Fickle Ernesto can’t seem to make up his mind where he plans to go, or even if he’s a hurricane or a tropical storm, so officials planning the Florida Farm to Fuel Summit in Orlando this week are nervously keeping an eye on the weather, just in case.
Several hundred participants from the state and federal government and private industry are planning to attend to discuss incentives and financing opportunities for alternative and renewable fuels in the Sunshine State as well as research, production and distribution programs.
The conference is scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The Florida Department of Agriculture officials say if the event is cancelled due to Hurricane Ernesto they will send out an advisory and post the information on the web site.
Gotta admit – it’s getting old. Every month is a new record with ethanol production. I mean, just how many times can we say that? But, it’s a good thing – we’ll worry when it starts going down!
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today announced that U.S. ethanol production increased in June to 318,000 barrels per day (b/d), an all-time record. That is an increase of 25,000 b/d from May and a rise of nearly 28% from June 2005.
Demand for ethanol also rose to record levels in June at 395,000 b/d. That represents a 46,000 b/d jump from May and an increase of more than 42% from the same period a year ago.
St. Petersburg Times reporters David Adams and Craig Pittman have started a new Florida-based biofuels blog called The Fueling Station.
They promise to “provide regular updates with news about your favorite energy source from renewables to nuclear.” On the site now are interviews with Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Dr. Jose Sifontes in Gainesville talking about “his waste transformation bioreactor system.”
Nice site – love the logo!
Here’s an interesting commentary from the Providence (RI) Journal written by a “former rocket scientist and combustion specialist.”
Maurice Webb is his name and he explains the gasoline vs. ethanol mileage question as follows:
The fact is that higher fuel-heating values do not necessarily provide better engine performance (mileage). Engines equipped with carburetors do not perform well with ethanol because it has a higher density (more pounds per gallon) than gasoline, which means that the air-to-fuel ratio is no longer optimum.
If one makes the comparison with an older vehicle or lawn mowers that are equipped with carburetors, then it is probably true. However, almost all new vehicles have electronically controlled fuel injection and the performance should be the same for both fuels.
This was confirmed to me while traveling in Brazil three years ago, when fuel at gas stations was available with ethanol content varying from 10 percent to 90 percent. The drivers I spoke with preferred the higher ethanol content because it was less expensive and gave better mileage.
The reason for this equality in performance has to do with the composition of the two fuels. Gasoline has a much higher proportion of carbon to hydrogen than ethanol. Following combustion of the fuel in the engine, the exhaust gas contains 24 percent of carbon dioxide for gasoline and 16 percent for ethanol. The carbon dioxide requires more heat (energy) to raise its temperature than for other gases present.
Also, gasoline requires more air for combustion, and that means that there is more gas to be heated. The air-to-fuel ratio for complete combustion is 12 percent greater for gasoline. Complete combustion gives the maximum temperature, which also provides for maximum engine efficiency. The two fuels have almost identical maximum temperatures. So what happens to the extra heat for gasoline? It goes out the exhaust!
Webb also goes on to point out the other advantages of ethanol over gasoline, including less pollution, higher octane, and renewability. I just thought it was interesting.
There’s a saying in the ethanol world – “drink the best and burn the rest” – but a couple of Iowa State University researchers are out to turn that saying on its head.
ISU researchers Hans van Leeuwen and Jacek Koziel are working on a process to quickly and cheaply convert fuel ethanol into the purer alcohol used in cocktails – as well as in mouth washes and cough or cold remedies, according to an ISU press release.
Technically, 100 percent ethanol is drinkable – and inebriating (see previous post). That’s why the fuel is denatured, or rendered unfit for human consumption, before it leaves the plant, so you can’t pump ethanol out of the gas tank and drink it.
However, even before denaturing, the ethanol being produced for fuel is not pure enough for beverage or medicinal use. According to Van Leeuwen, the fuel produced by those plants and the alcohol produced for the beverage industry are very similar. But alcohol produced for fuel isn’t made with the same care and purity as alcohol for consumption, he said. The multiple distillations required to make food-grade alcohol raise production costs to about 50 cents per gallon more than it costs to produce fuel ethanol.
Van Leeuwen said the researchers are working to develop technologies that can purify fuel into beverage alcohol for less than an additional penny per gallon.
The project is partially supported by a $79,900 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund and at least “one large producer of ethanol and food-grade alcohol interested in the research project.”
GM Performance Division’s Ecotec-powered Bonneville Student Project Chevy Cobalt SS set a 172.680 mph land speed record this month at the Bonneville Salt Flats in its final run using E85 ethanol.
The car was converted to run on E85 by three female engineering student interns – 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University.
Running only on E85, the Student Project Cobalt broke the previous 19-year-old record of 152.626 mph set by Doc Jeffries in 1987, and then upped that record twice using E85 combined with nitrous oxide to its final mark of 172.680 mph in the G/FCC class, according to a release on the GM website.
Mario Andretti sure was proud Sunday as his 19-year-old son Marco won his first Indy race in Sonoma, California on the Infineon Raceway.
That was race number 13 of the season, just one more to go this year on ten percent ethanol before the big switch to 100 percent next year.
Meanwhile, Team Ethanol can be proud of Sunday’s race. Number 17 car driver Jeff Simmons was running in third place at one point during the race and finished the day in seventh – tying his top Indy Car Series finish this season in Nashville.
Last race of the season coming up on September 10 at Chicagoland Speedway.
A tree that can reach 90 feet in six years and be grown as a row crop on fallow farmland could provide an additional feedstock for biofuels production.
According to a Purdue University release, researchers Clint Chapple and Rick Meilan (pictured with trees) are using genetic tools in an effort to design trees that readily and inexpensively can yield the substances needed to produce alternative transportation fuel. The scientists are focused on a compound in cell walls called lignin that contributes to plants’ structural strength, but which hinders extraction of cellulose. Cellulose is the sugar-containing component needed to make the alternative fuel ethanol.
Chapple and Meilan want to genetically modify a hybrid poplar tree so that lignin will not impede the release of cellulose for degradation into fermentable sugars, which then can be converted to ethanol. The changed lignin also may be useable either in fuel or other products, they said.
Next week, Purdue University and U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar will host an energy summit to discuss industry and policy perspectives on how our nation can significantly reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
Richard G. Lugar-Purdue Summit on Energy Security will bring more than 600 leaders to the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Ind. to discuss national energy issues and policy. Among those joining Lugar, R-Ind. for the daylong event include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.
The Aug. 29 invitation-only summit includes a panel discussion, “Implementing Strategies to Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence.” Panelists include Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Co. vice president; Carol Battershell, vice president for alternative energy for BP Inc.; and Amy Myers Jaffe, Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University. Brian Lamb, president and CEO of C-SPAN, will serve as panel moderator.
Absolute Energy and its farmer-owners broke ground on a new facility near St. Ansgar, Iowa today.
That’s Absolute, with an “e” on the end, for ethanol. These guys are planning on making alcohol for energy, not to be confused with Absolut, the vodka.
When complete, this state-of-the-art biorefinery will produce 100 million gallons of ethanol and 320,000 tons of distillers grains annually from 35 million bushels of local corn.
The picture is from the company website of some of Absolute’s board members: Rick Schwarck, President; Steve Neely; Greg Goplerup; Chris Schwarck, VP; and Tom Edgington.
Fagen, Inc. of Granite Falls, Minnesota is overseeing the construction and incorporating a process design provided by ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas.
Garst Seed Company is showing its true colors.
The company recently launched its Blue + Yellow = Green (BYG) initiative. Blue signifies Garst’s leadership in the seed corn industry, while yellow represents kernels of corn bred to enhance ethanol production. Added together, they create green — the color representing the environmental and earth-friendly renewable fuels such as ethanol, as well as the extra value these fuels can bring to agriculture
To kick off the BYG initiative, Garst is giving its customers the opportunity to win one of 11 grand prizes — fully paid, one-year leases for 11 blue Chevy 1500 Flex Fuel pickup trucks. In addition to the 11 Chevy trucks, customers can also be entered into the drawing for 110 first- place prizes of $100 ethanol certificates. Growers will have the opportunity to register for the prizes by contacting a Garst sales representative or through attendance at a Garst Seed Company field day and other events. For more information about the BYG Blue Truck promotion, growers should contact their Garst seed dealer.
I had the opportunity for a 15 minute interview with Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns today in Kansas City. I was wearing many hats, so I had to ask him questions on several topics, but I did get in a question about food versus fuel when it comes to ethanol.
Basically, the short answer is – use all you want, we’ll grow more. Here is the secretary’s answer to my question. Johanns (2 min MP3)
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A ground-breaking event will be held Friday in Hankinson, N.D. on August 25 for US Bio Hankinson, the biggest ethanol plant in North Dakota. (see previous post). The 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant, being constructed by US BioEnergy Corporation, will consume approximately 36 million bushels of corn and will produce 320,000 tons of distillers grain annually.
Oklahoma Sustainable Energy LLC is well on its way to building a 55 million gallon a year plant in Enid, OK.
The Alva (OK) Review Telegram reports that a Monday meeting for potential investors drew “scores of area residents” interested in hearing about the plan.
The group hopes to obtain 449 investors for the project which needs a minimum of $5 million and a maximum of $14 million. Chaparral Energy LLC, an Oklahoma oil and gas company, has committed to funding two-thirds of the project, according to the article.
“We are the only ethanol plan in the United States that has partnered with gas and oil,” President Terry Detrick said. “We feel we have hit a home run when the two major players – oil and agriculture – have married.”
The picture, from the Alva article, shows Michael Entz, Vice President and Terry Detrick, President of OSE, during the investment presentation. Photo by Helen Barrett
Alternative Energy Sources, Inc. of Kansas City, which just announced last week that it is in the process of building the “first cellulosic plant” in the country, (a claim disputed by SunOpta) today announced plans to build a 110-million-gallon ethanol plant 65 miles south of Chicago in Kankakee, Ill.
According to a company release, AENS has optioned the entire 248-acre Kankakee Industrial Park next to a newly permitted regional sanitary landfill. “In addition to giving us the large footprint needed for flexibility in plant design, this will allow us to acquire landfill methane gas for our operations at one-third the cost of natural gas on a Btu-adjusted basis,” said Lee Blank, AENS executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The company also announced plans last week to build a 110-million-gallon ethanol plant in Boone County, Iowa, between Ogden and Beaver in the central part of the state.
Not wasting any time here. AENS was just formed in June by Blank and Mark Beemer, former execs of ADM, the nation’s largest ethanol producer.