Isuzu to Partner to Develop Algae Biodiesel

isuzu euglenaJapanese car maker Isuzu is partnering with a fellow Japanese company to develop a new kind of biodiesel from algae. This article from Bloomberg says Isuzu and Euglena Co. hope to establish the technology by 2018.

The companies want to develop a type of fuel that can be used on its own unlike existing kinds that need to be mixed with light oil, they said in a statement today.

“As long as we use light oil for diesel engines, emissions of carbon dioxide are inevitable,” Susumu Hosoi, president of Japanese truck maker Isuzu, said at a news conference. “It is important to diversify types of fuel” for resource-poor Japan, he said.

Euglena, a Japanese biotech venture, has been developing jet fuel from algae with airline operator ANA Holdings Inc., President Mitsuru Izumo said at the event.

E85, Biodiesel Vehicles Dominate EcoCAR 2

ecocar2Vehicles running on high blends of ethanol and biodiesel dominated the third year of EcoCAR 2 – a joint competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM) that challenged 15 college teams to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and tailpipe emissions, while providing consumers with an acceptable vehicle to drive. A team from Ohio State University were the overall winners, engineering a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and an E85 engine.

Over the course of three years, The Ohio State consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams. Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

“The EcoCAR 2 competition has been an incredible journey and learning experience for everyone at Ohio State, and that’s what really matters – winning the top spot is just a bonus,” said Katherine Bovee from Ohio State. “We are all excited to take everything we have learned into the workplace after graduation.”

The team’s unique design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi­) of electricity. The vehicle impressed the judges with stellar numbers and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

A B20 biodiesel and plug-in hybrid from the University of Washington took second place, while another E85 plug-in hybrid from Penn State University placed third.

EPA Releases Tier 3 Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standard Program rules. The purpose of the program is to reduce impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. In addition to lower the gasoline sulfur standard, the program is supposed to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty truck, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. The proposed rule was released on May 31, 2013 and the final rule was signed on March 3, 2014.

EPA_LOGOIn a nutshell, what does this mean for the alternative fuel industry? It means that in some circumstances alternative fuels such as higher blends of ethanol could emerge as next generation automotive fuels. Tier 3 fuels are considered fuels that the automotive industry can “test” to meet the emission standards. The EPA’s rule finalizes an ethanol content of 10 percent (E10) for emissions test gasoline. However, the biofuels industry was lobbying for higher ethanol blends to be approved as test fuels such as E15 and E30. This did not come to pass.

So in other words, an automotive company can test “E15″ and find positive emission reduction results, but since it is not considered a legal “test fuel,” the fuel can’t be considered meeting (or exceeding) the EPA’s emission standards.

“It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread; but at least there’s dough in the machine,” said Advanced Biofuels USA’s vehicle emissions expert, Robert Kozak. “We didn’t get everything that we wanted but two items are important. 1) The new requirement that vehicles be tested and certified using E10 (10% ethanol blend that is standard fuel across the country); and 2) The opportunity for manufacturers to request approval of another new certification fuel such as high octane/high ethanol E30 (30% ethanol blend).”

The next step, says Kozak, is to begin working with the EPA immediately to approve the next round of text fuels such as E30. Others in the industry agree that E15 and E30 should be legal test fuels but some believe the next step is to sue the EPA because limiting the higher ethanol blends as test fuels will limit the automakers research and deployment of more and better optimized vehicles, such as flex fuel vehicles, designed to capitalize on ethanol fuel blends.

Driving Through the Blend Wall

nec14-autos-panelWe’ve heard a lot about how higher ethanol blends might affect the producers of the green fuel and the impacts to consumers on the other end. But what about the viewpoint of those who have to build the vehicles on which these higher blends would run? Representatives from General Motors and Mercedes-Benz were among the experts on a panel at the National Ethanol Conference discussing “Driving Through the Blend Wall” from the automotive perspective.

Renewable Fuels Association vice president for technical services Kristy Moore moderated the panel which included Bill Woebkenberg, U.S. Fuels Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America; Coleman Jones, Biofuels Manager, General Motors; and Robert McCormick, Fuels Performance Platform Leader, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Woebkenberg pointed out that flex fuels are already here and should be attractive to consumers, considering the high-performance, high-octane features.

“It’s not a filler fuel; it’s a race fuel,” and he believes overcoming consumers’ misperceptions of poor performance is key. But he and his colleague from GM, said carmakers are worried less about the rhetoric that might be swirling around flex fuels and more about what the final rules coming out of Washington might say.

“Automakers are a regulated industry, and we pay a lot more attention to the regulations than we pay attention to the words, because these regulations are the deeds by which we have to live with our business and have to be distinguished from the words we hear,” said Jones.

McCormick offered some insight to their review of 43 studies about ethanol, which should give the rulemakers more information by which those automakers have to live. He said overall they found no failures of E15 in performance.

“The use of E15, in our opinion, is likely to have little impact on 2001 and newer model year vehicles,” he told the audience gathered.

McCormick concluded the panel saying there are paths forward with the higher ethanol blends in the market, for carmakers and consumers alike.

Check out the entire session here: NEC Auto Perspective Panel

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Most Top Selling Cars Approved for E15

jagIf you’re in the market for a 2014 F Type X152 Jaguar and want to use 15% ethanol blended fuel in it, you are in luck. It is one of the 70% of the Top 20 best-selling cars approved by automakers to use E15 in 2014 models, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

Maybe you would prefer a Mercedes C Class Coupe, or a Range Rover L405. They are approved for E15 as well, as are all Ford, GM and Volkswagen 2014 models.

See the complete list of makes and models 2012, 2013, 2014 approved for E15 use at

New GM Trucks to Offer CNG, Biodiesel Options

2015silverado1General Motors is offering some pretty clean options in a couple of its 2015 pickup trucks. This story from NGTNews says the latest Chevy Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks will have compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system options, as well as being able to run on B20 biodiesel.

“Because HD customers tailor their trucks to their specific needs, the 2015 Silverado and Sierra will offer a choice of three fuels – gasoline, diesel [including up to 20 percent biodiesel] or compressed natural gas,” said Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for trucks, during the vehicles’ unveiling at the State Fair of Texas last week.

The standard engine in both the Silverado HD and Sierra HD is GM’s 6.0-liter Vortec V-8. Customers can select a bi-fuel version of this engine that uses either CNG or gasoline.

“And you can now get CNG capability in all three cab configurations – regular, double and crew cab – and on both 2500 and 3500 models,” Luke said.

The American-made trucks running on the American-made fuels will be able to do the heavy lifting truck customers demand, featuring a payload of nearly 7,400 lbs. and a conventional trailering rating of 19,600 pounds. The Duramax diesel engine, capable of running on B20, comes in the beefy 6.6-liter, 397 hp/765 lb.-ft. size.

Ford Explains Ethanol Program to ACE Members

ACE13-uniteandignite-DiCiccoKnowing what automobile makers what and need for fuel and how those companies are moving forward in their green energy programs is some good information for the recent attendees at last week’s American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) “Unite and Ignite” conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We’re committed to supporting biofuels by providing a range of products that provide biofuel capability in line with consumer demand. And that is key,” explained Dominic DiCicco with Ford Motor Company during the conference session titled, Automaker Perspective: Outlook for Higher Ethanol Blends and Octane. He added that Ford is dedicated to green fuels, but there must be a payoff for Ford in the form of better car sales of the greener fuel vehicles. “Consumers need to recognize value in their vehicle purchases.”

He continued that limited market impact, or at least the perception of limited impact, of E85 is keeping consumers from moving toward the higher ethanol blend, and thus, keeping Ford from making more vehicles E85 compatible. He went on to explain how compression ratios and octane ratings affect an engine’s performance, and that is a big hurdle for ethanol producers and marketers to overcome. Dominic concluded that there needs to be better coordination between car makers, ethanol producers, government regulators and fuel retailers.

“We have to figure out where do we want to take this infrastructure and market moving forward,” Dominic said.

ACE members seem to be up to his challenge telling him, “You tell us what you need, and we will then partner with you to do that.”

Visit the ACE 26th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.

Biodiesel-Ready Chevy Cruze Gets Even Cleaner

cruze-diesel1Chevy’s Cruze is already a pretty clean burner, as it takes the green fuel biodiesel. Now with the 2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, the company says the advanced 2.0L engine with its variable-swirl intake system creates a “perfect storm” of air and fuel that helps enhance performance while reducing emissions.

“Variable swirl helps put the ‘clean’ in Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel. It increases the mixture-motion of air and fuel in low-speed, low-load driving, like when you’re doing the commuter crawl to work every day,” said Mike Siegrist, 2.0L turbo diesel assistant chief engineer. “It contributes to Cruze Diesel’s great fuel economy, and helps give drivers the most torque for the least amount of fuel at the lowest emission and noise levels.”

The all-new 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo DieselIn Cruze’s variable-swirl intake manifold, each cylinder has two separate intake ports, with one of them controlled by a valve. During variable swirl, each throttle valve varies how much it opens to create mixture-motion of air and fuel within each cylinder. General Motors’ Powertrain team devoted countless hours to calibrating the actuator to precisely open and close the valves for optimal performance.

This technology and other innovations has made the Cruze the leader in its segment in highway mileage, seeing a whopping 46 miles per gallon out on the highway and range of more than 700 miles per tank – better than any non-hybrid or gasoline-powered passenger car vehicle in America.

RFA Comments on Proposed Tier 3 Rule

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week regarding the proposed rule on Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards.

Kelly Davis, RFA Director of Regulatory Affairs, says they support the timely implementation of the Tier 3 standards especially the proposal to establish E15 as the certification test fuel beginning in 2017. “We really hope that these don’t get held up,” she said. “The E15 certification fuel is something the industry has been waiting on a long time, including the automotive industry, to more reflect what’s really in the marketplace.”

However, there are a few areas of concern for ethanol producers. “We will accept the 10 part per million sulfur limit but we don’t want to have to be in what they call the refinery program that requires the amount of testing and expertise for the batch testing facility,” Davis explained, since denaturants are the sole source of sulfur in denatured fuel ethanol (DFE).

Davis says RFA also believes that existing standards and specifications for “flex fuels” are sufficient and EPA should not subject these fuels to the same type of standards applicable to gasoline, since they are concerned that may discourage FFV production due to potential difficulty in meeting NMOG+NOx standard bin levels. RFA also commented EPA should provide equal RVP treatment for E10 and E15 and that E16-E50 blends should be treated as alternative fuels.

Kelly explains the more technical details of RFA’s comments on the proposed rule in this interview: Interview with RFA's Kelly Davis

Biodiesel-20 Ready Chevy Cruze Tops Hybrids in MPG

chevycruze1The latest Chevy to hit the streets, the new 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, capable of using B20 biodiesel blends, is being touted as getting better mileage that some hybrids out there. This company news release points out the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel gets an industry best EPA-estimated 46 MPG on the highway, better than any non-hybrid passenger car in America:

“We harnessed generations of diesel expertise to adapt our world-class global engine for the North American market,” said Gary Altman, chief engineer, Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. “The Cruze Diesel is the best diesel passenger car out there. Chevrolet is redefining the meaning of great fuel economy with this car.”

Cruze Diesel also beats its rivals in performance with a segment-leading estimated 148 horsepower (110 kW) and estimated 258 lb-ft of torque (350 Nm), and can go 0-60 in about 8.6 seconds. Its advanced 2.0L turbo-diesel engine has an overboost feature capable of increasing torque to an estimated 280 lb-ft (380 Nm) for short bursts of stronger acceleration when needed, such as entering freeway traffic.

While Chevy touts the Cruze Diesel as its cleanest diesel passenger car engine, generating 90 percent less Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions when compared to previous-generation diesels. Just think how much cleaner it will be when you use clean-burning biodiesel in it.

Car Makers Take Stage at Ethanol Conference

nec13-car-panelRepresentatives from General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz talked “Future Fuels and Higher Octane” at the National Ethanol Conference last week in Las Vegas.

Kristy Moore, Vice President, Technical Services, Renewable Fuels Association moderated the panel and said the manufacturers are facing some real challenges.

“They are under significant pressure to create a vehicle that meets these regulatory requirements and meets a 54.5 fleet economy MPG by 2025,” adding that consumers don’t want to give up the size and convenience their SUVs are giving them now.

Coleman Jones, Biofuel Implementation Manager, General Motors, pointed to Brazil, where that country made the regulatory and tax changes in favor of E100 vehicles but faced some real challenges when oil prices fell dramatically, and consumers became worried whether they could get the high-blend fuels and use those vehicles. That’s when automakers recognized being flexible was the way to go. “In 2003, General Motors and Volkswagen introduced flex-fuel vehicles. These proved to be spectacularly successful in the marketplace. This is what the customer wanted.”

Matthew Kevnick, Senior Principal Engineer, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing N.A. talked about how his company will be incorporating E15 into its owners manuals. Honda North America’s Vice President of Government and Industry Relations, Ed Cohen, said they want electric and fuel cell vehicles. Stuart Johnson, Senior Manager, Volkswagen Group of America, told the gathering they are releasing a full line of gasoline engines and incorporating FFVs, while Bill Woebkenberg, U.S. Fuels Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc., said his company is interested in higher octane with higher level blends of ethanol.

Listen to the panel discussion here: NEC 13 Car Panel

2013 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

2013 NEC Golf Tournament Photo Album

GM Adds B20 Chevy Cruze to Lineup

The 2013 National Automobile Dealers Association and American Truck Dealers convention kicks off this week in Orlando, Florida and heading into the event General Motors has announced it new 2014 Chevy Cruze light-duty diesel passenger car is approved for use with B20 (20 percent biodiesel).

2014-cruze-clean-turbo-diesel“We applaud General Motors for its foresight in approving the new diesel Chevy Cruze for use with B20 biodiesel blends,” said Steve Howell, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  “Many people do not realize that today’s new technology diesel engines powered by ultra-low sulfur biodiesel blends provide tailpipe emissions as clean or cleaner than natural gas or gasoline, while providing superior fuel economy, horsepower, and durability.”

“In addition,” said Howell, “when you combine the increased efficiency diesel engines with the low carbon nature of an Advanced Biofuel like biodiesel, new technology diesel engines are positioned to become the clean-and green-technology of the future, and we’re proud to see GM leading the way with its support for B20.”

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel features an advanced 2.0L clean diesel engine that will offer an estimated 42 mpg highway with an automatic transmission and based on GM testing. According to NBB, clean diesels using modern diesel exhaust technology and ultra low sulfur fuel are over 90 percent cleaner than older models, and the Chevy Cruze is the cleanest diesel passenger car model ever produced by General Motors.

Other automakers are adding biodiesel-approved vehicles to their line-up as well including Ford and Chrysler.

Iowa RFA Asks Car Makers to Endorse E15

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is asking all auto makers to recommend the use of 15% ethanol blended fuel (E15) for use in new model vehicles.

IRFA has sent letters to the heads of 12 auto manufacturers asking them to follow the trend set by Ford Motor Company and General Motors and endorse the use of E15 as approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as an option for owners of cars and light duty trucks newer than 2001.

The letters stated, “It’s now been just over two years since the U.S. EPA authorized the use of E15 in new cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. Recent announcements by General Motors and Ford Motor Company that E15 is recommended for use in their new vehicles clearly demonstrates that ample time has passed for automakers to react to the EPA’s announcement and offer vehicles for sale in the U.S. that give consumers the fueling choice they deserve.”

The letters continued by asking if E15 is a recommended fuel for the company’s model year 2013 cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. If E15 is not a recommended for use in the company’s model year 2013 cars and light duty trucks, the IRFA also asked, “Given the two years to research and prepare for the transition to E15, please explain why your company chose not to align its products with all of the legal fuel options sold in the U.S.?”

The letters were sent to the heads of BMW of North America, Chrysler Group, American Honda Motor Company, Hyundai Motors America, Kia Motors America, Mazda Motors of America, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America, Saab Cars North America, Toyota North America, Volkswagen Group of America, and Volvo Group North America.

Ricardo Engine Optimizes Ethanol

It’s called the EBDI – Extreme Boost Direct Injection – and it may be the “little engine that could” revolutionize the automotive world to produce cars that get drastically improved fuel mileage while optimizing the higher octane properties of ethanol.

The engine was developed by Ricardo, Inc., and it was on display for automotive mechanics and technicians at the 2012 Congress of Automotive Service and Repair last week in New Orleans. Attendees were able to see the engine in model form and in a GMC Sierra testbed. Ricardo representatives, including Chris Talware (left) and Dr. Matti Vint, were on hand to talk with those at the event and participate in live broadcasts of the Bobby Likis Car Clinic Network from the trade show floor.

Vint says they designed the engine to run efficiently on straight gasoline up to 85% ethanol. “We got good savings with both E-0 as well as E-85, so we designed engines to be flex fuel capable,” said Vint, explaining how they used a systems approach that adjusted a number of variables to increase the “sweet spot” area of the engine.

“The net result is we’ve gotten equivalent performance of a 6.7 liter diesel engine that is in the Sierra truck with a 3.2 liter gasoline engine,” said Talware. That enables what they call “extreme downsizing” that allows it to be scalable to perform in a variety of applications. “The same technology could be applied to a tourist size vehicle, with a 1.4 liter engine,” said Vint. It’s also scalable in terms of market, whether it’s agricultural, light duty trucks or passenger vehicles.

Listen to an interview with Talware and Vint here: Ricardo's Chris Talware and Matti Vint

Watch Dr. Vint explain more about the engine and how it optimizes ethanol below.

CARS Event Photo Album

Ricardo Talks Ethanol at CARS

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) exhibit at the Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) in New Orleans this past week featured new engine technology developed by Ricardo, Inc. that has the ability to optimize the performance of ethanol in fuel.

Ricardo Chief Engineer for Innovations and Chemical Technology John Kasab was one of the company representatives who presented information at the exhibit and on the Bobby Likis Car Clinic Network broadcasts from the show. During his presentation at the booth, Kasab talked about Ricardo’s history in the automotive realm and how “everything old is new again” when it comes to alternative fuels. “Three key automotive inventors from about a century ago – Henry Ford with Ford Motor Company, Charles Kettering with General Motors and Harry Ricardo our founder – all anticipated depletion of petroleum reserves,” said Kasab. “Henry Ford was thinking about making (fuel) from crops that will help sustain rural economies.” Kettering was thinking about saving the auto industry from oil shortages and Ricardo’s interest was in energy security, especially since he was British, and Kasab noted that all of them also saw the potential of ethanol for anti-knock properties.

Kasab says federal and state regulations calling for dramatically increased fuel economy for vehicles, as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard requiring more alternative fuel use, means a great need for engines optimized to run on fuels other than gasoline in the future. “Over the next decade, we’re going to see a lot of new technology coming into internal combustion engines to significantly improve their efficiency,” he said. “The technologies that are going to facilitate this efficiency improvement will have a natural thirst for higher octane and we see increased ethanol content in the fuel as part of the pathway toward facilitating better engine performance.”

To that end, Ricardo developed the EBDI – Extreme Boost Direct Injection Engine – which we will learn more about from other members of the Ricardo team who attended the CARS event.

Listen to Kasab’s presentation here: Ricardo's John Kasab at CARS

See photos from the CARS event with Ricardo, RFA and Bobby Likis.