Former Ethanol Car Driver Wins Indy 500

ryan-indyIt was mid-season in 2007 when Ryan Hunter-Reay burst on the IndyCar Series scene wearing the green and blue ethanol logo for Rahal-Letterman Racing. He finished 6th in his first Indy 500 in 2008 and won Rookie of the Year. This year he came in first.

“I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American since 2006 to win the race. He now races for Andretti Autosport driving the DHL car.

ryan-2014Ryan was not the first ethanol IndyCar driver. He replaced Jeff Simmons, after Simmons replaced the first driver Paul Dana, who was killed during practice in Homestead at the first Indy race to run on 10% ethanol. Ryan was the third and last driver of the car sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), which dissolved in 2008 to become part of Growth Energy.

In his first interview with Domestic Fuel after being named the new driver, Ryan talked about how pleased he was to promote ethanol as the IndyCar Series moved to 100 percent ethanol. “It’s a really neat story that they can make these 700 horsepower, 230 mile an hour cars run on 100 percent ethanol, and the fact that we can use less fuel doing it – with methanol we had to use more,” he said. 2007 Ryan Hunter-Reay Interview

Starting in the 2009 season, Brazil become the new sponsor of the 100 percent ethanol IndyCar Series, but Ryan still raced a few more times under the Team Ethanol banner at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 and has always been a strong advocate for ethanol. Congratulations on winning the big one this year, Ryan!

Corn Growers Fight AAA Stance on Ethanol

aaa-cancelThe Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is fighting back at AAA for disparaging the state’s recent action allowing the retail sale of 15% ethanol blended gasoline (E15).

MCGA CEO Gary Marshall took AAA to task in a letter to the organization’s president and canceled his longtime membership following public statements misrepresenting the benefits of E15. A St. Louis Post Dispatch article following approval of E15 sales in Missouri quoted AAA as saying that “90 percent of the cars on the road are not approved by automakers to use the fuel. That could void warranties and cause engine damage.” That quote is from a November 2013 statement by AAA president Roger Darbelnet.

In his letter to Darbelnet, Marshall corrected that statement with the facts.

Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today are 2001 or newer and approved by the EPA to use the ethanol blend. Add to that, more than 60 percent of 2014 vehicles sold this year will be explicitly warranted and approved by the manufacturer to operate on E15. In terms of possible engine damage, E15 is sold in 12 other states with no issues reported. We are unaware of AAA’s Roadside Assistance program picking up a single driver stranded alongside the road due to an engine issue caused by E15.

Marshall informed Darbelnet that he is canceling his 33-year AAA membership because he refuses “to support an organization so clearly aligned with the oil industry.”

Using Ethanol from Glycerol for Biodiesel

allison-speers1A new process that eliminates fossil fuels completely from the biodiesel equation could make the green fuel even more sustainable. Michigan State University reports Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist, has found a way that uses microbes to glean ethanol from glycerol and then use that green fuel to replace methanol to help brew the biodiesel.

“With a saturated glycerol market, traditional approaches see producers pay hefty fees to have toxic wastewater hauled off to treatment plants,” she said. “By cleaning the water with microbes on-site, we’ve come up with a way to allow producers to generate bioethanol, which replaces petrochemical methanol. At the same time, they are taking care of their hazardous waste problem.”

The results, which appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, show that the key to Reguera’s platform is her patented adaptive-engineered bacteria – Geobacter sulfurreducens.

Geobacter are naturally occurring microbes that have proved promising in cleaning up nuclear waste as well in improving other biofuel processes. Much of Reguera’s research with these bacteria focuses on engineering their conductive pili or nanowires. These hair-like appendages are the managers of electrical activity during a cleanup and biofuel production.

This promising process is already catching the attention of economic developers, who are working with a Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization grant to scale up the effort.

Ethanol Stocks Down Despite Production Uptick

eiaStocks of ethanol in the U.S. are down, despite increased production of the green fuel. This story in Platts says ethanol stocks on May 16 were down 312,000 barrels to a four-week low of 16.99 million barrels. This unexpected drop comes as production actually rose by 3,000 b/d to 925,000 b/d, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration information.

In immediate reaction to the data, US ethanol prices turned sharply bullish, with values adding 5-10 cents/gal in prompt markets, sources said.

The four-week rolling average of gasoline demand rose 186,000 b/d to a seven-month high of 8.944 million b/d, and the four-week rolling average of the refiner and blender net ethanol input rose 9,000 b/d to 872,000 b/d. The weekly refiner and blender net ethanol input, however, nudged down 4,000 b/d to 886,000 b/d.

US ethanol stocks fell in all but one region. East Coast ethanol stocks moved down 23,000 barrels to 6.354 million barrels, ending an eight-week rise after hitting a 10-month high the previous week.

Gulf Coast stocks fell 181,000 barrels to 2.789 million barrels, and West Coast stocks declined 140,000 barrels to 1.81 million barrels. Rocky Mountain stocks were 14,000 barrels lower at 288,000 barrels.

Midwest stocks, on the other hand, rose 46,000 barrels to 5.749 million barrels, rebounding from a five-month low.

Net ethanol input is just shy of the so-called 10 percent “blend wall” making up 9.75 percent of total gasoline and ethanol supplies.

Fuels America Campaign Reminds Drivers of Savings

fuels-americaJust as a good-sized portion of the country is hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend, Fuels America launches an ad campaign to remind drivers just how much they are saving at the pump, thanks to ethanol and biodiesel. The coalition of groups committed to protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and promoting alternative fuels is airing the campaign on Washington, D.C.’s WTOP Radio and on gas pump monitors in the D.C. area.

The advertisement playing on gas station monitors, conveniently positioned to highlight the gas prices consumers are paying just as the advertisement is playing, points out that “supporting clean energy production here in America is better for the environment, is better for your wallet, and because biofuel is higher octane, it’s actually even better for your engine.” The ad also celebrates the benefits that the RFS is already delivering to American consumers: “Thanks to America’s Renewable Fuel Standard, homegrown biofuels are cheaper than gasoline, saving you money every time you fill up… Tell President Obama: Support America’s Renewable Fuel Standard.”

“If you’re like a lot of folks, you’re probably getting ready to hit the road. And that means the oil companies are getting ready to hit you – because when you pay more, they make more,” says the WTOP spot. “So it’s no surprise Big Oil is fighting to eliminate something called the Renewable Fuel Standard, so they can lower the amount of renewable fuels in the gas supply.” The WTOP ad closes by observing that “Memorial Day is a great American Tradition,” while “getting hosed by Big Oil isn’t.”

Fuels America launched the robust inside-the-beltway advertising campaign this week and is encouraging Americans to ask the Obama Administration to protect the RFS.

Ethanol Conference Themed Power by People

ace-14-themeRegistration is now open for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 27th annual Ethanol Conference scheduled for August 4-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The theme of the event is “Power by People” and the agenda includes sessions on new innovations in the ethanol industry, the octane and high performance potential of ethanol, overseas opportunities for ethanol producers, rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system, and much more. A Retailer Roundtable entitled “Power to the People” focusing on the sale and marketing of higher ethanol blends will also be featured.

Domestic Fuel will be covering the conference, thanks to the generous support of ACE and Patriot Renewable Fuels, so please be sure to join us. This conference is more important than ever before to the ethanol industry. Find out more and register today.

American Ethanol Brings NASCAR Back to St. Louis

amethanolflagThe roar of NASCAR comes back to the Gateway Arch as our friends at American Ethanol are announced as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series “Drivin’ for Linemen 200″ official presenting sponsor. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which partnered with Growth Energy to form American Ethanol, says it’s NASCAR’s first visit to the St. Louis area since the 2010 racing season.

“We’re pleased to bring the farmers behind American Ethanol to Gateway Motorsports Park here in the heart of America’s corn country,” said Larry Hasheider, Okawville, Illinois, farmer and chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. “This race provides a great way to remind race fans that they have a choice in fuel with more retailers offering higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85.”

“NASCAR has driven more than 5.5 million miles on E15 and we hope that fans will make the connection that they can also choose E15 or another flex-fuel ethanol blend, like E85 for their own cars. It’s good for the environment, performs well, and saves money at the pump,” Hasheider added.

“The enthusiasm for professional motorsports in the St. Louis region is greater than anyone could have ever imagined,” said Gateway Motorsports Park Owner and President Curtis Francois. “American Ethanol understands the power of this energy to the relevance of this community. We are working hard to build a coalition of support among the civic and business leaders in the region so that when we talk to major sanctioning bodies like NASCAR, we can unequivocally demonstrate that we have complete community support. We are grateful for their partnership.”

The “Drivin’ for Linemen 200″ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event will be held over the Father’s Day weekend next month and broadcast in primetime on Fox Sports 1.

Iowa Gov Signs Biodiesel, Ethanol Measures into Law

irfa-poetIowa Governor Terry Branstad has signed into law measures seen as good for ethanol and biodiesel in his state, a move much welcomed in an area that is a major player in the renewable fuel market. Branstad was joined by other state dignitaries, as well as officials from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and ethanol producer POET, which hosted the signing of Senate File 2344 at its Coon Rapids, Iowa refinery today. The new law extends the state’s biodiesel production tax credit and enhances the state’s E15 retailer tax credit.

“I’m proud to sign this renewable fuels bill that received such wide, bipartisan support from the entire Iowa legislature and promotes E15, biodiesel and bio-butanol” stated Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “I have been a staunch supporter of protecting Iowa jobs and Iowa motorists’ access to cleaner, locally-produced renewable fuels, and this bill does exactly that.”

“Today is a great day for Iowa’s renewable fuels community,” stated IRFA Policy Director Grant Menke. “We commend Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, and the entire Iowa legislature for standing beside renewable fuels, protecting Iowa jobs, and safeguarding consumer access to low-cost, homegrown biofuels.”

“We are excited Gov. Branstad selected our facility to mark the officially signing of this important bill,” said Bill Howell, General Manager of POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids. “The state of Iowa continues to be very supportive of the biofuels industry and this bill is yet another example of that support. Here at POET, we look forward to continued expansion of E15 throughout the state and nation, which will allow consumers to enjoy additional options at the pump.”

The law also defines biobutanol as a renewable fuel option for Iowans.

Forecast for Greater GHG Reduction from Ethanol

A new report forecasts global ethanol consumption will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this year by over 106 million tons.

global-rfaThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), in cooperation with (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., released their Global Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Forecast for 2014 as the International Transport Forum Summit begins today in Germany.

The annual report shows the reduction in global GHG emissions from global ethanol production is increasing. This year’s figure reveals that 90.38 billion litres of global ethanol production and use in 2014 will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. Compared to 2013, this is an increase of over 7000 tonnes per day in GHG emission savings.

According to GRFA, the 106.4 million ton GHG emissions reduction is equal to over 21 million cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014, about 58,000 per day.

“We believe International Transport Forum Summit participants should call for an increase in ethanol production and use given the significant contribution ethanol is making to reducing global GHG emissions today,” said GRFA spokesman Bliss Baker. This year’s theme for the International Transport Forum Summit is “Transport for a Changing World”.

Transportation Biofuels to Hit Nearly $338 Bil by 2022

biofuelsfortransBiodiesel and ethanol for vehicles is expected to hit nearly $338 billion in sales by 2022. A new report from Navigant Research expects that over the next 8 years, biofuels for road transportation will more than double, growing from $166.5 billion annually in 2014 to $337.8 billion worldwide, making up 7.5 percent of liquid fuels consumed in the sector by 2022.

“Over the last 10 years, growth in the biofuels sector has been driven by the increase in ethanol production capacity in the United States and Brazil, and in biodiesel in Europe,” says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Today, the industry is on the verge of entering a new phase of development focused on advanced and drop-in biofuels.”

Commercial-scale production of cellulosic feedstock biofuels is just getting underway, according to the report, and recent developments in drop-in biofuels propelled by the aviation industry and the U.S. Department of Defense are driving down the costs of these advanced biofuels, enabling commercial-scale drop-in biofuels production. Meanwhile, large oil-consuming nations concerned about energy security, climate change, and economic stagnation are driving global biofuels markets through a number of policy platforms, principally biofuels mandates.

The report, “Biofuels for Transportation Markets,” looks at what emerging markets will bring for biodiesel and ethanol, as well as future growth opportunities for biofuels. Vehicle sales, as well as technologies in producing the fuels, are also examined.

Missouri to Allow E15 at the Gas Pumps

E15 signMissouri is the latest state to allow retailers to sell a 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15. This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a dozen other states allow, but don’t require, the higher blends.

Biofuel trade groups and state corn growing associations say E15 is just another blend of fuel that gas stations can offer price-conscious motorists. Despite auto industry groups warning of the fuel’s impact on engines, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved it for use in vehicle models 2001 and newer.

“It’s bringing in another low-cost fuel to consumers,” said Bradley Schad, director of market development with the Missouri Corn Growers Association. “It’s actually helping drive the economy here in Missouri because we produce ethanol in Missouri.”

Petroleum groups are still pushing back on the new option, trying to say that vehicle engines will be ruined by the higher blend, but with 12 other states already approving the higher blend, even with the small number of stations selling E15, wouldn’t we be hearing about all these cars stranded by the sides of roads? So far, I’m not hearing those kinds of stories.

Renewable Energy Takes Hit in Farm Bill Funding

USCapitolFunding for some rural renewable energy programs is taking a hit. Ethanol Producer Magazine reports the House Appropriations Committee cut the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) down to just $15 million, down from last year’s levels of $25 million, and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year 2015 is proposed to be funded at just $30 million, down for 2014′s $50 million in mandatory funding and $20 million in discretionary funding for FY 2015. Meanwhile, the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program is cut to $22 million, a major drop from previous levels of $50 million in mandatory FY 2015 funding, with an additional $75 million in discretionary funding for FY 2015.

The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) has released a statement in response to the draft bill, vowing to fight the changes to the Farm Bill’s popular energy programs. “The renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new biobased manufacturing opportunities and stable, well-paying jobs,” said Lloyd Ritter, codirect of the AgEC .”The Energy Title programs were reauthorized in the five-year Farm Bill adopted by Congress just months ago, in February 2014, and received mandatory funding to allow for program stability and business certainty. The modest investments made through that bill would pay major dividends for energy security, economic growth, and environmental gains across the United States.”

“Just today, however, the House Appropriations Committee sought to roll back the Farm Bill, by targeting the successful energy title programs for changes in mandatory spending and blocking the USDA’s ability to administer them,” Ritter continued. “The Agriculture Energy Coalition, which comprises a broad group of renewable energy, energy efficiency and agricultural groups, will continue to fight to ensure that these programs are implemented properly.”

You can read the full draft of the legislation here.

Ethanol Groups Participate in China Trade Mission

RFANewlogoU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse led a mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports in northeast China May 5-13. The mission is part of President Obama’s “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, designed to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.

growth-energy-logoTaking part in the mission to promote U.S. biofuels and co-product exports was Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis and Jim Miller with Growth Energy.

During a press conference Tuesday to talk about the trade mission, Davis said it was her first trip to China and she was astounded by the number of cars on the roads and sees a great need for both biofuels and distillers grains for livestock feed in that country. Miller added that China provides an excellent market opportunity for the U.S. ethanol industry.

Also taking part in the trip and the press conference was Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmer’s Union. Ethanol Press Conference Opening Remarks

Group Looks to Expand Ethanol By-Product’s Market

usgrainscouncil1A group representing grain producers’ interests is looking to expand the market for a popular ethanol by-product. The U.S. Grains Council says it is looking to the south, Middle East and Southeast Asia to expand on American distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), already chalking up 9.7 million metric tons – valued at $2.9 billion – exported in 2013 to more than 45 countries.

While Mexico is the third-largest market for U.S. DDGS, its southern region remains an underserved livestock sector with growth potential for U.S. exports. According to a 2012 Council assessment, the potential exists to more than double current exports by providing technical and practical education to local cattlemen. To further this effort the Council has conducted a feeding trial in the area.

Elsewhere, the Council in August 2011 successfully achieved the inclusion of DDGS and other U.S. commodities on the Saudi Arabian import subsidy list. Inclusion on this list is essential in eliciting interest from Saudi importers of these products…

And in Southeast Asia, imports of U.S. DDGS have increased again this year, growing from 252,548 tons in January to March 2013 to 352,674 tons in the same period this year, an increase of almost 140 percent.

The council is using educational seminars and feeding trails to help educate end-users around the world.

Asia Key for Ethanol Producer Aemetis’ Profits

aemetislogo1A California-based ethanol producer is reporting a big turnaround in profits, thanks to its business in Asia. Aemetis, Inc., the largest U.S.-owned biofuels producer in Asia, reports a $7.7 million net profit for the first quarter of this year… quite an improvement from a nearly $10 Million net loss from the same quarter a year ago.

“We’re very pleased with our record financial and operational performance in the first quarter,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis, Inc. “These results build upon the very strong results we posted in Q4 of 2013, and with available capacity and attractive international markets for our India products, the company is well positioned for additional growth in the remainder of 2014,” added McAfee.

Financial Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2014
Revenues were a record $60.7 million for the first quarter of 2014, compared to $19.4 million for the first quarter of 2013. Gross profit was a record $15.6 million for the first quarter of 2014, compared to a gross profit of $0.2 million in the first quarter of 2013. The increases in revenues and gross profit were primarily attributable to a full quarter of operations during the period from January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014 as compared to the period from January 15, 2013 through March 31, 2013 when the Keyes plant was idle.

Aemetis also set a record with its adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter of 2014 at $14.2 million.