Biodiesel Conference Wraps Up with Feedstock Forum

biodieselconference.gifProbably the biggest issue facing biodiesel producers today is what to use as a feedstock. With soybean prices going through the roof, refiners are trying to find additional feedstocks. During the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida, the last general morning session focused on the question of what to use for the green fuel.

The forum, led by Alan Weber, economic consultant to National Biodiesel Board, with Dr. Jack Brown from the University of Idaho, Keith Bruinsma, Vice President of Corporate Development for ethanol producer VersaSun, John Sheehan, Vice President of Strategy and Sustainability for Live Fuels, and John Soper, Senior Research Director for Soybean Product Development for Pioneer International.

nbbfeedstock.jpgBrown, who is Scottish, brought a European perspective and made the case for feedstocks made from non-traditional (at least in America) oilseeds, such as rapeseed. Bruinsma talked about how you can also get biodiesel from the same grain of corn used to make ethanol, while Soper talked about high oil corn and soybean seeds his company is developing. Sheehan, whose company makes biodiesel from algae, pointed out that they can get thousands of gallons for every acre of green pond scum they grow.

But most importantly, all of them agreed that ALL of the feedstocks are necessary, and no one gets ahead by tearing down the other guy. It wa’s a good point, and a great discussion.

Listen to some of that discussion here:

You can read more about what happened this week in Orlando by going to the conference blog.

Biodiesel Energy Balance Improves

A new analysis was unveiled today at the National Biodiesel Conference in Orlando that shows the energy balance of biodiesel is a positive ratio of 3.5-to-1, up from the 3.2 to 1 ratio determined by the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and USDA in 1998.

According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board,
the new research conducted at the University of Idaho in cooperation with USDA.

NBB conference 08“The bottom line is that the energy balance of biodiesel has definitely improved in the last decade,” says University of Idaho Department Head of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Jon Van Gerpen, who credits Assistant Professor Dev Shrestha and graduate student Anup Pradhan for their work on the study. “The increase in soybean yields and a decrease in herbicide use greatly contributed to the increased energy balance. Meanwhile, energy used for crushing soybeans is significantly lower than what was reported in the NREL study.”

You can listen to an interview with Van Gerpen here:

Food Versus Fuel Session at Biodiesel Conference

NBB conference 08One of the most popular sessions at this week’s National Biodiesel Conference in Orlando was “What’s the Rule on Food Vs. Fuel?” which featured a panel of experts including Chris Schroeder with Centrec Consulting, Jim Duffield with USDA and John Urbanchuk of LECG, LLC.

All speakers made the point that biofuels may be getting the blame for higher prices, but energy costs in general are a much bigger factor. Urbanchuk says raw commodity prices play a very small role in food prices. “In fact, the work that we’ve done indicates that energy prices have roughly twice the impact that any individual commodity such as corn and soybeans do in determining retail food prices.”

NBB conference 08He says that food items where corn and soybeans play a major role only account about 25 percent of the food basket.

The panel also drove home the point that additional feedstocks will help alleviate the food versus fuel debate and that it is important for the industry to educate the media and consumers about the real reasons behind higher food prices.

You can listen to an interview with Urbanchuk here:

You can also get complete coverage of the National Biodiesel Conference on the conference blog.

See 2008 National Biodiesel Conference photos on theFlicker Photo Album from the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference by clicking here.

BioExtend Celebrates First Anniversary

Eastman Dr. ClineEastman Chemical Company showcased new test data of Eastman BioExtend 30 at the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando on Monday.

Eastman is also be celebrating the one year anniversary of the BioExtend launch, which debuted at 2007’s National Biodiesel Conference.

BioExtend, a high-performance antioxidant for biodiesel fuels, increases shelf life and enhances product protection. The oxidative stability of biodiesel can be improved by the use of antioxidants like BioExtend.

The new test data was presented by Dr. Sharon Cline, Eastman’s BioExtend technology leader. Listen to an interview with Dr. Cline here.

Next Gen Ethanol on Track

e-podcast Big announcements for cellulosic ethanol recently prove that the next generation of the biofuel is here today.

This “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast features Reece Nanfito of EPIC and representatives from KL Process Design Group of South Dakota, which has the first commercial cellulosic ethanol facility operating in the United States that will now be providing the fuel for American Le Mans Series race cars.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (6:30 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.

First American Cellulosic Plant in Production

KL Process DesignCellulosic ethanol is now in production at the first small scale waste wood commercial facility operating in the U.S.

Western Biomass EnergyLocated just 1 mile South of Upton, Wyoming, the plant was engineered, constructed and is operated by KL Process Design Group. This is the result of six years of development efforts between KL and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

“It is now possible to economically convert discarded wood into a clean burning, sustainable alternate motor fuel” said Randy Kramer, president of KL Process Design Group, a design firm that has been working in corn ethanol. “We’re proud of what this small company has accomplished, and believe that our design will be a cornerstone from which we can build our country’s renewable fuel infrastructure providing a better source of motor fuel, starting today.”

Wood ChipsKL’s cellulosic ethanol plant is converting waste wood into a renewable fuel. The current production facility is utilizing soft woods, but successful test runs have occurred making use of waste materials such as cardboard and paper.

KL also announced today that the cellulosic ethanol it will be producing at the Wyoming plant will be used to fuel the American Le Mans Series Corvette Racing team running on E85.

Listen to an interview with Randy Kramer here:

Cellulosic on the Fast Track

CorvetteThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and KL Process Design Group teamed up today to announce the first use of cellulosic ethanol in the 2008 American Le Mans Series. Corvette Racing, sponsored by EPIC, will be the first team to use the cellulosic-based E85 in competition.

“We could really find no greater stage to have the first use of cellulosic ethanol than the American Le Mans Series,” said Reece Nanfito, senior director of marketing for EPIC. “Obviously this is going to be a great demonstration that this fuel is available here and now, it is not a fuel that is five years or ten years down the road. The next generation of ethanol has really arrived today with this announcement.”

Tom Slunecka, Vice President of Business Development for KL Process Design Group, says providing cellulosic ethanol for the Le Mans Series brings it one step closer to consumer use.

“The reason that we brought the very first, very valuable gallons of this fuel to the American Le Mans Series was to demonstrate the power that this fuel has at home with every consumer,” Slunecka said. “Because the American Le Mans Series cars are the closest to production-style cars in the world of racing the relevancy of performance here is immediate and direct to that of consumers.”

Listen to Nanfito and Slunecka make the announcement in a press conference today from Sebring, Florida where during the fuel will be used first during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 15.

2008 Could Be Year of E85

e-podcast 2008 is shaping up to be the “Year of E85.” Ethanol Promotion and Information Council Marketing Director Reece Nanfito was at the media preview for the big auto show in Detroit this week where big announcements were made regarding ethanol and ethanol-powered vehicles.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (6:30 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 Outlook for 2008

2008 could be an even better year than 2007 for the ethanol industry.

That’s the outlook of Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. In the first “Ethanol Report” podcast for 2008, Dinneen gazes into his crystal ball and sees blue skies and big challenges for the ethanol industry this year.

Bob Dinneen“I think we will continue to see dramatic growth in ethanol production here at home and abroad as well,” said Dinneen. “You’re going to see ethanol used in parts of the country where it really has not been used much before.”

The challenges are going to come in meeting the targets of the recently passed energy bill, especially in commercializing cellulosic ethanol.

“It’s not going to be easy, we’re going to be working awfully hard,” but he says it will ultimately result in tremendous benefits for rural economies and the nation’s consumers.

The presidential elections will be the main focus this year, but Dinneen says ethanol is a bipartisan issue that is supported by all the candidates who are learning more about it as they campaign around the Midwest. “There really is not a single candidate that has failed to express support for increasing the production and use of renewable fuels like ethanol,” Dinneen said. “They all get it.”

Listen to RFA’s “The Ethanol Report” podcast here, or subscribe to it on “The Ethanol Report” blog.

Melon Fuel Still in Development

Melon EthanolThe National Watermelon Association is still working on making fuel from melons.

Executive Director Bob Morrissey says they still believe there is a future in the idea, which we first reported on here in September 2006. “We still have to do some homework on the logistics portion and the economics portion,” he said.

“Our initial idea is to get a test project going in Florida and a test project going in Georgia and see how those work and then we can branch out to other producing states,” Morrissey said, adding that it may not work out, but at least they are trying to see if it will.

The association has been doing some research with USDA, the University of Georgia and an ethanol plant in Florida to use the estimated 700 million pounds of watermelons that are wasted each year for ethanol production.

Listen to the story from USDA Radio News reporter Gary Crawford.

MO Governor Pushes More Ethanol

MO Governor Matt BluntMissouri Governor Matt Blunt is serious about making the Show Me State a renewable fuels leader.

As of January 1, the state became only the third in the nation to implement a statewide 10 percent ethanol standard. Now the governor has proposed several initiatives targeted at promoting the use of and expanding access to E85 in Missouri.

At the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture Monday in St. Louis, Blunt told reporters that he supports tax incentives for retail outlets to install E85 pumps. “Only about two percent of our gas stations sell E85,” said Blunt. “E85 is a cleaner burning fuel, good for the environment, helpful to Missouri farmers, and from a national security perspective it makes a lot more sense to buy fuel that’s produced right here in the Midwest rather than in the Mid East.”

Blunt’s proposals will be considered by the Missouri legislature during the 2008 session which begins on Wednesday.

Listen to Blunt’s comments in response to questions from Domestic Fuel reporter Chuck Zimmerman.

Happy ReNEWable Fuels Year

e-podcast The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will get the new year underway with a burst of renewable fuels.

The bill, signed by President Bush on December 19, includes an expanded Renewable Fuels Standard that requires significant development of other feedstocks to produce ethanol.

This edition of “Fill up, Feel Good” features comments by President George W. Bush, EPIC president Tom Branhan, and RFA president Bob Dinneen.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” 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.

The Year of Ethanol

e-podcastThe ethanol industry has come a long way this year and a large part of the renewable fuel’s success is unquestioningly a result of the concentrated efforts of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Looks like all that hard work paid off. Agrimarketing magazine named ethanol the Agrimarketing Product of the Year. EPIC’s Reece Nanfito says the late accomplishments of the ethanol industry are just the beginning.

This edition features comments from Reece Nanfito, the Director of Marketing for EPIC.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (5:30 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.

Author Outlines “Energy Victory”

Energy VictoryAn aerospace engineer and author thinks the country needs a new direction in energy policy to “break the economic stranglehold that the OPEC oil cartel has on our country.”

Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a private company that does research and development on innovative aerospace technologies, and author of several books including his most recent, “Energy Victory,” in which he advocates Congress passed a law requiring that all new cars sold in the USA be flex-fueled.

“If we create the market by mandating that the cars be flex-fueled, it will break the monopoly,” Zubrin says. “Right now the only fuel that American consumers can buy is what the enemy is selling.”

Zubrin believes the American public is getting tired of being beholden to foreign oil interests. “This has gone on long enough. In 1973, we were 30 percent dependent on foreign oil, now we are 60 percent dependent. At the same time, Brazil – which has had an ethanol policy – went from 80 percent to zero. This is the most important issue affecting our national security and our economic well-being.”

Listen to some of Dr. Zubrin’s comments from an interview here.

Renewable Fuels Now Fights for Alternative Energies

e-podcastThe first “official” action of the Renewable Fuels Now coalition was to determine where Americans stand on developing and using alternative energies. The coalition is a new umbrella organization of different associations that are working to provide accurate information about renewable fuels. Greg Krissek with ICM says opponents of alternative energies have swamped the public with misinformation about renewable fuels, particularly ethanol. But, Bob Dinneen, the president of a member organization the Renewable Fuels Association, says despite the barrage of misinformation, Americans are still strong supporters of alternative fueling options such as ethanol and biodiesel. He says the poll sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Now coalition affirms that 74 percent of Americans think the U.S. should be using more ethanol. Bob adds that 87 percent want the government to actively support the development of renewable fuels in the U.S. That’s why Greg says the next step for the new umbrella organization is to educate policy makers about the advantages of renewable fuels. He says the Renewable Fuels Now coalition wants to ensure policy makers have the correct information on alternative energies like ethanol and biodiesel as they debate the next Energy Bill and plan to expand the Renewable Fuels Standard developed in 2005.

This edition features comments from Renewable Fuels Now representatives RFA President Bob Dinneen and ICM’s Greg Krissek.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (5:30 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.