metals and oil,” she added.

You can read the full report here.

Tea Time? No, Brits Look to Coffee for Biodiesel

coffeecup1While the Brits might be known for their tea, it could be coffee that fills their biodiesel tanks. Researchers at the University of Bath have found a way to turn coffee grounds into biodiesel.

Oil can be extracted from coffee grounds by soaking them in an organic solvent, before being chemically transformed into biodiesel via a process called “transesterification”. The study, recently published in the ACS Journal Energy & Fuels, looked at how the fuel properties varied depending on the type of coffee used.

As part of the study, the researchers made biofuel from ground coffee produced in 20 different geographic regions, including caffeinated and decaffeinated forms, as well as Robusta and Arabica varieties.

Dr Chris Chuck, Whorrod Research Fellow from our Department of Chemical Engineering, explained: “Around 8 million tonnes of coffee are produced globally each year and ground waste coffee contains up to 20 per cent oil per unit weight.

“This oil also has similar properties to current feedstocks used to make biofuels. But, while those are cultivated specifically to produce fuel, spent coffee grounds are waste. Using these, there’s a real potential to produce a truly sustainable second-generation biofuel.”

The researchers found a surprisingly high level of consistency among the various types of coffee grounds for their appropriateness as a biodiesel feedstock.

The work seems to be in line with other studies we have reported on here on Domestic Fuel, including a London startup looking to turn coffee grounds into biodiesel and work at the University of Cincinnati.

Biodiesel Producers Hit DC in Final Push on RFS

nbb-advancedBiodiesel producers from across the country are in Washington, D.C. today to make a final push back against the federal government’s latest proposal for the amount of biodiesel to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply. The National Biodiesel Board says nearly 100 biodiesel producers, feedstock suppliers and other advocates from at least 27 states are on Capitol Hill to voice there concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal that would cut renewable volume obligations for biodiesel to well below last year’s production levels and that have resulted in nearly two-thirds of biodiesel makers laying off employees.

“People are losing their jobs in this industry as we speak, and it’s largely because Washington has delivered sporadic, inconsistent policy,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs at NBB, the industry trade association. “As President Obama has said, America should be the world leader in biodiesel and in Advanced Biofuels. And we can be. But we need this Administration and this Congress to stand behind strong energy policy that encourages investment and growth.”

“The recent spike in oil prices stemming from the situation in Iraq should remind us all why these policies are so important,” Steckel added. “We constantly talk about the need to reduce our dependence on oil. Doing that requires massive investments and infrastructure improvements that simply won’t happen without strong energy policy. We can’t keep taking one step forward and two steps back.”

IowaBiodieselBoardLogoBiodiesel producers from Iowa, the nation’s top producer of the green fuel, are also making their voices heard. Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, issued the following statement:

“This swinging pendulum of government policy is wreaking havoc on small businesses with real employees who have banked their future on the promise of growing the American energy industry. EPA’s current RFS proposal represents a giant leap backwards for American-made fuel and advanced biofuels. Our Iowa biodiesel producers and soybean farmers strongly oppose it.”

A common message for all biodiesel producers in this fight is that the RFS is working to reduce greenhouse gases and lessen American dependance on foreign oil, as the original legislation back in 2007 intended. They also urge the EPA to follow the law and restore the numbers.

Biodiesel, Woody Biomass Get Massachusetts Grants

massstateseal1Some biodiesel plants and woody biomass operations are some of the benefactors of $3.5 million in grants handed out by Massachusetts’ Department of Energy Resources. This news release says the money comes from Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) funds, money paid by electricity suppliers that do not meet their statutory Renewable Portfolio Standard obligation to purchase a sufficient percentage of renewable energy.

“By developing the infrastructure needed to support the adoption of renewable heating and cooling technologies, we will increase consumer options to reduce both the use of fossil fuels and the amount of money spent by Massachusetts homeowners and businesses to heat and cool their buildings,” [said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia.]

These are the first grants from the new Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program, which is designed to provide financial support for businesses seeking to establish or expand distribution, manufacturing or marketing of renewable thermal technologies or supply chain infrastructure. A variety of technologies are eligible including woody biomass, grass pellets, advanced biofuels, biogas, solar thermal, and inverter driven air and ground source heat pumps.

Northeast Biodiesel and Cape Cod Biofuels picked up $540,000 and $280,000, respectively, while wood pellet companies Rocky Mountain Wood and Maine Energy Systems each got about $1 million each.

IncBio Biodiesel Processor Going to South America

incbio_south americaPortugal-based IncBio delivered its latest fully automated ultrasonic biodiesel reactor to South America. This company news release says it will produce 120,000 metric tons/year of the green fuel using the ultrasonic transesterification process, a technique touted by the company as much more efficient than traditional biodiesel makers.

José Marques, IncBio’s CEO said: “By updating the existing technology, our client is bringing its plant back to profitability, something with which most outdated plants are currently struggling with. Ultrasonic reactors not only speed up the conversion, by causing a reaction in seconds vs the typical hours of agitation or recirculation, but because they also require lower amounts of methanol and catalyst, ultrasonic biodiesel reactors exponentially improve the financials of existing plants. By reducing reaction time, and methanol consumption, we greatly reduce energy consumption (mostly reducing the volume of methanol to be distilled).

We are seeing the interest in our technology growing by the day and this is not surprising, since existing plants are struggling to turn a profit, mostly because they are using 20th century technology, at a time when we’re already well into the 21st century and the technology has moved on substantially. The reactors end up paying for themselves very quickly, with the typical payback time being measured in months, not years.”

Earlier this year, IncBio delievered a biodiesel processor to Tunisia and inked a deal to deliver one to turn animal fats into biodiesel in Saudi Arabia.