First Biodiesel School Bus Retires

What is believed to be the nation’s first school bus to run on a biodiesel blend was put out to pasture at the end of the 2010-11 school year, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

When Medford, New Jersey’s 1998 International school bus retired at the end of June, it reached a milestone in the process. The bus was the first in New Jersey, and possibly the country, to be filled with B20.

Over the course of its life, it consumed over 28,000 gallons of biodiesel and exposed hundred of young people to a cleaner-burning advanced biofuel that not only helped protect their health, but hopefully taught them something about the importance of alternative fuels.

“Similar to the biodiesel industry, the bus certainly bears the marks of a traveling a long and difficult path and weathering a number of storms,” said Joe Biluck, Director of Operations and Technology for the Medford Township Public School district. “The industry has made monumental strides over the past 13 years. Since then, thousands of public and private fleets have made the switch to biodiesel blends in an effort to lessen their environmental impact.”

“Without early support from people like Biluck, the industry wouldn’t be where it is today,” said NBB Chairman Gary Haer. “As America’s only commercially available advanced biofuel, biodiesel stands ready to help meet our energy challenges for years to come.”

The National Biodiesel Board awarded Biluck its annual Inspiration award in 2005.

NBB Testifies During EPA Hearing

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing to discuss the latest renewable fuels proposal. One goal of the hearing was to determine if current 2011 mandates will be met by the obligated parties and to ensure the industry can produce enough fuel. Also under debate is whether the 2012 mandates are too high. Joe Jobe, the CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, was one of several industry leaders who testified during the hearing.

Jobe testified the EPA’s proposal represents a modest and sustainable level of growth in the biomass-based diesel program that is consistent with the availability of the diverse feedstocks used to produce biodiesel including used cooking oil, used waste grease and vegetable oil. Jobe also noted that biodiesel is the only EPA-designated advanced biofuel being produced on a commercial scale across the country.

“While we believe these are conservative targets for the U.S. biodiesel industry, we applaud the EPA for proposing a reasonable increase,” Jobe said in a statement after the hearing. “As America’s only EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide, we are ready to meet the challenge.”

The biodiesel industry currently has more than 1 billion gallons approved with the EPA and is on track to achieve the EPA’s 2011 standard of 800 million gallons. This year, average production is nearly 75 million gallons per month with a high of 82 million gallons during May.

The proposed biomass-based diesel requirements for next year are set at 1 billion gallons and nearly 1.3 billion gallons for 2013. It should be noted that biodiesel not only qualifies, and makes up almost the entirety of the biomass-based diesel category, but it is also approved as an advanced biofuel. In fact, biodiesel made from corn oil has the lowest carbon intensity score of all commercial scale biofuels.

“We’re confident that we can meet these production goals. In doing so, we’ll help cure America’s oil addiction with a clean-burning renewable fuel while creating good-paying American jobs,” said Jobe. “This program was developed to wean the country off foreign oil with cleaner homegrown fuels, and we believe it’s working as intended.”

ExxonMobil to Offer Biodiesel at Four Texas Terminals

ExxonMobil will soon offer ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) blended with biodiesel for the first time at four rack terminals in Texas. ExxonMobil will offer ULSD with up to a 5 percent biodiesel blend in Irving, Texas and North Houston beginning this summer. They will also also the fuel via third party terminals located in Tyler, Texas and Pasadena, Texas.

According to an article by OPIS, exact details on when the fuel will be sold is not available. However, the company has plans to offer a similar product in other regional markets. Also not confirmed, but the industry believes the move was spurred by the renewable diesel mandates as set by the Renewable Fuel Standard. As use of biodiesel is increasing, investments have also increased to improve biodiesel infrastructure.

“As America’s first fully commercialized Advanced Biofuel, the biodiesel industry looks forward to working with ExxonMobil and other petroleum partners to continue to seamlessly improve the infrastructure and grow the domestic diesel fuel pool,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board.

Isuzu Commercial Trucks Support Biodiesel Blends

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America has become the latest Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to support the use of B20 biodiesel blends.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, Isuzu confirmed that all of its new 2011 and forward model year diesel engines, including its four popular N-Series truck models as well as the new Isuzu Reach commercial van, are compatible with use of up to 20 percent biodiesel blends (B20). This is especially significant as Isuzu Commercial Truck is the first Asian manufacturer to approve B20 for U.S. market spec engines.

According to Isuzu Commercial Truck’s Retail Marketing Manager Brian Tabel, Isuzu’s announcement of B20 support is the result of three key factors: growing consumer demand for the fuel, an extensive and cooperative research project on B20 biodiesel blends by Isuzu engineers in the U.S. and Japan, and improved biodiesel fuel quality and industry support in the U.S. under the assurances of ASTM D7467, the American Society of Testing and Materials specifications for B6-B20 biodiesel blends.

“Our customers at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America have been asking for approval to use B20 in our products in the U.S. for many years,” Tabel said. “We are really happy to now turn that request into a reality and bring B20 biodiesel capability to the U.S. market.”

Isuzu Commercial Truck commands an impressive 73 -75 percent market share of the low cab-forward medium-duty truck market in the U.S. Through its network of 293 dealers in the U.S., Isuzu expects to sell 10,000 – 11,000 diesel units in 2011, all of which are capable to use with B20 biodiesel blends.

Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extension Introduced

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate this week introduced legislation to extend the biodiesel tax incentive for three years.

The Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act would extend the $1 per gallon tax credit from 2012 through 2014 and would reform the biodiesel tax incentive from a blenders excise tax credit to a production excise tax credit. “Biodiesel development and production is an important job creator for this country,” said House co-sponsor Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), who notes that biodiesel is an important industry for soybean producers and the rural economy of his home state.

“Illinois soybean farmers have a great interest in the development and expansion of the U.S. biodiesel industry. Biodiesel has provided a significant market opportunity for soybean farmers, and jobs and economic development for rural communities,” said American Soybean Association Vice President Ron Kindred of Atlanta, Ill.

Schock says that extending the credit will also help develop other crops for the production of biodiesel, such as Pennycress, which has an exceptionally high oil content. Initial research indicates that an acre of pennycress can yield up to 110 gallons of biodiesel, twice what can be produced from an equal amount of soybeans.

The National Biodiesel Board
(NBB) is pleased that extension legislation has been introduced, now that the industry is getting back up to speed after losing the tax incentive for an entire year. “Unfortunately, we don’t have to speculate about what would happen to our industry if this tax incentive goes away. We saw the fallout last year when the incentive temporarily expired. Plants closed and thousands of people were laid off. It would be a terrible mistake if Congress allowed that to happen again,” said NBB Chairman Gary Haer. “We are poised for a record year of production this year, and this bill would provide the market and investor certainty that the industry needs to continue building on that progress.”

EPA Proposes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards

Cellulosic ethanol targets were reduced while biodiesel was increased under the latest standards proposed by the federal government for the Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories under the RFS2 based on the annual renewable fuel volume targets. EPA once again lowered the target for cellulosic ethanol, which was set at 500 million gallons in 2012, to somewhere between 3.45 and 12.9 million gallons. The agency “remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead” and so does the Advanced Ethanol Council, provided there is stable policy to allow the industry to invest in technology to make it possible.

“The most immediate term solution to this problem is to enact meaningful and long-term tax incentives to spur construction of the first-commercial advanced biofuel plants, in much the same way that Congress has stood behind oil and gas production for nearly 100 years,” said AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman. “The cellulosic and advanced ethanol industry will hit the mark and achieve the goals of the RFS if Congress aligns our tax code with the RFS and sends a clear message to the marketplace that advanced biofuels will be a cornerstone of a broader strategy to create jobs and reduce oil dependence.”

EPA is also proposing to increase the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel from 800 million gallons this year to 1 billion gallons in 2012 and almost 1.3 billion gallons in 2013. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) notes that since biodiesel qualifies as an advanced biofuel it is also eligible to exceed the biomass-based diesel targets and help meet general advanced biofuels requirements under the program. “As America’s first advanced biofuel being produced on a commercial scale nationwide, we have done extensive research to assess the various feedstocks that are used to make biodiesel, including agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil, animal fats, algae and camelina,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe said. “We are confident we can meet these targets and we anticipate that we will likely exceed them.”

The EPA proposes to maintain the 2012 advanced biofuel requirements under the RFS at 2 billion gallons as federal law requires. The mandate for convention renewable biofuel also remained consistent with the statute at 13.2 billion gallons.

NBB Study Shows Biodiesel’s Benefits

According to a new study released today by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the U.S. biodiesel industry will grow to support more than 74,000 jobs throughout the economy by 2015. These jobs will create nearly $4 billion in household income and generate almost $1.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues. The study was conducted by Cardno ENTRIX and released in timing with NBB’s annual membership meeting being held in Washington, D.C.

“This shows without question that a healthy and thriving biodiesel industry is good for America,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB. “Biodiesel isn’t just improving our environment and shoring up our energy security, it’s creating good-paying jobs in virtually every state in the country.”

The study also looked at how the industry responded after losing its key tax incentive in 2010, which was retroactively brought back at the end of the year. It discovered the expiration of the tax credit and the resulting 42 percent drop in production caused the loss of nearly 8,900 jobs. Household income also decreased by $485 million and a reduction in real GDP or $879 million.

Fortunately for the industry, this year marks a major turnaround as the Renewable Fuels Standard ramps up with biodiesel considered an advanced biofuel. In January alone, production jumped 69 percent and is continuing to climb.

“Since the EPA designated us as an advanced biofuel last year and Congress reinstated our tax incentive in December, the market has responded with incredible quickness, ” said Jobe. “Plants across the country are reopening and ramping up production. This means new jobs in all sorts of sectors – manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, sales. It means plants are hiring, buying supplies and machinery, and circulating money throughout the economy.”

Jobe continued, “The numbers also show what happens when those incentives weren’t there in 2010. They demonstrate what we’ve been saying, that biodiesel is still a young industry. We’re trying to gain a foothold in a business that is and always has been dominated by fossil fuels, and breaking into that business is extraordinarily difficult.”

UPS Begins Using Biodiesel at U.S. Hub

UPS is now using biodiesel blends at its Louisville, Kentucky hub. The company recently installed a biodiesel fuel tank and fueling station at its Worldport facility. This will enable fuel operators to blend specific percentages of biodiesel starting from a B5 blend (5% biodiesel, 95% diesel) up to B20. Biodiesel blends of up to B20 can be used in any diesel engine without any modifications.

The 30,000 gallon biodiesel tank and station at Worldport fuels nearly 200 vehicles and diesel equipment, most of which help load packages on and off the planes. Worldport is the size of 80 football fields and each day loads 100 airplanes and processes 416,000 packages an hour.

“There is a finite amount of petroleum-based fuel available from our planet so it is important that UPS and other companies invest in ways to use alternative fuels and technologies, including biodiesel,” said Scott Wicker, UPS Chief Sustainability officer. “This project helps us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels with the added benefit that it will also reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.”

Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board considers UPS’s switch to biodiesel “monumental”.

“For a giant like UPS to use biodiesel is not only an outstanding vote of confidence for biodiesel, but an example of how America’s first advanced biofuel will fuel the drive towards genuine corporate sustainability,” said Jobe.

Bullish on Biodiesel

Biodiesel is back, but it needs the tax credit to keep it going.

Joe JobeAt the 4th International Biomass Conference and Expo, Joe Jobe with the National Biodiesel Board, said they are very optimistic about the state of the industry right now.

“Our plants are coming back on line and we’re very bullish,” Jobe said. “We believe that we’re going to have the best year in our industry’s history this year.” Jobe says their top priority is implementation of the RFS2 and a major component of that is seeing the biodiesel tax credit extended at least another year. “Last year the tax credit lapsed for 11 months and that had a significant negative impact on the industry,”

Jobe says the debate over land use continues to have an impact on the industry. “Land use and indirect impacts have really only been applied to biofuels, no other fuels, not even the fuel that it’s been compared to, baseline petroleum fuel,” he said.

Listen to or download my interview with Joe Jobe here: Joe Jobe NBB

NBB will be holding a webinar on the topic of biodiesel’s impact on the food supply and land use May 24. “Vantage Point: Views on Food, Fuel and Land Use” will feature insights from two national land use experts Dr. Stephen Kaffka with the U.C. Davis Department of Plant Sciences and Director of the California Biomass Collaborative and Keith Kline of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The 60-minute webinar starts at 12:00 noon Central time, on Tuesday, May 24 and is open to anyone with an interest in learning the reality behind food, fuel and land use. Register here.

Iowa State to Run Buses on Waste Grease

As a graduate of Iowa State University (ISU), I couldn’t pass up this story. Several students are launching a project to recycle used vegetable oil from campus cafeterias into biodiesel. The fuel will then power campus buses, known as CyRide.

One of the drivers of this project is Bernardo de Campo, a co-chair of the organization Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, an organization that creates a virtual network for young scientists to work together and with the biodiesel industry. Students from various fields have collaborated to install a processor that will turn the waste grease into biodiesel. They have already produced their first batch and are now involved in a 3 week field trial to ensure they can meet the ASTM D6751 biodiesel spec.

Once the BioBus club has achieved this goal, they will start producing and donating the biodiesel to the university who will use the fuel to power one bus with a B20 blend. From there, ISU plans on expanding the B20 blend to additional buses.

Another cool element of the project? It was featured in a recent issue of U.S. News & World Report.

I know what CyRide bus I’ll be riding when I got back to ISU this fall for a football game….

Biomass Industry Execs Discuss Future

biomass conferenceAll energy of the bio variety – biomass, biogas, biodiesel and biofuels – were represented at the 4th International Biomass Conference and Expo on Monday during a panel featuring executives of seven different industry organizations.

Moderator Tom Bryan, Vice President of BBI International, asked the panel was what the top priorities for their organizations are this year.

“Just getting parity for algae,” said Algal Biomass Organization Executive Director Mary Rosenthal. She says they are also working on educating lawmakers about algae and keeping the funding they currently have for development from departments of energy, agriculture and defense.

Charlie Niebling with the Biomass Thermal Energy Council said they would like to see thermal incorporated into a true federal Clean Energy Standard. “We still face real challenges in just making sure people understand the role that thermal plays in addressing energy challenges in our country,” he said.

Biomass Power Association CEO Robert Cleaves says they support the development of a federal Clean Energy Standard as well and they want to retain the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). “BCAP for existing facilities may be the only game in town as a bridge to somewhere,” he said.

Inclusion and parity are also important for biogas, as well as working on a fundamental change in waste management. “Discontinuing policies that simply take all this organic matter, put it in a hole in the ground and create environmental issues. Instead we need to create policies to divert that to higher, better and multiple uses.” said Norma McDonald of the American Biogas Council.

For members of the Renewable Fuels Association, president Bob Dinneen says what is most important is education and certainty. “We’re looking at a situation where our tax incentive expires the end of this year,” Dinneen said. “What we’re trying to do is get to some reform of the existing incentive that reflects the fact that the industry has indeed grown, that will allow the industry to continue to grow and evolve, but do so in response to fiscal realities in Washington DC now.”

“The biodiesel industry is an example of what can happen when you have total policy failures in Washington DC,” said Joe Jobe with the National Biodiesel Board, referring to the non-renewal of the biodiesel tax for a year that caused many plants to shut down. Jobe says the industry is going strong again and plants are re-opening but they would like to see the tax credit extended again at the end of this year. “We just need a little more time to get a little more mature.”

Finally, Advanced Biofuels Association president Michael McAdams stressed the importance of keeping the Renewable Fuels Standard in place. “The RFS2 is the single most important public policy in the United States for first, second and third generations biofuels,” he said.

Listen the panel talk about priorities here: Biomass Conference Panel

Biomass Conference Kicks Off in St. Louis

The International Biomass Conference is being held this week at the America’s Center in St. Louis.

Domestic Fuel will be there Tuesday morning for the plenary session that starts with a keynote address from Dr. Richard Newell, Administrator, U.S. Energy Information Administration, who recently testified during a Senate Ag Committee Hearing on high gas prices and the role agriculture may play in developing energy sources for America.

That will be followed by an industry roundtable: Our Industry in a Changed Political Landscape. The panel will include Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen, National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe, Algal Biomass Organization Executive Director Mary Rosenthal, Advanced Biofuels Association president Michael McAdams, Charlie Niebling with the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Biomass Power Association CEO Robert Cleaves and Norma McDonald of the American Biogas Council.

Questions for the panel can be submitted via email.

NBB: For Earth Day, Biodiesel Friendly Destinations

As we sit on the eve of Earth Day (Friday, April 22, 2011), our friends at the National Biodiesel Board have pointed out several tourist destinations that are friendly to the environment by using the green fuel biodiesel:

“Green tourism is more popular than ever, and biodiesel’s ease-of-use and greenhouse gas reductions have made it a big part of that movement,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO.

Here are a few of the tourist destinations where you can find biodiesel running behind the scenes:

* Orlando, Fla.: This family vacation hotspot has many choices for biodiesel-supported tourism, from the Jaws Ride at Universal Studios to the LYNX city transit system, which uses 20 percent biodiesel (B20) in all of its diesel buses. The Orlando area is also home to the next National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 5 – 8!

* Central Park: The New York City Parks & Recreation Department is leading a green revolution in the Big Apple. The agency maintains more than 29,000 acres in New York City, including such well-known venues as Central Park, Battery Park, Flushing Meadows, Coney Island and more. Since 2006, the Parks Department’s diesel fleet has run on B20. The Parks Department also uses B20 for 95 percent of heating oil sites.

Continue reading

NBB Protests EU Extension of Tariffs on US Biodiesel

European Union members have voted to extend current tariffs on U.S. biodiesel, and that violates the group’s own laws, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

This Reuters article posted on ForexPros.com says EU officials accuse U.S. exporters of smuggling biodiesel through Canada to avoid tariffs imposed since 2009:

“We think this would be a bad decision that runs directly counter to current EU law,” said Manning Feraci, vice president of federal affairs at the U.S. National Biodiesel Board, the country’s leading biodiesel industry group.

“We’re waiting to get final confirmation of the decision and will go from there.”

The fight over EU biodiesel duties, which sliced U.S. exports to less than a third of their 1.5 million tonne level when they launched in 2009, highlights the global race for a share of the world’s booming renewable energy market.

EU firms accuse U.S. producers of being involved in a “splash and dash” scheme, whereby they may import cheap biodiesel from countries such as Brazil and add less than 5 percent of U.S. diesel. The producers then qualify for a subsidy from Washington before exporting it to Europe.

The extension would start in May and last until 2014.

Petroleum, not Biodiesel, Confirmed as Problem with Bioheat

As I reported to you back on March 17th, it looks like a bad batch of petroleum, not the biodiesel, was the real culprit with some recent problems with bioheat (a mix of biodiesel and home heating oil) in the Northeastern United States.

This blog post from Biodiesel Magazine says testing has confirmed the petroleum’s role:

Paul Nazzaro, petroleum liaison to the National Biodiesel Board, shared with Biodiesel Magazine an excerpt from a detailed report prepared by members of the Bioheat Technical Steering Committee as it pertains to the New Hampshire fuel quality concerns expressed by regional fuel dealers. He said a more comprehensive report will be provided to industry leaders within the week.

“At a recent meeting of fuel dealers in New Hampshire, requests for fuel samples and burner nozzles or combustion parts with carbonaceous deposits were made, and several of these were obtained and sent to independent labs for analysis,” the excerpt stated. “The data generated indicate poor quality base heating oil is the likely root cause of the burner issues in New Hampshire, and that the presence of biodiesel as Bioheat was not likely a contributing factor to the problems. Base fuel instability is the likely cause. Fuel sampled from a delivery truck clearly indicates this. Equipment problems are ruled out. Problems occurred with all domestic burners and with all appliance types. Biodiesel is ruled out. There were no indicators of off-spec biodiesel, and problems occurred regardless of fossil-renewable carbon content.”

Nice to see that biodiesel was cleared. Now lets see if the retractions accusing the green fuel of the wrongdoing come as quickly as the charges against it.