Introducing Jeff Simmons

Jeff SimmonsJeff Simmons has been running in the top ten for most of the race here in Kansas City so far today.

We’re nearing the end and hoping he can keep his place for a top 10 finish.

Just prior to the race all the drivers are introduced in front of the grandstand on a temporary stage.

I’ve been collecting pictures and interviews and will be getting those posted over the next week so look for a lot more information about how ethanol is involved with the IRL.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Jeff Simmons Qualifies at 210.994

Team Ethanol Transport TruckThe truck that transports Team Ethanol got a new paint job for this season. I hadn’t seen it before today. Looks pretty slick to me.

It’s the end of the day for me here at Kansas Speedway. The Indy car qualifying is over now and Jeff Simmons got through it okay. His qualifying time is 210.994 MPH. That ethanol fuel definitely has a kick. After they qualify the drivers all come by the IRL Bull Pen for pics and interviews. Of course I interviewed Jeff. He’s our ethanol champion out there and we’re definitely rooting for him tomorrow.

Jeff wishes he had done a little better in qualifying but says the car races better than it qualifies. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

Listen to my interview with Jeff: Listen to MP3 Jeff Simmons Interview (1 min MP3)

My photo album for this weekend is growing. Check out all the ethanol related activities.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Jeff Simmons in Practice

Jeff Pitting in PracticeThe Indy cars are on their final round of practice right now. One of them is our favorite, #17, Jeff Simmons.

Jeff is coming into the pits here. All the cars seem to be running pretty well today. Of course, they’re running on 100% ethanol so what do you expect, eh?

Jeff had a great race last week in Japan and we’ll be rooting for him again tomorrow.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Patron Car Practice

Patron CarThe coolest looking Indy cars have to belong to Rahal-Letterman Racing. However if you look at the other cars this year, several have new designs and color schemes.

Here’s Scott Sharp doing a practice lap here at Kansas Speedway this morning. He’s the Patron car driver. It’s got a real glowing green and black design.

Besides the Patron car Rahal has the Ethanol car which is my personal favorite. I really think that the color and design of this car is largely responsible for the fact that the other cars have really updated their designs.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Mow Greener

Lawnmower The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new regulations to cut harmful emissions from lawnmowers and other small engines. The new proposal would set strict standards for most lawn and garden equipment but would not go into effect until at least 2011.

In the meantime, lawn jockeys can do their part to help cut emissions by using 10 percent ethanol in their gas-powered lawn mowers, trimmers, edgers and blowers, according to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).

Small engines can efficiently burn E10, a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. The use of E10 reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent.

EPIC also offers other tips for conserving fuel and helping the environment during lawn care, such as keeping equipment well-maintained. Tuning up a typical walk-behind lawn mower at the beginning of the season can eliminate the same amount of exhaust emissions produced by driving a car 26 miles, according to Briggs & Stratton research engineers. It will also conserve gasoline. They also suggest leaving grass clippings on the ground instead of picking them up. Grass cycling makes the mowing process much faster and the grass blades redistribute nitrogen to the lawn and soil.

Kansas City Racing Weekend

Kansas City SkylineKansas City is drawing in racing fans for weekend action. I’m out at the Kansas Speedway track and just getting my bearings since I didn’t get to spend much time here last year.

Action will pick up tomorrow when the cars get to practice out on the track and then we have qualifying for Sunday’s race. I’ll be doing some interviews and taking lots of pictures in an effort to cover the news from the ethanol industry perspective. I hope you will enjoy it.

This evening I’ll be meeting with a number of Team Ethanol folks including members of the staff of EPIC. I should know more about what our schedule will be like after then.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

New Team Ethanol Show Car

Team Ethanol Show CarI’m wondering how many times I’ve taken a picture of this car. Actually this is the new show car for Team Ethanol which was on hand at yesterday’s Snappy Mart pump promotion.

The demand for this show car is tremendous and there are now several of them that tour the country and get displayed at events of all types. One of the first things I noticed was the shiny front struts. Last year’s model had black ones. The paint job is fresh and contains several new sponsor logos this year too.

The “real thing” will be on the track tomorrow morning for practice laps in advance of Sunday’s race and qualifying is tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be at the track all day conducting interviews and taking pictures.

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

IRL Loves Ethanol Public Relations

Amy KonrathOn hand at the pump promotion for ethanol in Kansas City yesterday was Amy Konrath (pictured to the right of two representatives of Rahal-Letterman Racing). Amy works in public relations for the Indy Racing League.

I thought it would be interesting to hear her perspective about how the relationship between the IRL and Team Ethanol has benefited the League. She says it’s been great since it gives the IRL something to promote and focus attention on what they’re doing to help with our country’s energy needs.

Listen to my interview with Amy: Listen to MP3 Amy Konrath Interview (2 min MP3)

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Jeff Simmons Feeling Confident

Jeff SimmonsAlthough it was a cool morning yesterday, Indy car driver Jeff Simmons was on location at a pump promotion filling up gas tanks with gasoline blended with ethanol.

I interviewed Jeff about how he thinks these localized pump promotions work in terms of helping with consumer awareness and education. He thinks they’re very beneficial. It helps when a lot of local media show up to since I noticed several local tv stations, newspaper and radio on hand to interview Jeff and others.

Jeff says his #17 car functioned very well in the last race and he’s feeling very confident that this weekend’s race in Kansas City represents his best chance so far for a great finish.

Listen to my interview with Jeff: Listen to MP3 Jeff Simmons Interview (4 min MP3)

2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300 Photo Album

Watchdog Group Questions Study Credibility

watchdog A consumer watchdog group is questioning the credibility of a widely reported Stanford University study warning that ethanol use could be harmful.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights says the school’s ties to ExxonMobil make the study’s findings “difficult to accept.”

ExxonMobil has given $100 million to fund Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Program (GCEP). Though the ethanol study was not directly funded by that program, the author had a three-year grant from GCEP to study the impact of replacing fossil-fuel motor vehicles and electric power plants with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and power plants.

The public cannot accept the results at face value when ExxonMobil has funded a major energy research program at the university and research results are in line with the giant oil firm’s corporate goals, FTCR said.

ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson is dismissive of ethanol’s prospects, recently telling Fortune Magazine, “I don’t have a lot of technology to add to moonshine.”

The study based on computer models has received widespread publicity, despite the fact that the model is controversial because it assumes complete conversion to ethanol use rather than partial.

Corn Pores Hold Ethanol Promise

corn pores Purdue University researchers are opening the pores of corn to try and increase ethanol yield.

According to a Purdue news release, researchers have discovered that particles from cornstalks undergo previously unknown structural changes when processed to produce ethanol, an insight they said will help establish a viable method for large-scale production of ethanol from plant matter.

Their research demonstrates that pretreating corn plant tissue with hot water – an accepted practice that increases ethanol yields 3 to 4 times – works by exposing minute pores of the plant’s cell walls, thus increasing surface area for additional reactions that help break down the cell wall.

Using high-resolution imaging and chemical analyses, the researchers determined that pretreatment opens reactive areas within the cells of the corn stover that were previously overlooked. In the next step of processing, these enlarged pores are more easily attacked by enzymes that convert cellulose into glucose, which is in turn fermented into ethanol by yeast.

E85 Everywhere

CACThe American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is holding an “E85 Everywhere” rally in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda this Friday, April 27.

Governor Tim Pawlenty and a bipartisan gathering of legislators from both the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representatives will speak on the importance of maintaining the lead in E85 development and on their support for the E85 Everywhere push.

NEVCE85 Everywhere is a public-private partnership which seeks to achieve 1,800 E85 fueling outlets in Minnesota over the next few years. The purpose is to help achieve the state’s 20% ethanol-use goal, enacted by the 2005 legislature. The partnership is also supported by the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

“We have proven E85 and flexible fuel vehicles are a viable alternative to gasoline; one of many choices we have that can combat global climate change and the ever-growing need for energy sources,” stated Tim Gerlach, Vice President of Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technologies at American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

Ethanol in Ag Hall of Fame

2007 Ag Hall of Fame BanquetEthanol and the Indy Racing League will be in the spotlight at the National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame 2007 Annual Meeting Thursday in Bonner Springs, KS.

Featured speaker for the “Farm-Fueled” event is Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion & Information Council. The event will also set the stage for the Kansas Lottery 300 scheduled for this Sunday at the Kansas Speedway, which will be run for the first time on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.

Pioneer Teams With EPIC

pioneerPioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of DuPont, is teaming up with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) in an effort to educate consumers on the benefits of ethanol-enriched fuel. The effort includes funding for ethanol promotion and education programs.E

According to Pioneer officials, the investment from Pioneer includes a sponsorship of Team Ethanol in the IndyCar® Series for the 2007 season.

“Ethanol is a factor in the effort to reduce our nation’s reliance on petroleum,” says Dean Oestreich, Pioneer president and DuPont vice president and general manager. “EPIC has already helped to significantly raise awareness about the benefits of biofuels, and we are proud to be joining forces with them to continue their efforts to promote ethanol.

“EPIC’s efforts, combined with our commitment to develop traits and technologies that help increase harvestable yield and ethanol production per acre, are helping create a promising future for biofuels,” says Oestreich.

Ethanol from Carbon Monoxide

Lanza-Tech A New Zealand technology company has secured $3.5 million in private venture capital to develop ethanol from carbon monoxide.

LanzaTech is getting the funding from Khosla Ventures and two existing New Zealand-based investors.

According to a news release, this funding will support further technology development, establishing a pilot plant, engineering work to prepare for commercial-scale ethanol production and positions the company to raise significant capital in the near future.

This technology could produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol from the world’s steel mills alone, turning the liability of carbon emissions into valuable fuels worth over $50 billion per year at very low costs and adding substantial value to the steel industry.