Ethanol is Cheap and Signatures are Free

Scott Sharp signs autographIt was an afternoon of dodging the drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs. All were eager to find their place at the pumps that offered E10 fuel for just $2.25. Finally, I bumped into IndyCar Driver Scott Sharp. He seemed just as enthusiastic as the consumers. Scott said he thinks the growing use of ethanol is exciting. He said the IndyCar Series deserves a lot of credit for being on the frontier of the ethanol industry. He pointed out that the transition to 100 percent ethanol was a big transformation for the series. Ultimately, Scott said ethanol offers more power in the cars’ engines and better fuel economy. He asked, if IndyCar Drivers can be out running 230 miles an hour on ethanol, “why can’t every car in America?” As Scott dished on the benefits of ethanol, he also freely doled out his autograph:

2007 Indy 500 Photo Album

IndyCar Driver Sarah Fisher Pumps Ethanol

Gas America Pump PromotionI made good time at the Gas America promotion and managed to keep a steady pace in tracking down the drivers. My chat with IndyCar Driver Sarah Fisher shed more light on what ethanol is doing for the Indy Racing League. She said it’s great to be a part of the first series to be thinking green. Sarah added more people thinking about ethanol means a larger industry that would potentially lead to lower rates for fuel. With the IRL running all of its cars on 100 percent ethanol fuel, she said one noticeable difference is the smell. But, more importantly, Sarah talked about how the fuel makes racing more efficient:

2007 Indy 500 Photo Album

IndyCar Driver Jeff Simmons Educates Motorists

Gas America Pump PromotionIn the consumer frenzy to get discounted ethanol gas at GasAmerica, I managed to flag down IndyCar Driver Jeff Simmons as he pumped fuel and passed out autographs. Jeff said a lot of motorists don’t know where to get ethanol blended fuel. He added that, often, consumers are putting an ethanol blend in their car and don’t even know it. He said EPIC is working to educate motorists about ethanol and where they can get the fuel:

2007 Indy 500 Photo Album

Cheap Gas and Autographs

Gas America Pump PromotionOn my first pit stop on the road with Chuck, I caught up with EPIC and IndyCar drivers Jeff Simmons, Scott Sharp, and Sarah Fisher at GasAmerica on LaFayette Road in Indianapolis. EPIC teamed up with GasAmerica and offered E10 fuel, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline to consumers for $2.25 a gallon. They IndyCar drivers manned the pumps alongside EPIC personnel and scribbled autographs for consumers. The special rate was available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m, but motorists I talked to said they were lining up around the parking lot as early as 8:00 a.m. David Petros joked that he came out to celebrate his birthday. He said he figured he would save some money and fill up his tank. David added that ethanol is moving the fuel industry in the right direction. Click here to hear more:

When David pulled up to the pump he didn’t have to get out of his car. EPIC personnel were ready to top off his tank. He reminisces about fueling up in the old days:

Kristian GibsonAnother consumer, Kristian Gibson, said she’s counting on ethanol to be more cost-effective and says she’s hoping that motorists will get a fairer price for fuel as the ethanol industry continues to grow. Kristian says her job requires a lot of travel around Marion County. For her, saving money on tank of gas is worth a couple hours for the wait. Hear what else she has to say about ethanol and its impact on the price of fuel:

EPIC officials say E10 fuel is warranted for use in any vehicle built after 1980, but the organization says E85 fuel, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, requires Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFV’s). EPIC estimates there are more than 6 million FFV’s on the road today. EPIC sponsored the promotion to highlight the first year that all vehicles participating in the Indy 500 race will use 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.

2007 Indy 500 Photo Album

Gas America Pump Promotion

Gas America Pump PromotionIt was a long day out at the Gas America ethanol pump promotion today. Here’s Team Ethanol car driver Jeff Simmons entertaining representatives from Gas America. On the right is Laura Dolenz, Gas America Marketing Director. I interviewed her about the promotion and how and why they decided to put this event on today.

Laura says that Gas America has a real commitment to renewable fuels like ethanol and has had it included in their gas since 1980. She says they just never promoted that fact until now. She credits the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council with approaching them to see if they would be interested in doing this promotion. I interviewed her early before the gas pumps started but she was already very pleased with the way things were going.

You can listen to my interview with Laura here:

Many of the pictures that Laura McNamara and I are taking here this week are being put into an online photo album which you can find using the following link:

2007 Indy 500 Photo Album

Cheap Gas In Indy

Gas America Pump PromotionActivities we’re covering here in Indianapolis got started with a pump promotion at Gas America on Lafayette Rd. not far from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was an unbelievably successful promotion. We had hundreds of cars lined up for hours to get their chance at $2.25/gallon gas containing 10 percent ethanol. The price was set by the qualifying pole position speed for this weekend’s race.

I think every TV station was represented out here today covering the event. We had several helicopters hovering overhead and several radio stations doing live remotes. All in all I’m sure the folks at EPIC are very please with how things went. Laura and I have more pictures and some interviews for you which we’ll post just as soon as we can. We’ve got to be on site for one more promotional event that’s taking place this afternoon.

Indy 500 Race Week

2007 Indy Ethanol SummitIt’s race week in Indianapolis and that means working with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council once again since this will be the first Indy 500 with all the cars running on 100% ethanol fuel. There are lots of activities planned to promote ethanol this week. In fact they’ve already started. I’ll be covering as many of them as I can and this year I have some help. More on that later.

One of the main events takes place this Thursday. It’s the Ethanol Summit which will take place at the race track.

Learn more about the benefits of Ethanol and its use as the official fuel in this year’s 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. A variety of ethanol industry leaders will be on hand to speak about a wide range of ethanol issues, from performance, environmental and economic benefits, to E85 initiatives, growing consumer demand and the renaissance of rural America. Speakers include:

Jeff Simmons # 17 Team Ethanol Driver
Will Steger, Will Steger Foundation
Tom Slunecka, Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC)
Terry Angstadt, President IndyCar Series
Jim Gentry, Gas America
Thomas Dorr, Under Secretary for Rural Development
Dave Vander Griend, ICM, Inc.

We’re going to have all the sights and sounds we can post so stay tuned to Domestic Fuel from Indy town.

North Dakota Touted for Wind, Renewable Fuel Potential

Federal officials say North Dakota is poised to be an energy giant. This story in the Houston Chronicle quotes John Mizroch, the principal assistant secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, as the keynote speaker Monday at a renewable fuels conference at Bismarck State College:

“This state, it seems to me in particular _ which does have rich resources in energy and underused resources, particularly in wind _ I think could be an energy giant,” he said.

Mizroch said the state’s potential for wind energy is huge.

Sen. Byron Dorgan“It’s more than 300,000 megawatts of good wind power. The problem is, as with certain things in life, the wind energy is not where the populations are,” he said.

And of course, the farming state has plenty to contribute to ethanol and biodiesel production. North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan was a co-sponsor of Monday’s conference. He said his home state could turn out a million gallons of renewable fuels each year by the year 2012. Dorgan wants Congress to require refineries to produce and use at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022.

Truly Flexible Fuel Engines

Transonic CombustionVenture capitalists are dumping an unspecified amount of money into a company called Transonic Combustion… a company working on engine compnents that would be able to run on any type of fuel – biodiesel, ethanol, gasoline, vegetable oils – just about anything.

Check out this story from the tech news blog section of C/Net.com:

The somewhat secretive company has come up with a highly efficient combustion system for conventional engines that increases gas mileage. It also allows cars to run on different fuels, which could help goose sales of things like biodiesel. There are other techniques for allowing engines to run on a variety of fuels, but they aren’t widespread. Transonic has built single-cylinder prototypes and will now try to build a four cylinder engine. It hopes to demonstrate the technology to the auto industry more fully in 2008.

The Greening of Indy

e-podcast When the green flag drops this weekend, over 300 million people across the globe will be watching and listening live as the ladies and gentlemen start their engines for the greenest Indy 500 in history.

This month, the “Greening of Racing” has really been in the spotlight, with major events at the National Press Club and the Chicago Board of Trade. This edition of “Fill Up, Feel Good” features comments from CBOT Chairman Charlie Carey, USDA Undersecretary Tom Dorr, EPIC Executive Director Tom Slunecka, IndyCar Series President Terry Angstadt, race car team owner Bobby Rahal, and IndyCar drivers Jeff Simmons and Tony Kanaan.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link)
or you can listen to it by clicking here (7:30 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

New York Opens E85 Station

Flex-fuel vehicle drivers in the Empire State now have at least one place to fill up with 85 percent ethanol.

NEVCThe National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) reports that Campus Mobil, located near the State University of New York Albany campus, held a grand opening for the first public E85 pump this week.

KNC Holdings, the company which operates Campus Mobil, has a second E85 station opening soon in Warrensburg, New York.

KNC president Christian King, who is selling the fuel for $0.54 below the cost of unleaded gasoline, anticipates having an even greater per gallon savings due to constantly rising costs of traditional gasoline. “Today is the first step for New York consumers to do their part in helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by purchasing E85,” said King.

According to NEVC, this station development effort, combined with the estimated six new ethanol plants being planned in New York’s upstate region, is moving the Empire State toward the road to true energy independence, improving air quality in the balance.

Invitation to Ethanol Summit

EPICThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) is extending an open invitation to the Ethanol Summit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Thursday, May 24 from 9:30 to 11:00 am.

The purpose of the summit is to provide information to the media and the general public about the benefits of ethanol and its use as the official fuel in this year’s 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500.

A variety of ethanol industry leaders will be on hand to speak about a wide range of ethanol issues, from performance, environmental and economic benefits, to E85 initiatives, growing consumer demand and the renaissance of rural America.

Speakers will include: USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr, Team Ethanol car driver Jeff Simmons, explorer Will Steger, EPIC executive director Tom Slunecka, IndyCar Series president Terry Angstadt, Jim Gentry with Gas America, and Dave Vander Griend of ICM, Inc.

The Ethanol Summit will take place in the North Pavilion in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The gates at the speedway open at 9:00 a.m., and no gate admission is needed.

Goodyear has Good Idea

VersaFuelThe alternative fuel industry is getting a new product to help it move its products.

According to a release on the Goodyear web site, the tire giant is producing a hose that will carry a greater variety of biodiesel and ethanol products:

Goodyear Flexwing VersaFuel transfer hose meets the needs of expanding alternative fuel markets and conventional fuel markets.

Unveiled today at the annual NAHAD hose distributor convention, VersaFuel is used in tank truck and plant operations to transfer diesel, gasoline, oil, biodiesel and ethanol blends, as well as petroleum-based products with up to 60 percent aromatic content.

It gives Goodyear Authorized Distributors the flexibility to service existing and new fuel markets with one product, according to Keith Collett, marketing manager for Goodyear’s industrial hose business. “VersaFuel helps simplify product selection, lower distributor inventory costs, and meet the needs of emerging fuel markets,” he said.

Company officials say the new VersaFuel hose solves the problem of the biofuels rotting away the rubber. Plus, its helix wire design keeps the hose from collapsing, making it good in vacuum situations. And they say it dissipates static build-up making it safer to deal with. It even works well in temps from -30 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Biofuel Producers Wary of Bush’s Goals

Pres. George W. BushProducers of ethanol and biodiesel aren’t sure they can meet President Bush’s goal of 35 billion gallons of renewable or alternative fuels produced a year by 2017. Currently, just under a billion gallons a year of biodiesel and about six billion gallons of ethanol is produced. The American Agriculturalist web site says the debate came during an industry event last week in Houston:

A Bush administration official Friday defended the viability of the president’s goals, but the discussion at the Houston event underscores the magnitude of the challenge facing the U.S. as it struggles to feed its growing energy needs in an increasingly carbon-limited world.

“I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks more than half could be from ethanol and biodiesel,” Pearce Hammond, an analyst at Simmons & Co. International, says of the targets. He says total production of ethanol and biodiesel could reach 17.5 million gallons by 2017. Hammond says there could be other solutions to the conundrum, such as coal-to-liquids technology or the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

But Hammond, who emceed some of the sessions Friday, also warned that U.S. gasoline demand is forecast to grow by some 35 million gallons a day over the next decade.

“It just touches on how big the challenge is to penetrate and change the fueling habits,” he says.

Speaking with reporters after a luncheon address, Paul Dickerson, an Energy Department official, says the administration’s goal is realistic. He pointed to other fuels under development, as well as to leading-edge technologies being funded chiefly by private-venture capital.

“We’re more bullish on the output than some of the folks here,” says Dickerson, the chief operating officer for the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Conference attendees say the biggest obstacle will be enough feedstocks to make all this fuel possible.

Alltech Founder Interview

Dr. Pearse LyonsI’m attending the 2007 Alltech International Feed Industry Symposium and covering it primarily on Domestic Fuel sister site, AgWired. I thought you might enjoy hearing an interview I conducted with Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder of Alltech. This is a company that produces animal feed additives. The theme of their Symposium is “The New Energy Crisis: Food, Feed, or Fuel?” Right away I was intrigued to see what his take would be on the price of corn and the mandate for ethanol production.

He says that it’s ironic that back in 1980 when he founded his company they were involved in brewing and making alcohol. From there though the company branched out into the animal feed additives arena. Now he feels like things are coming full circle since the challenge in producing ethanol is how to make the process more efficient while developing processes using new biomass products instead of corn. He sees a really bright future for Alltech as a leader in this business.

I also like his comments about our government and the decisions that are driving the development of ethanol production. As he says, it doesn’t matter where you stand on certain issues, the government isn’t stupid. The mandate to increase production of biofuels like ethanol is forcing companies like his to increase the pace at which they’re developing products and processes to meet the mandate. It’s not only good for business but it means we’ll become less reliant on dwindling supplies of oil and other traditional energy sources much faster. That’s also good for our environment and our country.

You can listen to my interview with Dr. Pearse Lyons here:

If you’re interested I’m putting all my photos at the Alltech Symposium in the Alltech 2007 International Feed Industry Symposium Photo Album.