USDA Launches Ag Industrial Reports Program

usda-logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has relaunched the formerly defunct Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR) survey program. NASS will collect and publish vital statistics for the dry and wet alcohol milling and flour milling sectors. Beginning this year, NASS will collect data and publish the industrial reports. In addition to the flour milling, and dry and wet alcohol milling sectors, CAIR surveys will also result in reports on the cotton, and fats and oilseeds industries. This information may be valuable to ethanol and biodiesel producers.

“As soon as the Census Bureau announced they were discontinuing the Current Industrial Reports, we began hearing from agriculture stakeholders around the country about the impact this decision had on the industry,” said NASS Administrator Joseph T. Reilly. “These reports are such an important element of sound economic policy planning and are used for market analysis, forecasting, and decision making that we knew we had to provide the data and I’m glad that beginning this year NASS is able to do just that.”

To prepare for the program launch, NASS conducted extensive work building up baseline profiles for the industries. On the ethanol production side, the agency will work with 200 facilities, with a reported nameplate capacity of 14.792 billion gallons per year. On the flour milling side, NASS plans to survey 183 facilities, which have a reported 24-hour milling capacity of 1,594,755 hundredweight.

NASS has a long history of collecting and publishing agriculture data. As is the case with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential.

Brazil’s GranBio Begins Producing Cellulosic Ethanol

GranBio has begun producing cellulosic ethanol at its first commercial-scale plant for second-generation (2G) ethanol in Brazil. The Bioflex 1 unit located in São Miguel dos Campos, Alagoas, has an initial production capacity of 82 million liters of ethanol per year.

According to GranBio, its 2G ethanol is the cleanest fuel produced on a commercial scale in the world in carbon intensity – 7.55 gCO2/MJ, as confirmed by theGranBio 2G cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil California Air Resources Board (CARB). The calculation takes into account factors starting with the harvest of the raw material, through inputs and energy consumption, transportation and distribution through a port in California.

“When we announced the construction of the plant in Alagoas, in mid-2012, we took the risk of an innovator and pioneer in a project with transformative potential for the biofuels and biochemicals industries,” said GranBio’s president, Bernardo Gradin. “Beyond the inauguration of a plant, this project is proof that Brazil can lead the global biotech industry based on its agricultural potential.”

GranBio cites its 2G ethanol makes it possible to increase Brazilian production capacity per acre by 50 percent using agricultural waste – straw and bagasse, without need of expanding the cane fields. The company developed a system to harvest, store and process 400,000 metric tons of straw per year for Bioflex 1, which places it among the world’s largest and most competitive. GranBio’s facility uses the PROESA pre-treatment technology from the Italian company BetaRenewables enzymes from Novozymes in Denmark and yeast from DSM in Holland.

In addition, GranBio and Caeté created a partnership for the integrated production of steam and electricity. Installed next to Bioflex 1, the cogeneration system is fed by sugarcane bagasse and lignin – a byproduct of producing second-generation ethanol. The boiler of the cogeneration system will remain in operation for eleven months of the year, or eight thousand hours, in the harvest and inter-harvest period at the Caeté plant. As such, beyond meeting the needs of the two plants, the boiler will generate excess electricity on order of 135,000 MWh/year – enough to power a city of 300,000 inhabitants – which will be sold and become a source of revenue for the companies.

Governors’ Biofuels Coalition: Restore RFS

The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition has sent a letter to the Obama Administration urging action on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and for the restoration of biofuel levels as designated by the mandate. This, the group said, will protect consumer choice, ensure jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The initiative was led by Governor Pat Quinn and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, chairman and vice chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition.

In the letter, the govegovernor-biofuelsrnors write, “The continued expansion of the biofuels industry is essential for our nation’s energy and economic future. Through continued expansion of biofuels plants, it will be possible to deliver millions of gallons of clean, renewable fuel, create thousands of jobs, lower imported oil expenditures, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent, compared to gasoline.”

The governors also expressed their concern about the impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule will have on biodiesel. “The EPA’s proposed volume cuts for biodiesel are creating turmoil, resulting in production cutbacks and layoffs. More than halfway through the year, many jobs are in jeopardy and many biodiesel plants have been negatively impacted.”

The letter highlights the impact that the EPA’s proposed rule has had on the emerging cellulosic industry: “[T] he proposed RFS rule has discouraged new investment in the newly emerging cellulosic ethanol industry and now threatens the many new plants about to go into commercial production.”

The letter concluded, “Amending the proposed rule to one that will build and restore America’s robust leadership in the development and production of domestically produced renewable fuels is crucial in ensuring a successful future in rural America.”

Randall Doyal Elected as Board Chairman of RFA

RFANewlogoThe new leadership of the Renewable Fuels Association has been elected. The Board selected Randall Doyal, General Manager and CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, as the next Chairman of the Board of Directors. Doyal heads an ethanol facility in Claremont, Minnesota that produces 50 million gallons annually.

Doyal’s career in the ethanol industry began in 1982 at Mountain Development Corporation. In addition to Al-Corn Clean Fuel, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Guardian Energy, LLC and Renewable Products Marketing Group. Doyal previously served as Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of the RFA.

“It is truly an honor to be selected by my peers to head the Renewable Fuels Association. The RFA has the technical knowledge, political influence, and market acumen to positively impact today’s ethanol industry, which will in turn help bolster biofuels production and consumption across the nation,” said Doyal. “I am proud to take the helm and lead this great organization as ethanol is establishing itself as an indispensable part of this country’s motor fuel supply. We will work to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and expand markets abroad. The future is bright and I look forward to this new challenge.”

Additionally, RFA elected:

  • Vice-Chairman Mick Henderson, General Manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy in Hopkinsville, Ky.
  • Treasurer Walter Wendland of Golden Grain Energy, LLC in Mason City, Iowa.
  • President Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, D.C.

RFA Updates Ethanol Quality Control Program

RFANewlogoThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has updated its guidelines for quality control for ethanol plants. The group says the guidelines are an educational tool and information resource to help refiners make sure they turn out denatured fuel ethanol, distillers dried grains, carbon dioxide and corn distiller’s oil that meet customers’ expectations.

“This document underscores the commitment of the Renewable Fuels Association to help ethanol producers provide the highest product quality with the highest product integrity,” said Kristy Moore, RFA’s vice president of technical services.

The document details the basic principles for quality assurance and quality control including testing frequency, sampling, and record keeping. It also includes an expanded discussion on all of the major products being produced at an ethanol manufacturing site: denatured fuel ethanol, distillers dried grains, corn distillers oil, and carbon dioxide.

You can see the full document here.

Urban Air Initiative Launches Public Campaign

Urban Air Initiative has launched a public awareness campaign with the first phase the launch of a new website. The consumer-focused site draws attention to the problem of toxic compounds in gas with a call to action for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate some of the most harmful components in fuel.

fixourfuelAccording to Urban Air Initiative President David VanderGriend, “There’s a problem with the air we’re all breathing and it stems from what’s in our gasoline. It’s something that’s too small to see, but too big to ignore.”

The new website is fixourfuel.com and explains why the country needs to clean up gasoline and protect public health through lowered emissions from vehicles said VanderGriend.

“The website takes a story-like approach to make a complicated subject easier to understand. “Right now, toxic compounds called aromatics are added to gasoline to provide octane boost,” added VanderGriend. However that boost is hurting your health. Aromatics, such as benzene, come out of the tailpipe as invisible, odorless ultrafine particles (UFP’s). These UFP’s have been linked to ailments from lung cancer and stroke, to birth defects and developmental disorders in children.”

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to remove these harmful aromatics from gasoline, but not enough is being done. According to Urban Air Initiative officials, there are cleaner and cheaper options available, such as mid-level blends of ethanol. Increased use of these mid-level blends will reduce toxic aromatics and UFP’s.

Ford Hauls Bad Guys Away with Biodiesel and E85

fordptv1Ford is doing its part in helping clean up the streets while also cleaning the environment. The automaker has introduced its new 2015 Ford Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle, or Transit PTV, capable of hauling up to 12 prisoners at a time and able to run on biodiesel or E85 ethanol.

“Transit PTV is the latest example of Ford’s deep commitment to helping provide law enforcement agencies with capable vehicles,” said Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford police marketing manager. “This concept proves Transit is upfit-ready and designed to Built Ford Tough standards.”

Transit is available in three roof heights, two wheelbases, three lengths and four body styles. It provides a range of powertrain choices with a lineup that includes two gasoline engine options, an E85-capable 3.7-liter V6 and an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost® as well as an available 3.2-liter Power Stroke® diesel [able to run on B20 biodiesel].

Ford is known for its police vehicles, with the Transit PTV joining Ford’s Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicle, Special Service Police Sedan, F-150 Special Service Vehicle and Expedition Special Service Vehicle in the company’s law enforcement vehicle lineup.

The only people who probably won’t like the Transit PTV would probably be, well, the prisoners it hauls.

Sunliquid 20 Fuel (E20) Sees Success in Auto Tests

Since January of this year, Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have been testing E20 known as sunliquid 20 fuel that contains 20 percent of cellulosic ethanol coming from wheat straw. The cellulosic ethanol comes from Clariant’s sunliquid demonstration plant in Straubing.

According to tests, Sunliquid® 20 improves engine efficiency so that its 4 percent lesser energy content, as compared to E10, is more than compensated. Another notable finding was the 50 percent improvement in particle count emissions of sunliquid® 20 in contrast to the EU reference fuel EU5. In addition, the fuel blend the cellulosic ethanol 20 demonstrates greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95 percent across the entire value chain (well-to-wheel) without competing with food production or agricultural acreage.

Wheat Straw Bale Abstract @AkulamatiauWith the success of the the automotive fuel tests, consumers could now fill their tanks with sunliquid 20 fuel without making any adjustments to the gas station infrastructure in Europe and without compromising fuel range and driving comfort.

“Cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues can play a key role in creating more sustainable mobility in Germany, Europe and worldwide. Here we have the latest generation of truly advanced biofuel, the high performance of which was confirmed in the fleet test on series vehicles,” said Professor Andre Koltermann, head of Group Biotechnology at Clariant. “Second generation biofuels coming from agricultural residues are now technologically ready and available for production and application.”

Koltermann continued, “A change in energies used for transport must also be successful now; for this to happen, we urgently need stable framework conditions such as the mandatory blending rate for advanced biofuels being discussed at EU level. Our main task is to shape solutions to create sustainable mobility for the future. Gasoline with 20% ethanol can already be used easily in our latest Mercedes-Benz BlueDIRECT gasoline engines.

sunliquid® 20 is an E20 fuel with 20 percent cellulosic ethanol. Using wheat straw or other non-edible agricultural residues the feedstocks are converted into cellulosic ethanol using Clariant’s sunliquid process. The production of cellulosic ethanol is virtually CO2-neutral, saving almost 100 percent of CO2 emissions compared to gasoline according to Clariant.

Haltermann then mixes the cellulosic ethanol with conventional fuel components to form the new fuel sunliquid 20. The 20 percent cellulosic ethanol gives the fuel a high octane number (RON) of over 100, guaranteeing optimal efficiency.

Fuels America Campaign Focuses on Nat’l Security

As the U.S. government fights ISIS, this week oil fields became a target in the war on terror Fuels America is running a new series of ads online, radio, cable and in the Washington, D.C. market. The ads tell the public and decision makers that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could end American’s addiction to foreign oil. The radio ads will run for one week, and the television ads will run during the Sunday morning talk shows as well as Sunday, Monday and Tuesday programming.

The ad warns that the Obama Administration’s proposal to gut the RFS would leave America’s renewable fuel industry—and the thousands of American jobs it supports—at the mercy of the oil industry. Meanwhile, maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard would support American innovation and thousands of American jobs that can’t be outsourced.

The President’s decision on the EPA’s proposal is expected in the coming days. It is currently under review with the Office of Management and Budget and it is not actually known if the final volumes will be lower than the year before and lower than mandated by the legislation. Fuels America points out this the public unveiling of the final 2014 rule comes as oil producing regions around the world remain unstable. As a net importer of oil, every gallon of domestic biofuels the U.S. produces means less foreign oil we must import from hostile foreign regions.

Those ads come alongside a digital campaign that includes a Politico Morning Energy Sponsorship by the Fuels America coalition, which says “Despite the mess in the Middle East, the Obama Administration is calling for a 1.3 billion gallon cut in America’s renewable fuel production—making us even more foreign oil dependent,” and “With turmoil in the Middle East, this isn’t the time to cut back on the clean, domestic alternatives to foreign oil.”

Ethanol Report on 2014 Export Exchange

ethanol-report-adComing up October 20-22 is the 2014 Export Exchange sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to bring international coarse grain buyers and U.S. suppliers together, with a particular focus on the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains with solubles – better known as DDGS or distillers feed.

2014-export-exchangeThis edition of the Ethanol Report features comments from RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen, USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight, and industry relations director Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey.

Ethanol Report on 2014 Export Exchange

DuPont Sees Cellulosic Ethanol as Good for Brazil

World Bio Markets Brasil Conference is taking place in Sao Paulo this week and Jan Koninckx, director of DuPont Industrial Biosciences biofuels business, told attendees about the company’s offering and vision for the growth of the cellulosic ethanol market in Brazil. World Bio Markets BrasilThe company is in the final stages of building a cellulosic ethanol refinery in Nevada, Iowa co-located next to Lincolnway Energy with plans to be in full commercial-scale production by the end of the year.

“As global ethanol markets continue to grow, Brazil will need innovative solutions to meet the fuel demands of its growing population and of markets abroad from existing hectares of sugar cane,” said Koninckx. “DuPont Industrial Biosciences’ cellulosic ethanol technology makes good business sense in Brazil: abundant sugar cane provides a large quantity of convertible biomass at very competitive costs. Because our cellulosic ethanol technology can utilize the leftovers from sugar cane processing, DuPont can improve the productivity of first-generation ethanol mills and increase ethanol yield without growing more sugar cane. We are engaging with industry leaders to explore options to support the growth of renewable fuels in Brazil, including, as required, increase of our regional enzyme capacity.”

Koninckx continued, “DuPont developed our advanced biofuels technology through a network of scientists and assets in laboratories around the globe in Brazil, the United DuPont LogoStates, the European Union and Asia. We are currently finalizing what will be the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa to demonstrate the company’s cellulosic ethanol technology package at industrial scale. While the feedstock at that plant will be corn stover, DuPont validated the same technology with bagasse– the fibrous matter leftover once the juice has been extracted from sugarcane – with our process yielding more than 310 liters per metric ton in our demonstration plant in Vonore, Tennessee.”

The company has a long history working in Brazil and on behalf of the DuPont, Koninckx said the company is excited for the future. The company has been in the country for nearly 80 years and currently has 2,500 employees, 12 manufacturing sites and 11 Research and Development locations. With this on-the-ground experience and their world-leading science, Koninckx said DuPont is uniquely positioned to help expand the Brazilian cellulosic ethanol industry and to develop the country and region’s growing bio-based economy.

Badger State Ethanol Hosts Foreign Ag Guests

wisconsin-tourBadger State Ethanol in Monroe, Wisconsin had the honor of hosting the 2014 Foreign Agricultural Attaché Tour this week.

The group is part of the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service and is made up of 26 representatives from more than a dozen countries including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, France, Angola, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Philippines, New Zealand, Nigeria, Ghana, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection are playing host to the group for the week to educate them about the quality and diversity of Wisconsin agriculture. The group visited Badger State Ethanol on Monday to take a tour of the facility and learn about the importance of biofuels to the world economy.

Orrie Swayze: EPA is Destroying Grain Prices

Orrie Swayze, from Wilmont, South Dakota is a long-time ethanol advocate and has been involved with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) since its inception more than 20 years ago. He has been following the progress of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) writing of the final 2014 final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard and as a retired farmer, he is not happy with their direction. While no one knows what the renewable volume obligations will be for obligated parties this year (yes, the EPA is way behind should be releases the proposed rule for 2015 in November) there is grave concern among the renewable fuels industry that volumes will be lower than mandated by the law and from years past.

orrieSwayze is speaking out. “The EPA deceitfully created E10 blend wall destroys free enterprise’s role deciding corn prices because it locks a potential new five billion bushel demand for corn out of the market,” he says. “Free enterprise cannot play a legitimate role in corn and auto fuels markets when EPA’s dishonest policies limit ethanol’s auto fuels market participation to ten percent. Countering free enterprise principles EPA picks gasoline as auto fuels market winner by deceitfully claiming high octane E30 is illegal to use in and damages standard auto engines.”

He notes that unlike gasoline, ethanol does not contain or emit harmful tailpipe emissions that are particularity harmful to children and the elderly. “Therefore it isn’t Clean Air Act defined tampering or illegal, as EPA alleges, to fuel standard autos with E30 because it decreases known human carcinogenic tailpipe/evaporative emissions 30 percent,” explains Swayze.

“Importantly, auto companies urgently request EPA to raise minimum gasoline octane levels,” he continues. “Autos endorse ethanol’s high octane E30 but ridicule low octane E15. E15 cannot provide E30’s air cooling turbocharging effect and 93 ‘safe’ octane that’s required for optimized, efficient high compression engines. Engines autos need to be competitive in international markets plus meet 2017 café standards.”

South Dakota farmers have a deep experience of producing corn and ethanol with the state producing nearly a billion bushels of corn plus a billion bushels of ethanol each year. “We all have hit EPA’s fraudulent blend wall evidenced by a dollar plus lower tumbling corn prices and necessarily all grain/ethanol prices,” says Swayze. “The economic impact of government’s war on E30 use in standard autos creating the e10 blend wall will obviously extort several billion dollars annually from SD’s economy alone.”

Swayze concluded, “Incredibly state government, corn and ethanol organizations assure the blend wall stands firm today: They irresponsibly agree with EPA’s big oil sponsored fabrications that built the blend wall: E30 is illegal to use in and damages standard auto engines.” He is asking corn growers associations and ag associations to stand firm on ethanol and be more proactive in fighting Big Oil who is perpetuating myths about ethanol.

Impact of Ethanol Mandates on Fuel Prices Nill

Professors Sebastien Pouliot and Bruce A. Babcock with Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) have released a new paper, “Impact of Ethanol Mandates on Fuel Prices When Ethanol and Gasoline are Imperfect Substitutes“. The authors note papers that consider the two transportation fuels “equal” have been of limited use in informing current policy debates because the short-to-medium-run reality is one of sets restrictions on how ethanol can be consumed in the U.S.

Mandate Impacts on GasThe authors’ objective of the paper was to improve understanding of how these restrictions change the findings of existing studies. The paper estimated the impacts of higher ethanol mandates using a open-economy, partial equilibrium model of gasoline, ethanol and blending whereby motorists buy one of two fuels: E10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, or E85 which is a high ethanol blend. The model is calibrated to recent data to provide current estimates.

Mandate Impacts on EthanolThe authors find that the effects of increasing ethanol mandates that are physically feasible to meet on the price of E10 are close to zero. In other words, White House fears of higher RIN prices due to higher gas prices are unfounded. The report also shows the impact of the size of the corn harvest on E10 prices is much larger than the effects of mandates. However, increased mandates can have a large effect on the price of E85 if the mandates are increased to levels that approach consumption capacity. These findings show that concerns about the consumer price of fuel do not justify a reduction ethanol mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The 2014 RFS rule is currently under review with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Drought, Fires Hurting Sugarcane Harvest in Brazil

A severe drought has hit São Paulo, Brazil and has severely affected the production of sugarcane in the state. Estimates of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) show the lose around 15 percent or almost 40 million tons of sugarcane. Another factor in crop loss has been accidental fires due to the dry conditions. This comes at a time when the country is looking to increase its national ethanol mandate to 27 percent ethanol fuel blend.

The low rainfall seen throughout this year has increased outbreaks of fires not only in the areas of cultivation of sugarcane but also in areas planted with other crops, pastures and vegetation cover. Sugarcane plantsInformation collected by the Environmental Police and other state government agencies show that by the beginning of September had already been recorded 2,981 fire outbreaks and forest fires in São Paulo – that number is 140 percent higher than the same period of 2013.

Fires are often erroneously attributed to sugarcane producers due to the process of burning straw. However, UNICA points out that since 2007 the sector has been given the Green Protocol, established voluntarily by the state government of São Paulo to end burning.

“The productive sector has made a huge effort to accelerate the end of the use of fire and significantly exceeded expected to reduce the use of controlled burning in detrash of cane sugar schedule,” said Elizabeth Farina, UNICA president.

The drought has caused people to raise concern over raising the country’s ethanol mandate but no decision has yet been made to increase, decrease or keep the mandate in tact as is.