Minnoco Expands Higher Ethanol Blends in Twin Cities

Independent fuel retailer Minnoco is expanding its outlets with 18 new locations joining the brand. When completed, the brand will feature 24 retailers, many of whom will be offering higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, and biodiesel to consumers.

“Our owners believe we have a competitive advantage by offering more fuel choices like E15 to consumers,” stated Lance Klatt, executive director for Minnoco. “Our new brand not only draws in consumers for more affordable fuels but is also a great business model for retailers.”

Minnoco signLeveraging existing convenience store and automotive repair locations in many cases, retail owners are moving away from a branded oil contract into the independent brand of Minnoco. “With Minnoco, I’m able to offer E15 as a more competitive fuel to my customers at a much lower price vs. regular,” explained Rick Bohnen, president of Minnoco and owner of Penn Minnoco. “This is a better business model for me because it significantly reduces my operational costs vs. branded fuels and I’m able to pass the savings on to consumers.”

In addition, Minnoco retailers have more freedom to offer biofuels that are grown and produced in Minnesota. Though the product offering will vary slightly by retail location, Minnoco will be offering E15, E30, E85 and diesel along with regular grades of gasoline.

“All of our regular 87 gas already contains 10% ethanol,” explained Jerry Charmoli, Minnoco owner and a mechanic for more than 30 years. “E15 is approved for vehicles 2001 and newer and we’ve had zero problems, in fact my customers love the cost savings and extra performance.”

In response to the announcement today by Minnoco, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said, “Minnesota has always been a leader in offering renewable fuels to consumers. I am glad to see an increasing number of service station owners and convenience stores offer a higher performing, less expensive, renewable fuel option. Minnoco understands what consumers want, and also appreciates the importance of improving our environment, creating and supporting jobs right here in America that cannot be outsourced, and reducing our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and foreign oil, all while saving consumers at the pump.”

Vermont Utility to Turn Sunflowers into Biodiesel

greenmtnpowerA local utility in Vermont will be turning sunflowers into biodiesel and livestock feed. Green Mountain Power announced a new collaboration that will convert the seeds from 20 acres of sunflowers into the green fuel and the feed.

“Green Mountain Power is leading the way in many local energy initiatives,” said Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell. “Using Vermont sunflowers to power our vehicles and heat our buildings is a beautiful way to keep our energy local and clean.”

Twenty acres of sunflowers are growing at the State Line Farm Biofuels in Shaftsbury and another ten acres are growing at the Ekolott Farm in Newbury. When the oilseeds are harvested this fall, they will be dried and pressed, then the raw oil will be converted to biodiesel, or B100. The solid portion of the seed, the meal, is valuable as a livestock feed. Depending on the crops’ success, the cost of fuel to Green Mountain Power could be up to one dollar less than current B100 prices.

“It is so great to be part of this innovative test with GMP,” said John Williamson of State Line Farm Biofuels. “Projects like this really help support farmers, plus it’s beautiful to see the fields of sunflowers and even more beautiful to realize it will provide a clean and local power source.”

The project is a partnership between GMP, University of Vermont Extension, and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative, a program that connects diversified agriculture and local renewable energy production for on-farm and community use.

FAPRI: Biodiesel, Ethanol Feedstocks Bigger than Expected

FAPRI logoA new report shows that the main feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol, soybeans and corn, are going to have bigger harvests than previously expected. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri says while the big crops will push prices for those feedstocks down – even further down than what was projected just a couple of weeks ago – soybean and corn prices will recover a bit as markets adjust.

- Larger corn and soybean crops translate into lower projected 2014/15 prices for many grains and oilseeds. Corn prices drop to $3.50 per bushel, soybeans to $9.92 per bushel… In all … cases, these projected prices are close to the midpoint of the price ranges reported in the September USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

– Larger crops in 2014/15 also result in larger beginning stocks and total crop supplies in 2015/16. As a result, corn and soybean prices for next year’s crop are lower than projected in August. Corn prices average $3.80 per bushel in 2015/16, and soybean prices drop to $9.04 per bushel.

– Prices recover as markets adjust. Corn prices average $4.10 per bushel, soybeans average $10.21 per bushel … over the 2016‐18 period.

Previously, FAPRI said that corn prices would stay at about $4 per bushel for corn, but the new, bigger numbers for yield estimates push those prices down even more.

Chevy Offers Van with Biodiesel, E85 Options

chevyvan1Getting close to the end of the year for automakers, which means plenty of them are trying to move what’s left of their 2014 inventory. If you’ve got a big bunch of kids and you’re in the market for some eco-friendly wheels, Chevrolet’s G-Series Express Passenger van might be just the thing to look at right now, with B20 biodiesel-compatible and E85 engine options available.

The powerful Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 is offered in some Express models, delivering best-in-class torque and horsepower. Known by its “LGH” engine code, it is rated at 260 horsepower (194 kW) and 525 lb.-ft. of torque (712 Nm).

Designed to meet more stringent government emissions requirements, the LGH Duramax employs a robust EGR cooling system, along with revised turbocharger tuning that helps enhance EGR performance. It also has a large-capacity selective catalytic reduction system. In fact, the engine features the latest in emission control technology, making it the cleanest Duramax engine ever produced. NOx emissions are controlled via a Selective Catalyst Reduction aftertreatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF). The DEF is housed in a 5.83-gallon (20 L) tank and needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Electrically heated lines feed the DEF to the emission system to ensure adequate delivery in cold weather…

A FlexFuel E85 version of the 5.3L V-8 is also available. It delivers the same horsepower and torque as its gasoline counterpart, but runs on E85 ethanol fuel or a mixture of E85 and gasoline. E85 contains 85 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel that is produced domestically.

As I said, this is definitely for a BIG family… or just anyone who needs to haul a bunch of people… as it comes in models able to carry up to 15 people and all their cargo.

Boise State’s Biodiesel Truck to Take Its Shot at Salt Flats

greenspeedtruck1As one truck from Utah State University running on biodiesel just finished tearing up the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, another truck from another school out west is out to prove its power running on vegetable oil and biodiesel. Boise State University’s Greenspeed club is looking at breaking the land speed record for its class of truck at Bonneville at more than 215 mph later this month.

“We’re just using vegetable oil as proof of the concept,” said Dave Schenker, mechanical engineering student at Boise State and co-founder of the club. “It’s in its raw state, not even a fuel. Here we are beating petroleum at its own game.”

According to Schenker, their diesel engine has only been modified for power, which is a testament to the value vegetable oil has as a fuel source. When vegetable oil is heated to 175 degrees, it becomes the consistency of regualar fuel, which can then be used with their diesel engine.

However, this isn’t the only fuel source they use. They also run on diesel and a biodiesel, which they hope to start making on their own soon.

“Vegetable oil is not a good fuel for over the road use, which regular people use in their vehicles,” said Patrick Johnston, graduate of Boise State’s mechanical engineering program. “What we really advocate is biodiesel derived from algae.”

The truck has a computer that reads 70 points of contact on the truck between the chassis and engine, allowing the team can see exactly how each fuel type works with the truck to choose the most efficient.

Team members hope to be running on their own algae-biodiesel next year.

Murphy USA Promoting E15, E85 In Iowa

Murphy USA is partnering with Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association to hold grand openings of E15 and E85 pumps across Iowa. The events will include fuel discounts, door prizes and free food with fuel purchase.

“Iowa motorists will now be able to benefit from increased access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol blends like registered E15 and E85 at many Murphy USA fueling sites across the state,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “To launch its renewed commitment to homegrown, economical fueling options in Iowa, Murphy USA is also stepping up to offer even greater savings on E15 for 2001 and newer vehicle owners and E85 for flex-fuel vehicle owners during its scheduled grand opening celebrations. Be sure to stop by a Murphy USA location near you to save some of your hard earned money while also improving air quality and supporting Iowa jobs.

During the ethanol fuel events, customers will be able to take advantage of E15 for $2.15 per gallon, E85 for $1.85 per gallon. The Murphy USA locations in Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City will also offer biodiesel. A list of event dates is below:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.56.03 AM

Norton added, “E15 is the lowest priced fuel available for most Iowans, and E85 is the lowest priced fuel for flex-fuel vehicle owners. Now motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have ready access to fuels that not only burn cleaner, but are also the least expensive fuels on the market for the vast majority of drivers.”

Taiwan Biodiesel Provider Offers Free Biocatalyst

sunhoTaiwan-based Sunho Biodiesel Corp. is offering a free lipase biocatalyst to clients that license and set up a biodiesel plant based on the Sunho’s ET Process®.

When considering a process for industrial production of a commodity, two major criteria are process reliability and cost of consumables. This is where the ET Process® offers distinctive advantages. The design of the ET Process® allows the system to optimize its efficiency. It runs in an automatic, continuous manner. There is no need for the producer to conduct numerous trial-and-error adjustments since it is a well-designed process. The use of inert solvent prevents lipase poisoning and deactivation from glycerol, methanol and water and stabilizes lipase activity. Due to the improvement in life span, the catalyst does not have to be replaced frequently, leading to significant catalyst cost savings. From recent market data, it was found that the lipase consumption of enzymatic processes that use either immobilized or liquid lipase without inert solvent is one order of magnitude higher than that of the ET Process®. Based on a plant with a capacity of 10,000 T/yr biodiesel, the former processes will consume more than 12-20 T/yr of biocatalyst, while the ET Process® will consume only 1 T/y or less. This means that in a two-year span, the cost difference in lipase expense between retrofitting an existing plant using the aforementioned processes and using the ET Process® is much higher than the capital investment needed to set up a new ET Process® plant.

Sunho is offering the biocatalyst to biodiesel plants that will have a capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes/yr based on degummed oil. The biocatalyst will be supplied for the first 18 months or in 3 batches, depending on which one comes first.

Fuels America Thanks Biofuels Supporter Sen Harkin

As Iowa Senator Tom Harkin prepares to retire, Fuels America is thanking him for his unwavering and tireless support of biofuels with a full-page advertisement in the Sunday, September 14, 2014 Des Moines Register and on Iowa radio. Sen. Harkin will be holding his final steak fry with Secretary Hilary Clinton, who is the keynote speaker. During the event he plans on taking the opportunity to update Clinton on biofuels progress across Iowa and the country.

“We’re grateful to Senator Harkin for his leadership, and proud to welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton to Iowa for the last Harkin Streak Fry,” says Fuels America’s radio ads that began running on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday on stations throughout the Des Moines area. “As one great Iowa tradition ends, another is growing.”

Fuels America Harkin-Clinton AdThe ads note that Iowa has doubled renewable fuels production since 2007, and that the Iowa renewable fuels industry now supports over 73,000 jobs. The ads go on to appeal to Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State, noting that she knows the danger that America’s addiction to foreign oil poses to our national security, economic security, and energy security. Instability in Ukraine and Iraq has recently created even more uncertainty in an already tumultuous global oil market, and America’s reliance on foreign oil has left us at the mercy of hostile and unstable foreign actors.

The advertisements come as President Obama is giving final consideration to this year’s final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which will determine the extent to which renewable fuels will be allowed to compete with foreign oil in our fuel supply. At the same time, Secretary Clinton’s arrival in Iowa marks the beginning of a larger national dialogue on the future of renewable energy sources.

Branstad Chosen as “Biodiesel Champion” by IBB

iowabiodieselboardBiodiesel advocates in Iowa are recognizing that state’s governor for his efforts to support the green fuel. At today’s annual meeting of the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB), Governor Terry Branstad picks up the “Biodiesel Champion” award.

“Governor Branstad has shown steadfast support for state biodiesel programs and incentives, helping Iowa secure its position as the top biodiesel-producing state,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “He also shows bold national leadership in making an outspoken, compelling case for expanding biodiesel under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.”

Branstad serves as vice chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition. In December, he was the only governor to testify at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on the RFS.

“I want to thank the Iowa Biodiesel Board for the honor of being named a ‘Biodiesel Champion,’” said Branstad. “Iowa’s robust renewable fuel sector is a critical component of Iowa’s strong economic position. I’ve long been a strong supporter of renewable fuels like biodiesel, and will continue promoting innovation within this growing industry.”

Iowa is a major player in the biodiesel game, with 12 biodiesel plants producing about 230 million gallons of biodiesel in 2013 and supporting more than 7,000 jobs throughout the value chain.

Taiwan School Uses Microwaves to Make Biodiesel

ncku1A university in Taiwan is turning waste cooking oils into biodiesel using microwaves and strontium oxide (SrO) as catalyst. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in southern Taiwan is using the talents of Prof. (Emeritus) Aharon Gedanken from the Department of Chemistry at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, in the process.

With the system designed by the team, a machine has been built by a company in Taiwan.

“The machine is made in Taiwan and working very well comparing it with similar ones I have at home,” according to Gedanken

The converting machine has been set up in the department and ready to yield more biofuel in the coming months, according to MSE Distinguished Professor Jiunn-Der Liao who has invited Gedanken to cooperate with NCKU faculty conducting the research.

Prof. Liao said that with Gedanken’s help we are going to set up a converting station at An-nan campus and hopefully we will collect more waste cooked oil for the demonstration.

The experimental process cranks out 3 liters per hour, and the researchers hope to have companies in Taiwan apply the know-how to their biodiesel operations.

New Report on Biodiesel Success Roadmap Released

prefeasibility_report_on_a_biodiesel_productionA new report from a market research firm is designed to give potential biodiesel producers a possible roadmap for success in setting up a production plant. Research and Markets has released the “Prefeasibility Report on a Biodiesel Production Plant,” a study the purports to cover all the requisite aspects of the biodiesel production plant, ranging from a macro overview of the market to micro details of the industry performance, manufacturing requirements, project cost, project funding, project economics, expected returns on investment, profit margins, and more.

This report is a must-read for entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, consultants, business strategists, and all those who are planning to foray into the biodiesel industry in any manner.

Key Questions Answered in This Report?

– What are the key success and risk factors in the biodiesel industry?
– How has the biodiesel market performed so far and how will it perform in the coming years?
– What is the structure of the biodiesel industry and who are the key players?
– What are the various unit operations involved in a biodiesel plant?
– What is the total size of land required for setting up a biodiesel plant?

That and more is available in the report here.

Methes Hits Biodiesel Production Records

Methes1Las Vegas-based Methes Energies has hit record numbers for biodiesel production at a refinery in Ontario, Canada. The company says it produced more than 412,000 gallons of ASTM quality biodiesel at its Sombra, Ontario facility in August 2014 and hit 800,000 gallons of ASTM quality biodiesel at the Sombra facility during its third quarter ending August 31, 2014… both records for the company.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes, said, “Production is going very smoothly and both our Denami 3000s are performing very well as expected. Our production team is doing a great job and they look forward to produce even more biodiesel in our next quarter. Over the last few months, working with our clients has been rewarding and we will continue to build on those relationships to move even more biodiesel. We expect to ship over 25 railcars in September, which would be another record high for the company. We are currently finalizing production and sales forecasts for October, November and December 2014 and expect to provide production updates on a regular basis in the future.”

Methes has a refinery in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, in addition to the Sombra plant. Methes is also involved in providing clients with proprietary software to operate and control their processors as well as remotely monitoring the quality and characteristics of its clients’ production.

New Calif. Law to Crack Down on Biodiesel Grease Thieves

california_state_flagThe State of California will be cracking down on thieves of a popular biodiesel feedstock – used cooking grease. This article from the San Diego Union-Tribune says the new law is expected to be signed into effect soon and will have tougher penalties, including starting at $1,000 for first-time offenders.

Backers of the legislation hope harsher penalties, along with new provisions for roadside inspections and record keeping, will translate into more action by law enforcement and prosecutors. Individual oil thefts often qualify as petty theft but cumulatively cost biofuel companies and restaurants millions of dollars each year…

Restaurants, from fast-food to four-star, share in the profits by setting their waste oil aside in liquid containers ranging from 55 gallon drums to 15,000 gallon vats.

Imperial Western Products, which operates in California, Nevada and Arizona and collects oil from hundreds of restaurants in San Diego County, estimates 25 percent or more of its contracted oil gets taken before its trucks arrive.

David Isen, asset protection manager for the Coachella-based company, said thieves have used heavy equipment to haul away locked containers entirely. Motion sensors have helped him document oil theft in the early morning hours. Perpetrators responded, he said, by showing up later and blending into the morning bustle, or posing as cardboard collectors.

“Nobody is afraid of the enforcement,” he said. “We’re losing millions of dollars a year, our company alone.”

California actually has some pretty strict regulations on kitchen grease hauling but not many enforcers. The new law hopes to close some of the loopholes thieves have been exploiting.

Algae & Safflower Biodiesel Flies Across Salt Flats

Bonneville_BiodieselRacetruck_ustA truck running on biodiesel made from algae and safflower seed oil was tearing up the salt flats known for their speed records. This story from KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah says the Utah State University truck first set a record of nearly 135 miles per hour… about 30 miles faster than a small-engine diesel truck has ever gone before… using regular diesel. Then it was time to put the biodiesel blend to the test at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Michael Morgan, a research assistant at Utah State University, was out to prove something.

“Not only can we run it in our everyday cars, but when we want to, come here and run it as fast as we possibly can,” he said.

The diesel fuel his team made with algae and safflower seeds can stack up to the real thing, he said.

“I know that the world only has so many resources. We’re using them up quickly,” he said.

The 20 percent biodiesel blend pushed the truck over 100 miles per hour, but since the salt flats does not take records made using biodiesel, it was just for exhibition.

The group from Utah State dedicated the run to former colleague Dallas Hanks, a great biodiesel advocate from the school who died of cancer this past June.

“We want people to know about the work that he did,” Morgan said.

Spanish Biodiesel Plants Get Boost from Foreigners

300px-Flag_of_Spain.svgBiodiesel plants in Spain have hit records in output and exports, thanks to foreigners who have come in a re-opened many idled facilities. This article from Argus says in May, biodiesel production in Spain hit 140,000 metric tonnes – a record and 50 percent higher than a year ago. And through May, biodiesel production in the country was 400,000 metric tonnes for 2014, up nearly 40 percent from a year earlier and close to the previous record high output in 2011.

Rising Spanish production has followed the first-quarter restart of the country’s largest biodiesel plant, the 600,000 t/yr Infinita unit at the Mediterranean port of Castellon. Plant operator Indonesian palm oil and biodiesel producer Musim Mas has struck deals to buy or operate 1.1mn t/yr of Spanish biodiesel production capacity and avoided the EU’s 2013 Europe-wide tariffs on biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina, under anti-dumping legislation.

Instead, Musim importing and refining palm oil at Castellon to supply domestic demand, as well as eyeing exports.

And other foreign firms are buying cheap Spanish biodiesel capacity. Singapore based producer Ennovor has taken over a 60,000 t/yr facility at Huesca, north of Zaragoza. The company specialises biodiesel production from used cooking oil and waste animal fats.

The rise in production is obviously helping Spain’s biodiesel export market, setting a record 115,000 metric tonnes in March and another near-record 111,000 metric tonnes exported in May. For the first five months of 2014, Spain has licensed 488,000 metric tonnes of biodiesel for export, nearly doubling the amount from a year earlier.

The article also cites European Union tariffs on Argentinian and Indonesian biodiesel imports for the growth in Spain’s outputs and exports.