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.

American Coalition for Ethanol Elects New Officers

ACElogoThe American Coalition for Ethanol has elected its board officers for 2015:

* President – Ron Alverson, representing Dakota Ethanol, LLC
* Vice President – Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc.
* Secretary – Dave Sovereign, representing Golden Grain Energy, LLC
* Treasurer – Owen Jones, representing Full Circle Ag Cooperative

Alverson is a corn and soybean farmer and was the founding chairman of Lake Area Corn Processors, LLC (Dakota Ethanol), a 60 mgy ethanol plant and South Dakota’s first farmer-owned ethanol facility. He served on the Board of the National Corn Growers Association and is an agronomic expert who recently authored a White Paper entitled “Re-thinking the Carbon Reduction Value of Corn Ethanol.”

Kristensen has nearly 30 years of experience in the ethanol industry and since 2004 has served as General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc., a 62 mgy plant near Hastings, Nebraska, which is the state’s first dry-mill ethanol production facility. He also serves on the U.S. Grains Council Ethanol “A-team” which develops export demand for U.S. ethanol.

Sovereign farms and is the founding chairman of Golden Grain Energy, LLC, a 120 mgy ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa. He also owns Cresco Fast Stop, a convenience store that offers E15, E30 and E85. Sovereign was instrumental in developing the Biofuels Mobile Education Center, a 45-foot traveling trailer designed to educate the public about biofuels. He also serves on the board of Absolute Energy, a 115 mgy ethanol plant in Lyle, Minnesota.

Jones is a farmer, rancher, and cooperative business leader who was the driving force behind the installation of the first blender pump in the nation in 2006 at Four Seasons Cooperative (later renamed Full Circle Ag) in Britton, South Dakota.

ACE also elected South Dakota farmer and rancher Lars Herseth and East River Electric Cooperative representative Scott Parsley as two additional representatives to serve the ACE Executive Committee.

Atlantic Biodiesel to Re-Open Ontario Plant

canadaflagA Canadian biodiesel plant has officially been taken over by a New Hampshire maker of the green fuel. This story from the Pelham News says Atlantic Biodiesel, a new subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Heridge SARL, which won Great Lakes Biodesel’s assets in a recent bankruptcy auction, has begun managerial operations of the $50-million facility.

Michael Paszti has assumed the role of chief operating officer of the subsidiary struck to operate the Welland plant.

“We are strongly committed to the facility’s success and Michael will be an integral, on-the-ground team member whose priority will be to quickly get operations up and running to full capacity,” the company said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“Welland is our home, and Atlantic Biodiesel is focused on continued engagement with local elected and community officials as we work to renew discussions with the federal government. With the support of the community and various levels of government, Atlantic Biodiesel will fulfil its goal of becoming a world-class producer of biodiesel fuel targeting the unique needs of the Canadian fuels complex, and play a critical part in provincial and federal greenhouse gas reduction efforts.”

The plant is capable of producing about 40 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Local officials plan to pressure the federal Canadian government to reinstate some funding that helps keep the refinery afloat.

Illinois Soybean Growers Launch 20% Biodiesel Club

B20clubSoybean growers in Illinois are recognizing fleets in the state that run on a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, B20. This news release from the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) says the group has partnered with the American Lung Association in Illinois to launch the B20 Club.

“B20 offers economic and environmental benefits to the fleets that use it, so we wanted to bring these leading fleets together and recognize them for taking the initiative to move up to B20,” says Rebecca Richardson, ISA biodiesel lead. “We’ll also provide resources for our B20 Club members, and others in the state, who have questions about how to use biodiesel in their fleets.”

Inaugural members include:

The Fleet Services Division of Public Works Department in the City of Evanston, Ill., which operates 366 units that include all diesel police and fire vehicles, heavy equipment, utilities and forestry departments and pool vehicles and parks and recreation buses.
Cook-Illinois Corporation; Kickert School Bus Lines, Inc., one of their leading subsidiaries which also is one of the largest family-owned and -operated school bus contractors in the country, runs more than 2,100 school buses every day.
Peoria CityLink operates 58 buses and 35 Paratransit vans that carry three million passengers annually.
R&N Trucking LLC, with 17 trucks that together travel more than a million miles a year.
S.K. Davison, a family-run business specializing in local and regional hauls with 18 trucks travelling approximately 800,000 miles per year.
G&D Integrated, serving central Illinois for more than 100 years with transportation, freight transfer and storage services, and currently more than 400 long-haul trucks.

The six members of the B20 Club run more than 2,700 vehicles burning more than 2.2 million gallons of biodiesel. That cuts carbon dioxide emissions of more than 253 tons — a reduction the equivalent of taking 48 cars off the roadway.

RFA: Ethanol Exports Hit Near-Record Levels in 2014

ethanolexports2014Exports of American ethanol hit near-record levels in 2014. This news release from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says U.S. producers sent 836 million gallons of ethanol worth $2.1 billion to international markets. The information is in the RFA’s new publication, “2014 U.S. Ethanol Exports and Imports: Statistical Summary.”

The report finds that U.S. ethanol has made its way to all inhabited continents of the world, reaching more than 50 countries. The top five countries importing U.S. ethanol last year included Canada, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, and India. Meanwhile, exports to the European Union remain down due to a punitive trade tariff it chooses to impose on U.S. produced ethanol.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, noted, “Last year U.S. ethanol producers produced a whopping 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol and nearly 6 percent was exported globally. We are working diligently to increase demand for this product abroad. It has been rewarding to see countries all over the world embrace the U.S. produced, high-octane fuel, which has also been the lowest-cost liquid transportation fuel found anywhere in the world.”

Dinneen continued, “U.S. ethanol is now exported to 51 countries across the globe, including regions that once seemed far-fetched as renewable fuel destinations such as the Middle East and North Africa. But, we will not stop here. We will keep working with others in the industry and the U.S. government to keep exploring new regions that would benefit from U.S. ethanol. Last year, RFA participated in trade missions to Panama, China, Peru, Japan, and South Korea and we will keep at it until all countries understand the value of U.S produced ethanol.”

The report also shows ethanol imports into the U.S. are down, reaching the second-lowest levels.

SRS, Biodiesel Experts Develop Enzyme Catalyst

srsintlbiodieselA pair of biodiesel experts have teamed up to develop an enzyme catalyst for biodiesel. SRS International‘s and Biodiesel Experts‘ transesterification system for biodiesel production uses enzymes to produce efficiently quality biodiesel on any scale, allowing SRS to supply turnkey enzymatic biodiesel production facilities.

While using high-FFA feedstock, the primary job of the enzyme becomes the conversion of FFA to FAME. The enzymes are able to convert high-FFA feedstock with reaction chemistry into FAME by performing both transesterification and esterification simultaneously. This occurs in two steps. (1) The glycerides are first hydrolyzed to FFA (2) The FFA and methanol are esterified to produce FAME. Careful monitoring during the reaction of methanol, water and enzymes, temperature, and rate of conversion are critical to ensure high-quality finished biodiesel and optimize the number of enzyme reuses.

“We are excited to be working with Biodiesel Experts. Incorporating their enzymatic technology into our biodiesel refinery processes is an important milestone to add to our current technologies,” said George Hawranik, Senior Engineer of SRS International. “The hurdle of making enzyme catalyzed transesterification economically viable on a commercial scale has been overcome.” “The enzymatic process works at a production cost per gallon that is comparable to that of traditional biodiesel, requires lower capital investment, allows the use of less expensive, more varied feedstocks with free fatty acid content as high as 100 percent and the enzymes are immobilized so they can be used for long periods without replenishing, making it economically feasible.”

Biodiesel Experts officials say this enzymatic process knowledge will revolutionize the biodiesel industry by allowing producers to cut production costs and allow them to use up to 100 percent FFA feedstock.

Neutral Fuels to Supply Biodiesel for Dubai

Neutral-Fuels-logoWaste oil-to-biodiesel maker Neutral Fuels will supply Dubai with locally produced biodiesel. This Neutral Fuels news release says the agreement makes Dubai the first city in the world to adopt biodiesel made 100 percent locally from 100 percent waste cooking oil for use in municipality vehicles.

Karl W Feilder, CEO & Chairman of Neutral Fuels, said: “This is a fantastic day for the UAE, for Dubai and for biodiesel. In adopting biodiesel – which doesn’t even require any engine modifications on diesel vehicles – the Municipality is creating a sustainability benchmark which the rest of the world should note.

“We are proud to be part of the UAE’s bold vision for a sustainable future, and applaud the Municipality for making such a strategic move.”

Today, VIPs, Dubai Municipality staff and a host of media gathered at the Municipality Headquarters in Al Rigga, Dubai, to celebrate the agreement, but also to witness another world first: a life-sized demonstration of how a biorefinery works.

“Neutral Fuels is keen for everyone to see for themselves exactly how Dubai’s used vegetable cooking oil is chemically converted into pure, clean biodiesel – so we recreated our Dubai production facility in the Municipality car park!” said Feilder.

Neutral Fuels has been producing biodiesel in the UAE since 2010, when it became the first biodiesel manufacturer ever to be licensed in Dubai.

Greenergy Buys Harvest Biodiesel Assets

greenergy-logoGreenergy has bought the assets of a major biodiesel maker in the United Kingdom. The company acquired Harvest Biofuels’ biodiesel manufacturing facility at Seal Sands on Teesside, England, giving Greenergy additional biodiesel production capacity to meet its own biofuel blending obligations in the UK.

As part of the agreement reached with Harvest:

Greenergy has taken on Harvest Biofuels’ biodiesel storage contract at Dordrecht in the Netherlands.
Harvest Energy will become an ex-rack customer of Greenergy for petrol and diesel for its customers in the South East of England, Teesside and in Scotland.

Andrew Owens, Greenergy Chief Executive, said:

“The acquisition of the Harvest biodiesel plant will help bring our own production and blend requirements into balance. Most of the biodiesel that we blend into diesel in the UK will now be manufactured and quality assured in our own facilities.

“There are great opportunities to improve further the performance of both manufacturing sites by making best use of feedstock, through technology transfer and the sharing of best practice.”

Greenergy already has a waste-based biodiesel in England, but that plant doesn’t produce enough biodiesel to meet the company’s biodiesel blending. This deal allows Greenergy to stop importing biodiesel to meet those requirements.

ASTM Ups FAME Tolerance, Helps Biodiesel for Jets

ASTMlogoA change in the amount of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) allowed in jet fuel will open the door for more biodiesel to be used in aviation. This news release from ASTM, a group that sets quality standards for a number of items including fuels, says that revising the safety standard of the allowable cross-contamination of FAME in jet fuel from 5.0 parts per million to 50 parts per million under the Aviation Turbine Fuel Standard (ASTM D1655) will help get more biodiesel into aviation fuels without compromising safety.

“The jet fuel specification keeps the aviation industry safe while adapting to the expanded presence of biofuels,” says ASTM member David J. Abdallah, Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering. “In fact, no discernible negative impact on jet fuel product quality was observed with up to 400 ppm of biodiesel.” Abdallah noted that a potential future revision could further increase the standard to allow 100 parts per million.

ASTM D1655 was developed by ASTM Subcommittee D02.J0 on Aviation Fuels and D02.J0.01 on Jet Fuel Specifications, part of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants.

ASTM used information from the EI-JIP Report, Joint Industry Project: Seeking original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approvals for 100 mg/kg fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) in aviation turbine fuel as the basis for the change.

Bacterium, Nitrogen Gas to Partner for Ethanol

nitrogenbacteria1Researchers at the University of Indiana might have come upon a way to partner bacterium with nitrogen gas to make more ethanol. This news release from the school says biologists there have found a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to increase ethanol production by using nitrogen gas, the most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere. The discovery could help make cellulosic ethanol more competitive with corn-based ethanol.

The raw materials for cellulosic ethanol are low in nitrogen, a nutrient required for ethanol-producing microbes to grow, so cellulosic ethanol producers are estimated to spend millions of dollars annually on nitrogen fertilizers like corn steep liquor and diammonium phosphate. But an IU team led by biologist James B. McKinlay has found that the bioethanol-producing bacterium Zymomonas mobilis can use nitrogen gas (N2) as a nitrogen source, something that the more traditional ethanol-producer, baker’s yeast, cannot do.

“When we discovered that Z. mobilis could use N2 we expected that it would make less ethanol. N2 utilization and ethanol production demand similar resources within the bacterial cell so we expected resources to be pulled away from ethanol production to allow the bacteria to grow with N2,” McKinlay said. “To our surprise the ethanol yield was unchanged when the bacteria used N2. In fact, under certain conditions, the bacteria converted sugars to ethanol much faster when they were fed N2.”

Knowing the bacterium could use N2 without hindering ethanol production, the team reasoned that N2 gas could serve as an inexpensive substitute for nitrogen fertilizers during cellulosic ethanol production.

“Until recently, ethanol has been produced almost entirely from food crops, but last year there was a surge in cellulosic ethanol production as several commercial facilities opened,” McKinlay said. “Cellulosic ethanol offers more favorable land use and lower carbon emissions than conventional ethanol production. Even so, cellulosic ethanol is struggling to be cost-competitive against corn ethanol and gasoline.”

The researchers believe N2 gas, which can be produced on-site at production facilities, could save an ethanol production facility more than $1 million dollars a year. They have filed for a provisional patent on the idea.

Springboard Biodiesel Partners with 75th School

springboardbiodiesel2Biodiesel equipment manufacturer Springboard Biodiesel has hit a bit of a milestone. The company says the Putnam County School system of Georgia will be the 75th school to own and operate a BioPro™ biodiesel processor.

“Putnam is doing what any school with dining facilities on campus can do,” reports Springboard Biodiesel CEO Mark Roberts. “Converting used cooking oil into locally made fuel for less than a dollar per gallon saves money on fuel costs, significantly reduces a school’s carbon footprint and makes students smarter.”

Springboard offers financing through several third party lenders thereby enabling any accredited US educational institution to get started quickly with a program that compliments many existing recycling programs.

Some of Springboard Biodiesel’s other customers for its small-scale biodiesel processing systems include Toyota, Honda, The Florida National Guard, The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Jimmy Dean Sausages, many restaurants and schools, and the Federal Prison system.

Process to Make Renewable Fuel for Under $1/Gallon

duckweedusaA new process looks to make renewable fuel out of algae, waste water and even vegetable for under $1 per gallon. Duckweed USA says its new thermodynamically reversible process can make clean jet fuel, diesel fuel or gasoline from the less common feedstocks.

Using the patented Linear Venturi Kinetic Nozzle changes the aquatic-mass-to-energy process to one that requires no high-heat processes nor chemicals. 90% of the energy used in production is recoverable and feedstock is self-replenishing. With 3 variables in production cost nearly eliminated, the ideas of energy independence and financial self-sufficiency are now viable options at any level. For investors, no plummet in oil prices can spoil profitability projections when production is under $40 per barrel. Domestically and globally, this breakthrough opens doors to new opportunities of growth never before seen.

For stakeholders at any level, the bottom line is, as Michael Rigolizzo states, “Our system turns energy liabilities into assets. Every school bus that needs gasoline to every jet that needs fuel is a point of profit for synfuel-producing communities instead of a cost.” Duckweed believes its patented process could revolutionize the President’s action plan, the combination of energy types needed and especially the costs to be incurred by taxpayers. “By the time the 5-year initial phase of the action plan would be completed, the Duckweed process could be established – and turning profits – in every community along the Keystone Pipeline,” says Rigolizzo.

Duckweed says it already has interest from groups, such as Sparta, Georgia, Rutgers University and countries from Europe to Africa.

Researchers Make Biodiesel, Jet Fuel from Algae

woodsholeResearchers have figured out how to make biodiesel and jet fuel from a single algae. This news release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says Greg O’Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, exploited an unusual and untapped class of chemical compounds in a common algae to make the two different fuel products at the same time.

“It’s novel,” says O’Neil, the study’s lead author. “It’s far from a cost-competitive product at this stage, but it’s an interesting new strategy for making renewable fuel from algae.”

Algae contain fatty acids that can be converted into fatty acid methyl esters, or FAMEs, the molecules in biodiesel. For their study, O’Neil, Reddy, and colleagues targeted a specific algal species called Isochrysis for two reasons: First, because growers have already demonstrated they can produce it in large batches to make fish food. Second, because it is among only a handful of algal species around the globe that produce fats called alkenones. These compounds are composed of long chains with 37 to 39 carbon atoms, which the researchers believed held potential as a fuel source.

Isochrysis had been dismissed by biodiesel makers because its oil is a dark, sludgy solid at room temperature, rather than a clear liquid that looks like cooking oil. But the researchers found a way to make biodiesel from the FAMEs in Isochrysis and then devised a method to separate the FAMEs and alkenones in order to achieve a free-flowing fuel. The method added steps to the overall biodiesel process, but it supplied a superior quality biodiesel, as well as “an alkenone-rich . . . fraction as a potential secondary product stream,” the authors write.

The scientists believe that by producing the two fuels from the single algae will help in commercializing the process.

POET Fights Pollution in Haiti with Ethanol Stoves

ethanolstove1An American ethanol company is fighting fighting pollution and deforestation in Haiti with ethanol-fueled cook stoves. This news release from POET says the company has partnered with with Project Gaia to replace wood-burning stoves with the clean-burning, ethanol-fueled ones.

Today, most Haitians rely on charcoal and firewood to cook their daily meals. Consequentially, the nation has experienced extreme deforestation over the years, and now less than 2 percent of Haiti’s forest cover remains. Additionally, the United Nations estimates that the average lifespan in Haiti is shortened by 6.6 years due to illnesses caused by household air pollution, which results from burning wood and charcoal indoors.

To help remedy this problem, POET is teaming up with Project Gaia to supply the ethanol needed to power clean-burning stoves. Dometic, another partner in the project, is supplying the stoves, which will eventually be made locally, and Novogaz is organizing local distribution in Haiti. POET has selected POET Biorefining – Jewell to produce the ethanol needed to fuel the cook stoves. Project partners gathered in Haiti this past April to develop and discuss a plan to bring U.S. ethanol to Haiti for home cooking.

“The vision for this project is clear: to bring clean-burning ethanol fuel to the homes in third-world countries in order to improve the standard of living and drive positive socio-economic change,” said [POET Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board Jeff ]Broin. “For decades, we’ve known ethanol to be a clean, renewable fuel for our automobiles, and I look forward to bringing this same clean, renewable fuel to homes across the globe. With the help of our partners at Project Gaia, Dometic and Novogaz, I know we will be successful in our journey to bring clean cookstoves and clean energy to the world.”

POET is donating about 12,000 gallons of ethanol to jumpstart the project.

Project Gaia officials say that if every home in Africa, Developing Asia, Latin America and the Middle East currently using traditional solid fuels (charcoal, wood and other biomass substrates) would switch to ethanol fuel for cooking, it would save between 250 and 550 million forest acres per year.

Greenbelt to Capture Ethanol from Wine Making

greenbelt_logoA California company will make a new system to capture the ethanol from wine production to sell the gas for commercial purposes. This news release from sustainable energy company Greenbelt Resources says the company will make the system for EcoPAS, engineering company for the California wine industry, that keeps the gaseous ethanol from the fermentation process from becoming an environmental emission.

“After a rigorous bidding process and extensive consideration, we chose Greenbelt Resources. With their cutting-edge ethanol technology and expertise we see a long-term relationship with Greenbelt as our partner,” said Marci Norkin-Schoepel, co-founder of EcoPAS. “By selecting Greenbelt Resources, we benefit not only from their innovative, green manufacturing capabilities, but also their experience in ethanol condensation, which allows the potential for future collaboration beyond contract manufacturing.”

EcoPAS selected Greenbelt Resources as a manufacturing partner to fabricate the initial full-scale PAS units based on Greenbelt’s technology accolades, extensive industry experience and reputation for delivering performance outcomes that exceed customer expectations. A portion of the product produced by the PAS may serve as an excellent feedstock for Greenbelt’s traditional modular distillation and dehydration systems.

“The invention of the PAS by EcoPAS is significant because of its ability to passively perform ethanol vapor-capture without the need for complex controls or major energy inputs – making it a truly environmentally friendly pollution control system,” said Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation. “The EcoPAS management and design team share our vision and have created a growth industry simply by producing a much needed passive, pollution-control solution. Once a critical mass of Passive Alcohol Systems is deployed, the resulting volume of ethanol-containing product can generate demand for distillation and dehydration systems built by Greenbelt Resources from wineries and other fermentation processers in the US and internationally.”

Completion of this full-scale system is expected by the middle of this year.

Corn and Ethanol Groups Blast Report

A report critical of corn-based ethanol is being blasted by groups representing the corn and ethanol industries as being the same old arguments that have been roundly rejected and criticized by the scientific community and disproven by the empirical data, as well as smacking of Big Oil’s efforts to discredit an American success story. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy all released statements critical of “new” research from the World Resources Institute, where Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich re-hash their already disproven theories of “food vs. fuel” and “Indirect Land Use Change.”

ace14-dc-alversonSouth Dakota corn grower and a member of the Corn Board Keith Alverson said:

“This ‘new’ study is just more of the same, tired arguments Big Oil have been using for years. They simply are not true. In fact, numerous studies by independent, unbiased third parties have come to vastly different conclusions.

The fact is, ethanol is a very efficient energy source. When calculating the amount of energy used to produce ethanol, from farm to pump, ethanol represents a 40 percent net energy gain. No other energy source comes close. Ethanol is also better for the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road.

There is more than enough corn to meet all demands: food, fuel, feed, and fiber.”

nafb-14-dinneenBob Dinneen, the Renewable Fuels Association’s president and CEO, said:

“Providing a cursory update of a failed theory is not science and does nothing to enlighten the debate about biofuels. For the better part of a decade, lawyer-activist Tim Searchinger has been promoting the flawed notion that increased biofuel use places unnecessary constraints on finite agricultural land resources. But, the “land use change” and “food vs. fuel” arguments are as wrong today as they were seven years ago when Searchinger first gained notoriety with his doomsday predictions…. In fact, Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development put this issue to bed last November, finding that ‘…the primary land use change response of the world’s farmers in the last 10 years has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land brought into production.’”

fps12-buisTom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, released the following statement:

“The World Resources Institute’s latest report repackages old, previously debunked food and fuel, as well as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) myths in attempts to discredit an American success story, one that is producing both food and fuel, while also improving our environment. Slapping a new title on this previously discredited research won’t change the facts—the American farmer is more than capable of producing an abundant amount of food, feed and fuel, and the air we breathe and our environment, as a whole, is better off for it.”

Buis added that without biofuels, the U.S. actually “might be producing less, not more food, in order to control the expansion of surplus stocks and assistance payments to farmers.” In addition, WRI fails to mention the last two record corn crops, falling corn prices, and co-products such as distiller’s grains that displace the need for other livestock feed crops and reduce the net acreage used to produce ethanol.