IFRA: Back Biodiesel

The rule to increase the 2013 Biomass-Based Diesel volumes under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons needs swift action by President Obama according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IFRA). The organization sent a letter to the president urging his administration to keep its track record of support for biodiesel and approve the requested increase for 2013.

IRFA President Brad Albin said that with biodiesel plants in nearly every state in the U.S, including 13 plants in Iowa, the increase in volumes would “support family-wage, skilled, green-collar jobs while decreasing our reliance on costly foreign oil and harmful tailpipe emissions.”

According to a study by Cardo ENTRIX, the .28 billion increase would support more than 10,000 new jobs. In total, the industry would contribute $2.7 billion to household income and $4.9 billion in GDP. As a U.S. Senator, Obama was an active biodiesel supporter. However, at the end of 2011, his administration announced that it would delay the decision on the RFS volume increase and the industry is still waiting for an answer.

“This is an important issue for the biodiesel industry and absolutely critical here in Iowa. IRFA calls on the Obama Administration to approve this modest volume increase as soon as possible,” said IRFA Biofuels Manager Grant Menke. He added that by the end of 2011, the industry was operating at a capacity of 1.4 billion gallons and is capable of meeting the increased target.

USDA Plays Biofuels “Matchmaker”

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture will be hosting a “match making day” later this month to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks with biorefiners seeking to produce biofuels for commercial sale and consumption.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration will also attend the March 30 event at USDA headquarters with the goal being to improve awareness and increase understanding of the biofuels supply-chain links between those involved in feedstock production and the processors of that feedstock into biofuels, including logistical challenges, potential roles of service providers, and potential pitfalls.

At this meeting, federal officials will provide a short profile of each section of the supply chain and representatives from the participating stakeholders will respond with brief presentations that outline their experiences in that respective supply chain sector, barriers encountered and lessons learned. They will outline potential growth and opportunities.
Short presentations will be made at the top of each hour leaving time for discussion at each table, at which a representative from each of the sectors of the biofuels supply chain should be seated, as well as one or more government official.

The event is free but participants must register by sending an email to: OSEC-RESupplyChain@osec.usda.gov with information on company, names and titles of attendees and position on the biofuels production value chain (i.e., feedstock seed developer or provider, feedstock grower or harvester, feedstock processor, feedstock transporter, feedstock storer, bio-refiner, feedstock machinery manufacturer/provider, other). More information is available by calling 202-401-0461.

Cobalt Forms New Bio n-Butanol Partnership

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) is in the final stage of a biojet fuel project using bio n-butanol produced by Cobalt Technologies. Albemarle Corporation, a chemical company, will use NAWCWD technologies to process Cobalt’s fuel into renewable jet fuel. The project is underway in Albemarle’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana processing facility.

Dr. Michael D. Seltzer, head of NAWCWD’s Technology Transfer Program said its production run of Cobalt’s bio n-butanol is proving to be another attractive pathway to create sustainable jet fuel for both the military as well as commercial aviation.  “We are proud to be working in partnership with Cobalt and Albemarle to create this renewable jet fuel and we look forward to testing the end result.”

The project is funded by NAWCWD and was launched in February 2012. Once completed the bio jet fuel will be tested by the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division as part of the process to achieve military certification for the use of the fuel. The next step after testing will be to engage in larger production runs and additional test flights.

“This is a significant milestone not only for our collective team, but for the greater industry looking to advance sustainable jet fuels,” commented Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies. He added that it has been a pleasure working with the U.S. Navy to advance testing and are pleased with the choice of Albemarle as their processing partner.

Susie The Biodiesel Bike Ready For The Highway

The COO for the National Biodiesel Board, Donnell Rehagen, proudly displayed Susie, the Biodiesel Bike, to a local audience at the organization’s headquarters in Jefferson City, MO. The event happened just in time for National Biodiesel Day on March 18.

National Biodiesel Board member CIMA Green partnered with Paul Sr. and Orange County Choppers to craft a high performance diesel motorcycle ready to run on biodiesel. The motorcycle will be featured on two episodes of the hit Discovery Channel show American Chopper on March 19th and April 9th.

Originally unveiled at the Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL, the bike is scheduled for several stops from coast to coast to promote biodiesel.

• March 22-24, Mid-America Trucking Show – Louisville, KY
• May 1-3, Atlantic Region Energy Expo – Atlantic City, NJ
• May 14-17, ACT Expo – Long Beach, CA
• August 28 – September 3, Farm Progress Show – Boone, IA
• October 2-3, Green Fleet Conference – Schaumburg, IL

You can listen to my interview with Donnell here: Interview with Donnell Rehagen

Sorghum for Ethanol Increases

Early March is an important time for the agricultural industry when they come together for Commodity Classic. With the challenges facing both the ag and energy industries, which go hand-in-hand, Terry Swanson, Chairman of the National Sorghum Producers said, “We have to be unified.”

When compared to other commodities used to produce biofuels, sorghum growers are a relatively small group. Today, about one third of the sorghum crop is used to make ethanol. However, the industry is hoping to see that number grow. For this to happen, Swanson said they need to speak with one voice.

Swanson, who is a grower in Colorado, said that biofuels and the issues surrounding them, including the RFS, are very important. The RFS is the major driver of increased ethanol use in the U.S. today.

To learn more about sorghum and ethanol, listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Terry Swanson. Interview with Terry Swanson

Sustainable Biofuels Awards Presented

biofuelsThe Sustainable Biofuels Awards were presented this week at the World Biofuels Markets 2012 Congress in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The awards include biofuels leadership, technology, adoption, bioethanol, biodiesel, feedstock innovation, innovation in aviation, biopower generation and bio-based chemicals and are determined based on judging by an elite panel of independent industry experts, with final voting by individuals in the general biofuels industry.

2012 Sustainable Biofuels Awards Winners:

Biofuels Leadership Award – Novozymes
Sustainable Biofuels Technology Award – LS9
Biofuels Adoption Award – City of Stockholm
Sustainable Bioethanol Award – Abengoa
Sustainable Biodiesel Award – Vale
Sustainable Feedstock Innovation – DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol
Innovation in Aviation – Boeing
Sustainable Biopower Generation Facility – Envergent Technologies
Leader in Bio-based Chemical Industry – Kiverdi

Bioenergy Interests Invited to Attend Capitol Hill Day

A diverse group of bioenergy stakeholders is holding a Capitol Hill Day for Bioenergy in Washington, DC on March 21.

The event is being sponsored by a number of organizations including the 25x’25 Alliance, American Farm Bureau Federation, Advance Biofuels Organization, Algal Biomass Organization, American Council on Renewable Energy, Biomass Power Association, Energy Future Coalition, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Farmers Union, and SAFER Alliance.

The groups are holding the event to draw attention to the fact that renewables make up nearly 12 percent of all energy produced in the U.S., such as fuels, electricity and thermal energy from biomass, and that bioenergy reduces the nation’s risks from dependence on foreign oil, strengthens our economy and ensures the continued, sustainable management of our natural resources.

The day will include a morning briefing with congressional members and trade group association leaders on bioenergy issues, small group visits to educate Congressional leaders and their staffs, an evening reception on Capitol Hill to network with other industry stakeholders, Congressional staff, and association partners.

Anyone in the bioenergy sector is welcome to take part in the event – registration and other information is available on-line.

Progress in Blueprint for Secure Energy Future

The White House today released a one-year progress report on the “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” the Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy.

Among the highlights noted in the report is that the plan has resulted in a doubling of renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008. According to the report, “Since 2009, DOI has approved 29 onshore renewable energy projects—about 6,600 megawatts—including: 16 solar projects, 5 wind farms, and 8 geothermal facilities. These projects include the first solar projects ever permitted on public lands.”

In the area of developing advanced alternative fuels, the report notes that in 2010, “President Obama set a goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial scale cellulosic or advanced biorefineries by 2013. That goal has been accomplished, one year ahead of schedule. Together, these projects, and associated demonstration and pilot projectswill produce a combined total of nearly 100 million gallons per year of advanced biofuels capacity.”

In addition, EPA’s continued implementation of the National Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has supported a growing domestic renewable fuels industry. Last year, industry reported production of approximately 14 billion gallons of renewable fuels, about 8% of total U.S. highway vehicle fuel. In fact, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level, as average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. EPA worked with stakeholders in evaluating new fuel technologies and feedstocks to support expanded opportunity for these fuels to be an important part of the domestic transportation fuel market. To help support deployment of advanced fuel infrastructure, in 2011, the Department of Agriculture provided over $4 million in grants to fund 265 flex fuel dispensers in 30 states.

The report also made note of progress in the development of aviation biofuels, more alternative fueled vehicles in the federal fleet and the launch of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, an initiative to help large, private sector companies improve the efficiency of their fleets and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.

Read the report here.

Butamax Granted Patent for Iso-Butanol

butamax Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, has been granted patent number 8,129,162 for production of iso-butanol from biological resources.

This latest patent was issued from a series of applications covering modified KARI enzymes that optimize production of biobutanol by Butamax’s proprietary microorganisms. These microorganisms are engineered with the isobutanol biosynthetic pathway invented by Butamax that includes five enzymatic steps that convert sugar to isobutanol. The KARI enzyme performs the second step of the pathway which is fundamental to achieving high biobutanol yield. This latest invention is essential to best cost of manufacture position.

Since 2003, the Butamax team has pioneered new technology innovations in order to offer the most cost-effective production of biobutanol for the transportation fuels market. The company will continue its commitment to innovation in the areas of biocatalyst, engineering design and end-use applications to deliver maximum value to licensees.

“With these new KARI enzymes, we have achieved a significant improvement in performance, which is necessary for low-cost commercial production of biobutanol,” said Paul Beckwith, Butamax CEO. “We are pleased that our research team continues to be recognized for their innovation in biobutanol technology. Their work has led to the only cost-effective retrofit option that enables existing ethanol manufacturers to produce drop-in biofuels.”

Amendment Would Extend Domestic Energy Tax Credits

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced an amendment to the Transportation Bill (S.1813) Thursday that would extend tax incentives for domestically produced energy sources, including biodiesel, ethanol, cellulosic biofuels, electric vehicles, wind energy and solar.

The measure would re-instate and extend the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax incentive, which expired at the end of last year, and the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which expired in 2010.

The amendment also includes extending tax credits for companies that install charging stations for electric vehicles and alternative fuel dispensers, like ethanol blender and E85 pumps. It would extend the $1.01/gallon production tax credit for cellulosic biofuel production through 2014, for grants in lieu of tax credits to eligible solar projects, and the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. “We cannot allow a tax increase on American businesses that are creating clean energy jobs in America,” said Senator Stabenow.

The amendment is one of 30 the Senate is considering before a vote on the final legislation takes place, possibly next week. Several of those were considered Thursday, most were rejected, and the remaining amendments are scheduled to be taken up on Tuesday.

Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, spoke to members of the agriculture community gathered in Washington DC Wednesday night for National Ag Day festivities. During a brief interview, she was asked if she thought maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard was more important to agriculture than a new Farm Bill. “I think they’re both important. The farm bill covers everything from support for production agriculture, risk management, crop insurance, nutrition in schools,” she said. “Obviously energy is important to that as well. We need both.”

Listen to Senator Stabenow comment here: Senator Debbie Stabenow

2012 National Agriculture Day Activities Photo Album Знакомства

Cobalt Demonstrates Biomass Treatment Process

Cobalt Technologies has announced a milestone in the commercial conversion of biomass to sugars with the successful demonstration of its biomass pretreatment process.

The company, which is developing next generation n-butanol, made the achievement in cooperation with ANDRITZ, a globally leading supplier of technologies, equipment and plants for the pulp and paper industry.

Cobalt conducted the testing in the ANDRITZ pulp and paper mill demonstration facility in Springfield, OH, which is specifically designed to validate new processes before commercial-scale implementation. Cobalt’s dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process, which extracts sugars from ligno-cellulosic biomass, was validated on woody biomass, bagasse and agricultural residues.

Cobalt tested its pre-treatment process on both a batch and continuous basis and reports that these runs, while processing up to 20 bone-dry tons of biomass per day, successfully extracted sugars from the biomass without the use of enzymes to produce the desired liquid hydrolysate – a liquid-based sugar that is then converted into n-butanol.

“The hydrolysates produced at ANDRITZ’s demonstration facility have been fermented successfully at our facility in Mountain View, California without the need of any conditioning to remove inhibitory compounds,” Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “By proving we can meet, and in some areas, exceed our commercial targets and cost metrics at this scale, we are now well positioned to leverage this critical milestone to support our on-going commercialization efforts.”

This milestone also marks the first phase of Cobalt’s partnership with specialty chemical company, Rhodia in Brazil to develop bio n-butanol refineries throughout Latin America utilizing bagasse as a feedstock.

Cool Planet BioFuels Has Breakthrough in Production

Cool Planet BioFuels has made a major breakthrough in converting biomass to gasoline. Using giant miscanthus, an advanced bioenergy crop, the company achieved 4,000 gallons/acre biomass to gasoline conversion in pilot testing. Gasoline has about one and a half times the energy of ethanol, so this is about twelve times more yield than current corn ethanol production levels.

According to the company, the giant miscanthus was developed at the University of Mississippi and provided from a high yield plot by Repreve Renewables. Other advanced bio-energy crops, such as sorghum and switch grass, can provide similar annual yields using this new process.

“These test results are based on nearly optimal crop growth conditions and demonstrate what is possible in a good growing season. Under more routine growing conditions, we estimate yields of about 3,000 gallons/acre should be achievable throughout the Midwest by selecting the proper energy crop for local conditions,” says Mike Cheiky, Cool Planet’s founder and CEO.

Agricultural waste from food crops also can produce up to 1,000 gallons of gasoline/acre using this new technology. The process creates ultra-high surface area carbon in an intermediate step of the conversion process. Some of this carbon can be diverted to form a very potent soil enhancer which can grow more crops and sequester carbon dioxide. Although opting to divert some of the carbon to soil enhancer will reduce the current fuel output, it can generate more fertile farm land for more food and fuel production over a several year period, particularly in areas which have low land productivity today. This sequestering process gives the Cool Planet fuel a low or even negative carbon rating.

Cool Planet’s technology and its potential global impact on climate change and poverty were recently detailed in a talk at Google’s elite SolveForX Conference where 16 speakers presented innovative technologies to address the world’s biggest problems. Each of the talks was reviewed by a group of 50 top scientists, inventors and futurists invited by Google. The consensus on Cool Planet’s presentation was that the company should pursue the carbon sequestration and land productivity enhancement aspects of this technology as well as its fuel production capabilities.

Read more on the renewable cellulosic gasoline process.

Analyst Expects New Biofuels Policy in 2013

A global economic analyst expects that Washington may be taking another look at biofuels policy in 2013.

bayer bill lapp“I think more of that will happen when we know more about who controls the Senate and the House, and who’s the president and where the EPA is on all this after November,” said Bill Lapp of Advanced Economic Solutions during an Ag Issues Forum sponsored by Bayer CropScience this week in Nashville who notes that the biofuels industry is facing a number of challenges. “Not only is the corn-based ethanol mandate going from 13.2 billion gallons to 15 billion, gasoline consumption has continued to decrease in the past couple of years, and we have failed miserably in meeting the goals of cellulosic production.”

Lapp suggests there may be another incarnation of the Renewable Fuel Standard. “Whether you call it RFS-2A, or whatever you want to call it, I think there has to be thought to what are we going to make those ultimate mandates,” he said. “So Congress is going to have a tremendous challenge.”

Lapp also has concerns about biodiesel production, whether the tax credit will be re-instated, and what the mandate will be for 2013.

Listen to interview with Bill Lapp here: Bill Lapp Interview

President Stresses All of the Above Energy Policy

As the ethanol industry was meeting in Orlando last week, President Obama was talking energy just a few hundred miles to the south at the University of Miami.

“If we’re going to take control of our energy future and can start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year — when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other parts of the world — if we’re going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy,” the president said. “Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more.”

President Obama spoke strongly about the need to end oil industry tax benefits. “I said this at the State of the Union — a century of subsidies to the oil companies is long enough. It’s time to end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that has never been more profitable; double down on clean energy industries that have never been more promising — that’s what we need to do. This Congress needs to renew the clean energy tax credits that will lead to more jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.”

The president talked about a variety of renewable energy sources, including algae. “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae,” he said. “If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right.”

Read the full text of the president’s remarks here.

Futurist Sees Future in Ethanol

Futurist Dr. James Canton says the biggest national security risk today is what he calls the “Petro-Risk” – and only biofuels hold the key to alleviating that risk.

“Clearly, biofuels are the future,” Canton said Thursday at the opening session of the 17th annual National Ethanol Conference. “For all intents and purposes, there’s not an alternative energy that’s non-CO2 that is ready today other than biofuel and the only biofuel that can scale and give us the energy we need is ethanol.”

Canton told the ethanol industry to get ready for “the battle for the barrel” and consider a bolder future that includes a complete biofuels infrastructure. “You have to vertically and horizontally integrate to create the next energy grid, the next vehicles – a complete infrastructure,” he said.

Canton, founder of the Institute for Global Futures, says advanced biofuels will protect America’s future economy and security. “Think different, think big,” he says. “This petro-risk is going to continue and we need to be ready. Petro-risk is geopolitical suicide.”

Listen to Canton’s address to the NEC here: Dr. James Canton at 2012 National Ethanol Conference

2012 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album