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.

Texas A&M Gets Grant for Biomass-to-Energy Project

swregionaldairy1Texas A&M is part of a nearly $16 million nationwide grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in part to fund projects for turning biomass into power. This article from the Stephenville (TX) Empire-Tribune says A&M’s AgriLife Research received money under the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to help fund a two-year program to demonstrate developing technologies for water purification, treatment and recycling and power generation using biomass at Tarleton State University’s Southwest Regional Dairy Center.

More than $780,000 has been allocated for the two-year project, which aims to demonstrate a proven water treatment and recycling technology developed by Global Restoration and a biomass conversion system developed by [AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Sergio Capareda, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M] and others at Texas A&M to produce electrical power.

Capareda says the technology demonstrations will convert dry manure produced by the milking herd at Tarleton’s dairy center into heat and electricity for on-site use. The project also plans to develop resource-conservation practices in handling wastewater and solids from animal manure at the facility while developing several spreadsheet-based monitoring systems.

“The Global Restoration group will take on the water coming out of the facility and the dairy’s lagoon, and purify the water so it may be recycled,” Capareda explained. “This generates large amounts of dry manure, which will be used by our system to generate heat and electrical power.”

Officials say the project could eliminate or at least reduce the size of open ponds, as well as offer another power and revenue stream for farmers.

Charged by Biodiesel, Electric Bike Sets Record

killajoule1The world’s fastest electric motorcycle gets its power from a biodiesel-fueled generator. This article from Torque News says Eva Hakansson made a 270 mph run at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the KillaJoule electric streamliner motorcycle, making it the the fastest electric motorcycle in the world, and its pilot the fastest woman on a motorcycle.

Making its runs and then returning for a recharge from a biodiesel generator as the chutes got repacked and the ice water cooling system was flushed and refilled, the KillaJoule needs little attention outside of these maintenance items between runs. Yet this motorcycle, one of the simplest machines on the raceway, beats all but the smallest handful in speed.

The Shootout had the KillaJoule smashing its own 240 mph record with a phenomenal 270.224 mph average. The team believes that this speed is as fast as the motorcycle can go in its current configuration. The team plans to call this a race year and return to the garage for more tinkering to see if they can’t improve aerodynamics, push a little more juice out of the batteries, and otherwise work towards a 300 mph goal for 2015.

Hakansson says she might shoot to break that 300 mph barrier as early as next year.

Biodiesel Helps Iowa Football Make Winning Drive

iowafootballbus1Iowa is one of the biggest biodiesel producing states in the country, so it makes sense that one of their flagship football teams uses the green fuel to get it to the field this year. The Iowa Soybean Association is touting the fact that biodiesel, mostly made from soybean oil, is being used to power the University of Iowa Hawkeyes’ team bus, and the association is a proud sponsor.

“Iowa farmers excel at providing food, fuel and fiber,” said Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Tom Oswald, who farms near Cleghorn. “Biodiesel is a win for the state’s economy and environment. Teaming up with the Hawkeyes to improve air quality by using America’s first advanced biofuel is a victory for all Iowans.”

University of Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said the Hawkeye family recognizes the continuous improvement of farmers and the quality products they grow and provide.

“We have a great respect for the role farmers play in feeding and fueling our state and the Hawkeye Nation,” he said. “We’re proud to partner with the Iowa Soybean Association. They’re a great addition to Hawkeye Game Day activities.”

Iowa has 13 biodiesel plants, producing about 184 million gallons per year.

Blue Sun Biodiesel Earns Rare BQ-9000 Quality Status

Blue Sun st joe 2A biodiesel refinery in Missouri has earned a rare quality production status. Blue Sun’s St. Joseph, Mo., biodiesel refinery joined just 50 other companies in the country to receive BQ-9000 Producer status from the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NABC) and National Biodiesel Board (NBB), a cooperative and voluntary program that combines the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

“We have always been focused on producing the very highest quality fuel. This recognition of Blue Sun as a BQ-9000 Producer validates the focus and attention to quality fuel that our team gives every day,” said Leigh Freeman, CEO of Blue Sun.

The Blue Sun process includes a biodiesel distillation step, which further elevates the quality of the fuel. Blue Sun fuel exceeds ASTM D6751, particularly in low contaminants including very low monoglycerides (below 0.1%) and excellent cold soak performance.

“Blue Sun consistently demonstrated for BQ-9000 accreditation high quality in all samples received and tested by Gorge Analytical,” said Jeff Fetkenhour, President of Gorge Analytical, LLC.

Blue Sun’s St. Joe Refinery can produce up to 30 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

Vermont Utility to Turn Sunflowers into Biodiesel

greenmtnpowerA local utility in Vermont will be turning sunflowers into biodiesel and livestock feed. Green Mountain Power announced a new collaboration that will convert the seeds from 20 acres of sunflowers into the green fuel and the feed.

“Green Mountain Power is leading the way in many local energy initiatives,” said Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell. “Using Vermont sunflowers to power our vehicles and heat our buildings is a beautiful way to keep our energy local and clean.”

Twenty acres of sunflowers are growing at the State Line Farm Biofuels in Shaftsbury and another ten acres are growing at the Ekolott Farm in Newbury. When the oilseeds are harvested this fall, they will be dried and pressed, then the raw oil will be converted to biodiesel, or B100. The solid portion of the seed, the meal, is valuable as a livestock feed. Depending on the crops’ success, the cost of fuel to Green Mountain Power could be up to one dollar less than current B100 prices.

“It is so great to be part of this innovative test with GMP,” said John Williamson of State Line Farm Biofuels. “Projects like this really help support farmers, plus it’s beautiful to see the fields of sunflowers and even more beautiful to realize it will provide a clean and local power source.”

The project is a partnership between GMP, University of Vermont Extension, and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative, a program that connects diversified agriculture and local renewable energy production for on-farm and community use.

FAPRI: Biodiesel, Ethanol Feedstocks Bigger than Expected

FAPRI logoA new report shows that the main feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol, soybeans and corn, are going to have bigger harvests than previously expected. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri says while the big crops will push prices for those feedstocks down – even further down than what was projected just a couple of weeks ago – soybean and corn prices will recover a bit as markets adjust.

- Larger corn and soybean crops translate into lower projected 2014/15 prices for many grains and oilseeds. Corn prices drop to $3.50 per bushel, soybeans to $9.92 per bushel… In all … cases, these projected prices are close to the midpoint of the price ranges reported in the September USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

– Larger crops in 2014/15 also result in larger beginning stocks and total crop supplies in 2015/16. As a result, corn and soybean prices for next year’s crop are lower than projected in August. Corn prices average $3.80 per bushel in 2015/16, and soybean prices drop to $9.04 per bushel.

– Prices recover as markets adjust. Corn prices average $4.10 per bushel, soybeans average $10.21 per bushel … over the 2016‐18 period.

Previously, FAPRI said that corn prices would stay at about $4 per bushel for corn, but the new, bigger numbers for yield estimates push those prices down even more.

Procter & Gamble’s $230 Mil Biomass Project Moves Forward

albanybiomassA project to put a massive biomass facility at a Procter & Gamble facility in Georgia is moving forward. This article from the Albany (GA) Herald says the $230 million biomass facility has received the go-ahead from local officials and some tax incentives that will ensure the project comes to fruition.

The resolution gives the principles of the agreement, who will be united in the project as Albany Green Energy LLC, two years in which they will not be required to pay local taxes. After that, over the next 21 years, Albany Green Energy will pay $375,000 annually in taxes.

[P&G Global Business Development Manager Bob] Bourbon, who develops business partnerships for P&G Corporate, called the agreement on the biomass project “a partnership on steroids.” He noted that each of seven partners — Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, Sterling Energy Assets, Procter & Gamble Corporate, Constellation New Energy, the federal government and the Payroll Development Authority — is vital to the project reaching the end zone.

“Take any one of these partners out of the equation, and it wouldn’t work,” Bourbon said. “Using my football analogy, yes, we’re at first-and-goal, but everyone who gets that close to the goal line doesn’t score. Everyone involved in this project is doing everything possible to make it work. If it doesn’t, there will be a very good reason.”

The 20-year partnership deal is seen as giving the local community a very steady economic anchor, while bringing more clean energy to the region.

The plant is expected to go online in the summer of 2017.

Chevy Offers Van with Biodiesel, E85 Options

chevyvan1Getting close to the end of the year for automakers, which means plenty of them are trying to move what’s left of their 2014 inventory. If you’ve got a big bunch of kids and you’re in the market for some eco-friendly wheels, Chevrolet’s G-Series Express Passenger van might be just the thing to look at right now, with B20 biodiesel-compatible and E85 engine options available.

The powerful Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 is offered in some Express models, delivering best-in-class torque and horsepower. Known by its “LGH” engine code, it is rated at 260 horsepower (194 kW) and 525 lb.-ft. of torque (712 Nm).

Designed to meet more stringent government emissions requirements, the LGH Duramax employs a robust EGR cooling system, along with revised turbocharger tuning that helps enhance EGR performance. It also has a large-capacity selective catalytic reduction system. In fact, the engine features the latest in emission control technology, making it the cleanest Duramax engine ever produced. NOx emissions are controlled via a Selective Catalyst Reduction aftertreatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF). The DEF is housed in a 5.83-gallon (20 L) tank and needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Electrically heated lines feed the DEF to the emission system to ensure adequate delivery in cold weather…

A FlexFuel E85 version of the 5.3L V-8 is also available. It delivers the same horsepower and torque as its gasoline counterpart, but runs on E85 ethanol fuel or a mixture of E85 and gasoline. E85 contains 85 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel that is produced domestically.

As I said, this is definitely for a BIG family… or just anyone who needs to haul a bunch of people… as it comes in models able to carry up to 15 people and all their cargo.

Boise State’s Biodiesel Truck to Take Its Shot at Salt Flats

greenspeedtruck1As one truck from Utah State University running on biodiesel just finished tearing up the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, another truck from another school out west is out to prove its power running on vegetable oil and biodiesel. Boise State University’s Greenspeed club is looking at breaking the land speed record for its class of truck at Bonneville at more than 215 mph later this month.

“We’re just using vegetable oil as proof of the concept,” said Dave Schenker, mechanical engineering student at Boise State and co-founder of the club. “It’s in its raw state, not even a fuel. Here we are beating petroleum at its own game.”

According to Schenker, their diesel engine has only been modified for power, which is a testament to the value vegetable oil has as a fuel source. When vegetable oil is heated to 175 degrees, it becomes the consistency of regualar fuel, which can then be used with their diesel engine.

However, this isn’t the only fuel source they use. They also run on diesel and a biodiesel, which they hope to start making on their own soon.

“Vegetable oil is not a good fuel for over the road use, which regular people use in their vehicles,” said Patrick Johnston, graduate of Boise State’s mechanical engineering program. “What we really advocate is biodiesel derived from algae.”

The truck has a computer that reads 70 points of contact on the truck between the chassis and engine, allowing the team can see exactly how each fuel type works with the truck to choose the most efficient.

Team members hope to be running on their own algae-biodiesel next year.

Largest 100% Biomass Plant in North America Opens

AtikokanGS1North America’s largest power plant fueled 100 percent by biomass opens in Canada. Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) is now operating on biomass after undergoing a massive reconstruction after being a coal-fired plant, and according to Engineering and Technology Magazine, it will be capable of generating about 900 million kW/h of electricity per year – enough for 70,000 homes.

“The conversion of Atikokan will ensure a clean, reliable, sustainable and local supply of electricity for the region,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. “I am very happy to see this facility playing an active role in helping us deliver on the commitments in our Long-Term Energy Plan.”

“Ontario is a leader in green energy production and technology and the conversion, of the Atikokan Generating Station is a great example of innovative new opportunities available in Northern Ontario,” said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan. “This facility will create and maintain well-paying jobs right here in our community and will contribute to Ontario’s clean energy strategy.”

“Northwestern Ontario is on the leading edge of some very exciting new mining and forestry developments and I am very pleased that our government is taking action to meet the future energy needs of our region,” said Michael Gravelle, MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North. “This project is not only providing more clean power to Ontarians, it is creating promising new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs for Northwestern Ontario in the green energy and forestry industries.”

Officials say the plant is already running on locally sourced wood pellets.

DF Cast: Building Community Solar with No Rooftops

Solar power can be a great, clean choice of energy. But in some places, people, because they live in a shady area or an apartment, just don’t have a good, unshaded roof to have a solar panel. And in those situations, even with utility companies using some solar, it might not be at the level a consumer would like to see. Enter SunShare, who is creating community solar gardens without the rooftops.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with David Amster-Olzewski, founder of SunShare, a community solar projects company based in Colorado, and Nick Kittle, the Performance and Innovation Manager for Adams County, Colorado, just east of Denver, who uses SunShare for his county’s power needs and his own personal living space. They talk about the flexibility SunShare offers to its customers, as well as the savings they see.

It’s a fascinating concept that is working now, and you can hear more about it here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Building Community Solar with No Rooftops

Taiwan Biodiesel Provider Offers Free Biocatalyst

sunhoTaiwan-based Sunho Biodiesel Corp. is offering a free lipase biocatalyst to clients that license and set up a biodiesel plant based on the Sunho’s ET Process®.

When considering a process for industrial production of a commodity, two major criteria are process reliability and cost of consumables. This is where the ET Process® offers distinctive advantages. The design of the ET Process® allows the system to optimize its efficiency. It runs in an automatic, continuous manner. There is no need for the producer to conduct numerous trial-and-error adjustments since it is a well-designed process. The use of inert solvent prevents lipase poisoning and deactivation from glycerol, methanol and water and stabilizes lipase activity. Due to the improvement in life span, the catalyst does not have to be replaced frequently, leading to significant catalyst cost savings. From recent market data, it was found that the lipase consumption of enzymatic processes that use either immobilized or liquid lipase without inert solvent is one order of magnitude higher than that of the ET Process®. Based on a plant with a capacity of 10,000 T/yr biodiesel, the former processes will consume more than 12-20 T/yr of biocatalyst, while the ET Process® will consume only 1 T/y or less. This means that in a two-year span, the cost difference in lipase expense between retrofitting an existing plant using the aforementioned processes and using the ET Process® is much higher than the capital investment needed to set up a new ET Process® plant.

Sunho is offering the biocatalyst to biodiesel plants that will have a capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes/yr based on degummed oil. The biocatalyst will be supplied for the first 18 months or in 3 batches, depending on which one comes first.

Branstad Chosen as “Biodiesel Champion” by IBB

iowabiodieselboardBiodiesel advocates in Iowa are recognizing that state’s governor for his efforts to support the green fuel. At today’s annual meeting of the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB), Governor Terry Branstad picks up the “Biodiesel Champion” award.

“Governor Branstad has shown steadfast support for state biodiesel programs and incentives, helping Iowa secure its position as the top biodiesel-producing state,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “He also shows bold national leadership in making an outspoken, compelling case for expanding biodiesel under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.”

Branstad serves as vice chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition. In December, he was the only governor to testify at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on the RFS.

“I want to thank the Iowa Biodiesel Board for the honor of being named a ‘Biodiesel Champion,’” said Branstad. “Iowa’s robust renewable fuel sector is a critical component of Iowa’s strong economic position. I’ve long been a strong supporter of renewable fuels like biodiesel, and will continue promoting innovation within this growing industry.”

Iowa is a major player in the biodiesel game, with 12 biodiesel plants producing about 230 million gallons of biodiesel in 2013 and supporting more than 7,000 jobs throughout the value chain.

Taiwan School Uses Microwaves to Make Biodiesel

ncku1A university in Taiwan is turning waste cooking oils into biodiesel using microwaves and strontium oxide (SrO) as catalyst. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in southern Taiwan is using the talents of Prof. (Emeritus) Aharon Gedanken from the Department of Chemistry at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, in the process.

With the system designed by the team, a machine has been built by a company in Taiwan.

“The machine is made in Taiwan and working very well comparing it with similar ones I have at home,” according to Gedanken

The converting machine has been set up in the department and ready to yield more biofuel in the coming months, according to MSE Distinguished Professor Jiunn-Der Liao who has invited Gedanken to cooperate with NCKU faculty conducting the research.

Prof. Liao said that with Gedanken’s help we are going to set up a converting station at An-nan campus and hopefully we will collect more waste cooked oil for the demonstration.

The experimental process cranks out 3 liters per hour, and the researchers hope to have companies in Taiwan apply the know-how to their biodiesel operations.

New Report on Biodiesel Success Roadmap Released

prefeasibility_report_on_a_biodiesel_productionA new report from a market research firm is designed to give potential biodiesel producers a possible roadmap for success in setting up a production plant. Research and Markets has released the “Prefeasibility Report on a Biodiesel Production Plant,” a study the purports to cover all the requisite aspects of the biodiesel production plant, ranging from a macro overview of the market to micro details of the industry performance, manufacturing requirements, project cost, project funding, project economics, expected returns on investment, profit margins, and more.

This report is a must-read for entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, consultants, business strategists, and all those who are planning to foray into the biodiesel industry in any manner.

Key Questions Answered in This Report?

– What are the key success and risk factors in the biodiesel industry?
– How has the biodiesel market performed so far and how will it perform in the coming years?
– What is the structure of the biodiesel industry and who are the key players?
– What are the various unit operations involved in a biodiesel plant?
– What is the total size of land required for setting up a biodiesel plant?

That and more is available in the report here.