GM featured test drives in new Flex Fuel 2011 Buick Regal Turbos and GMC Terrains at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) 2011 National Ethanol Conference and dozens of attendees took advantage of the opportunity. Pictured is RFA board member Ray Defenbaugh of Big River Resources West Burlington preparing to take a spin in a Regal Turbo.
I took a drive with Mark Maher, GM Executive Director for Powertrain and Vehicle Integration, to learn more about the company’s commitment to FFVs and what’s so new about the Buick Regal Turbo. “It’s got a 2.4 liter turbo-charged, E85 flex fuel vehicle engine and it’s also direct injected,” said Maher. “That helps with efficiency and it allows us to have a slightly higher compression ratio to improve efficiency. So, it’s a great match with high concentration ethanol fuels like E85 that are high octane.” Maher says 40 percent of GM vehicles were FFV, 45 percent this year, and they are hoping for 50 percent next year.
Maher had some great comments during his presentation to the NEC about E85 energy efficiency in FFVs and about the importance of not taking E85 for granted. “We need to make sure that ethanol gets credit for the CO2 reduction potential that it brings,” he explains.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is excited to announce the release of a new Flex-Fuel Station Locator application for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch – free and available from the App Store.
The Flex-Fuel Station Locator iPhone application will help users pinpoint any E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) station in the United States, providing the user with station locations, fuel prices, directions and a phone number to each station. The main screen features three buttons: Nearest, Favorites and About.
The app was developed by RFA utilizing the E85 station database hosted by the Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center and the U.S. Department of Energy. This data is continuously updated to help users locate over 2,600 E85 fueling stations across the United States. To download the Flex-Fuel Station Locator, visit the Apple App Store and search “Flex-Fuel Station Locator” for a free and easy download directly to your iPhone, iPad or iTouch.
In addition to the Flex-Fuel Station Locator for iPhone, the RFA has developed a similar application for the Android series phones. This application is available at no cost on the Android Marketplace. For GPS users, the RFA also has an E85 Points of Interest (POIs) application for Garmin and TomTom GPS users.
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a new piece of legislation today, called the “Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2011.” The bill, if passed, would ensure an increasing number of automobiles in the U.S. be flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), expands the number of blender pumps and make renewable fuel pipelines eligible for the federal loan guarantee pipeline program. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN).
Jennings continued, “Consumers deserve the kind of fuel choice that can only be achieved if there is a blender pump on every corner and an FFV in every garage. We must begin building flexibility into our nation’s fuel system so the power to choose the best fuel is put into the hands of the consumer – and not decided by EPA bureaucrats or by the oil industry through a de facto 90 percent petroleum mandate.”
“Flexible fuel vehicles and blender pumps allow a wide range of fuels to be offered by the gas stations and selected by the motorists, ensuring that homegrown renewable fuels have access to the marketplace and that motorists have the ability to choose the best fuel for their own vehicle. We fully support the Harkin-Johnson market expansion bill and encourage their colleagues to sign on in support so that the legislation can move forward.”
The bill would require 50 percent of vehicles for sale in the U.S. to be flex-fuel vehicles in model years 2014 and 2015, and 90 percent to be FFVs in model year 2016 and after. The legislation also authorizes a grant program for the installation of blender pumps.
MGPUB joins the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and more than 30 national companies and organizations that are part of the FFV Awareness Campaign working in several other states across the country. The overall campaign has been developed and is coordinated by the Clean Fuels Foundation, a Maryland based non-profit organization. With 16 E85 stations in the state and another half dozen scheduled to open in 2011, Maryland is a prime location to increase the use of ethanol and continue to expand infrastructure.
According to Marion Wilson, the President of the MGPUB, the FFV Awareness Campaign is a perfect compliment to the recent investment they have made in refueling infrastructure. “This program is the next step in the evolution of the ethanol program. We are getting more refueling locations all the time and the cars are becoming increasingly available. We will make sure current FFV owners are aware their vehicles have this capability and then inform them that these fuels are available and where they can get them,” said Mr. Wilson. “We are sure that when drivers know this we will see an increase in the use of ethanol which provides a range of environmental, energy, and economic benefits,” he said.
“Maryland is a prime candidate to use our small grains like barley for the production of advanced biofuels like ethanol,” said Lynne Hoot, Executive Director of the MGPUB. “By increasing the use of ethanol right here in the state we would offer a great advantage to anyone developing a project in Maryland,” she said.
Protec Fuel announces the opening of an E85 pump at 5264 New Jesup Highway in Brunswick, Georgia. Offering the clean burning, alternative fuel, Mr. Pete’s is the first station to have Protec Fuel’s imaging on their dispenser.
E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum and can be used in over 8,000 FFVs across the area. The alternative fuel has been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign petroleum.
Mr. Pete’s used Protec Fuel’s turnkey program which included designing and managing the equipment conversion and fuel supply. “We are pleased to be assisting this station with their E85 infrastructure and supply of fuel,” said CEO of Protec Fuel, Todd Garner. “Mr. Pete’s is a prime location for Protec’s roll-out of new E85 dispenser imaging and we look forward to seeing additional sites with our specialized branding.”
The E85 site is also the first of its kind in the area. Located just north of Jacksonville and south of Savannah, the owner is excited to begin selling the product. “I’m looking forward to see how many green vehicles will use our new fuel,” noted owner of Mr. Pete’s, Al Coty. “I’m proud to carry the fuel – it’s keeping the money in this country and helping our economy.”
Mr. Pete’s and Protec Fuel have teamed up with the Clean Fuels Foundation through their National Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) Awareness Campaign to help market the station and gain additional exposure. “Support from the state government, a strong Clean Cities program, in-state 1st and 2nd generation ethanol production, and a strong existing refueling infrastructure placed Georgia on our key market list in this partnership,” said Burl Haigwood, Clean Fuels Foundation and Project Manager for the National FFV Awareness Campaign.
Mr. Pete’s is open seven days a week. The site offers a convenience store and pay at the pump option.
The FFV awareness effort is targeting several areas across the country to increase the use of ethanol blends in FlexFuel vehicles. “Breaking through the blend wall begins with the 8 million FlexFuel vehicles on the road today, and reaching these drivers to make sure they know they can use ethanol blends up to 85%,” said Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. Tonsager also noted FFVs of any age can use E15 or any other gasoline ethanol blend up to E85 and can take advantage of favorable market pricing on these blends when offered.
The US Environmental Protection Agency is also supporting the effort, and EPA spokesman Paul Argyropolous said, “More frequent use of higher blends of ethanol in FlexFuel vehicles is one avenue that can further support meeting the volume requirements of the renewable fuel standard, which in turn results in additional greenhouse gas reductions. When fully implemented, the program will reduce GHG emissions equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road. This awareness effort is another avenue which federal and private interests can work together to attain these goals.”
Organizers of the awareness effort say they will be focusing on several different areas that already have FlexFuel pumps as well as areas with a high concentration of FlexFuel vehicles. Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Washington, D.C. areas will be among the states targeted in the initial phase of the campaign. Stakeholder meetings have been held in Ohio and Nebraska in recent weeks with several more scheduled in the coming months.
According to Douglas A. Durante, Director of the Clean Fuels Foundation, a little effort goes a long way in terms of consumer education. “We have found when consumers realize their vehicles have this capability and we inform them where they can get the fuel, ethanol sales increase dramatically.”
A familiar face in the ethanol industry, and a familiar name here on Domestic Fuel, is now working for Florida-based Protec Fuel.
Michelle Kautz has been hired as the company’s Public Relations/Development Director to manage Protec’s marketing and public relations programs along with coordinating sales efforts targeted at fuel distributors and retailers.
Kautz has been working in the ethanol industry for nearly 10 years. She formerly was the Market Development Director at Growth Energy where she was responsible for assisting in the installation of E85 and ethanol blender pumps. Prior, she held the position as the Deputy Director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC). She also is a freelance writer for ZimmComm New Media where her blogs can be read right here on Domestic Fuel.
“We are excited to Have Michelle on our team. She will have an immediate positive impact due to her extensive experience in working on E85 programs with distributors and retailers,” noted Todd Garner, CEO for Protec Fuels. “With Michelle at Protec, we can now better serve our existing customers to help them grow their ethanol volumes and also expand our business more quickly through new retailers.”
As a footnote, Growth Energy closed its Jefferson City, Missouri office – which was formally NEVC – as of December 1. NEVC merged with Growth Energy back in June 2009 to form the Market Development arm of the ethanol organization. Phil Lampert, who was also part of the Growth Energy Missouri office and a long-time ethanol industry promoter, says he is “still working on E85 infrastructure as a consultant to several key ethanol marketers and producers.”
The 2012 Ford Focus will receive up to 40 mpg using E10 and will also be able to run on E85. The 2.0-liter engine will combine the technology of gasoline direct injection with twin independent variable camshaft timing and E85 flexible fuel capability.
Ford notes that the direct injection improves fuel economy and performance by delivering the exact amount of gasoline right into the combustion chamber. The engine can operate at a high 12:1 compression ratio, compared with the 2011 Focus’ engine’s 10:1 ratio, further enhancing power and efficiency. And unlike most competitive direct injection systems, the engine will be E85 flex fuel-capable.
The new Focus will be among the global leaders in fuel economy and CO2 emissions,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We will continue to pioneer new technologies beyond launch, including the zero-emissions Focus Electric BEV launching in North America in 2011. Throughout its life cycle, Focus in all forms, in all regions, will demonstrate the Ford commitment to deliver unsurpassed fuel economy on a truly global scale.”
Ford’s 2011 flexible fuel vehicle line includes the Crown Victoria, E-Series Van, Escape, Expedition, F-150 and Super Duty. Their Lincoln FFV line includes the Navigator and Town Car. Mercury’s 2011 FFVs are the Grand Marquis, Mariner and Milan.
The anti-ethanol camp has exited their tents today to hold a press conference against the suggested changes to VEETC and the ethanol tariff that the ethanol industry proposed last week. In response, the four organizations that are leading the charge to create a new road map for ethanol have jointly responded to the attack.
In a statement released today from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) the groups focused on ethanol’s successes and benefits. “America’s ethanol industry has been an undeniable success, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and reducing our nation’s reliance on foreign oil. These groups that have repeatedly attacked ethanol without validation would leave America with just one course of action: increasing our addiction to foreign oil.”
The groups continued by pointing out that ethanol has ‘paid dividends’ and ‘returns more to the federal government in the form of tax revenue than is spent in investment’. They also noted that ethanol has helped the country save billions of dollars in foreign oil expense.
“Constantly pining for fictional fuels or seeking to keep America hooked on the oil standard runs contrary to the desire most Americans have to become energy independent. Instead of facts or new approaches, these groups are recycling tired rhetoric that does nothing to help solve America’s energy problems,” the statement continued. Continue reading →
The National Alternative Fuel Vehicles Training Consortium (NAFTC), located at the University of Virginia, is kicking off its annual National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey in New York City Union Square on October 14, 2010. The official AFV Day is October 15th. The event was created in 2002 to create consumer awareness about alternative fuels and the vehicles that can run on them. This year the goal is to have more than 125 events planned throughout the U.S. and Canada with 200,000 people attending and reach more than 75 million drivers in North America through media outreach. In addition, Odyssey is also reaching out to secondary schools.
In an interview withEthanol Producermagazine, NAFTC executive director Al Ebron said, “Even if you reach that many people but only some of them hear the message, that’s still millions of people that are learning about these cleaner technologies and new technologies that can reduce our dependence on petroleum and help clean our air.”
Many of the companies that are participating in the nationwide events will be hosting pump promotions that will reduce the price of alternative fuels. One such partner is Propel Fuels, who is planning on offering $1 off per gallon on both E85 and biodiesel and five of its San Francisco fuel stations. Within the next two years, Propel will install 200 combined E85/biodiesel fueling stations throughout the West Coast.
Calling all college students in the state of Iowa. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board have launched a “Be True to Your Fuel” video contest that encourages students to show their spirit for corn ethanol, E85 and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). The contest is part of ICGA’s 2010 GameDay GiveAway promotions and activities that are taking place in the state through the end of the year.
The contest is open to any Iowa State or University of Iowa students and the 30 second videos are due by November 5th. While your creativity is unlimited, the video must have a positive message about corn ethanol, E85 or FFVs and their impacts on the state of Iowa.
“Iowa Corn is proud to partner with Iowa and Iowa State Universities on the GameDay events that promote flexible fuel vehicles and corn fed ethanol,” says Shannon Textor, Iowa Corn Market Development Director. “We want everyone in the state to share in our enthusiasm for fuel that comes directly from Iowa farmers and our neighborhood ethanol plants.”
All submitted videos will be subject to final review by Iowa Corn before being posted on YouTube®. From all entries submitted, three videos will be selected as finalists by a panel of judges and the finalists will be notified by November 8, 2010. From there, the winner will be chosen based on voting from November 12 through November 26, 2010.
The winning video will be shown during the Iowa-Iowa State men’s basketball game. Several prizes will be awarded including a grand prize of $5,000; second prize of $2,500 and third prize of $1,000.
It’s an issue we’ve talked about before … plenty of ethanol and biodiesel and vehicles that can burn the green fuels but not enough infrastructure to support those cars’ and trucks’ needs. But a little help from the government is changing that in one of the largest concentrations of privately-owned vehicles … and incidently, one of the largest concentrations of flex-fuel vehicles in the country … California.
Matt Horton is the CEO of Propel Fuels, a California-based company that provides E85 ethanol and biodiesel to existing stations. He says having the types of pumps that can handle those fuels is biggest problem.
“One of the key challenges in the alternative fuels and biofuels market in particular being the lack of infrastructure to provide everyday customers with access to the fuels.”
He says there are plenty of flex-fuel vehicles that can burn E85 ethanol and plenty of diesel vehicles able to use biodiesel. But the infrastructure to provide these biofuels and the public’s awareness that they can use ethanol in their flex-fuel vehicle are lacking. To fix that, Propel has received $11 million in state and federal grants to put in 75 E85 ethanol pumps in California. Anthony Eggert sits on the California Energy Commission (CEC). He says the state’s portion of the money … about four million dollars … comes from California’s Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle Technology program … also known as AB 118, named for the enabling legislation that created it. He justifies the tax money spent on this program as just a drop in the bucket compared to what consumers have to spend on non-renewable, petroleum-based fuels.
“It’s around $100 million per year for the CEC to invest in a portfolio of non-petroleum fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower our petroleum dependency and improving our energy security. In California alone, we spend approximately $150 million per day on gasoline and diesel fuel.” He says the impact on the economy due to volatile fuel prices, as well as environmental issues and the vulnerability to foreign nations that might not always be the friendliest, makes the grant money well spent. Plus, it will pay dividends in the form of new jobs, less foreign oil and more money in consumers’ pockets.
Students at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) are studying the flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) conversion process. As first reported on KMIT.com, by using FlexFuel U.S.’s system, the students are excited to learn how to lessen dependence on foreign oil imports.
“It’s pretty interesting and it’s easy to install too and it’s not really that hard. The hardest thing is the wiring and even then it’s not that hard,” said student Heath Tulp/
The students at NIACC are putting in a supplemental fuel injection system to a vehicle adding fuel as needed so the car can run smoothly on both gas and E85.
Mitch Sremac who invented the system said he created it “To make it easy enough to install by most technicians and be able to keep the car running and meet emission standards.”
NIACC is the first school to study the new conversion system.
Flex Fuel U.S.®, a company dedicated to the development of future fuel solutions and alternative fuel conversion systems, has been awarded approval to sell and install E85 Flex Fuel conversion systems to Federal Government Fleets through the Federal GSA schedule. The system is the first EPA certified product enabling existing cars and light duty trucks to be legally converted to run any blend of gasoline and ethanol up to E85.
To date Flex Fuel U.S. has the capability to convert the Chrysler Charger/300, the Ford Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car vehicles and will soon announce a light duty truck. The product can be installed on the vehicle in 2 hours, requires only moderate technical expertise and doesn’t void the warranty on the vehicle. The product is backed by a 24 month warranty covering defects in parts and materials. The owner is fully protected when using higher concentrations of ethanol in the vehicle.
“We believe this new technology provides a valuable tool for fleet managers because it allows vehicles to be retrofitted into alternative fuel at a very low cost. Also if you need a vehicle that’s not offered from the OEM as flex fuel capable, our system can be used.” says Don Althoff, CEO of Flex Fuel US. “Flex Fuel US has a proven track record of success converting vehicles over the last three years. This includes successful fleet demonstration project at the City of Chicago and one underway through the State of Iowa’s DOE Energy Independence Grant. We have proven we can reliably develop, install, and operate E85 conversion systems across multiple vehicle manufactures and engine platforms.”
Flex Fuel US is rolling out conversion systems to federal, state, and municipal fleets to accelerate conversion of legacy vehicles. “We look forward to developing E85 conversion products on vehicles that are not available in Flex Fuel models such as fuel efficient compacts, hybrids and high performance vehicles.” Says Mitch Sremac, founder and inventor.
Because Texas has the most flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) of any state, a number of industry organizations and companies are getting together to promote ethanol in the Lone Star State next month.
Shaping Texas’ Fuel Ethanol Policy, sponsored by the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA), will be held on September 10 in Austin, Texas. TREIA has been bringing decision makers and industry leaders together in Texas for more than 26 years to build the foundation for developing renewable energy. “This conference offers a clear picture of today’s realities and opportunities in a growing renewable energy sector that some may have written off,” said Russel Smith, Executive Director of TREIA. “The nation’s use of ethanol will continue to increase, and Texas has huge production possibilities and more flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on E85 than any other state. Our current approach to this important industry may leave money on the table.”