A cross-country trip to prove that chicken fat-based biodiesel is a viable fuel is back on after being derailed in November due to a busted drivetrain… but no issue with the fuel. According to this article from The Tennessean, Middle Tennessee State University agribusiness and agriscience professor Cliff Ricketts is heading back on the road on March 8, nearly four months after his 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup’s drive-train transmission broke 25 miles outside Kansas City, Missouri as he was trying to drive 3,550 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle on pure biodiesel from chicken fat, an adventure he has taken every year since 2012.
Although Ricketts cut the trip short, he was happy to report one fact.
“The biodiesel did great,” said Ricketts, who added that data showed miles per gallon ranges were from 36 to 45-plus. “Equal speed, power, torque.”
Another factor that stopped the trip in November was a pending winter storm making its way across the Great Plains. Let’s hope spring comes a little early for that region this time.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has joined the Iowa Biodiesel Board in welcoming a state gas tax that is awaiting the governor’s signature that will create a 3-cent per gallon differential tax rate for 11 percent biodiesel and higher blends. The IRFA says the measure would boost the availability and sales of cleaner-burning, locally-produced biodiesel.
Under the legislation, diesel fuel will be taxed at a rate of 32.5 cents per gallon. However, if diesel fuel is blended with 11 percent or more of biodiesel, the state excise tax is reduced to only 29.5 cents per gallon. The 3-cent per gallon differential for B11 and higher blends will go into effect on July 1, 2015.
“The biodiesel community thanks the Iowa Legislature for its commitment to increasing the use and availability of higher biodiesel blends,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Policy Director Grant Menke. “The 3-cent differential for blends containing at least 11 percent biodiesel will be a useful tool to build upon the progress we’ve made in cleaning up our air and supporting our economy through the use of homegrown Iowa biodiesel. The B11 differential further demonstrates Iowa’s policy leadership in expanding market access and consumer choice for renewable fuels.”
“With no end in sight on the federal policy uncertainty for biodiesel, I am grateful the Iowa Legislature took this opportunity to drive sales of higher biodiesel blends,” stated IRFA Vice President and Western Dubuque Biodiesel General Manager Tom Brooks. “This 3-cent differential for B11 and higher blends represents another step forward for the economic, environmental and energy security benefits that come along with a strong Iowa biodiesel community.”
Iowa produced 227 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014, about 16 percent of total U.S. biodiesel production for the year.
The latest numbers from the federal government shows biodiesel was the leader in growth among biofuels in the United States. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2013 Renewable Energy Data Book showed good gains for many of the renewable energy industries, while energy consumption from petroleum actually slumped, despite an overall increase in the amount of energy consumed.
United States overall energy consumption grew to 97.3 quadrillion Btu in 2013, a 2.4% increase from 2012. Energy consumption from coal and renewables grew slightly, while consumption from petroleum and natural gas fell slightly.
Biodiesel was the fastest growing biofuel type, with production increasing by 64% in the United States and 17% globally, from a relatively small base.
Renewable electricity [including hydropower and biopower] grew to nearly 15% of total installed capacity and 13% of total electricity generation in the United States in 2013. Installed renewable electricity capacity exceeded 171 gigawatts (GW) in 2013, generating 534 TWh.
[S]olar electricity was the fastest growing electricity generation technology, with cumulative installed capacity increasing by nearly 66% from the previous year.
[W]ind electricity generation increased 20% in 2013, while wind electricity capacity grew 1.8%.
The report also found that in 2013, renewable electricity accounted for more than 61 percent of all new electricity capacity installations in the United States. By comparison, renewable electricity captured 4 percent of new capacity additions in 2004 and 57 percent in 2008.
Globally, solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) are among the fastest growing renewable electricity technologies— between 2000 and 2013, solar electricity generation worldwide increased by a factor of nearly 68.
The Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) is welcoming a proposal that would raise the state’s fuel tax. This news release from the group says the proposed state legislation would give a partial exemption to the new tax for diesel blended with at least 11 percent biodiesel (B11), encouraging use and growth of the green fuel.
The proposed tax increase (HF 351 and SF 257) is 10 cents a gallon for both diesel and gasoline as part of a plan to address Iowa’s infrastructure needs. A provision provides a 3 cent exemption for biodiesel blends of B11 and above for 5 years.
The IBB, whose membership includes biodiesel producers, soybean farmers and other stakeholders, called the biodiesel nod a bold leadership move.
“This is smart policy on the part of our state leaders that will benefit the entire state, and we thank them,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of IBB. “Doing everything we can to encourage biodiesel production and usage generates significant economic activity for Iowa. Every gallon of biodiesel we use at home is one less equivalent gallon from the Middle East, and keeps money in our state.”
The bill has a 5-year sunset, but the IBB is hoping to see that extended to 10 years in the future.
An increase in demand for biodiesel has, in turn, pushed up the theft of one of the green fuel’s feedstock, used cooking oil. This article from NorthJersey.com says lawmakers in New Jersey are proposing more regulations intended to crack down on the thefts. But not everyone is convinced it will help.
A bill, already passed by the state Senate, would regulate an industry that has until now been a dirty, smelly, under-the-radar business in which the participants have faced virtually no state oversight. The bill would require collectors and recyclers of used cooking oil — also known as yellow grease — to be certified by the state.
Anthony Contorno started a grease collection business in Carlstadt and fears a bill in Trenton to regulate the industry would squeeze out operations like his. At right, Contorno gathering used oil at an East Rutherford eatery.
Supporters say that requiring companies to be certified and to document all sales and purchases of yellow grease would reduce theft, but opponents say it would squeeze little players from the industry and add bureaucracy without curbing theft.
“That’s a question of policing, it’s not a question of licensing,” said state Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, who voted against the bill. “The remedy did not seem to address the problem. You can’t just say we are going to have more regulation and we are going to stop thieves. Thieves are still going to steal, and they will find some way to dispose of product.”
Opponents of the bill worry it will force out small companies from being able to operate. Proponents argue that grease thefts take income away from legitimate operators and hurts the waste-to-biodiesel industry overall.
The City of Pittsburgh soon could be running some of its trucks on biofuels. This article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says a proposal is before the city council to enter into a $150,000 agreement with Optimus Technologies to convert about 20 Department of Public Works trucks to run on the green fuel, which will reduce emissions and save the city money.
Grant Ervin, the city’s sustainability manager, said Optimus’ Vector fuel system was tested on five municipal trucks in a pilot program that started in 2013. The goal is to add it to other city vehicles as an analysis of the city’s fleet needs continues.
“That’s what really exciting about it,” Mr. Ervin said, adding that part of the cost of the program will be covered by state alternative fuel grants. “For us, it’s a tool we can extend to other vehicles. … What the Optimus technology does is basically create hybrid vehicles.”
In cold weather, when biofuel can be plagued by “gelling,” the trucks can be started on conventional diesel fuel and switched to biofuel when it warms up, said Optimus CEO Colin Huwyler.
The biofuel that could be used would be made from recycled cooking oil, non food-grade corn oil from the ethanol industry and rendered animal fat.
A group from Montana is turning waste into biodiesel. This story from KBZK-TV in Bozeman says Full Circle Biofuels in that city is making the used cooking grease from restaurants into the green fuel.
“Restaurants will have this and they will dump their used fryer oil into here. And then we’ll come and pump it out of this little hole on top whenever they’re full,” Full Circle Biofuels director Jesse Therien said.
Therien turns that waste into something people can use: biodiesel. It’s an alternative to petroleum-based diesel, with some added benefits like reduced emissions.
“It’s biodegradable, it’s nontoxic, it’s renewable and ours in particular is made from recycled materials,” Therein said.
Therien collects used fryer oil from more than 60 restaurants in Bozeman and Belgrade. “Right now we’re bringing in about 4,000 gallons a month but that is likely to double in the next little while. We have all the Walmarts in the state and then Cody, Wyoming as well,” he said.
The company says a school district and the city there have approached it to make biodiesel to go into buses and snow plows.
Biodiesel is playing a critical role in helping California meet its goals under the state’s clean air legislation, known as AB 32. The California Biodiesel Alliance says that during the recent Fourth Annual California Biodiesel Conference, attendees heard from a variety of speakers who talked about how the green fuel is making a difference.
Don Scott, Director of Sustainability at the National Biodiesel Board, kicked off the first panel with several important statistics about biodiesel benefits relative to petroleum diesel: biodiesel reduces GHGs by 50 – 80%; decreases wastewater by 79% and hazardous waste by 96%; and its use prevents hundreds of premature deaths in California from reduced PM2.5 exposure. Making the same comparison with petroleum diesel, panel moderator Lisa Mortenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Community Fuels, presented U.S. EPA data on biodiesel’s health benefits showing significant reductions in emissions associated with smog, cancer causing compounds, and respiratory illness, and made an insightful observation: “Imagine if . . . biodiesel were the standard and petroleum diesel were trying to gain approval.”
High-level California regulatory officials presented at the conference. Richard Corey, Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), reported on progress toward the adoption California’s groundbreaking carbon reduction strategies by other states and Canada. Adding to ARB’s well-known acknowledgement of the value of biodiesel’s GHG-lowering emissions profile (biodiesel generated 13% of LCFS credits through Q3 2014), Mr. Corey referenced the state’s reliance on biodiesel for “future reductions of toxic diesel particulate matter.”
Janea A. Scott, Commissioner at the California Energy Commission (CEC), gave an update on funding under the agency’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, citing that biodiesel is making tremendous gains and showcasing four biodiesel production projects with construction or expansion underway using agency grants.
The principal consultant for AB 32 author Senator Fran Pavley, Henry Stern, encouraged industry participants to keep coming back to tell positive biodiesel stories.
An Indiana city is debating the merits of a contract with a company turning sludge into biodiesel. This story from TV station WTHI in Terre Haute says the city council there discussed the contract the city good have with Powerdyne.
Powerdyne’s CEO Geoff Hirson faced the music Thursday night. He answered plenty of questions from the City Council, from a pair of engineers who question his project, and News 10. What we learned is he’s confident in is project, he wants to locate in Terre Haute, but time is of the essence.
It was standing room only at Thursday’s City Council meeting. Hirson made a brief presentation outlining the process his company will use to turn sludge and other carbon sources into biofuels.
“Everything is ready to go,” said Hirson. “It’s in the city’s hands now to decide whether they want us or don’t want us.”
Hirson said he wants to have the plant in Terre Haute, but the process has been dragging on for too long. And with the plant being a $300 million investment that Powerdyne has had to finance, every day its delayed is costing the company money.
Once finished, the plant is expected to produce 12 million gallons of biodiesel each year.
The latest government numbers show the amount of ethanol and biodiesel, as well as energy produced from wind and solar will increase in 2015. The latest Short-Term Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows growth for the biofuels, while total renewables used for electricity and heat generation will grow by 3.8 percent this year.
Ethanol production averaged 933,000 bbl/d in 2014, and EIA expects it to average 938,000 bbl/d in 2015 and 936,000 bbl/d in 2016. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 80,000 bbl/d in 2014 and is forecast to average 84,000 bbl/d in both 2015 and 2016.
In 2013, the electricity generation shares were 6.6% and 6.2% from hydropower and nonhydropower renewables, respectively. Wind is the largest source of nonhydropower renewable generation, and it is projected to contribute 5.2% of total electricity generation in 2016. Wind capacity, which grew by 7.7% in 2014, is forecast to increase by 16.1% in 2015 and by another 6.5% in 2016. Because wind is starting from a much larger base than solar, even though the growth rate is lower, the absolute amount of the increase in capacity is more than twice that of solar: 15 GW of wind versus 6 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016.
EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average almost 80 gigawatthours (GWh) per day in 2016. Despite this growth, solar power averages only 0.7% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016.
Some New York City residents could be using more biodiesel for heating their workplaces. This article from the New York Daily News says a bill just introduced before the city council would up the biodiesel percentage in heating oil for city buildings to 5 percent next year and up to 20 percent by 2030.
“It’s the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road,” [bill sponsor Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Queens)] said. “Buildings are a huge source of emissions, and we have to find a way of dealing with buildings.”
Current city law requires 2% of heating oil to come from biofuel.
The average household burns 600 gallons of heating oil a year.
The proposal would graduate in the increase – 10 percent blends in 2020, 15 percent by 2025 and 20 percent by 2030.
Biodiesel is making more inroads in the marine industry. This article from the nautical magazine, The Triton, says that while it’s still not that common to see biodiesel fueling a boat motor, it is gaining popularity.
Cummins, which manufactures marine engines up to about 700 hp, approves the use of B20 biodiesel on many of its high horsepower products that are fitted with common rail fuel injection systems. For larger engines with the horsepower needed for superyachts, manufacturers such as MTU allow their engines to be run on a maximum of B07 (7 percent biodiesel). MTU’s intention is to have its newer engine designs run on B100.
Caterpillar engines, on the other hand, can now operate with B20 on its complete line of marine engines. In Europe, MAN common rail engines are certified to run on B05. However, in the United States MAN will not approve the use of biodiesel blends on its common rail engines. Stateside, its engineers will only allow the use of these blends in older, non-common rail engines. The reason? MAN believes the quality of biodiesel manufactured in Europe is more consistent than in the U.S., but they do believe that will change.
Biodiesel blends, which are approved for use in marine engines, have at least one advantage over petrodiesel. Biodiesel has a higher lubricity, which results in less wear to parts such as fuel injectors. Traditional diesel fuel uses sulfur for lubrication, and much of that component has been removed from the refined fuel to reduce emissions and the resulting air pollution.
The author does caution about a couple of possible pitfalls with biodiesel. First, it will degrade three times faster than petroleum-based diesel, so proper fuel handling and storage techniques must be followed. Second, since it is since a clean-running fuel, it will dissolve and loosen many of the gum and tar deposits in the fuel system, leading to potential fuel filter clogging. Boat owners converting from pertoleum-based diesel to biodiesel are just encouraged to change fuel filters a bit more frequently.
A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to quickly approve strong biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The group of 32 senators, led by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter Monday to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy noting that the agency’s delay in issuing Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOSs) for 2014 and now 2015 have created “tremendous uncertainty and hardship for the U.S. biodiesel industry and its thousands of employees.”
“Plants have reduced production and some have been forced to shut down, resulting in layoffs and lost economic productivity,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to get biodiesel back on schedule under the statutorily prescribed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) process and quickly issue volumes for 2014 at the actual 2014 production numbers. We also hope you move forward on the 2015 and 2016 biodiesel volumes in a timely manner.”
The senators’ letter also said EPA should take into account the anticipated increase in Argentinian imports in setting biodiesel volumes to prevent the displacement of domestic production. “Two weeks ago I called on the agency to stop prioritizing the imports of foreign competitors over our workers here at home, and to recommit itself fully to supporting American energy by providing certainty to the American workers who contribute to our national goal of energy independence,” said Sen. Heitkamp in a news release.
Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, praised the senators’ action and hopes EPA’s McCarthy will respond quickly. “There is absolutely no reason for continued delays in the biodiesel volumes in the RFS,” said Steckel. “This could be done tomorrow.”
A Canadian biodiesel plant has officially been taken over by a New Hampshire maker of the green fuel. This story from the Pelham News says Atlantic Biodiesel, a new subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Heridge SARL, which won Great Lakes Biodesel’s assets in a recent bankruptcy auction, has begun managerial operations of the $50-million facility.
Michael Paszti has assumed the role of chief operating officer of the subsidiary struck to operate the Welland plant.
“We are strongly committed to the facility’s success and Michael will be an integral, on-the-ground team member whose priority will be to quickly get operations up and running to full capacity,” the company said in a news release issued Wednesday.
“Welland is our home, and Atlantic Biodiesel is focused on continued engagement with local elected and community officials as we work to renew discussions with the federal government. With the support of the community and various levels of government, Atlantic Biodiesel will fulfil its goal of becoming a world-class producer of biodiesel fuel targeting the unique needs of the Canadian fuels complex, and play a critical part in provincial and federal greenhouse gas reduction efforts.”
The plant is capable of producing about 40 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Local officials plan to pressure the federal Canadian government to reinstate some funding that helps keep the refinery afloat.
Soybean growers in Illinois are recognizing fleets in the state that run on a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, B20. This news release from the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) says the group has partnered with the American Lung Association in Illinois to launch the B20 Club.
“B20 offers economic and environmental benefits to the fleets that use it, so we wanted to bring these leading fleets together and recognize them for taking the initiative to move up to B20,” says Rebecca Richardson, ISA biodiesel lead. “We’ll also provide resources for our B20 Club members, and others in the state, who have questions about how to use biodiesel in their fleets.”
Inaugural members include:
The Fleet Services Division of Public Works Department in the City of Evanston, Ill., which operates 366 units that include all diesel police and fire vehicles, heavy equipment, utilities and forestry departments and pool vehicles and parks and recreation buses.
Cook-Illinois Corporation; Kickert School Bus Lines, Inc., one of their leading subsidiaries which also is one of the largest family-owned and -operated school bus contractors in the country, runs more than 2,100 school buses every day.
Peoria CityLink operates 58 buses and 35 Paratransit vans that carry three million passengers annually.
R&N Trucking LLC, with 17 trucks that together travel more than a million miles a year.
S.K. Davison, a family-run business specializing in local and regional hauls with 18 trucks travelling approximately 800,000 miles per year.
G&D Integrated, serving central Illinois for more than 100 years with transportation, freight transfer and storage services, and currently more than 400 long-haul trucks.
The six members of the B20 Club run more than 2,700 vehicles burning more than 2.2 million gallons of biodiesel. That cuts carbon dioxide emissions of more than 253 tons — a reduction the equivalent of taking 48 cars off the roadway.