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.

Biodiesel, Solar Turn Cheese Guy’s Truck Green

cheese_truck1A food truck entrepreneur known for his cheese is turning his vehicle – not his cheese – green using biodiesel and solar power. This news release posted on EIN News says Oklahoma-based Wil Braggs, aka “The Cheese Guy,” has started a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help him buy a brand new gourmet green energy food truck called the Mean Green Purple Machine.

This truck is intended to be powered by solar generated energy. Sunlight is free obviously and solar power is an effective, simple and often overlooked energy choice. The Cheese Guy is committed to implementing solar inverter technology in order to charge batteries with sunlight. A new food truck would enable The Cheese Guy to utilize solar power for the brand new Mean green purple machine. Another form of alternative energy is biodiesel which is formed from vegetable oil. Biodiesel is quieter than traditional fuel and only has organic emissions. The Cheese Guy intends to use biodiesel from recycled plant oil to run their engine and also their generator. This would be the first true biodiesel powered food truck. It is this groundbreaking innovation that has the ability to change the thinking of food truck owners everywhere.

Another alternative fuel addition The Cheese Guy wants to make is replacing propane with natural gas.

You can visit his Kickstarter campaign here.

Chicken Fat Biodiesel Powering Truck from FL to WA

MTSUpickup1A professor of alternative fuels is making a 3,550-mile journey cross country to show how well chicken fat biodiesel can perform. This article from the Murfreesboro (TN) Daily News Journal says hometown Middle Tennessee State University alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts is driving a 34-year-old truck from Key West, Florida to Seattle, Washington on the green fuel.

[B]eing well aware some of the 13 states he will be driving through are northern and in the Pacific Northwest, he heard about a potential weather situation totally opposite of the 82-degree mostly sunny weather he was enjoying in South Florida.

“This is going to be an adventure,” said Ricketts, 66, a 38-year veteran MTSU professor, just before departing from Key West to head toward Miami, Fort Lauderdale and an eventual overnight stay in Bradenton.

“It’s 72 degrees this morning in Key West,” he added. “We’ll hit 30-degree temperatures when we reach Tennessee (Sunday night) and hit 20 degrees in Kansas City (Monday). In Montana, and we’ll go through Billings, we could hit 12-degree temperatures” after an arctic vortex blew through the region.

The researcher, who grew up on a farm and still lives on the family farm outside of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said the team “will go as far as we can with the research, experiencing as much as we can, but we will use wisdom if we have to call off or change a route later on.”

Apparently, according to the article, the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup is loud, as it has an exhaust stack system, vertically protruding from the truck bed. But Ricketts says the loud exhaust smelling like French fries amuses and entertains the kids they encounter along the way.

Growth Energy Looks for Ethanol Exports to Panama & Peru

growth-energy-logoAmerican ethanol exports could be expanding to Panama and Peru. Growth Energy officials, along with the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association, took part in a market development mission to explore export opportunities for the green fuel to the Central and South American countries.

“The mission has been a great experience,” said [Alex Marquis, Logistics Manager of Marquis Energy, who represented Growth]. “The mission delegates met with a number of Peruvian government officials over the span of two days, and the access provided was impressive. Though more work and dialogue is needed to cultivate relationships with key Peruvian contacts, these discussions revealed that Peru’s burgeoning economy offers growth potential for American renewable energy groups,” Marquis added.

“Exploratory trade missions like these allow the industry to identify new market opportunities across the globe and raise awareness of the benefits of renewable fuels. Ethanol can play a key role in improving the global environment and reducing the world’s dangerous dependence on fossil fuels,” stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Growth Energy also participated in trade missions to China, Korea and Japan earlier this year.

British Columbia OKs Trestle Energy’s Ethanol

trestleCalifornia-based ethanol producer Trestle Energy gets the green light to produce its advanced biofuel in British Columbia, Canada. Trestle, with production facilities in Iowa, can now start producing and selling its low-emissions biofuel in the province, as BC recognized the company as the lowest emissions ethanol producer in America.

Trestle Energy will now begin partnering with existing ethanol plants in Iowa, Minnesota, and across the Midwest to ramp up production of its low carbon biofuels and make the fuel available to BC consumers. Trestle’s method of production will strengthen export markets for American companies and help them effectively compete with overseas biofuel producers, while also helping advance important climate and energy security objectives.

“We are thrilled that British Columbia has moved quickly to approve our fuel pathways, so that we can begin to get our advanced biofuels to market,” said James Rhodes, co-founder and president of Trestle Energy. “We look forward to partnering with ethanol plants to supply Canada with low carbon biofuels, and we hope to bring them to the United States as soon as possible so that we can provide Americans with clean, affordable, low carbon energy.”

Trestle Energy also has petitions currently pending with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—filed in November 2013—and with the California Air Resources Board (CARB)—filed in May 2014.

RFA to Oregon: Treat Ethanol Same as All Clean Fuels

RFANewlogoA group representing ethanol interests is calling on Oregon to treat ethanol the same as other clean fuels in the state. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent in comments to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) detailing a number of requested changes to the proposed rule for Phase 2 of the Oregon Clean Fuels Program (CFP), including the recommendation that indirect effects be withheld from the program’s lifecycle carbon intensity analyses for various fuel pathways.

Phase 1 of the Oregon CFP, which is structured similarly to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), included carbon intensity scores for ethanol and all other fuel pathways that were based strictly on verifiable direct emissions. However, for Phase 2 of the program, Oregon DEQ is proposing to introduce subjective and uncertain penalty factors for hypothetical indirect land use changes (ILUC) for select biofuels, but no indirect effect penalty factors for any other fuel types. RFA’s comments underscore the fact that “Inclusion of highly uncertain and prescriptive ILUC factors creates an asymmetrical and discriminatory framework for the CFP.”

RFA urged that DEQ remove ILUC from the proposed rule “…until such time as there is broad scientific agreement on the best methodology for estimating the indirect effects for all fuels” and that “If DEQ includes ILUC for biofuels, it must also include indirect emissions associated with all other regulated fuels (including baseline petroleum).”

Even if DEQ’s proposal to include ILUC was justified, the letter points out that “…DEQ is proposing to use factors that have been shown to be grossly exaggerated and based on outdated information and data.” In fact, DEQ is planning to adopt ILUC penalties developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2009 for that state’s LCFS. Even CARB has recognized that its 2009 ILUC factors are flawed and is planning to propose revisions to those values.

RFA added that it will support “performance-based low carbon fuel programs that are grounded in the principles of fairness, sound science, and consistent analytical boundaries.” The group continued that introducing into the regulatory framework concepts without scientific integrity and balance “only creates stakeholder division and controversy.”

Video Contest Looks to ‘Fuel the Future’ of Ethanol, Biodiesel

IRFA2015VideoContestIowa high school students will once again compete to see who can produce the best video to promote the future of biodiesel, ethanol and E15. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) launched the 5th Annual “Fuel the Future” Video Contest for Iowa high school students with the top three video entries receiving prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $600 and $400 respectively; airing at the 2015 Iowa Renewable Fuel Summit on January 27; and being featured on IRFA’s YouTube® channel.

“The IRFA video contest is now open, and we’re excited to see the creative ways Iowa high school students promote ethanol and biodiesel this year,” stated IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “With attacks from ethanol and biodiesel opponents ramping up, we can’t wait to see how Iowa high school students set the record straight on renewable fuels through their highly entertaining and informative videos.”

The Fuel the Future contest is limited to students currently attending high school in Iowa (grades 9-12 in a public, private or home school). Video entries may not exceed two minutes in length and must be submitted to IRFA via DVD, flash drive, or secure web link. To be considered for the contest, all completed video entries must be received in the IRFA office by January 16, 2015. For more information, including the official entry form and contest rules, please visit www.iowarfa.org/FueltheFuture.php. For additional questions, please contact T.J. Page at (515) 252-6249 or tpage@IowaRFA.org.

To get some ideas, check out last year’s winner, produced by John Low of Marion and titled “E15: The Fuel of the Future,” here.

Biodiesel to Play Role in Lower Heating Oil Prices

nora1Biodiesel is expected to play a role in lower home heating oil prices this winter. The National Oilheat Research Allianace (NORA) cites a conference from last month where the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted the lower prices for consumers.

John Huber, President of [NORA], described the efforts of the heating oil industry to improve its product. He reported on the efforts of the Northeastern states to move to a low-sulfur heating oil product which improves efficiency and dramatically reduces emissions. He said that this step would also lead to long-term improvements in heating equipment as it is offered to consumers.

Additionally, Mr. Huber described the efforts of the Oilheating industry to move to ever-increasing blends of heating oil and renewable biodiesel. These steps will reduced greenhouse gas emissions and position the industry to be a long-term solution as a renewable fuel for millions of American customers.

NORA says that EIA predicts homeowners will spend, on average, 15 percent less, on average, than last year if long-term weather forecasts hold. Other factors cited for expected overall lower energy prices this winter include pipeline and other infrastructure developments in the U.S., more shale oil coming onto the market, and speculators trading crude oil for less.

Forum to Address Ag’s Challenges in Transportation

farmfoundationlogo3News of too few rail cars to move this year’s grain harvest from farming areas to consumers has grabbed the headlines most recently, but agriculture and rural America are facing several other transportation issues this year. Farm Foundation will look to address some key issues, including the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure, which is also important to the movement of biofuels – roads, bridges and waterways – during its next free forum, Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. EST at the National Press Club, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C. with a live audiocast being made available for those unable to attend in person.

The Forum will begin with presentations by four industry leaders:

Eric Jessup, Vice President, Transportation, Industrials & Energy Services, Informa Economics;
John H. Miller, Group Vice President, Agricultural Products, BNSF Railroad;
Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation Coalition; and
Jon Samson, Executive Director of the American Trucking Associations’ Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference.

Moderating the session will be grain farmer Mark Scholl of J&M Scholl, Inc. Mr. Scholl and Mr. Miller are both Trustees of Farm Foundation.

More information and sign-up is available here.

Springboard Biodiesel Offers New Equipment

springboardbiodiesel2A California-based biodiesel equipment manufacturer is offering a new line of automated equipment that it says will further improve the performance and efficiency of small-scale biodiesel producers. Springboard Biodiesel announced the equipment will recover methanol and treat glycerin better.

The GL95/MC12/BD380 trio will recover more than 99% of the excess methanol that is mixed in with the glycerin by-product produced while making biodiesel. After the methanol is recovered at a purity of approximately 98%, the equipment will then eject a quickly cooling block of glycerin soap.

This trio of equipment will also remove and recover excess methanol from biodiesel that rates too high for sale, based on methanol content. This can be a factor for groups that are using a drywash system to filter and clean their raw biodiesel after it has been produced.

“In the biodiesel production world, some groups struggle to manage their glycerin disposal, others struggle to meet ASTM-grade when using a drywash system,” says Springboard CEO Mark Roberts. “Recognizing this, we have turned their struggle into an opportunity with the elegant and automated GL95/MC12/BD380 trio. Not only will a biodiesel producer recover the vast majority of the extra methanol used in the reactions, but the equipment will also cast the remaining material into a large block of soap and glycerin, giving a small scale producer more options for revenue.”

Springboard is best known for its small-scale biodiesel processing equipment under the trademarks of BioPro™ and SpringPro™. The BioPro™.

Iowa Biodiesel Board Optimistic on Election Results

iowabiodieselboardA group representing one of the largest biodiesel producing states in the country is optimistic about Tuesday’s election results. The Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) congratulated those in the Hawkeye State winning, in particular Joni Ernst winning the U.S. Senate seat and David Young winning the U.S. House seat. And IBB is optimistic about what the election means for biodiesel nationally.

Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director, issued the following statement:

“We congratulate Iowa’s election winners, and look forward to working with all of them in the effort to diversify our nation’s fuel supply with biodiesel, America’s Advanced Biofuel. We are confident the new Senate and House winners will support biodiesel and biofuel issues. Having hosted Senator Joni Ernst at a biodiesel plant during the campaign, we were pleased to hear her declare strong support for biodiesel and the Renewable Fuel Standard to IBB members. IBB will continue to be a resource for her and all of our elected officials.

“Sen. Ernst and Rep. David Young in particular have strong ties to Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley, who have been tireless champions for biofuel and agriculture issues. We’re confident these newly elected officials will be just as supportive in providing leadership on these important issues. We also look forward to working with Rep. Rod Blum. Likewise, we believe the House incumbents, Reps. Dave Loebsack and Steve King, will continue to support biodiesel and our nation’s drive for smart, consistent federal energy policy. The economic and energy security benefits biodiesel provides are second to none, making the RFS one of the most effective policies we have.”

IBB was also thankful to defeated Senate candidate Democrat Bruce Braley for his efforts on behalf of the green fuel while in the U.S. House, as well as retiring Senator Tom Harkin.

Hawaiian Utility to Ink Biodiesel Deal

hawaiianelectricHawaii’s largest utility says it will sign a deal to buy up to five million gallons of biodiesel to use. This article from Pacific Business News says Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) told the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that the supply from the developer could come as early as November 2015.

Proposals from several firms were received by HECO, although it redacted the section of the letter naming the firms. The deadline for proposals was July 31.

The locations where the biodiesel would be used includes HECO’s 110-megawatt West Oahu Campbell Industrial Park generating station and the 8-megawatt Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility.

In late May, HECO issued the request for proposals for a contract term of three years.

REG Biodiesel Sales Up, But Revenues Down

reg-logoBiodiesel behemoth Renewable Energy Group (REG) reports an increase in the amount of biodiesel it sold, but revenues for the Iowa-based company are down. The latest financial report from REG shows the company sold 14.4 percent more gallons of biomass-based diesel, while revenues decreased by 16.2 percent and Adjusted EBITDA decreased by 77.7 percent.

“Our third quarter results reflect a very solid financial performance despite weak market conditions, while we worked to bring REG Geismar online and continued to invest in product development,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our traditional biodiesel business saw double digit volume growth of gallons sold and produced, compared to the third quarter of last year. The Mason City upgrades, which now allow that biorefinery to use lower cost feedstocks, were completed on time and within budget, and reflect our continued investment and focus on the biomass-based diesel business.”

REG officials say the revenue decline comes as the average sales price has been reduced and lower Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices, more than offsetting the approximately 14 percent increase in gallons sold. The average price per gallon of biodiesel sold during the third quarter was $3.54, nearly 30 percent lower than in the same quarter of 2013.

Ethanol Coalition: Auto Engineers Expose EPA’s Oil Bias

ACElogoA new paper from automotive engineers shows how the federal government has a bias toward Big Oil. Officials from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) praised a new Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) paper authored by experts from Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, and AVL Powertrain Engineering Inc. that concludes that emissions from higher ethanol blends are cleaner than gasoline, and the approach used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to estimate exhaust emissions, the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model, is biased in favor of oil.

“We applaud these Ford, General Motors, and AVL Powertrain engineers for exposing that EPA’s MOVES model is biased in favor of a result oil companies prefer and ignores the way gasoline is blended with ethanol in the real-world,” said [ACE Executive Vice President Brian] Jennings. “This is just the latest example of how Big Oil is twisting EPA’s arm to limit ethanol use. First, it appears EPA is about to completely rewrite the Renewable Fuel Standard to help oil companies avoid their legal responsibility to blend fuels, like E15 and E85, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, EPA is relying on a biased approach for estimating tailpipe emissions, remarkably making gasoline appear cleaner than ethanol.” Continue reading

CHS Co-Op to Open Wisc. Propane Rail Terminal

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

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

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

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

Algae Biomass Organization Gets New Leaders

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

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

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

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

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