Old Classic, Renewable Fuel

Great RaceThe biggest news for the “Great Race” organizers so far is the prospect of powering a ’67 Aston Martin with E-85 for the entire 2008 trek from New York to Paris. The Great Race Web site reports:

2008 Great Race entrant, Rich McKone of Peoria, Illinois is converting his 1967 Aston Martin DB6 to run on Ethanol E-85 for the around-the-world Great Race in 2008…

Instead of running the historical British sports car in the Schuster Class for cars that are 25 years old and older, McKone intends to participate in the Innovation Class in hoping to prove that Ethanol E-85 is the best short-term solution for renewable fuel.

Looks like Chuck was right. Ethanol isn’t just for the Indy Racing League, nor is it just for modern cars.

Americans Buying Record Numbers of Alternative Fuel Autos

Americans bought nearly half a million alternative fuel automobiles (AFAs) during the second quarter of 2007… a record and good news for the alternative fuel industry and the environment.

rlpolk.gifThe Missouri Soybean Association lists the story in its “Bean Briefs” and says the numbers from R.L. Polk & Company are a 27 percent increase from a year ago:

Sales of clean diesel vehicles were up 16 percent from 93,012 to 108,044. Sales of E-85 capable vehicles and hybrids were also up significantly. High fuel prices and increasing availability were likely drivers of this upward trend, said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Yet even though more AFAs are being sold, we still need more gas stations to offer biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel.”

The article goes on to say that a recent study conducted by R.L. Polk and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers found that while about three-fourths of consumers were familiar with AFAs, availability of biofuels was still impacting actual purchases.

UL Announces E85 Pump Certification

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has announced the establishment of safety requirements for E85 fuel dispensing equipment and is now ready to start certification investigations, according to a UL news release.

The establishment of safety requirements follows the completion of UL’s comprehensive research program to investigate potential safety concerns associated with dispensing highly concentrated ethanol-blended fuels. The research included extensive gathering of technical data, field studies of existing E85 installations in the U.S. and Brazil, analysis of material compatibility for dispenser components, and a co-sponsored technical forum with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) that brought together 32 national experts from automobile and petroleum companies, ethanol producers, dispenser and component manufacturers, industry associations, government agencies and university researchers.

EPICThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) welcomed the news, calling it “a major victory for the ethanol industry and efforts to expand availability of E85 and increase demand for this renewable fuel.”

EPIC Director of Operations Robert White says the announcement removes a major barrier to many companies that have been waiting to offer E85 at their fueling stations. “Pump equipment manufacturers are standing by at the ready and will submit their dispenser for approval very soon,” said White. “UL’s efforts to complete their evaluations and develop the safety requirements for E85 dispensing equipment in just under a year are tremendous, and this development will move the ethanol industry to the next plateau in helping improve air quality and reduce dependence on foreign fuels.”

Currently there are more than 1,300 E85 fueling stations open across the United States. With UL’s announcement, projections are that number will double in the coming year.

Flex Fuel Conversion Kit Receives EPA Certification

Flex Fuel USAn alternative fuel conversion unit has received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency for use on certain types of fleet vehicles.

Flex Fuel U.S. of Chicago reports that its Flex-Box Smart Kit™ fuel conversion system is “the first and only E85 conversion unit has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fleet vehicles.”

The Flex-Box Smart Kit is mounted to the engine compartment and works by continuously monitoring engine and emission controls, allowing the vehicle to operate on all unleaded gasoline-ethanol blends. At this time Flex-Box Smart Kit has been approved for fleet vehicles made in the year 1995 or after, including the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car.

Ethanol Promotion Events

Farmers CooperativeKansas flex-fuel motorists can take advantage of bargain prices while pumping up the local economy at an E85 grand opening in Manhattan, Kansas on Friday. E85 will be available for $1.85 a gallon at the Farmers Cooperative Association in Manhattan.

The first 50 cars to fill up with E85 will receive an IndyCar® Series #17 Team Ethanol diecast car. Free hot dogs and pop will be available to consumers throughout the entire promotion.

Kum & GoNext week, on Tuesday, Kum & Go, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board are partnering for an ethanol promotion event in Johnston.

IA Corn“This event is meant to celebrate ethanol use in Iowa and to ramp up excitement for ISU’s homecoming week,” said Jerry Main, a corn grower and chairman of the Usage and Production Committee at Iowa Corn. “This event marks a great set of anniversaries: Iowa State is celebrating 150 years and Iowa Corn has been promoting ethanol for 30 years. I am also glad to see the partnership between Iowa Corn and Kum & Go benefiting Iowa consumers.”

In Iowa, 75 percent of consumers use ethanol blends, and the market is growing for E85 fuel in flexible fuel vehicles.

Blender Pumps for Minnesota

Border States CoopBorder States Cooperative has opened Minnesota’s first ethanol “blender pumps” in Ortonville, near the South Dakota border.

The blender pumps allow motorists to choose several different blends of ethanol from the legally mandated 10 percent up to 85 percent.

Border States Cooperative officials say they put the blender pumps in last year for E85 but were unable to use them to their full capability until the state’s rules changed. Border States Cooperative put the pumps into operation last week and held grand opening ceremonies on Tuesday.

The blender pumps are already being used in South Dakota.

E85 to Fuel 2008 Season of the American Le Mans Series

Pumping up with ethanolIt’s not quite official, but the Vice President of Media Communications for the American Le Mans Series says the ALMS will be making an announcement within a week about it’s future with ethanol. Bob Dickinson says ALMS will move to an E85 blend of ethanol fuel for the series’ 2008 season. He says the series’ switch to an E10 blend was a positive move and the ALMS wants to continue to stay on the cutting edge of fuel technology.

You can listen to my interview with Bob here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

Shell Sets the Standard for Ethanol Fuel

Sam Sweeney grills American Le Mans Series Driver Peter DumbreckSam’s Mart on 5640 New Northside Drive, NW in Atlanta, GA is among the network of Shell stations within the metropolitan area that uses an E10 blend of fuel in all of it’s fuel grades offered at the pump. Bob Walden is the Manager of Special Projects for Sam’s Mart. He says Shell is a leading player the ethanol industry when it comes offering the fuel to consumers at the pump. For Bob, pump promotions like the one the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council put on today help turn consumers on to “the future of fuel.”

Bob is pictured here with the local Sam’s Mart management team and American Le Mans Series Drivers Tom Milner and Peter Dumbreck. Bob is on the far right. I’m also pictured on the far right just below Bob.

You can listen to my interview with Bob here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

ALMS Ferrari Sparks Youthful Curiosity

Sam Sweeney grills American Le Mans Series Driver Peter DumbreckI’m not the only one who thought American Le Mans Series Driver Peter Dumbreck’s #31 Ferrari F430 GT was a sweet ride. Sam Sweeney and his mom Allison played hooky from school so they could have a chance to check out the Petersen Motorsports/White Lighting Racing Ferrari. I dropped in on Peter and Sam’s conversation about racing and spoke to Allison about ethanol.

You can listen to Peter, Sam and Allison here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

ALMS Driver Peter Dumbreck Fired Up on Ethanol

#31 Ferrari F430 GT American Le Mans Series Driver Peter Dumbreck in the cockpitIt’s not very often that you get a foreign take on one of America’s emerging alternative fuels, so I was particularly interested in speaking with American Le Mans Series Driver Peter Dumbreck about ethanol. Peter is the driver of Petersen Motorpsorts/White Lighting Racing’s #31 Ferrari F430 GT. Both he and his ALMS car made an exciting appearance today at the Atlanta pump promotion, which was sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. After checking out Peter’s sweet ride, I grabbed him for an interview.

You can listen to my interview with Peter here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

ALMS Driver Tom Milner Drives Ethanol Promotion

#18 Bell Micro Porsche American Le Mans Series Driver Tom Milner greets a consumerEthanol is simply “a great fuel” for American Le Mans Series driver Tom Milner. Tom drives the #18 Bell Micro Porsche for Rahal Letterman Racing. The ALMS driver pumped gas and greeted consumers with a wide and welcoming grin as he gave them a first-hand account of using an E10 blend of ethanol fuel in a high-speed, endurance setting. Today’s EPIC-sponsored ethanol pump promotion at Sam’s Mart in Atlanta proved Tom is not only securing key positions out on the winding tracks of the AlMS, but is also settling comfortably in his role as an ethanol spokesman. Tom will be racing this weekend in the 2007 Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta. I spoke with Tom about the performance of ethanol in sports car racing and what that means for consumers.

You can listen to my interview with Tom here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

Shell Pumps Up Ethanol Frenzy Before Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans

Pumping the American Le Mans Series #31 Ferrari F430 GT with E10 fuelConsumers enjoyed discounted fuel and free fountain drinks and coffee at the Sam’s Mart in Atlanta, GA this afternoon. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council sponsored an ethanol pump promotion where consumers could fuel up with E10 fuel for 50 cents less than the going rate.

The promotion officially kicked off the 2007 Petit Le Mans race weekend for EPIC. American Le Mans Series drivers Tom Milner and Peter Dumbreck manned the pumps, handed out autographs and divulged the benefits of ethanol fuel to consumers. E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, is “the official ethanol-enriched fuel” of the ALMS. This is the first year an endurance-based racing series has used a street legal renewable fuel.

The Sam’s Mart at New Northside Drive in Atlanta, GA pumped more than 1500 gallons of discounted E10 fuel for customers between 11:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m. Consumers were filling their tanks at a rate of $2.25 per gallon. This morning the fuel was selling for $2.75.

Racing fans also got to check out Peter’s #31 Ferrari F430GT, the official ALMS car for Petersen Motorsports/White Lighting Racing. Click here to check out the Ferrari’s deep, throaty throttle:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

ConocoPhillips CEO to Share Thoughts on ‘Shared Energy Future’

Detroit Economic Club“Our Shared Energy Future” is the topic ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO James Mulva will be discussing on Wednesday October 3, 2007. Mulva will present his thoughts on U.S. energy policy and layout plans for incorporating renewable fuels before the Detroit Economic Club at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.

Mr. Mulva will describe the shortcomings of current U.S. energy policy, and why this is a critical issue for other industries and all citizens. He will also call for a new, comprehensive national energy policy that incorporates four major tenets: diversifying our energy sources, including fossil fuels as well as renewable and alternative forms of energy; lowering the carbon intensity of our energy supplies; improving the efficiency of energy use throughout the U.S. economy; and the critical need for greater government and private investment in technology and education.

ConocoPhillipsConocoPhillips is the third-largest integrated energy company in the United States, based on market capitalization, oil and gas proved reserves and production; and the second-largest refiner in the United States.

The Detroit Economic Club was formed in 1934 as a platform for the discussion and debate of important business, government and social issues. It is known internationally as a top speaking forum for prominent business and government leaders, who address members and their guests at the Club’s 35 meetings a season.

Ethanol Stall

Business WeekBusiness Week is reporting that Big Oil is trying to put the brakes on ethanol.

In the October 1 edition on-line, the article entitled “Big Oil’s Big Stall On Ethanol” claims that oil companies “seem determined to fight the spread of E85, a fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gas.”

At the same time the industry is collecting a 51 cents-per-gallon federal subsidy for each gallon of ethanol it mixes with gas and sells as E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gas), it’s working against the E85 blend with tactics both overt and stealthy. Efforts range from funding studies that bash the spread of ethanol for driving up the price of corn, and therefore some food, to not supporting E85 pumps at gas stations. The tactics infuriate a growing chorus of critics, from the usual suspects—pro-ethanol consumer groups—to the unexpected: the oil industry’s oft-time ally, the auto industry.

Ethanol industry supporters should be pleased that the media has taken an interest in this.