Ethanol Conversion Kit Market Grows

The business for flex-fuel conversion kits is booming, according to a company selling low-cost units worldwide.

curtis lacy FFIFuel Flex International (FFI) provides technology to allow any fuel-injected vehicle to run on ethanol or gasoline “without pushing a button or flipping a switch,” says FFI president for marketing and distribution Curtis Lacy, who was talking up his product with everyone at the recent Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Omaha.

“Our system is very simple for the average user. It’s a simple plug and play device which you attach to your fuel injector connectors and ground to your battery and start using ethanol – anywhere from E100 to regular gasoline.” Lacy says the technology was developed in Brazil and is now being marketed in 34 countries, including most recently Thailand and the Philippines. “We currently manufacture our own unit now, so it’s an all-American made product,” he said. The units retail for between $289 and $459.

Fuel Flex InternationalOne of the most common questions from potential customers in the United States is whether installing the kit will affect their vehicle warranties, but Lacy claims they have had no problems with that. There is also the issue of EPA certification, which currently has only been granted to another company, Flex Fuel US. Lacy says they are working on getting that approval.

Lacy believes the demand for flex-fuel conversion kits will grow as higher ethanol blends become more available nationwide because even if car makers start selling only flex-fuel vehicles in the US there will continue to be a large segment of used vehicles for sale that are not flex-fuel capable.

Listen to an interview with Lacy from the ACE conference here:

Georgia Ethanol Plant Progress

Bill SchaferConstruction on what is expected to be the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in southeast Georgia is making good progress, according to plant officials.

Range Fuels senior vice president of business development Bill Schafer gave an update on the project at last week’s Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Omaha.

“We expect to be producing ethanol next year,” Schafer said of the plant that will use woody biomass as a primary feedstock.

Schafer says they have been experiencing many of the usual construction-related delays with the project. “Everything costs more and takes longer than you thought it would,” he said. “It’s nothing exceptional, it’s the things you would expect. But anything that constitutes a delay is a real disappointment for us because we really want to get this up and going as quickly as we can.” Range Fuels received a grant from the Department of Energy for the project, as well as private financing.

Range FuelsIn addition to using woody biomass as a feedstock, they are experimenting with energy crops that can be grown in the region. “We have test plots we have established with Ceres on our Soperton site,” he said. “We intend for the site to be a showcase for some of the technologies we see in the future feeding this industry.”

Schafer noted that the restrictions on woody biomass that can be harvested from federal lands that are included in the energy bill passed by Congress last year concern them when it comes to the development of cellulosic ethanol. They support legislation proposed by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) that would broaden the definition of cellulosic ethanol within the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to include more biomass gathered from federal lands.

Listen to an interview with Schafer from the ACE conference here:

Continuation of RFS Good for Consumers

The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month to deny a request that would have cut the Renewable Fuels Standard in half was obviously good news for corn growers and ethanol producers. But it was also good news for consumers, according to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

e-podcastIn this edition of “Fill Up, Feel Good,” EPIC executive director Toni Nuernberg talks about how the RFS is helping to keep gasoline prices lower than they would be otherwise and ethanol production continues to help America become more energy independent. The EPA’s decision also allows EPIC to continue with its mission of consumer education about ethanol.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (4:30 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Ethanol Industry Continues to Move Forward

It’s been a rough year for ethanol but the industry continues to move forward.

The hundreds of ethanol industry representatives at the 21st Ethanol Conference and Trade Show this week were “cautiously positive” about the future, according to American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) executive vice president Brian Jennings.

Brian Jennings“They recognize some of the volatility we are facing, they recognize that we are a commodity that has to deal with peaks and valleys,” said Jennings. “But I think there is also a commitment that we need to continue to pull together to move this industry forward.”

He says that ACE is working closely with both the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) to present a united front and accomplish the goals of the industry.

Jennings displayed a couple of quotes during his address to the conference. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts,” attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, which Jennings said was exemplified in last week’s decision by the EPA to deny a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

ACE 1009Another was Winston Churchill’s famous “If you’re going through hell, just keep going.” Jennings says the point there is that “nothing that is significant is easy to accomplish” and the industry just needs to keep going in the face of the negative publicity.

While attendance at the conference was down a bit this year compared to last year, Jennings is already looking forward to a better year ahead and next year’s conference, which will be in Milwaukee on August 11-13.

Listen to an interview with Brian Jennings here:

See the ACE 2008 Photo Album here

Ag Secretary Addresses Florida Farm to Fuel Summit

Florida Farm to Fuel Ed SchaferU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer traveled to Florida to address the third annual Florida Farm to Fuel Summit in Orlando.

“This is the theme park capitol of the world, it is a city of dreams and the power of imagination,” Schafer told the group. “As we sit here in the land of imagination and dreams, it’s up to all of us to meet the needs of the future through renewable fuels and we can change from wild imagination to realizable dreams.”

“Biofuels are an important part of the solution to our nation’s energy challenges and they are an important part of the economic future of rural America as well,” Schafer said. “That means that agriculture is going to be right in the middle of the game.”

“Here in Florida, the sheer variety of agriculture really make you a state that is a great laboratory for the future,” he added. “When breakthroughs come, I’m really counting on Florida to lead the way.”

He commended Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and the state legislature for the state’s efforts to stimulate innovation with the Farm to Fuel program.

Listen to Secretary Schafer’s remarks here:

Florida Governor Promotes Alternative Fuels

Florida Farm to Fuel Governor CristFlorida Governor Charlie Crist spoke to a group of over 450 gathered for the third annual Florida Farm to Fuel summit in Orlando Thursday, following an address by US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.

“You know that Florida is a top agricultural state already,” Crist told the group. “The development of ethanol and other biofuels is incredibly important to Florida’s future and America’s future. I truly believe that investing in renewable and alternative energies in the Sunshine State can propel us as a leader, no question about it.”

Governor Crist highlighted Florida’s historic, comprehensive energy and economic development legislation, which was created by the 2008 Florida Legislature and signed by the Governor at last month’s 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change in Miami. As proposed by the Governor, the legislation expands the previously existing renewable energy grants program to include energy efficiency projects. The 2008-09 budget includes $7 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, with another $8 million for bioenergy projects to be administered by the new Florida and Energy and Climate Commission, also created by the legislation.

Listen to Governor Crist’s remarks here:

Farm Foundation Report Finds Three Reasons for High Food Prices

Domestic Fuel CastThere seems to be no end to the rhetoric bouncing around between agricultural experts, critics and media about what’s driving food costs. Biofuels are still one of the most common scapegoats for why we’re paying more for our food than ever before. But the Farm Foundation wants to get to the root of it all. That’s why it sought out three academics from Purdue University to research more than a dozen studies and determine the “truth” behind what the organization calls “one of the most important issues facing agriculture today.” The Farm Foundation hopes the findings of their report will offer policy makers an objective source to refer to when facing the challenges of today’s food system.

Wally Tyner is one of the professors who was a part of the three-man team that conducted the study. The agricultural economics guru says his team found three major driving factors in high food prices:

“The first is global trends in production and consumption of agricultural commodities. The second is has to do with sort of macro economic factors, the depreciation of the dollar. And the third has to do with biofuels. And these are linked in some ways but in some ways its like a perfect storm of all these things coming together at the same time that has led to the huge run-up in prices.”

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from Neal Conklin, President of Farm Foundation and Wally Tyner, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #7:

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast using the following url/feed link:

Ethanol Report on Food Price Study

RFA PodcastThe Farm Foundation study on food price drivers released this week in Washington DC was the focus of a forum held at the National Press Club.

This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features comments from the Farm Foundation forum and report on “What’s Driving Food Prices?” Featured are Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin, Purdue University economist Wally Tyner, and University of Nebraska public policy analyst Brad Lubben.

You can subscribe to the twice-monthly “The Ethanol Report” by following this link.

Or you can listen to it on-line here:

EPIC Steps Up to Take Charge of Ethanol

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is the organization that takes charge of educating consumers about ethanol. Just last month, the young non-profit held it’s first ever annual meeting, where new ideas were presented, new members were elected and new goals were set.

e-podcastEPIC executive Director Toni Nuernberg says EPIC has already achieved much success in its first two years, but the organization is charged for even greater success to come. She says it’s time for EPIC to no longer just respond to the debate about ethanol, but become proactive, get out front and change the debate. EPIC board members new and experienced agree.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (4:00 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Ethanol Industry Leaders Unite

RFA PodcastBiofuels groups from the US, Canada, Brazil and Europe put aside their differences this past week to present a united front to world leaders meeting in Japan.

This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features an interview with Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen about the input the groups provided to the Group of Eight meeting of world leaders, what the outcome of the meeting was regarding biofuels, and why it is important for global biofuels producers to work together.

You can subscribe to the twice-monthly “The Ethanol Report” by following this link.

Or you can listen to it on-line here:

Iowa Farmers Keep High Harvest Expectations Despite Record Floods

Domestic Fuel Cast

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from Craig Floss, Chief Executive Officer for the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Julius Schaaf, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Gary Edwards of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #5:

You can also subscribe to the Domestic Fuel Cast using the following url/feed link:

USDA Report Good News for Ethanol

NASSThe USDA Planted Acreage report out Monday was good news, although it does not yet reflect the damage from Midwest flooding.

Corn planted area is reported to be 1.31 million acres more than was estimated in the March intentions report at 87.3 million acres, down just 7 percent from last year. That is the second highest since 1946, behind last year’s total of 93.6 million acres. If it were all to make it, growers would harvest 78.9 million acres for grain, down 9 percent from 2007 and the second highest since 1944.

RFAPutting the acreage report in context with respect to America’s ethanol industry, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said it shows how American farmers are capable of meeting the growing demand for feed, food, fiber and fuel.

“This report once again demonstrates that together with agriculture, American ethanol producers can help lead this nation in new, renewable energy direction,” said Dinneen.

National Corn Growers Association chairman Ken McCauley says his corn in Northeast Kansas looks good right now and it’s important to remember that there is plenty of corn being grown outside of Iowa.

“I tell you what, everybody is going to produce some corn,” McCauley said. “Iowa will produce a lot of corn and when you get down to it we’re gonna have a good corn crop and it could even be one of the better one or two or three.”

Listen to an interview with Ken here:

New EPIC Board Member Calls for a Cohesive Ethanol Industry

Another representative of Fagen Incorporated has joined the ranks in the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Matt Sederstrom of Platinum Ethanol is a new board member, elected at EPIC’s first annual meeting earlier this month.

Matt says he hopes to drive a solid cohesiveness in the ethanol industry, bringing more members and industry partners together for a common cause.

“Now more than ever you’re probably seeing a need for us to step up and be more of a cohesive industry,” Matt said. He echoed LifeLine Foods‘ Dave Vander Griend saying “everyone has to shoulder the load.”

Chuck spoke with Matt at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

EPIC Board Embraces Veteran Experience with Ethanol

Gary Pestorious (pictured speaking with EPIC founder Ron Fagen) isn’t new to ethanol nor to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Gary was elected for another term as an EPIC board member at the organization’s first annual meeting.

As a two year veteran with EPIC, one thing Gary stresses is EPIC’s role in the ethanol industry. He says EPIC is not a political arm, rather its an organization meant to do exactly what its name states “promote and inform.”

Gary says informing the public is crucial to the growth of the industry, “once [consumers have] understood the truths, they’re always for ethanol… If you understand ethanol you will vote for it.”

Chuck spoke with Gary at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

New EPIC Board Member Man of Many Hats

One of the newest board members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is a man of many hats. Ray Defenbaugh is the CEO of Big River Resources, a company that’s based in Southeast Iowa. The company already operates a one 100 million gallon ethanol plant and another is under construction.

But, Ray doesn’t just know ethanol production. He’s also quite the fiscally savvy farmer. Ray serves as chairman of the board for a $330 million bank.

That’s still not all. He serves as a director for the Renewable Fuels Association as well.

When asked about this latest “hat” though, Ray says ethanol possesses a “wide area of influence and effect.” He says the fuel is an excellent representation of value added agriculture, “bringing value right back into our Midwestern community right where it belongs.”

Chuck spoke with Ray at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here: