New Hybrid Racecar Competition

Dartmouth racing
Students at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering have invited students at other colleges to design, build, and then race their vehicles with gas-electric hybrid drive trains.

According to a Dartmouth news release, the inaugural Formula Hybrid Competition will be held May 1-3, 2007, at New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, NH. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University of Daytona Beach, FL, Illinois Institute of Technology, Colorado State University, Florida Institute of Technology, Yale University, McGill University, and Drexel University will join the Dartmouth students:

Along with inspiring students to pursue careers in hybrid-engine technology, the competition could lead to innovations in the field, said Formula Hybrid Director and Thayer School Research Engineer Douglas Fraser. “Students are notoriously able to come up with novel solutions. They don’t go in with preconceived notions. They sometimes launch off in directions that you think, ‘My God, that won’t work,’ and, lo and behold, it does.”

Thayer students have nbeen participating in the Formula SAE® program, sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, which challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and compete with formula racecars. Teams from Thayer have taken part every year since 1995 and will enter an ethanol-fueled car in the competition, May 16th-20th at the Ford Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, MI. Thayer had hoped to enter their first hybrid racecar in 2003, but changing rules disallowed hybrids. So, the students came up with a competition of their own… and both the SAE and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are sponsors of the new program.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

Couple of ethanol-related April Fool stories on-line:

Rutabagas for biofuels
Research by the biofuels industry has turned up a feedstock that does not compete with the food supply: rutabagas.
“Nobody likes rutabagas,” says Toby Marston, CEO of biofuels startup Rutaba-Gas LLC. “American farmers grow tons of rutabagas, but nobody really eats them. They’re perfect for making fuel.” Marston says people buy the distasteful, turnip-like vegetables with the best of intentions, but they sit in the refrigerator and end up being thrown out
.

Ethanol not Kosher
It seems some Orthodox Jews, especially those of the ultra-conservative Ashkenazi breed, supposedly have challenged the use of ethanol-tainted fuel in the cars of their fellow temple members.
Ethanol is made from corn, which is forbidden for Ashkenazis to eat during Passover–meaning the next few days. But the operator of a gas station selling “Kosher” gasoline, a Mr. Yanev Ben-Zaken, is reported to claim the religious laws also ban any benefit to Ashkenazi Jews from corn.

Oilseed Summit to Focus on Food and Fuel

The rise in popularity in biodiesel has caused some concerns that foodstuffs might be syphoned off to produce energy sources. To talk about those concerns, Soyatech… publisher of the Soya & Oilseed Bluebook… is sponsoring a summit November 11-13th in Chicago to discuss how to balance the needs for food and fuel with available oilseeds.

From the Soyatech web site:

Soya & Oilseed Summit 2007 At Soya & Oilseed Summit 2007: Nourishing Innovations in Food & Energy, industry thought leaders will discuss the dynamics that drive the industry today and into a future fraught with competing policies, technologies and needs, in a discussion and exploration of sound, rational solutions to the industry’s largest questions.

This summit builds on a similar discussion last year. Click here for more information and registration.

Oil Giant Looks to the Sun for Energy

Officials with the government of Abu Dhabi say they will build a $350 million solar power plant… a first for the oil-producing region. ArabianBusiness.com reports the 500 megawatt plant is expected to be up and running by 2009 in an attempt by the United Arab Emirate member to cut its own dependence on, ironically enough, oil:

“We … do not want to be 100 per cent dependent on (hydrocarbon power), [Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of state-owned Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co.] said.

“We have an economic development programme dedicated to establishing an entirely new economic sector focused on alternative energy and sustainable technologies,” he said.

Minnesota Company Harvesting Power from the Sea

INR logo Officials with Independent Natural Resources, Inc., a company based in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, say they have successfuly tested a wave-powered pumping system that will move ocean water to a hydroelectric plant and desalination facility. The Star Tribune reports the company has been working on the project for five years and has tested in off the coast of Freeport, Texas:

Mark Thomas, CEO of Independent Natural Resources Inc., said Friday from Texas that he views the test as a big step forward in the search for what has been an elusive form of alternative energy that one day could generate lots of cheap, clean power for coastal cities.

An engineering team from Texas A&M University at Galveston, which also has done laboratory testing of early stages of the wave-powered “Seadog” pump, plans to visit the Gulf of Mexico site off Freeport to review the project.

INR, Inc Officials
The company believes a one-square-mile field of Seadog pumps (see a demo of it here) could produce up to 1,500 megawatts of hydroelectricity.

Another Seadog test site is planned off the coast of California.

E85 Promo Items

NEVC stuff The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition has a number of great promo items to show your support for domestically-produced ethanol, including five brand new additions.

Among them are two bumper stickers with the statements “This vehicle is CornFed, E85” and “Ethanol Guzzler,” available in small and large sizes.

NEVC stuffThe round “I Drive E85, the future of Clean Air” magent is big enough to make a statement, yet small enough to fit tastefully over the outside of a vehicle’s fuel door.

NEVC stuffThere are also coffee mugs, hats, clings, key rings and more available to order on-line here.

But my personal favorite has to be the Calvin decal. That just says it all.

Freezing to Report on Global Warming

Ely MeBeing a Floridian at heart, if not by birth, I can honestly say I have never been in weather as cold as last weekend in Ely, Minnesota when I had the opportunity to attend Ely’s Winter Festival and visit with the community’s favorite son, arctic exporer Will Steger.

Fortunately I did dress for the part, but I still had to wear fairly thin gloves to take pictures and there was one point that my hands went numb and it took 15 minutes of warming over a pot-bellied stove to get them to stop hurting.

It is a little difficult to operate a camera in sub-zero temperatures. Each of my two digital cameras froze up once on me during the picture taking at the Steger homestead.

Ely Col The official low Saturday night was 32 below zero, but it had warmed up to a balmy 25 below when we left Ely on Sunday morning to catch a plane out of Duluth.

It was a beautiful place and an interesting experience. Maybe I can go back there in the summertime!

Darryl Brinkmann Interview

Darryl Brinkmann, Larry Hagman, Daryl HannahI think that I’ve mentioned that many of my interviews and some other audio files like general session presentations are available as a podcast. It’s the National Biodiesel Conference Podcast in fact. You can find the link and instructions on how to subscribe here.

One of the interviews in the podcast series is one I did today with the chairman of the National Biodiesel Board, Darryl Brinkmann, seen here on the left during a rehearsal session yesterday with Larry Hagman and Daryl Hannah.

I spoke with Darryl today about how this conference is growing and what he sees as challenges facing the biodiesel business even in light of all the growth that’s taking place. Darryl says that there are two things to consider, one is quality and the other is public policy.

Listen to my interview with Darryl here: Listen To MP3 Darryl Brinkmann Interview (4 min MP3)

Domestic Fuel coverage of the
National Biodiesel Conference is sponsored by John Deere

Daryl Hannah Promotes Biodiesel

Jenna and DarylI started out wandering around and getting my bearings here at the Biodiesel Conference and just like last year, one of the first persons I ran into was Daryl Hannah. Daryl has been to every National Biodiesel Conference and can’t believe how much it has grown. She’s pictured here with Jenna Higgins, Communications Director for the National Biodiesel Board during rehearsals for tomorrow’s opening general session.

I spoke with Daryl about the conference and what she thinks about the work the National Biodiesel Board is doing. Daryl says that we need to make sure that what we’re using as a renewable fuel is sustainable and that we need to get off our dependence on fossil fuels.

You can listen to my interview with Daryl here: Listen To MP3 Daryl Hannah Interview (4 min MP3)

Domestic Fuel coverage of the National Biodiesel Conference
sponsored by John Deere.

Farmergy Acquires Missouri Valley Renewable Energy

FarmergySt. Louis-based Farmergy… a provider of technology to help farmers and ranchers “get off the grid”… has bought Missouri Valley Renewable Energy, a company touted as a leader in Missouri for renewable energy sources. MOVRE was founded in 2000 by Henry Rentz, after an extended power outage left his farm and home without the capability to pump water or provide refrigeration. According to a Farmergy press release, Rentz, the former CEO of MOVRE, now will join Farmergy as a part of its management team:

“A critical component of our success at Farmergy will be our ability to effectively install a vast array of clean energy solutions for farmers and ranchers across the country,” says Mark Green, Farmergy president and chief executive officer. “Henry’s intimate knowledge of both agriculture and the renewable energy industry will be invaluable to us as he designs and implements our national certified installer program.”

The release goes on to say that Farmergy-certified installers will make sure that customers get the best installation for whatever energy source they choose.

Welcome New Blogger

John Davis.jpgDomestic Fuel welcomes our newest blogger, John Davis.

John is a 20 years+ veteran of traditional news and is getting his first taste of this “new media.” We’ve known John since Chuck hired him to work at the Brownfield Network in January, 2000 after he served an 11 year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a broadcast journalist. He’s getting out on his own now after working for Learfield Communications for almost six years as a network broadcaster.

John lives in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife, two sons, two dogs, a cat, a mouse, and a fish! You can read more about him and his thoughts at his own website John C. Davis Online.

Welcome aboard, John!

Happ-e Holidays from EPIC & ZimmComm

EPIC Christmas The friendly folks at the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council would like to wish everyone “Gallons of Good Tidings” for the holiday season and the new year.

EPIC is a nonprofit alliance of ethanol industry leaders who have come together to grow consumer demand for ethanol energy through targeted marketing. Like the rest of the ethanol industry, EPIC has experienced tremendous growth over the last year and is looking at a bright future.

Over 120 ethanol producing companies, industry partners and affiliates are currently members of the alliance and more are joining every day.

EPIC is our original and ongoing sponsor and they’ve made it possible for us to bring you the best and latest news and information on the renewable fuels industry. We at ZimmComm would like to thank them and all of you who have made Domestic Fuel a great resource and so much fun to do. We also wish you a happy holiday season and are going to take a break until next Tuesday before we post again. Posting will be light through January 2 and then it’s pedal to the metal in 2007.

Extreme Green

Green Hummer General Motors won the Green Car design contest at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week with the “Hummer O2.”

According to CNN, this fuel-cell powered Hummer would produce oxygen. Agae-filled body panels could break down C02, a greenhouse gas, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. When parked, body panels would fan out to catch more light, speeding the process. The 02 would be constructed from 100-percent post-consumer recycled aluminum.

Check out all the entries in the Green Car Contest here.