Some straight talk this weekend on ethanol on the syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic.” Judd Hulting of Patriot Renewable Fuels talked with Bobby about the operations, products and statistics of Patriot’s ten-year old, ethanol plant located near the Quad Cities.
Hulting was able to tout the benefits of ethanol, including the growing worldwide export market for American-made ethanol and distillers grain. Likis was already a fan of ethanol and pointed out that while some Americans are worried about moving up to a 15 percent ethanol blend (E15), Brazil has just moved up to E27 as the baseline for gasoline in the South American country.
You can listen to the conversation between Hulting and Likis here.
The high blend of ethanol, E85, had a big year in Iowa last year. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new record of nearly 12 million gallons was sold in the Hawkeye State in 2014, more than a million-gallon increase over 2013.
“Another year, and another E85 sales record in Iowa,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The most impressive aspect of this record is that retail gasoline prices dropped significantly in the second half of the fourth quarter of 2014, yet Iowa motorists remained committed to the homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel by setting a new fourth quarter record for E85 purchases. This fourth quarter data proves that not only is E85 being purchased at a record rate where available in Iowa, but consumers are realizing the benefits of this more locally-produced, environmentally-friendly fuel, beyond simply its cost advantages.”
The nearly 3 million gallons sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 was also a fourth quarter record.
Under the collaboration, the companies will each contribute in-kind services and resources and share in the revenue from the ethanol produced from Ceres’ sweet sorghum above certain levels. This season, Raízen has planted Ceres’ sweet sorghum evaluation in a single location and plans to expand to multiple mills in the seasons to come.
Sweet sorghum can be grown to complement existing feedstock supplies and extend the operating season of Brazilian sugarcane-to-ethanol mills. In addition to sweet sorghum, Ceres markets high biomass sorghum to mills and other agri-industrial facilities for use in generating electricity, heat and steam in Brazil. In the U.S., Ceres is marketing improved forage sorghum hybrids to dairies and livestock producers.
The Urban Air Initiative is challenging the federal government’s models on ethanol emissions from automobiles. This news release from the group says it has filed a new petition with the Environmental Protection Agency challenging the EPA’s Motor Fuel Emission Simulator model, which it says “wrongly blames ethanol for creating harmful tailpipe emissions.”
One of the biggest factors currently holding domestically produced ethanol back from reaching its full potential is bad information. This includes focused misinformation campaigns like the tactics used by big oil for years and bad computer modeling basing assessments on erroneous or inaccurate information.
“Many Americans are not aware of the very real and dangerous consequences of our dependence on foreign oil,” said Michigan farmer Jeff Sandborn, who is chairman of the NCGA Ethanol Committee. “Much of the time the focus has been on jobs and ethanol’s economic contributions, but increasingly the urban public is looking at the dangers related to the pollutants in gasoline. Ethanol reduces carbon and these toxic compounds while providing the higher octane modern engines need.”
The EPA’s study and resulting model obscures the fact that “blending ethanol into ordinary gasoline reduces harmful emissions produced when gasoline combusts in an engine,” according to the group’s petition.
EPA’s study, in an effort to look at optimal temperatures and a variety of blends, results in findings that increasing ethanol can be associated with increasing emissions, the petition said. “This conclusion is misleading at best,” the group said, arguing that it ignores real-world factors in burning fuel. Other studies have found that increasing the amount of ethanol in fuels reduces emissions.
The group says this model in question underlies a number of key issues regarding EPA and states’ treatment of ethanol, including state implementation plans to meet a variety of air quality standards.
The heads of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency spoke to the National Farmers Union (NFU) convention in Wichita Monday and talked about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“The RFS is a complicated program, and we weren’t able to accomplish what we needed to do last year,” she said. “Implementing the RFS as Congress intended has been challenging.”
“We need to set levels that send a longer-term message,” McCarthy continued, explaining the agency’s intention to set Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2014, 2015, and 2016 before summer of this year.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed his continued support for the RFS. “I love the RFS – I’m for RFS,” he said. “We need to make sure Congress doesn’t do anything to damage it or repeal it or make it difficult to use. We need to be advocates, spokespeople for this industry. We need to go out and tell folks this is the right thing to do,” he said.
Vilsack urged the crowd to continue to educate the public about the potential of weaning the nation from foreign oil imports and highlighting the potential of renewable fuels. He pointed to areas of the economy, like the military, that were converting to home grown fuels. “Navy is starting to look at renewable fuels. I am optimistic about this. We need to be advocates for this industry. We don’t want to lose this amazing marketing opportunity.”
Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits (LBDS) along with Mascoma, LLC have been awarded a patent for the technology used in TransFerm Yield+ in the US (US 8,956,851 B2). As explained in Lallemand company materials, this yeast product provides for novel metabolic pathways that reduce or eliminate glycerol production subsequently increase ethanol yield by yeast or other microorganisms.
“We are extremely proud to have introduced these products into the marketplace. This drop-in, game-changing technology is one example of how our Mascoma business unit has produced real results,” said Angus Ballard, president, LBDS. “To be able to increase yields and thus increase the profitability of ethanol plants, at a time where margins are tight, is huge. This is just the beginning of a long line of Mascoma developed products that will be brought into the market by our team.”
During the past three years, LBDS and Mascoma introduced TransFerm and TransFerm Yield+ yeasts into the ethanol industry citing that the products help reduce the amount of glucoamylase needed in fermentation and also provide a substantial yield increase through the introduction of the glycerol reduction pathway. Today more than 50 ethanol plants have utilized the TransFerm platform producing over 4 billion gallons of ethanol.
Kevin Wenger, executive vice president of Mascoma, added, “Development of this technology is the result of years of dedicated R&D effort by Mascoma. We are quite pleased that the U.S. Patent Office has allowed the patent; we believe it shows how innovative and significant this new approach really is. TransFerm Yield+ is truly the first product of its kind to offer this type of step change technology in ethanol production.”
“NASCAR has shown under the most demanding competition that E15 is safe, reliable and it works,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, Vice President, NASCAR Green Innovation and STEM Platforms. “NASCAR fans are 80 percent more likely than non-fans to support the use of ethanol blends in their own car on the street, because they understand that NASCAR and our diligent race teams did our homework from the start with thousands of miles and hours of testing.”
Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, says the move to Sunoco Green E15 has actually boosted the performance of the race cars – lowering emissions and increasing horsepower. “Since this change took place, we have seen increased horsepower from a higher-octane ethanol fuel blend and decreased emissions. In our own internal tests at RCR, we used ethanol blends up to E30 and found no issues with that fuel, either,” said Childress.
NASCAR made the fuel change in conjunction with their NASCAR Green® Platform, the largest and most comprehensive recycling, tree planting and renewable energy programs in sports.
The new governor in Orgeon has signed a measure that ends the sunset on the state’s clean fuels law, something which is seen as a boost to biodiesel and ethanol on the West Coast. Governor Kate Brown cited global warming concerns and neighboring areas’ own rules on alternative energy for signing the Clean Fuels legislation:
“I strongly support SB 324’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is difficult to deny that we are seeing the effects of a warming planet. This year, 85 percent of our state is experiencing drought, with 33 percent experiencing extreme drought. This directly impacts 1.5 million Oregonians, hitting our rural communities the hardest. With California, Washington, and British Columbia moving forward with their own clean fuels programs, which will shape the West Coast market, it is imperative not only that Oregon does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also that we build a program that meets the needs of Oregonians.
“I appreciate the years of work by countless Oregonians who helped develop this law, and I applaud the Oregon Legislature for its thorough examination of these issues. The work begins now to ensure this program is well implemented and well managed.”
Syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” will feature a discussion on global demand for U.S. ethanol and its co-products on this week’s globalcast which airs live on Saturday morning March 14.
Judd Hulting of Patriot Renewable Fuels will talk with Bobby about the operations, products and statistics of Patriot’s ten-year old, ethanol plant located near the Quad Cities and not far from Chicago. “Demand for American-made ethanol and distillers grain is growing worldwide as countries are coming to understand and value the cost-saving and environmental benefits of high-octane ethanol and farmers continue to demand the high-protein distillers grain,” says Hulting, who is the commodities manager at Patriot. Hulting will also talk about Export Green, his recent trade mission to Brazil in collaboration with the U. S. Department of Commerce.
“The advantages to the production and use of ethanol nationally – and export internationally – are striking,” says Likis. “Join us to hear Judd discuss the export of U.S. produced ethanol and his trade mission to Brazil. You may be surprised to learn that E27 (27% ethanol) – up from E25 – is now the baseline for retail gasoline in Brazil.”
To view Hulting’s interview in its entirety, tune it to WatchBobbyLive.com on Saturday, March 14, at 10:25a ET.
Advanced Biofuels Association President Michael McAdams today called on Congress to amend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to strengthen it for the “continued development of the advanced and cellulosic industry.”
In an address this morning to the 2015 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, McAdams said the “RFS simply doesn’t work as well for companies trying to move cutting-edge technology from a demonstration plant to commercial scale.” He called for changes in several areas, including minimum RIN value for cellulosic fuels, extending the program beyond 2022, and removing “the loop hole that allows the oil industry to opt out from buying a cellulosic gallon.”
The idea of reopening the RFS even to make positive changes is opposed by other biofuels organizations. “By opening up the RFS for legislative changes, you are opening a can of worms that will only create further uncertainty for the industry, which is the last thing biofuel producers of any kind need,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis in a statement.
“We seriously question who ABFA is representing these days,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen in response to a reporter’s question on a conference call this morning. “There’s nothing ABFA has identified as needed improvements to the program that the agency already does not have the authority to address.”
Novozymes president Adam Monroe added that ABFA “does not represent even the majority of advanced biofuels producers” and doesn’t believe their position is representative of the industry. “It’s the politics that are broken not the legislation,” said Monroe.
Holding a press conference in advance of the American Petroleum Institute continuing its call to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), representatives of the ethanol and advanced biofuels industry and corn growers defended the law and the fuel.
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the oil industry is making the same old arguments about ethanol that are simply not true, but he thinks the industry received a good boost over the weekend “when six out of nine of the Republican presidential candidates that came to the Ag Summit expressed support for the RFS.”
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) first vice president Rob Elliott of Illinois talked about how the facts dispel the perpetual myths about food versus fuel. “Corn prices are now below cost of production … so obviously food prices have not followed a similar path,” he said.
Adam Monroe, president of enzyme producer Novozymes, said if Washington gives in to pressure by the oil industry to weaken the RFS it will keep second generation biofuels from going forward. “It makes it tremendously difficult for us to bring in new investors and spend more money,” he said.
Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen says no matter what ethanol critics say, there is now real world data that shows no detrimental effects have occurred as a result of the RFS and he encouraged reporters to question API. “Ask them to explain the fact that the price of corn is lower than it was when the RFS was passed,” he said, noting also that food price inflation has been lower, the dead zone has gotten smaller, and hunger worldwide has fallen.
ACE executive vice president Brian Jennings says talking to Washington bureaucrats and lawmakers about ethanol is more important than ever. “We’re really going to be focusing on some new members of Congress and educating them on the RFS and E15 in particular,” he said. “There were over 70 new members of Congress elected, and when you look at the current members of Congress, just two in five were in office when RFS2 was enacted back in 2007.”
Members of the ethanol industry who attend the ACE Fly-In hear from members of the administration and discuss many current issues, and then go out in groups to visit members of Congress and their staffs. “Last year we had well over 200 meetings with members of Congress, both sides of the aisle and both houses,” said Jennings, who stressed that they encourage members to “tell their stories” to make an impression.
“What is most remarkable about this supply and demand report is the light it sheds on a topic of great concern to U.S. corn farmers – recognition of the growing efficiencies in the ethanol industry,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn farmer. “For many years, we have strongly asserted that the ethanol industry continues to improve and those productivity gains should be taken into consideration. With the simple justification offered for the analysis, USDA made a great step forward in showing its growing appreciation for the advances made in ethanol production and, thus, the ever-increasing benefit it offers Americans.”
While USDA estimates for corn use in ethanol production were lowered by 50 million bushels, the overall drop was partially offset by higher than expected production over the winter months. The demand decline was more than offset by projected increases in demand for corn from the export and feed and residuals markets of 50 million bushels each.
Projected ending stocks were lowered by 50 million bushels in light of the other adjustments. Average farm price estimates were raised by five cents at the midpoint to $3.50 to $3.90 per bushel.
On the DDGS side, exports totaled 708,861 metric tons in January, down 3% from December and still down 22% compared to a year ago. But the good news is that China was the top market for DDGS exports, receiving 24% of the total. Recovery of the Chinese market continues, as January exports to China were 35% above December levels and up dramatically from near zero in November.
Some pretty cool videos are helping spread the good news about ethanol, while showing just how creative rural youth can be. Winners in the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s Field to Fuel video contest were announced with Medicine Valley FFA students from Curtis, Nebraska, taking first place honors and a $1,000 prize. Their video titled, “That’s What Makes it Ethanol,” was a parody of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” pop music hit.
“It was clear that these students had done their research and had a good understanding of ethanol’s impact on the agriculture economy,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “They took the topic and got creative.”
An agronomy class from Hampton, Neb., took home a second place prize of $600. The students’ video titled, “A Future without Ethanol,” has a dystopian message and includes a variety of special effects.
Rebekah Turnbull, a senior from York, Neb., was awarded third place and $400 for her “Facts I Bet You Didn’t Know About Ethanol” video. Her video featured unique artwork painted by Turnbull with a voice-over narration.
The winning video will debut at the Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 16-17.