A company that uses a mobile truck to go on location and turn waste grease into biodiesel has raised nearly $1 million in funding. This article from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal says Revolution Fuels, a startup that mounts equipment for converting grease to biofuel on trucks, rounded up the money through the sale of equity and securities.
Revolution plans to dispatch its trucks to food makers and other businesses that produce waste grease, according to its website. Equipment on the vehicles then converts grease into fuel. Customers can keep the fuel or let Revolution sell it.
The company is led by for Cargill vice president Julie Wheeler.
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) wants a recent decision to streamline Argentinian biodiesel imports to the U.S. put on hold pending public review and comment.
In a petition filed Monday with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, NBB cited the lack of public comment on the EPA decision and “little transparency regarding the plans Argentinian producers can use to demonstrate compliance” with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“We have serious questions about how Argentinian producers will certify that their product meets the sustainability requirements under this new approach and whether U.S. producers will be operating under more strict regulations,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “The U.S. biodiesel industry is in a state of crisis right now as a result of EPA’s continued delays in finalizing RFS volumes. An influx of Argentinian biodiesel will only exacerbate the domestic industry’s troubles at the worst possible time.”
The EPA approved the application from Argentina’s biofuels association CARBIO at the end of January.
Typically under the RFS, foreign producers must map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels to ensure that it was grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 19, 2007 – when the RFS was established. The EPA’s January decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to instead rely on a survey plan being implemented by a third party to show their feedstocks comply with the regulations. The goal of the survey program is to ease the current map and track requirements applicable to planted crops and crop residues grown outside of the United States and Canada, resulting in a program that seems far less stringent and more difficult to verify.
Read more from NBB here.
A Canadian company has bought a Methes Energies International Ltd. biodiesel processor and will make the gaining plant the first facility in the world to use Methes’ pre-treatment system to process corn oil from a local ethanol plant. This Methes news release says the Denami 600 biodiesel processor and a PP-MEC pre-treatment system will be installed in Havelock, Ontario, Canada, for Drain Bros and will come from Methes’ Mississauga facility.
John Loewen, COO of Methes said, “We are glad to have finalized this transaction and to be able to use the Denami 600 in Mississauga. The Denami 600 has recently been used for research, testing and marketing but has not been used in commercial biodiesel production in over two years so it made sense for Drain Bros and Methes to move it to their location. More importantly, we will be installing a pre-treatment system that will be running on corn oil and we’ll have the ability to showcase the technology in action to other potential clients. This is a major milestone and we are looking forward to help Drain Bros with their new biodiesel facility.”
Furthermore, Methes announced on January 20th 2015 that it had entered into an agreement to license its technology to a US client in exchange for an upfront payment of $4 Million which, as per the agreement, was due February 20th, 2015. Methes provided an extension to the payment date to allow its US client to finalize a pending transaction. At this time, though they express continuing interest in the transaction with Methes, they still have not finalized their other pending transaction.
The refiner will take about 3 weeks to dismantle the equipment at the Mississauga facility.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new strain of yeast that will make biodiesel production more efficient. This news release from the school says the scientists used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop the yeast which will help make the biofuel more economically competitive with conventional fuels.
Hal Alper, associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team have engineered a special type of yeast cell, Yarrowia lipolytica, and significantly enhanced its ability to convert simple sugars into oils and fats, known as lipids, that can then be used in place of petroleum-derived products. Alper’s discovery aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from nonfood biomass materials.
“Our re-engineered strain serves as a stepping stone toward sustainable and renewable production of fuels such as biodiesel,” Alper said. “Moreover, this work contributes to the overall goal of reaching energy independence.”
Previously, the Alper team successfully combined genetically engineered yeast cells with ordinary table sugar to produce what Alper described as “a renewable version of sweet crude,” the premium form of petroleum. Building upon this approach, the team used a combination of evolutionary engineering strategies to create the new, mutant strain of Yarrowia that produces 1.6 times as many lipids as their previous strain in a shorter time, reaching levels of 40 grams per liter, a concentration that could make yeast cells a viable platform in the creation of biofuels. The strain’s high lipid yield makes it one of the most efficient organisms for turning sugar into lipids. In addition, the resulting cells produced these lipids at a rate that was more than 2.5 times as fast as the previous strain.
The development is expected to also help in the production of biochemicals.
Country music star Lee Brice is launching an environmentally friendly tour of college campuses, fueled by biodiesel. This article from The Boot says the tour is in partnership with REVERB, a non-profit organization that unites artists and colleges to bring about environmental and social change.
As an avid outdoorsman, the singer-songwriter hopes to focus his attention on outdoor preservation and water conservation.
“We’re hoping to offset the environmental impact of the tour by supporting clean energy projects and using buses and trucks fueled with locally produced biodiesel,” Brice says. “I have two sons, and I look at this as investing in their future and that of kids around the world.”
The tour begins April 8 at Campbell University in North Carolina. The singer’s tour announcement comes as his latest single, “Drinking Class,” was just certified gold.
U.S. troops in Afghanistan will soon get some small-scale biodiesel makers. Springboard Biodiesel has been selected to provide the turn-key equipment at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Springboard Biodiesel’s BioPro™ 380EX and SpringPro™ T76 comprise a small-scale biodiesel processing system designed to inexpensively convert the base’s used cooking oil into ASTM-grade biodiesel that can then be used in diesel vehicles on base.
Springboard Biodiesel’s CEO, Mark Roberts, commented, “Springboard is excited to provide this made-in-the-USA, clean technology solution to the US military. In Afghanistan, the fully burdened cost of diesel fuel is extremely high. We’ve heard estimates North of $10/gallon. The BioPro™ systems made by Springboard will enable the base to produce high quality biodiesel fuel for less than $1.00 per gallon – not to mention, biodiesel made from used cooking oil burns up to 90% cleaner than regular diesel.”
Springboard Biodiesel hopes to see other military bases copy the Bagram model.
New standards have been released for up to 20 percent blends of biodiesel in heating oil. The National Biodiesel Board says ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels, released new performance specifications for blends of 6-to-20 percent biodiesel, a blend known as Bioheat fuel, with traditional heating oil. The existing No. 1 and No. 2 grades in ASTM D396 already cover 5 percent biodiesel or less.
“The oilheat industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and ultra low sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.
The new B6-B20 grade is a blend of all the parameters contained in the existing No. 1 and No. 2 oilheat grades, but adds parameters for stability and allows a slightly higher distillation temperature for the blends. The changes are the same as those for B6-B20 in on-and-off-road diesel fuel passed by ASTM in 2008.
“The data set behind these changes is one of the most extensive I’ve seen in more than 20 years at ASTM,” said Steve Howell of M4 Consulting, an ASTM Fellow who chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. “Having an official standard for higher biodiesel blends in heating oil will help foster consumer confidence, and give blenders and distributors a needed tool to incorporate more low carbon, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel into heating oil.”
Some Bioheat dealers say they have been selling B20 blend for a number of years already with no issues for their customers.
“The technical data with this ballot for the new B6-B20 grade verified what we have known for years — that B20 made with high quality biodiesel works well,” said Seth Obetz, president of Pennsylvania-based Bioheat distributor Worley and Obetz. “We have marketed high quality B20 for 14 years and our customers see fewer problems with B20 than with conventional heating oil.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement with a Utah-based company that was alleged to have generated more than 7.2 million invalid renewable fuel credits worth more than $2 million. This news release from the EPA says Washakie Renewable Energy, LLC generated the Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, from the company’s Plymouth, Utah facility in 2010.
During that time, however, Washakie did not produce any biodiesel at the Plymouth facility. The biodiesel associated with the 7.2 million RINs would have accounted for a reduction of emissions equivalent to more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Washakie has purchased and retired from the market an equivalent number of RINs, which achieved this reduction of emissions.
Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs for each gallon of renewable fuel in the U.S. market that meets greenhouse gas emissions reduction standards established under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Washakie will pay a $3 million penalty under the settlement, which was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“This case is another example of EPA’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure producers are supporting their claims with production of actual renewable fuels is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change.”
“The defendant made quite a profit by failing to adhere to the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Program regulations,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The penalty here sends the message that renewable fuel producers will be held accountable for meeting all legal requirements. The Department of Justice remains committed to taking the profit out of illegal activity.”
The EPA says this is the first case under the second Renewable Fuels Standards in which, as a part of a settlement, EPA secured the replacement of invalid RINs by the producer of those RINs. That takes the burden off the buyers of the RINs who bought them to meet EPA compliance issues.
The amount of biodiesel and renewable diesel being imported into the U.S. dropped 36 percent in 2014 compared to the record-level year in 2013. This article from the Energy Information Administration says uncertainty about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and no late-year influx of volumes from Argentina were two main factors in this decline.
The strongest drivers of the resurgence in U.S. biomass-based diesel demand since 2012 have been increasing RFS targets and the on-again, off-again biodiesel tax credit. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are valuable because they qualify for the two major renewable fuel programs in the United States: the RFS applied at the national level, and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Biomass-based diesel fuels have additional advantages over other renewable fuels because of their relatively high energy content and low carbon intensity, which allow them to qualify for higher credit values in both renewable fuel programs.
While the RFS is meant to encourage the production and consumption of renewable fuels, obligations for 2014 still have not been finalized and those for 2015 have not yet been proposed. The initial proposal for the 2014 RFS program year, released in November 2013, stated that the 2014 biomass-based diesel obligation would remain unchanged from its 2013 value at 1.28 billion gallons, while the advanced biofuels obligation would be reduced to 2.2 billion gallons, down from 2.75 billion gallons in 2013. The uncertainty and proposed lower target levels have made it difficult for refiners to comply with the RFS recently, but the flexibility and value of biomass-based diesel volumes towards all obligation levels make it a strong driver of biodiesel consumption as long as the RFS is still active.
Two other factors help explain lower biomass-based diesel imports in 2014. In late 2013, there was a surge of biodiesel imports from Argentina as a result of European Union (EU) antidumping duties placed on Argentine biodiesel. This action by the EU temporarily diverted large volumes of Argentine biomass-based diesel that were previously destined to be exported to Europe, Argentina’s largest biodiesel export market, to the United States. U.S. imports of biodiesel from Argentina fell by 57% from 2013 to 52 million gallons in 2014.
The EIA also cited the end of the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit at the end of 2013, despite the retroactive reinstatement at the end of 2014, as another factor in the decline.
Nearly half of the biodiesel imports coming into the U.S. come from Canada.
A measure before the New York state legislature would require biodiesel to be mixed into every gallon of heating oil sold in the state. This article from The Legislative Gazette says the bill would set a 2 percent mandate and start no later than July 1, 2016 if it is passed.
Bill A.6070 is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D- Setauket, in the Assembly and has the support of environmental groups, consumer groups, labor unions and farmers.
“Clean air is really a birthright for New Yorkers and this will help underwrite that premise,” Englebright said. “We think it is part of a whole series of measures that we’re going to have to take to clean up our environment in the state.”
Kevin Rooney, CEO of the Oil Heating Institute of Long Island, supports the use of biodiesel because it provides many benefits.
“The use of biofuels blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil provides unquestioned energy efficiency, it provides environmental benefits, it increases or enhances public health benefits at no cost whatsoever to the end-use consumer, the home owner,” Rooney said.
The Ways and Means Committee is currently considering the bill.
Hawaii’s head of its state transportation department is committing his agency to using a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, B20. This article from Big Island Now says State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami made the remarks as he, Governor David Ige and Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui toured Pacific Biodiesel’s refinery this week during Biodiesel Day.
“We are committed to convert all of our diesel fuel equipment and vehicles to B20. This fuel is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. We support initiatives to buy local and promote the use of clean energy fuels,” Fuchigami said.
During the visit, Gov. Ige emphasized the state’s serious commitment to food security and energy sustainability. He commended Pacific Biodiesel for being a global pioneer in the field of biofuels and for company president Robert King’s vision to position Hawai’i to become an energy independent and self-sustainable state.
The City & County of Honolulu have been using B20 for more than a decade.
California-based Propel Fuels has debuted North America’s first retail rollout of High Performance Renewable (HPR) diesel. This company news release says the green fuel uses Neste Oil’s NEXBTL renewable diesel.
“Diesel HPR exceeds conventional diesel in power, performance and value,” said Rob Elam, CEO and Co-Founder of Propel. “Propel is committed to offering Californians the most advanced low carbon fuels that meet our high standards for quality and value.”
Incorporating diesel refined from renewable biomass through Neste Oil’s advanced hydrotreating technology called NEXBTL, Diesel HPR meets the toughest specifications required by automotive and engine manufacturers, enabling the fuel to be used by any diesel vehicle. Diesel HPR is designated as ASTM D-975, the standard for all ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in the U.S., and is recognized as “CARB diesel” by the California Air Resources Board. Diesel HPR provides increased engine power and torque, as well as significant reduction in harmful tailpipe emissions, NOx emissions and particulates (PM).
“This renewable diesel joins a growing suite of new, cleaner transportation fuels in California thanks to our Low Carbon Fuel Standard and forward thinking companies like Propel,” said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols.
Diesel HPR will be available at 18 Propel locations in Northern California.
Today we celebrate National Biodiesel Day, the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel’s birthday in 1858. The pioneer of his namesake diesel engine, Diesel designed it to run on a biofuel, peanut oil. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reminds us that on this special day, we can do more than just fill up our tanks with clean-burning biodiesel (although that is a good start).
Those who want to do more to support the advanced biofuel can. It is as easy as joining the Biodiesel Alliance. Alliance members range from farmers to fleet managers, and from trade organizations to municipal agencies and local businesses. Biodiesel Alliance members have easy access to news and information about biodiesel and related topics. Sign up is free and a click away.
“Biodiesel works behinds the scenes to deliver a better alternative. It is here now, working today across the country to improve our environment, support our economy and protect energy security,” said Steven J. Levy, Chairman for the National Biodiesel Board. “It is impressive what we have achieved in ten years and clear that responsible policy and industry innovation is working to expand access to America’s Advanced Biofuel while benefitting consumers.”
NBB also reminds us just how much of an economic powerhouse biodiesel is, with diesel engines moving approximately 90 percent of the America’s goods. And biodiesel provided nearly 1.8 billion gallons of a cleaner burning alternative to petroleum diesel.
National Biodiesel Day is March 18, and the Iowa Biodiesel Board is suggesting that farmers ask for and use biodiesel as they head into spring planting.
“We’re challenging every farmer in Iowa to request that their fuel distributor offer biodiesel blends this spring,” said Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director and a soybean farmer who uses biodiesel on his farm. “A thriving biodiesel market helps everyone in the ag sector.”
March 18 is National Biodiesel Day because it is the birthday of Rudolf Diesel, the man who invented the engine that bears his name. He ran early models on peanut oil, and was a visionary for renewable fuel.
“I urge farmers to recognize the importance that renewable energy has in a strong and vibrant farming future,” said Ron Heck, an Iowa soybean farmer and IBB officer. “Those of us in the farming community must walk-the-walk by supporting clean energy solutions on the farm.”
Heck noted he has used biodiesel on his own farm for many years. But a poll of more than 360 Iowa farmers conducted this winter by the Iowa Soybean Association finds room for increased biodiesel use. About 41 percent said they use biodiesel in their farming operations. “Not readily available” was the primary reason cited for not using the fuel. However, availability has improved the last several years due to favorable state legislation.
Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine in blends of up to 20 percent (B20). All of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers producing engines and equipment for the U.S. agricultural market support B20 or higher in their warranty position statements.
An Iowa biodiesel plant is the latest victim of the government’s inaction on measures that are aimed to help the biofuels industry. This article from the Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald says the 30-million gallon nameplate Western Dubuque Biodiesel has had to stop production completely – just another of the too many biodiesel refiners that have had to shut down due to the federal government’s failure to give clear direction on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the expiration of the $1-a-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit.
“All the tanks are full and no one is buying,” General Manager Tom Brooks said. “How do you sell product to a buyer who doesn’t know what he has to blend against? That’s the frustration.”
Across the U.S., biodiesel production fell from a high of 1.8 billion gallons in 2013 to 1.75 billion last year. In Iowa, production fell slightly, but it remains the nation’s leading producer, accounting for 16 percent of biodiesel output in 2014, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
Uncertainty sent prices falling nearly 25 percent for all of 2014 and led to a 73 percent decline in industry profitability, Brooks said. The result: Dozens of biodiesel plants have stopped production or laid off workers in recent months.
“It creates doubt and uncertainty for investors and lenders, because they don’t know whether the industry is stable. Is the business growing or stagnating?” he said. “And when you’re running the plant at half capacity, your costs increase.”
The article goes on to say that state biodiesel tax credits have helped a little, but industry officials worry the same uncertainty in federal policy will continue to plague biodiesel in 2015.