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.

Novozymes Touts Enzyme-Catalyzed Biodiesel

novozymesEnzymes could be the key to making biodiesel from low-quality oils. This article from The American Oil Chemists’ Society’s Inform magazine says Novozymes, a biotech company specializing in enzyme technology, is touting biodiesel production at Blue Sun Biodiesel in St. Joseph, Missouri and Vieselfuel LLC in Stuart, Fla., based on using lipase as catalyst.

Production at both sites has been in operation for over a year now. Novozymes has been the enzyme supplier and partner, and the accomplishment of full-scale production is the result of lengthy, dedicated research and development work.

The new lipase technology enables the processing of oil feedstocks with any concentration of free fatty acids and with lower energy costs than with a standard chemical catalyst…

Use of the liquid lipases was a breakthrough, as they are much cheaper to produce and provide technological as well as cost benefits. By using the lipase Novozymes Callera Trans®, it is possible to produce biodiesel from a large variety of oil qualities. The ability to produce biodiesel from feedstock regardless of its FFA content ultimately makes the process a more cost-efficient way to produce biodiesel.

The article goes on to say that Novozymes is finishing up the development of the enzymatic biodiesel application and expects to launch the concept later this year.

The same magazine features another article on using a new proprietary solid catalyst process developed by Benefuel to make biodiesel. We’ll have details on that story tomorrow.

Methes Completes First U.S. Biodiesel Transaction

Methes1A producer of biodiesel in Canada completes its first sale in the United States. Last month, we told you how Methes Energies achieved the important BQ-9000 quality standard and that the company planned to ship more than $6 million worth of biodiesel to the U.S. That transaction has now taken place with the imported of biodiesel coming from its Sombra, Ontario facility.

This is the first time that Methes directly generated U.S. revenues. In the past, biodiesel produced at its Sombra, Ontario facility was sold to brokers and intermediaries that would import the biodiesel into the U.S. and resell the biodiesel to obligated parties and fuel distributors. With Methes now having the ability to import biodiesel to the U.S. and itself generate [Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs)], Methes can sell directly to U.S buyers, capitalize on new opportunities and improve its margins.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes Energies, said, “This is another step forward for Methes and part of our plan to capitalize on more opportunities in the U.S. This is the first time that Methes directly generated U.S. revenues and U.S revenues will now start playing a much larger role in our overall growth strategy and enable us to expand our footprint in several states in the U.S. As for production in Sombra, things are going very well with more feedstock showing up tomorrow. In fact, we will be receiving our largest shipment by rail ever, a total of 12 railcars or over 2 million pounds of oil.”

The Methes refinery in Ontario is capable of producing 13 million gallons per year of biodiesel.

Biostimulation for Algae Growth Could Help Biodiesel

solarmagnatron1Growing algae for biodiesel seems like a viable option when you consider how oil-rich (and thus, feedstock-rich) the one-celled organisms can be. But while algae is one of the fastest growing organisms on Earth, getting enough growth out of the microbes to make the proposition commercially viable is the holy grail for algae-biodiesel producers. Researchers from AlgaStar Inc. have found a way to increase algae growth rates by 300 percent using a technique called biostimulation and a biomass grower called the SolarMagnatron.

Biological stimulation from electromagnetic fields and/or microwaves offers a novel technology that can accelerate algae growth substantially compared with natural sunlight. Laboratory tests at AlgaStar, Inc. and research collaborators at the University of Western Ontario, (UWO) have proven the biostimulation concept but considerably more research is needed. Additional research efforts are now funded for AlgaStar with Los Alamos National Laboratory. Additional grant applications and research sponsor funding will include Dr. Bruce Rittmann’s lab in the Biodesign Institute at ASU, the world class AzCATI Test Bed at ASU, NanoVoltaics, UWO and others.

The AlgaStar algae production and biostimulation system integrates two types of electromagnetic energy. The first is a millitesla generator and the second a millimeter microwave generator that radiates spontaneous growth energy into large volumes of algae biomass. The research teams have demonstrated that electromagnetic energy waves can provide an increase in algae biomass and its corresponding lipid oil production by up to 300%.

AlgaStar is using it’s patented 4500 gallon SolarMagnatron biomass production system that has an automated biosystem controller (ABC), which optimizes biomass production and uses light very efficiently. During the day, it maximizes natural sunlight, and when it’s night, special domed acrylic lenses and flat-panel glass reactors containing high-efficiency florescent and LED lights produce artificial sunlight at specific wavelengths and power levels that optimize algae photosynthesis.

More information is available on the AlgaStar website.

Researchers Make Green Plastic from Biodiesel By-Product

csirlogoResearchers in India have created a green plastic from the biodiesel by-product glycerin. This article from the Business Times says the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) developed the biodegradable plastic from a jatropha-based biodiesel process.

“We had initiated a research on using the residue of bio-diesel to be converted to plastic.The idea of green plastic came as a result of our concern to effectively utilize the crude glycerol which is the byproduct of the Jatropha biodiesel,” said S Mishra, principal scientist, CSMCRI.

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and CSMCRI have started research related to the development of ‘green plastic’ in 2005 during the second phase of the project entitled ‘Biofuels from eroded soils of India” sponsored by Daimler Chrysler, Germany.

More than 500 gms. of green plastic has already been produced in the laboratory at gram scale which was distributed to some firms for research analysis and studies on its further applications in bio-medical area. “Now ,our target is to scale up the process from gram to kilogram scale per batch production. Besides, we are also trying to improve functional/physical properties of the product,” she added.

A European patent has been granted for these bioplastics that degrade in the soil in three months.

The institute is also looking at developing algae found in the Indian coastline to be made into biodiesel.

Biodiesel Put to the Test in Dodge Ram

Biodiesel PumpIt’s always good to see the results of biodiesel put into real test situations. This great article from Diesel Power magazine put the green fuel at a B20 (20 percent biodiesel) level to the test in a 2014 Ram 2500 and showed just how good biodiesel can be, providing fewer emissions, lubricating the engine better, and actually being a cheaper source of fuel in some parts of the country.

So why all the hate if there are so many positives? One criticism is that biodiesel clogs fuel filters. It is true that in higher-mileage diesels fuel filters will need to be changed more frequently when running biodiesel, but this isn’t because of the fuel itself. It’s due to the fact that biodiesel is a better solvent than petrodiesel and actually cleans the built-up gunk out of the truck’s fuel tank and system. The higher the concentration of biodiesel, the quicker the tank gets cleaned and the filter gets clogged. This leads directly to the second myth of biodiesel: that it provides less power and lower fuel economy. Typically, the cause of this is a clogged fuel filter. See the connection? Keep the filter clean, and you’ll never know there is bio in the tank.

This brings us back to my quick test. I saddled the truck up with the same trailer and load as before and hit the road. At first, it seemed like the engine was louder when running on B20, but after a few hours it all seemed normal. I attribute this simply to a placebo effect. I wanted there to be something noticeably different with the new fuel, so my brain said it was louder. The reality is after I switched back to number 2 the noise level remained the same. The truck’s power felt the same as well, and the truck had absolutely no issues hauling the load on level ground, or up steep hills. I even spanked a Duramax up the infamous Grapevine. With the tow test complete, I unhooked the trailer and ran a tank with the truck empty. Both tests returned fuel economy numbers that were within ½ mpg of the original test.

The bottom line of this article was that B20 is less expensive and better for the environment and a truck’s engine, without losing power or fuel economy.

EIA: Plenty of Potential, But Hydro Limited by Economics

A new study by the Department of energy shows there’s great potential for hydroelectric power in the U.S., but the economics of the situation keeps more power from being added. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) cites work by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that shows there are 61 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric power potential in waterways without existing dams or diversion facilities. However, the projected capacity to be added is only 2 GW through 2040.
eiajuly10report1
The report quantified the technical resource capacity available at more than three million U.S. streams, qualifying its findings by saying “the methodology alone does not produce estimates of generation, cost, or potential impacts of sufficient accuracy to determine project-specific feasibility or to justify investments.”

Although resource potential quantifies maximum feasible capacity additions, EIA’s AEO2014 Reference case also considers market and policy hurdles that can limit actual development of a new hydroelectric power plant. These include economic factors, performance characteristics, federal regulations, electricity demand, and the cost of competing sources for new generation. Because hydropower is a mature technology, most of the technically and economically superior sites have already been developed.

The report does provide new information to assess the technical potential of hydropower and improve the understanding of resources that can take advantage of new technologies such as in-stream turbines.

EU Tariffs on U.S. Biodiesel Could be Renewed

USEUflagsTariffs by the European Union against American biodiesel could be renewed. This article from Bloomberg says the EU is threatening to renew the tariffs of up to $323 per metric ton based on some probes against Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the world’s biggest corn processor, and Cargill Inc.

The inquiries will determine whether the expiry of the import taxes would be likely to lead to a “continuation or recurrence” of subsidization and dumping and of “injury” to EU producers, the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said today in the Official Journal. The anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties were due to lapse tomorrow and will now stay in place during the investigations, which can last as long as 15 months.

The subsidy and dumping cases highlight tensions accompanying EU and U.S. efforts to expand global trade in biofuels. Biofuels, which also include ethanol, are a renewable energy from crops such as rapeseed, corn, wheat and sugar. In a separate trans-Atlantic commercial dispute, the EU in 2013 imposed a five-year anti-dumping duty on U.S. bioethanol.

U.S. exports to the EU of the type of biodiesel covered by the European anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties were valued at $1 billion a year and came to a virtual halt after the bloc imposed the levies in July 2009. In May 2011, the EU widened the duties to cover more blends and extended the levies to Canada, saying American exporters dodged the trade protection.

The investigation also comes as the EU is trying to meet its own goal of at least 10 percent of land transportation fuels to come from biofuels in 2020 and more than double the share of overall use of renewable energy in the EU to 20 percent.

Cape Cod Biodiesel Company Gets State Grant

capecodbiofuelsA Massachusetts company is getting some help from the state to turn used cooking oil into biodiesel. This article from CapeNews.net says Cape Cod BioFuels is getting a $280,000 state grant to turn the waste into green fuel gold.

The grant from the state Department of Energy Resources is intended to help the business increase advanced biodiesel production through expanding and upgrading its 8,800-square-foot facility on Jan Sebastian Drive.

At present, co-owner Andrew R. Davison said, the company collects waste cooking oil from 700 restaurants on Cape Cod and in Plymouth County, bringing in 450,000 gallons a year.

Mr. Davison said Cape Cod BioFuels plans to double the number of restaurants from which it collects the waste oil.

And by matching the state grant with the business’s own funds, Cape Cod BioFuels plans to increase and improve the production capacity at its facility, converting the increased waste-oil volume from the restaurants into more recycled product to sell.

Cape Cod BioFuels officials say they won’t need to expand their plant to increase production, looking to hit 30,000 gallons per week.

Optimus’ Bolt-On Biodiesel Solution Gets EPA Approval

optimusHardware and software that bolt onto diesel truck engines and allow pure biodiesel to run through the system has gained some key approvals from the U.S. government. Optimus Technologies is the first to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval for an advanced biofuel conversion solution for existing medium‐ and heavy‐duty trucks. This company news release says that while the system can be used with a wide variety of fuels, this also marks the first time anyone has been able to be compliant with 100 percent biofuels, creating opportunities for ethanol refiners as well.

The solution is based on a combination of Optimus’ Vector bi‐fuel (diesel or biofuel) conversion system ‐‐ hardware and software that bolts‐on to existing diesel engines ‐‐ and certified, pure biofuel. Fuels tested were derived from a variety of bio‐sources including non‐food grade corn oil, recycled cooking oil, and pure biodiesel (B100). While Optimus may be first to the U.S. market, such solutions have been available in Europe for more than a decade.

“We’re very excited that the EPA has approved our technology,” said CEO Colin Huwyler, “Our solution represents a tangible opportunity for fleets to shrink their operating costs while improving the environment. And, our solution does not require multi‐million dollar start‐up costs like CNG does.” Fleet operators have been surprised to find that CNG solutions require capital‐intensive modifications to fueling stations and maintenance facilities, extending payback periods well beyond 5 years. Optimus’ solution can leverage current facilities with only minor modifications, offering paybacks as little as one year.

The news release goes on to point out that a network of biofuel suppliers are supplying the fuel at the standard Optimus needs.

“We are very glad that Optimus has secured EPA approval,” stated Rory Gaunt, CEO of Lifecycle Renewables, a leading renewable fuel provider based outside of Boston, MA. “We have been a strong supporter of Optimus’ efforts. Now, we will be able to expand our market reach and grow into servicing commercial and government fleets with our high quality, renewable fuels.”

Emissions testing shows that Optimus has a significant overall reduction in tailpipe emissions in comparison to diesel, with particulate matter reduced by about 40 percent.

Renewable Diesel Helps Green Music Festival

flowfestneste1A European music festival will keep it green this year with some help from renewable diesel. This news release from Neste Oil says the company’s 100 percent NEXBTL renewable diesel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from this year’s Flow Festival held August 8-10 in Helsinki, Finland by 90 percent.

“NEXBTL renewable diesel fits in very well with Flow’s aim of reducing its emissions, as it can result in up to 90% lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fossil diesel,” says Kaisa Hietala, Neste Oil’s Executive Vice President, Renewable Products. “We are very pleased that our product can help events like Flow offer an exciting program of music and other material, while at the same time helping reducing their impact on the environment.

“This is yet another example of the broad range of opportunities that our NEXBTL products have to offer for cutting emissions on the road, in the air, and at events.”

“We are very satisfied that we will be able to generate all the electricity needed at this year’s Flow Festival using renewable energy sources,” says Flow’s Production Manager Emilia Mikkola, who is also responsible for the event’s environmental profile. “Through our partnership with Neste Oil, we will be able to use NEXBTL renewable diesel in our generators for the first time instead of fossil fuel.”

Neste Oil’s NEXBTL diesel can be produced from just about any vegetable oil or waste fat.

Aemetis’ Biodiesel Gains EPA, EU Approvals

aemetislogo1A California-based company making biodiesel in India has gained important approvals from the U.S. government and the European Union. This news release from Aemetis, Inc. says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved issuance of D4 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for Aemetis’ imported biodiesel produced from waste fats and oils (WFO) at Aemetis’ 50 million gallon per year plant on the East Coast of India, as well as the EU certification.

The superior quality and low carbon intensity biodiesel produced at the Aemetis India plant has recently earned [the EU's] International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) Category 2 certification. With the recent construction and commissioning of a biodiesel distillation column at the India plant, the company is producing a colorless biodiesel with 99.5% esters and nearly no monoglycerides, water or other contaminants. Aemetis biodiesel has met and exceeds all D6751 biodiesel specifications, allowing for use in all diesel engines.

“Receiving ISCC Category 2 and EPA certifications are great steps in ramping up India to full capacity with the capability to grow and implement new technologies,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “After the successful installation of the India plant distillation unit, in June Aemetis made its first shipment of Category 2 biodiesel to customers in the E.U.” added McAfee.

Aemetis’ India plant is able to make biodiesel from a wide variety of feedstocks.

Biodiesel, Hydrogen Studies Continue Despite Setback

scstateA school in the southeast will continue its studies into biodiesel and hydrogen production, despite an academic setback. This story from the Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat says South Carolina State University was trying to get its multi-disciplinary study of energy accredited but was put on probation and denied approval of a new master’s in energy and environmental science program by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. But Dr. Kenneth Lewis, dean of the College of Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, calls the decision a “minor setback,” and while the classes in the program scheduled for this fall won’t happen, the research the school does on biodiesel and hydrogen will go on.

Biodiesel from the cafeteria’s waste cooking oil has gone through various stages and is now at the point where it’s being tested, Lewis said.

“Right now we’re testing the fuel on small engines,” he said. But he’s looking at having the university’s vehicles operating on biodiesel produced at the center within three to five years. He noted that the lab can produce up to 40 gallons of fuel a day.

It’s a great advantage that the supplies for the process and that of the switchgrass/cow manure project [to make hydrogen] are practically free, according to Lewis.

“We can go to any farmer, any slaughterhouse and get the manure,” he said.

Lewis said that bacteria found in cow’s stomachs and manure break down cellulose in the switchgrass and produce hydrogen.

The school has also applied for a $300,000, three-year grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for the aquatic tanks and other supplies to grow algae to turn into biodiesel. Lewis is also looking at Jatropha for biodiesel production noting that South Carolina’s climate matches that of the plant’s native home, Mozambique.

Vermont Low Sulphur Requirement is Biodiesel Boon

As of July 1, Vermont has a new, low-sulfur requirement for all fuel oil in the state, and that could be a boon for biodiesel. In a news release from Gov. Peter Shumlin touting the new requirement of 500 parts per million on July 1, 2014, and 15 parts per million by 2018, along with a new Thermal Energy Finance Pilot Program to help Vermonters improve efficiency in their homes, the state says it is joining Massachusetts and New Jersey for such a requirement.

“Since more than half of all Vermont home owners currently choose oil heat, the low sulfur fuel mandate now in effect will greatly lower emissions and improve air quality,” said Matt Cota, Executive Director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. “It will also maximize efficiency and reduce service calls on existing systems, while allowing more Vermonters to install high efficiency oil heat units that require low sulfur fuel.”

whitemtnThe Stowe (VT) Reporter says the governor got a chance to check out firsthand… and first-nose… just how much cleaner boidiesel will be in helping meet the low-sulfur requirement during a news conference at White Mountain Biodiesel.

[The goverrnor] took a big sniff of the new low-sulfur fuel — organizers encouraged people to stick their fingers in it and take a whiff; it’s nothing like the heating oil they’re used to.

Biodiesel heating fuel emits 89 percent less greenhouse gases than regular heating oil, said Bob Kuhsel, a managing member of White Mountain Biodiesel, LLC. The New Hampshire company supplies biodiesel created from leftover cooking oil to Bourne’s and other fuel dealers.

For more information on biodiesel-based heating oil, check out the National Biodiesel Board’s Bioheat website.

Iowa Biodeisel Maker Counters Tax Group Argument

westerndubuque1A biodiesel producer is disputing claims by a taxpayer watchdog group that says producers of biofuels shouldn’t still be getting government assistance. This article in the Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald says a report by Taxpayers for Common Sense shows that Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa received more than $2.5 million in tax-funded assistance between 2009 and 2014, and the group pushes for the elimination of the bioenergy program in the federal farm bill. But Tom Brooks, general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel points to the good biodiesel has done in Iowa alone, producing 230 million gallons of fuel in 2013 and more than 7,000 jobs in the state.

Brooks said the government assistance is necessary to level the playing field with oil companies.

“Government has always had a hand in to help starting industries. Big Oil has had a hand up for over 100 years to the tune of several hundred billion dollars in tax supports that they still draw today,” Brooks said.

The watchdog report also makes a point of highlighting large agribusinesses that are benefiting from government assistance. Companies like Renewable Energy Group, Louis Dreyfus and Cargill received roughly $10 million each or more between 2009 and 2014, the report says.

Brooks said it is unfair to lump Western Dubuque Biodiesel in with those companies.

“I’m in the big, booming metropolis of Farley,” Brooks joked. “The (report) suggests we’re paying all these big companies. The vast majority of these producers are small.”

The article goes on to say that Brooks argues the report doesn’t take into account the savings for the country when biofuels reduce the dependence on foreign oil.

“What’s the cost to our taxpayers for those soldiers in Afghanistan and the Middle East? For every gallon of oil we buy not from the U.S., you’re giving to a foreign country’s economy and they may not exactly share our political values, let alone our moral values,” Brooks said.

Minnesota “Spills Beans About Biodiesel”

saintsbaseballWhat could be more All-American this time of year than baseball… and biodiesel! This article from the Minnesota Farm Guide says the folks at the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) are combining the two truly patriotic loves during their “Spilling the Beans About Biodiesel” night at the St. Paul, Minnesota Saints baseball game at Midway Stadium on Tuesday, July 8.

Fans at tailgating can receive a free biodiesel t-shirt when they post a photo of themselves with the Saints’ cow mascots on social media, using the hashtag #BreatheBetterMN. Other events at tailgating include additional giveaways, a super hybrid Metro Transit bus that runs on biodiesel and more consumer-friendly information about biodiesel.

Prior to the Saints game on July 8, Minnesota Soybean will promote a coupon on their social media sites that could get game-goers a free $10 gas gift card. The first 50 people to bring the biodiesel coupon to their tailgating booth will receive a gas card.

Local media are being welcomed to the event with a chance to meet with and interview Minnesota soybean farmers who grow the feedstock for biodiesel. Contact Abby Bastian at abastian@wideopenthinking.com or 507-766-1038 for more information.