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.

E85, Biodiesel Vehicles Dominate EcoCAR 2

ecocar2Vehicles running on high blends of ethanol and biodiesel dominated the third year of EcoCAR 2 – a joint competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM) that challenged 15 college teams to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and tailpipe emissions, while providing consumers with an acceptable vehicle to drive. A team from Ohio State University were the overall winners, engineering a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and an E85 engine.

Over the course of three years, The Ohio State consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams. Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

“The EcoCAR 2 competition has been an incredible journey and learning experience for everyone at Ohio State, and that’s what really matters – winning the top spot is just a bonus,” said Katherine Bovee from Ohio State. “We are all excited to take everything we have learned into the workplace after graduation.”

The team’s unique design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi­) of electricity. The vehicle impressed the judges with stellar numbers and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

A B20 biodiesel and plug-in hybrid from the University of Washington took second place, while another E85 plug-in hybrid from Penn State University placed third.

Eucalyptus Trees Could be Next Source for Biodiesel

XBD201403-00482-20.TIFThey’re not just to stuff the faces of koala bears anymore – eucalyptus trees could serve as the next source for biodiesel and other biofuels. Work in part at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute is looking at genome sequencing to get the most out of the hardwood that won’t compete with food crops.

Combing through the 36,000-plus genes found in Eucalyptus (nearly twice as many as in the human genome), the researchers homed in on those that may influence the production of secondary cell wall material that can be processed for pulp, paper, biomaterials and bioenergy applications. Approximately 80 percent of the woody biomass in a Eucalyptus is made of cellulose and hemicellulose, both long chains of sugars, with the remaining biomass primarily comprised of lignin, the tough “glue” that holds it all together.

“A major challenge for achieving a sustainable energy future is our understanding of the molecular basis of superior growth and adaptation in woody plants suitable for biomass production,” said [Alexander Myburg of the University of Pretoria in South Africa].

“We have a keen interest in how wood is formed,” said [Gerald Tuskan of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the BioEnergy Science Center and U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI)]. “A major determinant of industrial processing efficiency lies in the composition and cross-linking of biopolymers in the thick secondary cell walls of woody fibers. Our analysis provides a much more comprehensive understanding of the genetic control of carbon allocation towards cell wall biopolymers in woody plants—a crucial step toward the development of future biomass crops.”

An additional finding by the team was that among sequenced plants to date, Eucalyptus showed the highest diversity of genes for specialized metabolites such as terpenes. These hydrocarbons serve as chemical self-defenses against pests, as well as providing the familiar aromatic essential oils used in both medicinal cough drops and for industrial processes.

The researchers believe that eventually eucalyptus could serve as a feedstock for biofuels for jets.

FEW Panel Looks Back and to Future of Ethanol

Lucy Norton IRFAAttendees of this week’s 30th Annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) heard a discussion of 30 years of past and the next five years ahead for ethanol.

“I think one of the opportunities we missed 30 years ago was developing a national brand for ethanol,” says Lucy Norton with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). “We let the industry that didn’t like the fact we were taking away 10 percent of their market name it, label it, sell it the way they wanted to,” missing out on a huge opportunity to create an image for ethanol of a high-performance, low-cost fuel.

But, she’s not just about looking back. Lucy credits their new efforts to market and brand ethanol to the high-performance vehicles of NASCAR as a way to correct that image. Fans are able to see ethanol’s performance in their favorite racers’ vehicles and realize they too can have ethanol in their tanks. She says as they build that demand for the green fuel, they also need to make sure the infrastructure is in place so consumers are able to access ethanol.

Moving forward, Lucy says they are looking to higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, as the way to increase the amount of ethanol sold and used in this country.

“We need a way to sell unhindered higher blends of ethanol and convince marketers and petroleum refiners that there is market for low-vapor pressure gasoline in the Midwest and other parts of the country. If they would just ship it here, we would find them the customers.”

You can listen to Leah’s interview with Lucy here:Interview with Lucy Norton, Iowa RFA

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.

Ennovor’s Biodiesel Earns Sustainability Certification

ennovor-group-logoA European biodiesel maker has earned an important sustainability certification. This company news release says Ennovor Group is the first in the United Kingdom to garner the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) sustainability certification for their used cooking oil methyl ester (UCOME) biodiesel. The certification is based on 12 key principles, providing a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

“As an international certification system, RSB is appropriate for any feedstock in any country thus works very well along the entire supply chain,” says David Frohnsdorff, CEO of Ennovor. “The RSB certification will enable Ennovor to demonstrate strict compliance with EU and international sustainability standards”.

“Ennovor’s commitment to feedstock traceability fits very well with the robust RSB approach to waste verification. We are very pleased that Ennovor has chosen RSB to demonstrate the sustainability and greenhouse gas savings of their biodiesel and that RSB-certified waste-based biodiesel will be now be available in the UK,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Secretary.

Ennovor is one of Europe’s largest sustainable biodiesel producers, using an online “digital chain of custody” record for every consignment of biofuel it trades.

Canadians Breathing Easier with Biodiesel

asthmaCRFAOur friends north of the border are breathing easier thanks to biodiesel. This news release from the Asthma Society of Canada and Canadian Renewable Fuels Association says cutting vehicle emissions is key to improving air quality, and the groups are joining forces to get Canada to increase its current 2 percent renewable fuel content requirement to a 5 percent blend by the year 2020.

Biodiesel and renewable diesel cut hydrocarbon emissions by more than 95 percent when compared to petroleum diesel. Its use in conventional diesel engines substantially reduces emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfates and particulate matter.

Renewable diesel also reduces aromatic compounds—whichh are known carcinogens—by more than 75 percent and emissions of smog-forming particulate and carbon monoxide by 50 percent compared to traditional petroleum diesel.

“Any regulation that reduces emissions produced by diesel-powered vehicles is good news for people with asthma, respiratory allergies and other lung illnesses,” said Asthma Society of Canada president and CEO Robert Oliphant. “There is a direct link between asthma exacerbations, hospital admissions, and untimely deaths and dirty fuels. Speeding up the process of blending more renewable biofuel would lead to a healthier Canada.”

“The more biofuels we use in our fuel pool, the greater the environmental and health benefits will be,” said CRFA president W. Scott Thurlow. “Higher inclusion rates for renewable fuel products will make our air cleaner and help our communities breathe easier. At the same time, expanding renewable diesel use into other sectors, such as public transportation and rail, would help reduce smog and emissions in some of our most congested cities and communities.”

The groups say about 21,000 Canadians die from heart and lung diseases brought on by breathing polluted air every year, with asthma accounting for approximately 80 percent of chronic disease cases and continuing to be a major cause of child hospitalization.

Calif. to Crack Down on Biodiesel Feedstock Thieves

california_state_flagTheft of kitchen grease to be made into biodiesel has been a growing problem, as entrepreneurs and home brewers have caught on to the low-cost way to make the fuel. In California, according to the Crown City News, a measure to crack down on stealing what used to be just thrown out is advancing in the state legislature, passing by unanimous vote in the Assembly and now heading to the state Senate.

“Restaurants are finding that their used kitchen grease is a hot commodity that has sparked grease wars in a battle over who can cash in on the ‘liquid gold’ that is then converted into biodiesel fuel,” explained [bill sponsor Chris Holden (D-Pasadena)]. “This bill closes a loophole in enforcement code that will make it easier to stop the bad players.”

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, a typical fast-food restaurant produces 150-250 pounds of grease a week and a fully loaded pumper truck could bring in as much as $900 at a recycling center. Thieves often strike in the night and syphon off the used grease and sell it on the black market.

The bill, AB 1566, beefs up requirements for licensed haulers, increases penalties for stealing grease and allows law enforcement to impound vehicles for up to 15 days.

Worldwide Biodiesel Production to Hit Record

oilworldBiodiesel production worldwide is expected to hit a record this year, with higher mandates in South America expected to help fuel the climb. This article from Bloomberg quotes an Oil World report that shows biodiesel production could rise by about 8 percent to 29.1 million tons this year.

Brazil’s biodiesel inclusion mandate will rise to 6 percent in July from 5 percent, climbing later to 7 percent, according to Oil World.

“Assuming that the higher mandates will be largely fulfilled, Brazilian biodiesel production may increase by 17 percent to 3 million tons in 2014,” Oil World said.

Production in Brazil may show a “further massive increase” to 4 million to 4.1 million tons next year as 7 percent biodiesel inclusion is mandatory year-round, according to the industry researcher.

The report goes on to say that palm oil is gaining importance as a feedstock, making up about one-third of the world’s biodiesel production. Soybean oil for biodiesel is also expected to rise this year, primarily in the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.

Hydro Dynamics Bolts On Biodiesel for Ethanol Plants

boltonbiodiesel1A Georgia company is making ethanol plants more profitable by offering technology for “bolt-on” biodiesel operations. Hydro Dynamics, Inc. has partnered with World Energy and PhiBro Ethanol Performance Group to offer Hydro Dynamics’ ShockWave Power Reactors that turns corn oil from ethanol production into biodiesel.

The majority of ethanol plants already recover their corn oil and much of this ends up converted to biodiesel. By integrating a biodiesel plant directly into the ethanol plant a producer can realize many competitive advantages due to reduced transportation cost, shared infrastructure and the ability to merge coproduct streams.

In order to offer ethanol plants a seamless “bolt-on biodiesel” solution HDI is expanding its existing relationships with World Energy of Boston, MA and Phibro Ethanol Performance Group of Teaneck, NJ. World Energy is a leading producer, supplier and distributor of biodiesel and HDI has previously partnered with World Energy’s WMG Services business unit for sale of the SPR to the biodiesel industry. This new venture expands the cooperative offering to include not only the SPR, but complete plants designed by WMG Services. Phibro Ethanol Performance Group is the exclusive marketer of LACTROL® antimicrobial to the ethanol industry and HDI has been partnered with Phibro for commercializing the SPR to enhance yield. Phibro’s technical expertise and extensive customer relationships make them an excellent partner to help bring biodiesel to the ethanol industry.

The SPR technology is well-known and proven to biodiesel producers, as it helps crank out more than 500 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

Methes Energies’ Biodiesel Earns BQ-9000 Status

Methes1Methes Energies’ biodiesel has earned an important quality status. This company news release says it has received BQ-9000 Producer and Marketer status from the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC).

The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel called BQ-9000®. The program is a unique combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes Energies, said, “We are very proud of this achievement. There are not many companies that are both accredited as a producer and a marketer by the NBAC. Our team has done a great job over the last several months to place the company in this unique position. Both accreditations send a strong message to our clients that we take quality and processes very seriously.”

Meanwhile, in another quality note, Methes has chosen Genscape Inc. as its Quality Assurance Plan (QAP) provider for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) verification.

Genscape’s robust program is registered with the EPA and ensures Methes Energies’ RINs will maintain a high standard for quality and reliability while providing the flexibility to offer both QAP A and QAP B RINs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to implement a quality assurance program for RINs generated on biofuels produced at foreign facilities and imported into the U.S. as well as for U.S. facilities that generate their own RINs. The EPA expects the program to promote greater liquidity in the transfer and use of RINs, especially for smaller producers.

Waste Management Converts Trucks to CNG

wmala1While you might not see a garbage truck as one of the cleanest vehicles on the road, one company is trying to make sure that at least its emissions are clean. Waste Management, in a partnership with the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM), the American Lung Association in Utah (ALAUT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, converted seven diesel engine waste haulers to compressed natural gas (CNG) engines.

By switching to CNG, Waste Management is reducing over 14,000 tons of lifetime tailpipe emissions, benefitting the residential neighborhoods and schools these trucks frequently operate near. The waste haulers will reduce 47.31 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 2.38 tons of particulate matter (PM), 2.22 tons of hydrocarbons (HC), 10.84 tons of carbon monoxide (CO) and 13,944.49 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Mobile source emissions are the leading cause of outdoor air pollution. This project achieved significant emission reductions, helping the American Lung Associations mission to fight lung disease and improve lung health, said Glenn Lanham, Executive Director, American Lung Association in Utah.

In addition to helping people breathe easier, the CNG-powered vehicles beat Waste Management’s emissions reductions and fuel efficiency goals set in the company’s corporate sustainability program.

REG Completes Deal to Buy Renewable Diesel Plant

REGSyntIowa-based Renewable Energy has closed on the deal to buy all of the assets of a renewable diesel plant owner. REG was able to finalize the deal when a majority of Syntroleum shareholders voted to approve the asset sale to REG.

The assets acquired from Syntroleum include a 50% ownership interest in Dynamic Fuels, LLC, which owns a 75 million gallon per year nameplate capacity renewable diesel biorefinery located in Geismar, Louisiana. REG has a separate pending agreement with Tyson Foods, Inc. to acquire the remaining interests in Dynamic Fuels.

Most of the employees at Syntroleum’s Tulsa headquarters will join REG as part of the newly formed REG Synthetic Fuels.

“We are very pleased to bring new advanced biofuel technologies into the REG portfolio of products that will expand our biomass-based diesel business and launch us into new customer segments,” said Daniel J. Oh, Renewable Energy Group, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer. “We welcome the newest members of our team in Tulsa to REG Synthetic Fuels.”

REG owns and operates nine active biorefineries in five states and distributes biodiesel through a national network of distribution terminals.

Posted in REG

Solazyme Opens Renewable Oil Plant with Bunge

solazyme-logoCalifornia-based Solazyme, Inc. has opened a renewable oils plant in Brazil with its partner Bunge Limited. This news release from Solazyme says the plant includes 625,000 liter fermentation tanks and produces the renewable oil and encapsulated lubricant, Encapso™, products.

“With production underway at the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils plant, Solazyme is manufacturing products at three large scale facilities, including our 2,000 MT/year integrated facility in Peoria, the 20,000 MT/year Iowa facilities in Clinton/Galva and the 100,000 MT/year facility in Brazil,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO Solazyme. “Continued progress at the recently completed adjoining co-gen facility has resulted in more reliable power and steam, enabling startup of commercial operations and production of our first commercially saleable product. We are truly excited to have begun manufacturing operations at our joint venture’s flagship facility in Brazil.”

“The start of production at the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils plant is an important milestone for this joint venture. We’re proud of the work we have done with our partner Solazyme in bringing the world’s first built-for-purpose renewable oil plant on line. We remain committed to the success of the joint venture and see significant market opportunities that we can address together,” said Ben Pearcy, Managing Director, Sugar & Bioenergy, Bunge Limited.

The plant is expected to hit its nameplate capacity within the next 12-18 months.

I-75 Corridor Creates Biodiesel, Ethanol Roadtrip

I-75-Corridor-Map[1]The summer travel season is here, and if you’re looking for a way to see the U.S.A. while driving on clean-burning biodiesel and ethanol, a roadtrip down Interstate 75 might be just the ticket. The latest edition of the National Biodiesel Board’s Biodiesel Bulletin talks about the I-75 Green Corridor, the planet’s longest biofuels corridor, that runs from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to Miami, Fla. where they’ve just upped the availability of B20 and E85.

The project’s goal was to install biofuel pumps at least every 200 miles or to fill in gaps between existing biofuel stations along the interstate.

To date, over 2.8 million gallons of biofuels have been sold from project stations, and 2.2 million gallons of petroleum have been displaced. This equates to 6,735 tons of CO2 emissions avoided compared to conventional petroleum-based fuels. Thus far, nearly 30 new biofuel pumps have been installed, resulting in the 1,786-mile interstate becoming what is believed to be the planet’s longest biofuels corridor.

Time to hit the road, you eco-Road Warriors!

B Ready For B10 Biodiesel Workshops Coming to MN

Cleanairchoicelogo2As Minnesota gets ready to become the first state in the nation to require a 10 percent blend of biodiesel, B10, the folks at the American Lung Association in Minnesota wants everyone to be properly prepared. That’s why they set up a series of free workshops, B Ready For B10.

What does this mean for you? To help diesel retailers, fleets, farmers, and others better understand the state requirements for diesel and biodiesel fuel and provide strategies for successful storage and use of biodiesel blends, the American Lung Association in Minnesota is hosting a series of workshops featuring Hoon Ge of MEG Corp. Special guest speakers may also include representatives from Weights & Measures and/or the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The workshops take place starting in Rochester and Mankato on Tuesday, June 10th; Saint Paul, Wednesday, June 11th; Duluth, Monday, June 23rd; International Falls and Grand Rapids, Tuesday, June 24th; Crookston, Wednesday, June 25th; Alexandria and Saint Cloud, Thursday, June 26th; and Lake Benton, Tuesday, July 22nd. Click here for times and more information.

Minnesota moves to B10 beginning July 1 until September 30 this year and from April 1 to September 30 starting next year. The rest of the year a 5 percent biodiesel blend is in place.

Brazilian Beans Feeding Biodiesel Could be Good

soybeans1Increased demand for soybeans in the U.S., driven in part by the biodiesel industry, is prompting some Brazilian imports of the feedstock. And while importing agricultural products normally covered by domestic producers usually is seen as a negative, this article from the Herald-Review in Decatur, Ill. says it could actually work in American farmers’ favor this time.

Irony? Travesty? Unthinkable for the United States to be importing Brazilian soybeans? Most people would agree to one of those. After all, traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will likely devalue soybeans when the ships arrive in port and begin unloading. After all, it is a psychological thing.

But a different way of looking at it came last week from John Baize. Baize has been a long time consultant to the soybean industry about government treatment of soybeans and international issues affecting the soybean economy. He isn’t upset at all about the impor of Brazilian soybeans.

Baize looks at it as the perfect scenario for soybean economics. Scenario, not storm. According to his calculations, farmers sold their 2013 crop soybeans early in the marketing year at very high prices. He says we are short of soybeans now, and will be bringing soybeans into the United States from Brazil at much cheaper prices than what farmers sold their soybeans for. In his words, “It’s a good situation that I think we will see often in the future.”

This follows the basic economic theory buying low and selling high. Farmers were able to sell their beans for high prices, and now those beans are being replaced at lower prices. Keep an eye on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to see if it agrees.