Ryan is the One

Ryan Hunter-ReayThe qualifying session for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 got rained out last night so unfortunately that means the drivers will start according to their points standing. That was a blow to Team Ethanol. The car was performing very well and would likely have had a much better starting position. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who spoke at the EPIC member reception last night, says he’ll make up for it though.

Members attending the reception were able to ask him questions, get his autograph and have their pictures taken. This little guy seemed very surprised to be picked up by Ryan for a picture.

You can listen to Ryan’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Driving Agricultural Productivity

Troy HobbsMonsanto was represented at this morning’s ethanol press conference at the Iowa Speedway by Troy Hobbs, Corn Biofuels Strategy Lead. He started his comments explaining that the company’s mission is to drive productivity in the agricultural sector. He spoke to how quickly they’ve been able to increase the per acre yield in corn with their research on seed and traits.

With their Processor Preferred program they’re working with ethanol plants to make sure they’re getting the corn that is best suited to their production. He also made a good point about how ethanol production is helping keep American dollars in America which is good for our economy.

You can listen to Troy’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Iowa Corn Growers Optimistic

Craig FlossJust a few minutes ago I got interviewed by one of the journalists here and he asked what I had heard from corn growers who are at the track. I told him they’re very proud to be growing the fuel that’s being used in the IndyCars out here and that they’ll recover from the flooding problems they’ve been having.

Representing the Iowa Corn Growers Association at this morning’s ethanol press conference was their CEO, Craig Floss. They’re one of the main sponsors of this weekend’s Iowa Corn Indy 250. Craig said he had a chance to fly over the state yesterday and he was not prepared to see how much water is still standing in fields. However, he also had to say that he saw a lot of corn growing in areas outside of the river bottoms. He thinks they’ve still got a good opportunity to produce a good crop this year.

You can listen to Craig’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Using All The Corn And Making Ethanol

Mike SobetskiOne of the speakers at the ethanol industry press conference here at Iowa Speedway this morning was Mike Sobestski, Vice President/COO, LifeLine Foods. Besides talking about the company he also explained how they use various parts of a corn kernel to make food and fuel.

An interesting point he made was that the part they use to make ethanol is the undesirable part that’s not good for much else. He even brought along some jars of product to show reporters the different elements of corn they use. The company and their methods are a great example of how much is being done by ethanol producers today to make their operations more sustainable while helping meet our energy demands.

You can listen to Mike’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

An Inside Look at Ethanol

Toni NuernbergThis morning at Iowa Speedway, representatives of the ethanol industry held an “inside look at ethanol” press conference. One of the speakers was Toni Nuernberg, Executive Director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Toni started out talking about the mission of EPIC and talked about the types of promotional work they’ve been doing. She says that motor sports was the springboard that helped get the ethanol message out in the public. She says that working with the IRL has proven the performance capability of the fuel. I thought she made an interesting point in saying that the role of EPIC has evolved to one of defense of the industry due to the attack that has been launched against it.

You can listen to Toni’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Ethanol Driver Pleased with Practice

Ryan Hunter-ReayWe had a sunny day yesterday at Iowa Speedway until mid-afternoon when a thunderstorm popped up and absolutely drenched the track. It cut short practice plans although there’s going to be plenty of that today if the weather cooperates.

I found Team Ethanol driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay, seen walking to the first practice session yesterday, taking a break near the team garage. He seemed pretty pleased with the car’s performance and as of now is still 7th in practice speed.

You can listen to my interview with Ryan here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Team Ethanol Driver Learning The Business

Ryan Hunter-Reay With Highway PatrolI finally got to meet the Team Ethanol driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ryan was on hand at the Kum & Go pump promotion and posed here with the Highway Patrolmen who helped us with security and traffic and other drivers. He’s the tall guy on the left.

Ryan says the Iowa race is very important, especially due to the connection to the corn growers here in the state. He says he’s learned so much from working with people in the ethanol industry, especially how it’s a real part of the solution to our energy crisis.

You can listen to my interview with Ryan here:

Or watch it on this video:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Ed Carpenter Promotes Ethanol

Ed CarpenterThere were several IndyCar drivers on hand at the Kum & Go ethanol pump promotion in Ankeny, IA. One of them was Ed Carpenter, Vision Racing, seen here talking with one of the people who came out to fill up their tank.

Ed hopes that promotions like this help people learn more about ethanol. He says that he’s been racing on it for a while now and thinks it’s really positive that when the IRL switched fuel he didn’t notice any change in engine performance.

Ed says that the IndyCar Series and Iowa Speedway have created the Race to Recovery Program to help out flood victims here in Iowa. Basically, they’ll be donating $60,000 from the race proceeds to help the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

You can listen to my interview with Ed here:

Or watch it on this video:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Kum & Go Ethanol Promotion E85 Focus

Kevin KrauseThe Senior Vice President of Marketing for Kum & Go is Kevin Krause. His company has been very involved in the promotion of ethanol by blending it with regular unleaded gas and offering E85 pumps. This year the company worked with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board to hold a pump promotion at their store in Ankeny, IA.

He says that the focus is on E85 and with the gas price challenges they wanted to help bring community awareness to the flex fuel vehicles that are on the road. He says it also recognizes the farmers who are helping grow the corn that’s being turned into fuel right now.

You can listen to my interview with Kevin here:

Or watch it on this video:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Pioneer Sponsors Iowa Corn Indy 250 Again

Russ SandersPioneer Hi-Bred is sponsoring the Iowa Corn Indy 250 again this year and I spoke to Russ Sanders, Marketing Director, about how the company is involved. He’s pictured here (left) with Team Ethanol driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay and EPIC Director of Communications, Joanna Schroeder.

Russ says that the company sees a great opportunity in the biofuels arena and their participation in this race provides them with a great opportunity to get the message out about the positive benefits of a fuel like ethanol.

You can listen to my interview with Russ here:

Or watch it on this video:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Iowa Corn Promoting Ethanol

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board was one of the groups sponsoring a pump promotion at an Ankeny, IA Kum & Go as a way to help increase awareness of ethanol which was being sold for a reduced price. Julius Schaaf is the ICPB’s Chairman and a farmer himself. I spoke with him briefly prior to the activity to learn more about how and why they’re involved.

He also addresses the flooding situation and says not to count out Iowa farmers. We certainly won’t.

You can listen to my interview with Julius here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

New Ethanol Products

Carl LiraWhile Cindy and thousands of people involved in ethanol production are attending the FEW in Nashville, I thought I’d share an interview I did at the recent Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. While we’re focused on ethanol as a fuel and that seems to be its primary use, some research is being done on other products ethanol can be used to produce.

Carl Lira, Michigan State University, spoke on “Reactive Distillations for Chemical Products from Ethanol.” Carl says he’s looking at methods to diversify the ethanol production platform. For example, he’s looking at new products that can be made from ethanol so that producers can diversify and react to the market in different ways. He’s trying to get them to think with more of a bio refinery philosophy. From a product standpoint, he’s using ethanol as a reagent to produce high quality chemicals. He says they’ve done some economic analysis which is available from the National Corn Growers Association and that it looks very attractive.

You can listen to my interview with Carl here:

Moving Beyond 10 Percent Ethanol

Moving beyond ten percent ethanol offers both opportunities and challenges for the industry.

FEW 08 Robert WhiteOn a panel addressing the issue at the 2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Tuesday was Robert White with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). White has spearheaded the nationwide pump branding and E85 program for EPIC and he talked about some of the success stories they have seen just recently.

“An E85 station recently opened in metro Atlanta,” said White. “The station has been opened about five weeks and as of Saturday they were selling 1800 gallons of E85 a day, compared to 1750 gallons of regular unleaded a day.”

EPIC helped to open the station, made sure it was branded, held a pump promotion and grand opening event with state officials, and send notifications out to fleets in the area. “One station that has been opened five weeks has the potential of selling 650,000 gallons of E85 a year,” White said. “That’s amazing.”

He also talked about the importance of moving toward blender pumps, which can offer a variety of blends between 10 and 85 percent ethanol. “Our recent research found that 45 percent of Americans are seeking out alternatives, they want choices, and specifically they’re looking for ethanol,” said White.

He noted that E85 and mid-level blends give consumers choices, help retail fuel stations offer customers something new, and help ethanol plants sell more product.

Listen to Robert’s address to the 2008 FEW here:

2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Achieving Energy Victory with Ethanol Choice

Ethanol is now the fuel of choice in Brazil, while gasoline is the alternative, and one advocate believes that with one simple law passed by Congress the same thing could happen in the United States.

FEW 08 Robert ZubrinAccording to Dr. Robert Zubrin, author of “Energy Victory,” who was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Tuesday in Nashville, mandating that all new vehicles sold in the U.S. be flex fuel would effectively break the economic stranglehold the oil cartel has on the country and the world.

Zubrin made his point by using the analogy of a card game where there is a trump suit that defeats all others and the strategy is for your side to hold most the cards in that trump suit. “It’s the same way in energy,” Zubrin said. “There’s four suits, there’s oil, coal, natural gas and biomass. And right now oil is the trump suit.”

That’s because right now there is mainly one way to power vehicles and that is petroleum products. The key is to change that trump suit, he says, and biomass is the best alternative. The question is how to change the trump suit and Zubrin contends that the answer is to mandate the sale of flex fuel vehicles, which would cost at most $100 per vehicle. “If we had a standard that all new cars sold in this country had to be flex fuel, within three years we’d have 50 million cars on the road in the United States capable of running on alternate fuels,” and Zubrin says that would ultimately result in flex fuel vehicles being sold all over the world.

The reason Zubrin is so passionate about this simple idea is because he believes, and can back up with facts, that we are being held hostage by OPEC countries and are funding terrorism by our daily habit of foreign oil. “We have to win,” he says. “Let’s knock ‘em flat!”

To find out more about Zubrin’s book “Energy Victory,” go to energyvictory.net.

Listen to Zubrin’s address to the 2008 FEW here – it’s 45 minutes long but guaranteed to fire you up!:

2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Consumers Choose Ethanol in Brazil

Gasoline is now the “alternative fuel” in Brazil.

FEW 08 Joel Velasco“In the beginning of February of this year, ethanol consumption surpassed that of gasoline,” Joel Velasco of the Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association said during an update on Brazil’s ethanol industry at the 2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Nashville Tuesday. “My friends, that is a big victory. The oil company now is in a corner.”

Velasco says they have achieved that milestone by consumer choice. “Ninety percent of all the new vehicles today are flex fuel in Brazil, in fact, we are now up to 25 percent of our fleet is flex fuel.”

Because the price of ethanol is substantially lower than gasoline, Velasco says Brazilian consumers are choosing to put 100 percent ethanol in their tanks and “saying forget about gasoline.”

Listen to Velasco’s address to the 2008 FEW here:

2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album