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:

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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.”

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.

Genera Energy Introduces BIN-SPEC

Genera Energy has introduced a new feedstock management program module to reduce biomass feedstock variability: BIN-SPEC. According to the company, the preprocessing system delivers a consistent biomass product to a customer’s specifications with the least amount of variability and at a lower cost.

“After producing and harvesting a biomass crop, significant processes and steps must take place to convert a field crop into a uniform format feedstock with the exact size, chemical composition and moisture to meet the needs of each end user,” explained Kelly Tiller, Ph.D., CEO and president of Genera Energy. “We are now able to announce BIN-SPEC as the final link in our proprietary biomass supply chain management system.”

Genera-BIN_SPEC-Graphic-300x171Along with Genera’s other feedstock management systems, Energy Grange and Supply ASSURE, BIN-SPEC was developed through years of R&D and in-the-field testing aimed at consolidating and simplifying the entire biomass feedstock process, offering benefits to landowners, farmers and feedstock end users for the biofuels, biochemical and biopower industries.

While much research has focused on feedstock specific conversion technologies, Genera Energy noticed a gap in the study and field tests of biomass particle size during the preprocessing phase and as a result, developed BIN-SPEC to address this and other problems, offering a repeatable solution that reduces costs, increases efficiencies and provides a consistent product for end users.

Genera’s BIN-SPEC preprocessing management system looks at every step before, during and after preprocessing for each specific end user, assuring a tailored feedstock product specifically for use with BIN-SPEC designated equipment that will produce a biomass product with the least variation. While preprocessing biomass feedstocks is not new, Genera has focused on improving the process by reducing energy consumption, increasing efficiencies, and optimizing the process. This optimization ultimately leads to a lower cost, more consistent feedstock for the end user.

Keith Brazzell, Genera Energy COO notes that variation in feedstock product can be a costly problem for refineries. That was why BIN-SPEC was developed – to add value to a customer’s conversion process.

Red River Energy Signs Deal with Noble Mansfield

nmrreRed River Energy has signed an ethanol marketing agreement with Noble Mansfield Commodity Services (NMCS) to handle their ethanol marketing. In addition, ICM subsidiary Energy Management Solutions, will manage the day-to-day operations and activities of the 25 million gallon per year ethanol plant located in Rosholt, South Dakota.

According to Rick Serie, general manager of Red River Energy, “After a long and exhaustive search, we’ve concluded that Noble Mansfield Commodity Services is the right ethanol marketing company to help us sell our ethanol as we restart our ICM-retrofitted facility. We felt comfortable with this decision given their past success in consistently selling our products across our key markets. Their marketing and logistics expertise will be particularly important as we proceed with our plans, which include investments into a grain storage bin and ICM’s corn oil extraction technology.”

William K. Covey, CEO of Noble Mansfield Commodity Services, agrees. “We are very excited for the opportunity to once again support Red River Energy by serving their marketing needs with knowledge, experience and reliability. We also welcome Rick’s trust in our ability to consistently maximize their netbacks, along with his appreciation for our personalized client support, competitive logistics, railcar access, transparent accounting integration and actionable market intelligence.”

RFA: Rail Congestion Must Get Resolved

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is speaking out again on the problems of rail congestion that is slowing down the delivery of ethanol and ethanol byproducts across the country. He submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that held a hearing yesterday to examine rail congestion and the harmful impact it has had on agriculture and other commodities.

Dinneen stressed the role that Bakken Crude rail shipments have played in increasing dwell times and decreasing train speeds and pointed toward the negative impact these delays are having on ethanol producers. “The rail system didn’t collapse last winter because of a snow drift in North Dakota,” he said. “It was because of a 400% increase in oil shipments from the Bakkens.”

RailcarsIn the written testimony Dinneen said, “The recent crisis of congestion that has seemingly overtaken the rail industry has become a huge and costly problem … This crisis is one that is causing significant harm to the economic health and well-being of our nation’s economy, as well as driving up costs for a wide array of commodities that rely on the rail for transportation…it is becoming more and more apparent that surging crude oil shipments are coming at the expense of other goods and commodities.”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on rail situation

EIA: Nat Gas, Biofuel to be More of World Fuel by 2040

Natural gas and biofuels will make up the biggest share of the increase in what are known as “other liquid resources” in the world liquid fuel supply. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook for 2014 (IEO2014) says those fuels that include natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), biofuels, coal-to-liquids (CTL), gas-to-liquids (GTL), kerogen (oil shale), and refinery gain, made up just 14 percent of the world’s liquid fuels in 2010. But that number is expected to rise to 17 percent by 2040, driven by higher petroleum prices.
worldotherfuels1
NGPL are the largest component of the other liquids, accounting for 68% of the total in 2010 (Figure 14). The increase in NGPL production is directly correlated to the increase in natural gas production. In contrast, increased production of the remaining other liquids (primarily biofuels, CTL, and GTL) is in response to policies that encourage growth in the expansion of these liquids with available domestic resources, such as coal and crops. In the IEO2014 Reference case, sustained high oil prices make the development of the non-NGPL other liquids more attractive. In addition, biofuels development also relies heavily on country-specific programs or mandates. Combined, the remaining, non-NGPL other liquid fuels grow at more than twice the rate of NGPL over the projection period.

Brazil is expected to put in 500,000 additional barrels of biofuels per day, with another 300,000 additional barrels of biofuels coming from China.

Michigan Next Stop for Ethanol Safety Seminars

Michigan is the next stop for the Ethanol Safety Seminars. Led by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, there will be five training stops with the first on September 17 in Albion. Additional seminars will take place on September 18 in Lansing, September 19 in Grand Rapids, September 22 in Saginaw and September 24 in Warren. Each seminar is funded by a Promotion and Alternative Fuels Education grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Ethanol Safety SeminarAll seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, seminars are also open to the general public.

Ethanol Safety Seminars focus on numerous areas including an introduction to ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, chemical and physical characteristics of ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, transportation and transfer of ethanol-blended fuels, storage and dispensing locations, firefighting foam principles and ethanol-blended fuel, health and safety considerations for ethanol-blended fuel emergencies and tank farm and bulk storage fire incidents.

“With nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol flowing across our country via railroads, highway cargo tank trucks, and barges, it’s vital that our first responders know how to safely and effectively handle the situation should a spill occur,” said Craig VanBuren, consumer protection section director at the Michigan Department of Agriculture. “This grant allows the Renewable Fuels Association the opportunity to provide boots-on-the-ground training for our emergency responders if an ethanol spill were to happen.”

In addition to the seminars, RFA will also host five free retailer workshops throughout the state on how to market ethanol-blended fuels, including E15, E85, and all mid-level blends in between. The workshops will discuss economics, the process of capturing RINs, equipment options, buying fuel locally, and available incentives to offset investment. Workshops will take place on Sept. 16 in Warren and Flint, Sept. 17 in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and Sept. 18 in Ann Arbor.

Energy Management Solutions Signs New Agreements

Energy Management Solutions, Inc. (EMS), a subsidiary of ICM ,has signed two new plant management agreements with Red River Energy LLC, located in Rosholt, South Dakota and Midwest Renewable Energy LLC, located in Sutherland, Nebraska.

ICMlogo1The Red River Energy ethanol plant will come back online and into full production this week after sitting idle for the past 18 months. The plant has an operating capacity of 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. The Midwest Renewable Energy plant is currently operating at a capacity of 22 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM said, “We are excited about expanding our plant management efforts with the addition of these two facilities. We’re proud to be their operator of choice and we look forward to helping each plant run as efficiently as possible.”

In addition to these newly signed contracts, EMS provides plant management services for Tharaldson Ethanol, Casselton, North Dakota and Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC, South Bend, Indiana., which is scheduled to come online in the 4th quarter of this year.

New Holland’s Biomass Experience

Have you had the opportunity to participate in the biomass experience from New Holland? Thousands of farmers from around the country were able to do just this during the Farm Progress Show. In addition, attendees of the Project LIBERTY grand opening were also able to experience all things biomass. But for those who were unable to attend, Chuck Zimmerman is bringing the biomass experience to you.

fps14-nh-biomassZimmerman spoke with Jarrod Angstadt, manager growth initiatives biomass and specialty products, who said New Holland is working with various biomass projects and research institutions across the country to work on the biomass industry and get a better handle on what’s going on and move it forward. “We want to be prepared to help their customers. Obviously they have needs and we have solutions,” Angstadt told Zimmerman.

He pointed out some new and current products that are available for growers looking at providing biomass to the biofuels industry. They have new round balers launched this year. In addition there are products growers have been using already including the BigBaler and the combine with the corn rower and forage harvester as well.

Zimmerman asked Angstadt was the future of biomass looked like. “The whole biomass market is wide open right now. There are a lot of people getting in to it and it is forging forward. Exactly where the end is is really unknown but that is what is really exciting about the industry,” answered Angstadt.

To learn more about the full biomass experience, listen to Chuck’s interview with Jarrod Angstadt: Interview with Jarrod Angstadt, New Holland

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

New Study: E15 Would Reduce Smog

According to a new study conducted by Life Cycle Associates, using E15 ethanol blends rather than regular gas will reduce cancer-causing pollutants and smog in Chicago’s air. The research examined and aggregated a wide range of research to assess changes in the emissions from E15 taChicago E15 logoilpipe and evaporative emissions, compared to regular gasoline. The following factors were considered for the study: ethanol blend composition; vehicle tailpipe emissions; storage and fueling with ethanol blends; changes in evaporative and exhaust emissions; human health impacts; ozone potential; and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

To determine how much E15 reduces the risk of cancer, the study looked at several cancer-causing pollutants found in vehicle exhaust and found that using E15 shows a projected reduction in cancer risk because the ethanol in E15 displaces carcinogens like benzene and 1,3 butadiene.

“The most significant changes from a change … to E15 include a reduction in cancer risk from vehicle exhaust and evaporative emissions, a reduction in the potential to form ozone or photochemical smog, and a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the study reported.

The study found:

  • The renewable fuel in E15 displaces cancer causing emissions from gasoline, resulting in a net decrease in cancer risk of 6.6% compared to regular gas.
  • The smog forming potential from E15 is lower than in regular gas.
  • Using E15 gasoline with 15 percent ethanol results in a 1.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to regular gasoline which contains 10% ethanol.

Adding ethanol also displaces gasoline components with higher smog forming potential, resulting in a lower smog forming potential for E15 blends than regular gasoline, according to the paper. In addition, the study reviewed extensive research on E15’s influence on greenhouse gas emissions, finding a reduction of 1.5 percent in E15 gasoline compared to regular, E10 gasoline. However, E15 has had difficulty gaining traction in the marketplace due to infrastructure challenges.

Those discoveries have significant implications for Chicago, which suffers from poor air quality and increased risk from disease-causing pollutants, particularly on the South Side. This study shows how the availability of E15 gasoline could help to solve those problems.

The report was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), California Air Resources Board (CARB), Coordinating Research Council, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Illinois and several other institutions.

Protec Fuel Expands E15, E85 in the South

Protect Fuel is working with retailers in the South and Southeast to open 28 E15 and E85 stations. The announcement marks the first phase of an introduction of E15 to cities including Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, Texas. Florida and Virginia will also be on the target list.

protecfuel1“Because of the success of our retailers who have offered E85 in the past, our retail customers are asking us for E15,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec Fuel. “With our proven expertise in the field, it’s natural for us to help meet the demand of many convenience store retailers – large and small – who want to offer products different than their competitors. Further, this can aid in helping to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS] blend wall, after market concentration of E10,” Garner said.

E15 can be used in vehicles 2001 or newer while E85 can be used in any flex fuel vehicle. Protec Fuel provides ethanol blends to retailers as well as installs ethanol stations. The company currently supplies, either directly or through distribution partners, more than 200 E85 stations.

In response to the announcement, Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO said, “Protec has listened to their customers and retailers, and has taken the initiative to offer higher ethanol blends that improve the environment, create jobs at home, and strengthen our energy and national security. Furthermore, Protec knows that by offering a homegrown, less expensive fuel they will continue to build a customer base by providing a choice and savings at the pump.”

“Bottom line – consumer demand for homegrown, high performance, low cost fuels cannot be ignored,” added Buis. “E15 continues to spread across the nation and Protec is a leader in a larger movement that will increase E15’s footprint across our nation, finally ending Big Oil’s stranglehold on the liquid fuels marketplace.”

AMRC Looks at Ethanol Plant Profitability Projections

Don Hofstrand, retired agriculture extension economist with the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AMRC) located at Iowa State University, has recently published projections for ethanol plant profitability over the next several years. When the ethanol boom really took off, Hofstrand noted that most farmers purchased shares in ethanol plants as a way to hedge against low corn prices. So AMRC began to look track the monthly profitability of ethanol plants.

hofstrandfigure5_E2C7BA3AB4D47“We track the monthly profitability by using the current ethanol prices, the current corn prices, distillers grains (DDGs) and natural gas. Each month we compute that and have a record going back to 2005 of how the profitability of those systems have changed over that period of time to give a indication of the current economic status of ethanol production and biodiesel production,” explained Hofstrand.

Today it appears that there is a saturated ethanol market that may cause an excess of corn supplies. However, Hofstrand said that over the past few years corn prices have been high taking a bite out of ethanol production profits. He finds there will be substantial uncertainly surrounding the ethanol selling price and net returns to the ethanol supply chain. This could be affected by rising corn production costs and where they will trend in the future is uncertain. He also finds that although energy prices may soften, interest rates are expected to strengthen, and with continued improvement in genetics, seed cost may continue to rise, but the rise may be offset by higher yields.

Ultimately, Hosftrand said that what is certain is that corn selling prices need to stay relatively strong in relation to historic levels to continue generating farm operator net returns from the marketplace.

Valero Restarts Mount Vernon, IN Ethanol Plant

Valero Renewable Fuels Company has restarted its recently purchased ethanol plant located in Mount Vernon, Indiana. On hand for the Port Appreciation and Welcome Ceremony was Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and other state and local officials. The Mount Vernon plant is the 11th corn ethanol plant in Valero Renewables’ system and its second in Indiana. It has an annual production capacity of 110 million gallons and uses Delta-T technology, similar to the process already in use at Valero Renewables’ ethanol plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

“The opening of Valero’s ethanol facility at the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon is another economic development win for the State of Indiana,” Ellspermann said during the ceremony. “When the tenth largest Valero renewables_logo smallcompany in the U.S. decides to make such a large investment right here in Indiana, the company is confirming that we have a great business climate that includes our strong agriculture industry and our multimodal transportation infrastructure. Not only is Valero developing a partnership with the Ports of Indiana on this project, but the company is also making a significant commitment to support Mount Vernon and the entire Southwest Indiana community.”

Adding the Mount Vernon location gives Valero more than 1.3 billion gallons per year in ethanol production. The plant had been shut down for approximately two years, but Valero Renewables resumed production at the site earlier in August and now employs approximately 65 full-time workers.

“We pride ourselves in our operations and being a positive impact to the community,” said Martin Parrish, senior vice president, Valero Renewable Fuels Company LLC. “I’m confident you will find that our actions back this up.” During the event Parrish presented a donation of $20,000 on behalf of the Valero Energy Foundation to the United Way of Posey County to mark the beginning of Valero’s impact in the area.

According to Valero, the Mount Vernon ethanol plant’s logistical advantages include ready access to corn suppliers as well as strong rail, truck and barge transportation. The plant is at the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon on a location leased from Ports of Indiana, the state port authority.

USDA Develops Switchgrass with Bigger Yield, More Biofuel

libertyResearchers working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a variety of switchgrass that produces bigger yields and more biofuel. Rob Mitchell with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Nebraska gives credit to retired geneticist Ken Vogel who developed the Liberty variety of switchgrass.

“He was able to identify an upland type and a lowland type that had similar genetics so they were able to be crossed. He made greenhouse crosses and then took those crosses to the field and right away saw a real big increase in biomass production,” Vogel says.

Field testers in Nebraska and Wisconsin noticed that not only were they getting more biomass, but they were also getting more biofuel out of the biomass produced, in addition to good stand establishment and winter survivability… key points for the Upper Midwest where Mitchell expects the Liberty variety to be grown for biofuels.

“I anticipate that Liberty is going to be at its best in that Central Plains and Midwestern region. It probably won’t go much further south, because they really don’t deal with winter hardiness issues in the southern U.S. like we do in the Central Great Plains and the Midwest,” he said.

Summit Group Building Brazilian Corn Ethanol Plant

Alden, Iowa-based Summit Group announced a project to build the first modern corn ethanol plant in Brazil during the 2014 Farm Progress Show. The project will consist of a US$140 million ethanol plant near Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a leading agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans. The project is being financed by Summit Group’s private equity group U.S. Farmland Fund and the company partnering with Fiagril and will be developed by ethanol technology company ICM and built by agribusiness company Marino Franz.

Bruce Rastetter Summit GroupI asked Rastetter “Why Brazil” and he answered that outside of the U.S. they believe this country will play the biggest role in feeding the world. “One of the interesting parts in particular about Mato Grosso is because of improved genetics they’re able to double crop. So they are able to raise the first crop of soybeans and the second crop of corn or cotton so they have increasing corn production in the middle of the continent where it is difficult to get it out. So they are embracing value-added agriculture,” explained Rastetter.

So what is the difference between the early U.S. ethanol plants and the modern corn ethanol plant that will be based in Brail? Rastetter said they are partnering with Colwich,Kansas-based ICM and CEO Dave Vander Griend has been traveling to Brazil with Rastetter and his team for a few years. While the majority of the technology will be the same with an improvement on high protein low fiber DDGs (dried distillers grains) – a just patented process for livestock feed.

The ethanol will stay in Brazil since the Government in Brazil wants to increase the ethanol blend from 25 percent to 27 percent. I also asked him about the environmental footprint of growing corn in Brazil and Rastetter said the country is very sustainable and the farms they are purchasing from have a large percentage of trees, and if they don’t, they are planting trees.

To learn more about Summit Group’s corn ethanol plant in Brazil, listen to my interview with Bruce Rastetter: Interview with Bruce Rastetter

I also had the opportunity to speak with Eric Peterson who is the president of Summit Group who talked more specifically about the value-added opportunities the corn ethanol plant will provide the community of Mato Grosso. Peterson explained the area has difficulty getting corn exports out of the region and ethanol into the region. With the new ethanol plant, the corn will be purchased locally and the ethanol and DDGs produced will then stay local – overcoming the export/import barriers of the region. This has made the project and partners very accepted in the community.

Eric Peterson Summit GroupSince the technology will provide a different type of DDGs than used in the U.S. a part of the project and because Brazilians are very used to using soy meal, they will be able to complement the soy meal with a high protein product. In addition, with the high fiber feed product they are going to run feed trials with a University of Nebraska nutritionist to learn how to best utilize the co-product.

Peterson believes there is a great opportunity to create synergistic relationships between U.S. farmers and Brazilian farmers. “When we go there we are impressed with some of their technology and how they adapt to large scale agriculture and they are quickly adopting precision technologies that we have here in the U.S. and there is no better place for people to assimilate technology than in Brazil and so I think we can learn a lot from each other.”

The plant is to break ground the next six months and to be operational 16 months from groundbreaking which will occur before the rainy season in Feb/March and will produce 50 million gallons of ethanol per year.

To learn more about the agribusiness aspect of the Summit Group’s Brazilian ethanol plant by listening to my interview with Eric Peterson: Interview with Eric Peterson

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.