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.

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.

Methes Hits Biodiesel Production Records

Methes1Las Vegas-based Methes Energies has hit record numbers for biodiesel production at a refinery in Ontario, Canada. The company says it produced more than 412,000 gallons of ASTM quality biodiesel at its Sombra, Ontario facility in August 2014 and hit 800,000 gallons of ASTM quality biodiesel at the Sombra facility during its third quarter ending August 31, 2014… both records for the company.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes, said, “Production is going very smoothly and both our Denami 3000s are performing very well as expected. Our production team is doing a great job and they look forward to produce even more biodiesel in our next quarter. Over the last few months, working with our clients has been rewarding and we will continue to build on those relationships to move even more biodiesel. We expect to ship over 25 railcars in September, which would be another record high for the company. We are currently finalizing production and sales forecasts for October, November and December 2014 and expect to provide production updates on a regular basis in the future.”

Methes has a refinery in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, in addition to the Sombra plant. Methes is also involved in providing clients with proprietary software to operate and control their processors as well as remotely monitoring the quality and characteristics of its clients’ production.

EIA: Nat Gas, Biofuel to be More of World Fuel by 2040

Natural gas and biofuels will make up the biggest share of the increase in what are known as “other liquid resources” in the world liquid fuel supply. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook for 2014 (IEO2014) says those fuels that include natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), biofuels, coal-to-liquids (CTL), gas-to-liquids (GTL), kerogen (oil shale), and refinery gain, made up just 14 percent of the world’s liquid fuels in 2010. But that number is expected to rise to 17 percent by 2040, driven by higher petroleum prices.
worldotherfuels1
NGPL are the largest component of the other liquids, accounting for 68% of the total in 2010 (Figure 14). The increase in NGPL production is directly correlated to the increase in natural gas production. In contrast, increased production of the remaining other liquids (primarily biofuels, CTL, and GTL) is in response to policies that encourage growth in the expansion of these liquids with available domestic resources, such as coal and crops. In the IEO2014 Reference case, sustained high oil prices make the development of the non-NGPL other liquids more attractive. In addition, biofuels development also relies heavily on country-specific programs or mandates. Combined, the remaining, non-NGPL other liquid fuels grow at more than twice the rate of NGPL over the projection period.

Brazil is expected to put in 500,000 additional barrels of biofuels per day, with another 300,000 additional barrels of biofuels coming from China.

New Calif. Law to Crack Down on Biodiesel Grease Thieves

california_state_flagThe State of California will be cracking down on thieves of a popular biodiesel feedstock – used cooking grease. This article from the San Diego Union-Tribune says the new law is expected to be signed into effect soon and will have tougher penalties, including starting at $1,000 for first-time offenders.

Backers of the legislation hope harsher penalties, along with new provisions for roadside inspections and record keeping, will translate into more action by law enforcement and prosecutors. Individual oil thefts often qualify as petty theft but cumulatively cost biofuel companies and restaurants millions of dollars each year…

Restaurants, from fast-food to four-star, share in the profits by setting their waste oil aside in liquid containers ranging from 55 gallon drums to 15,000 gallon vats.

Imperial Western Products, which operates in California, Nevada and Arizona and collects oil from hundreds of restaurants in San Diego County, estimates 25 percent or more of its contracted oil gets taken before its trucks arrive.

David Isen, asset protection manager for the Coachella-based company, said thieves have used heavy equipment to haul away locked containers entirely. Motion sensors have helped him document oil theft in the early morning hours. Perpetrators responded, he said, by showing up later and blending into the morning bustle, or posing as cardboard collectors.

“Nobody is afraid of the enforcement,” he said. “We’re losing millions of dollars a year, our company alone.”

California actually has some pretty strict regulations on kitchen grease hauling but not many enforcers. The new law hopes to close some of the loopholes thieves have been exploiting.

Algae & Safflower Biodiesel Flies Across Salt Flats

Bonneville_BiodieselRacetruck_ustA truck running on biodiesel made from algae and safflower seed oil was tearing up the salt flats known for their speed records. This story from KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah says the Utah State University truck first set a record of nearly 135 miles per hour… about 30 miles faster than a small-engine diesel truck has ever gone before… using regular diesel. Then it was time to put the biodiesel blend to the test at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Michael Morgan, a research assistant at Utah State University, was out to prove something.

“Not only can we run it in our everyday cars, but when we want to, come here and run it as fast as we possibly can,” he said.

The diesel fuel his team made with algae and safflower seeds can stack up to the real thing, he said.

“I know that the world only has so many resources. We’re using them up quickly,” he said.

The 20 percent biodiesel blend pushed the truck over 100 miles per hour, but since the salt flats does not take records made using biodiesel, it was just for exhibition.

The group from Utah State dedicated the run to former colleague Dallas Hanks, a great biodiesel advocate from the school who died of cancer this past June.

“We want people to know about the work that he did,” Morgan said.

Nat Gas, Solar and Wind Lead Power Capacity Adds

During the first half of this year, natural gas, solar and wind lead all sources when it comes to new utility-scale generating capacity to come online. This report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that 4,350 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale generating capacity came online, with natural gas making up the lion’s share of those additions but solar and wind made bigger proportional gains compared to the first six months of 2013.
eiaaddsjanjune2014
Utility-scale capacity additions in the first half of 2014 were 40% less than the capacity additions in the same period last year. Natural gas additions were down by about half, while solar additions were up by nearly 70%. Wind additions in the first half of 2014 were more than double the level in the first half of 2013.

Of the states, Florida added the most capacity (1,210 MW), all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity. California, with the second-largest level of additions, added just under 1,100 MW, of which about 77% was solar and 21% was wind, with the remaining additions from natural gas and other sources. Utah and Texas combined for another 1,000 MW, nearly all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity with some solar and wind capacity in Texas.

In addition to the large additions by natural gas, solar saw strong year-on-year growth, adding 1,146 MW. Wind basically more than doubled the amount added in the same period last year, putting 675 MW generating capacity online.

Spanish Biodiesel Plants Get Boost from Foreigners

300px-Flag_of_Spain.svgBiodiesel plants in Spain have hit records in output and exports, thanks to foreigners who have come in a re-opened many idled facilities. This article from Argus says in May, biodiesel production in Spain hit 140,000 metric tonnes – a record and 50 percent higher than a year ago. And through May, biodiesel production in the country was 400,000 metric tonnes for 2014, up nearly 40 percent from a year earlier and close to the previous record high output in 2011.

Rising Spanish production has followed the first-quarter restart of the country’s largest biodiesel plant, the 600,000 t/yr Infinita unit at the Mediterranean port of Castellon. Plant operator Indonesian palm oil and biodiesel producer Musim Mas has struck deals to buy or operate 1.1mn t/yr of Spanish biodiesel production capacity and avoided the EU’s 2013 Europe-wide tariffs on biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina, under anti-dumping legislation.

Instead, Musim importing and refining palm oil at Castellon to supply domestic demand, as well as eyeing exports.

And other foreign firms are buying cheap Spanish biodiesel capacity. Singapore based producer Ennovor has taken over a 60,000 t/yr facility at Huesca, north of Zaragoza. The company specialises biodiesel production from used cooking oil and waste animal fats.

The rise in production is obviously helping Spain’s biodiesel export market, setting a record 115,000 metric tonnes in March and another near-record 111,000 metric tonnes exported in May. For the first five months of 2014, Spain has licensed 488,000 metric tonnes of biodiesel for export, nearly doubling the amount from a year earlier.

The article also cites European Union tariffs on Argentinian and Indonesian biodiesel imports for the growth in Spain’s outputs and exports.

New Tool Helps Biodiesel Producers Evaluate Catalysts

swricfb1A new tool installed at a research institution in Texas will help biodiesel producers and refiners of other fuels evaluate better the catalysts they use. This news release from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) says the custom-designed circulating fluidized bed (CFB) helps turn biological feedstocks and heavy crude oils into refined fuel samples that clients can assess for quality and profitability, more quickly than previously used systems, cranking out samples of about a half liter per hour.

The 15 foot tall, 150 square foot CFB is in operation and available to respond to the current push for biofuels, which require catalyst-aided processing of raw materials, or feedstock, derived from biological materials such as algae, corn or wood, or from refinery products such as heavy crude oil. Clients can use a CFB to evaluate new catalysts and determine how plant-derived, bio feedstocks and bio oils can be efficiently integrated into refineries.

The CFB system converts biomass, material derived from plants or wood, to organic liquids using fast pyrolysis, a thermal conversion of organic material in the absence of oxygen. It also can emulate a fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, a refinery process to convert complex hydrogen molecules to simpler molecules, to convert lower-valued feedstock to higher-value products such as gasoline or diesel. For example, fluidized cataltyic cracking is commonly used in producing gasoline from crude oil.

SwRI’s new circulating fluidized bed is flexible in operation to test both fast pyrolysis processes for biomass-to-biofuels conversion technologies and FCC refinery unit operations.

“In the U.S., a pilot-sized CFB such as ours is unique since conventional FCC testing equipment is smaller and produces very small quantities of material for testing,” said Eloy Flores, an assistant manager in the Fuels and Energy Development Section in SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division. “We can produce enough material for fuel specification or standardized testing. In addition, we are capable of high riser velocities associated with biomass fast pyrolysis.”

Part of what SwRI does is certify biofuels for on-road use through emissions testing.

Biodiesel Imports Set Record for Year-to-Date

census-logoThe U.S. is importing biodiesel at a record rate for the year so far. This article from Platts cites U.S. Census Bureau data that shows imports reached a 2014 year-to-date record in July of 69,474 metric tonnes, more that twice the previous record set in March. Low palm oil prices seem to be the big driver, although biodiesel imports are far below last year’s overall levels when reinstatement of the $1-a-gallon federal tax credit made it profitable for blenders.

The top origin for US biodiesel imports in July was Indonesia at 24,043 mt, up 60% from the previous month and the highest since December 2013 when 52,350 mt were imported.

Traders attributed the surge in imports from Indonesia to lower palm oil prices.

A couple of producers from Indonesia are already registered with the EPA and would be capable of generating RINs if they ran an approved feedstock. Although palm oil has not been approved as an eligible feedstock to generate RINs under RFS2, grandfathered biodiesel plants — construction of which started prior to December 19, 2007 — can assign RINs with a D6 code to palm oil-based biodiesel if they keep up with the appropriate documentation.

Also, for the first time this year, imports from Argentina were recorded at 18,217 mt. A massive 441,772 mt were imported from Argentina in 2013.

More imports are seen coming from Argentina – a sign traders are pretty confident the blender’s credit will be restored and made retroactive. Political watchers believe that restoration could happen after November’s elections.

NBB Offers Webinar on Biodiesel Classroom Safety

biodieselclassroomLots of the next generation of biodiesel producers today are biodiesel students. But making biodiesel can require handling of some hazardous material, so that’s why the National Biodiesel Board is offering the webinar, Biodiesel in the Class Lab: Ensuring Safety, on Sept. 25th from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Central time:

NBB is teaming up with the Methanol Institute to present this interactive webinar, which will help students and teachers understand the basics of biodiesel production and safety. You’ll also hear from a high school chemistry teacher who built a biodiesel lab, helping him earn the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators for 2014.

Speakers:

Mike Morgan, Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel Co-Chair/Utah State
University/Biochemistry Undergrad
Scott Fenwick, National Biodiesel Board Technical Director
Larry Lavin, Methanol Institute Senior Manager for Government & Public Affairs
Darrin Peters, Rockwood Summit High School Chemistry Teacher

For more information and to reserve your webinar seat, click here. Better hurry, though, because space is limited!