Partnership Accelerates Cellulosic Ethanol

nec15-cellerateAt the National Ethanol Conference last week, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) presented Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) with the RFA 2015 Industry Award for the development of a process that led to the plant producing the very first gallons of cellulosic ethanol last year.

Cellerate process technology is a collaborative effort between Syngenta and QCCP’s subsidiary company Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies LLC that QCCP licenses to other ethanol plants. Cellerate, which was previously known as the Adding Cellulosic Ethanol process, was invented by QCCP plant engineer Travis Brotherson, pictured here with Jack Bernens of Syngenta.

I talked with Travis and Jack about what Cellerate can do for the industry as a whole and individual plants in this interview: Interview with Quad County Corn Processors and Syngenta

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Solar Goes White

4af8a17c-1725-4cb0-8b74-93b41ce2a3afWhen people think of solar energy they think of red. Now people will start to think white. Neuchatel, Switzerland -based CSEM has produced what they believe to be the first white solar modules. According to company materials, the technology is attractive to the building industry where solar elements can blend into the building’s design and become a “hidden” renewable energy source.

CSEM’s white solar module technology has no visible cells and connections. It combines a solar cell technology able to convert infrared solar light into electricity and a selective scattering filter, which scatters the whole visible spectrum while transmitting infrared light. Any solar technology based on crystalline silicon can now be used to manufacture white, and colored, modules.

The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces.Besides its main application in building, CSEM expects other fields such as consumer electronics (laptops), and the car industry to show significant interest.

Arming for a Fact-Based Fight Over Ethanol

bernens1It’s not always fact-based arguments proponents of ethanol are up against when battling Big Oil. But that’s why it’s all more important to make sure you have good facts on your side in the fight. Farmers who attended the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio were able to sit in on a session titled, “Biofuels and the Renewable Fuels Standard, A Farmer’s Avenue to American Energy Independence,” to make sure they can talk about the success stories and silence ethanol’s critics.

“Because of our success, we’ve had Big Oil really come after us and say, ‘We’re not going to lose anymore market share,'” says Jack Bernens, session moderator and marketer of Syngenta’s Enogen corn, specifically designed for ethanol production. “When monopolies get threatened, they like to push back hard.”

Hear more of what Jack had to say here: Jack Bernens, Syngenta

jennings1Jack was joined on the panel by Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol, who echoed Jack’s view that you’re not necessarily battling facts when it comes to taking on some of the myths put out by the petroleum industry.

“The message I was trying to relay to the corn growers is stay involved, remain engaged, get your neighbors and friends involved, and know that this isn’t a fact-based fight. When the fight is about facts, we always win,” Brian says, adding that ethanol doesn’t have to stoop to the lies and scare tactics of Big Oil.

Listen to Brian’s interview here: Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

doxtad1Another effective tool in the fight is showing the positive change ethanol has brought to Rural America, creating better markets for farmers’ corn, helping the country achieve energy independence, and building up communities, like the one that Northwest Iowa corn farmer James Doxtad comes from. He says while many folks back in his home state are aware of the good the renewable fuel has brought to the heartland, too many people in the country just don’t know. “It’s amazing how many people out there are unaware of the advantages of ethanol. Ethanol is a good thing, and we’re producing a good product, and we’re doing it for a good reason.” he says.

Check out James’ interview here: James Doxtad, Holstein, Iowa

Meanwhile, all three might get some help spreading the word as Syngenta released a new documentary video titled, “Ethanol: Fueling Rural America’s Future – One Community at a Time,” that provides a platform for farmers, ethanol producers and industry advocates to share their passion for an industry critical to the future of agriculture and rural America.

Greenbelt Resources: Why Small Is the New Big

On the surface it may seem like the technology for producing ethanol is pretty advanced. But when you talk with Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation, they don’t believe today’s technology is near where it could be so they are continually striving for innovation.

Greenbelt_revised photo_FinalUnlike the traditional biofuel producers who look at producing 25 million plus gallons per year, and send their ethanol all over the country and in some cases across the wide oceans, Eng says Greenbelt’s strategy is working with local communities to convert their waste to biofuels that are then used locally. And for a small community, a “small-scale,” system can range between 500,000 gallons per year (gpy) up to 2 million gpy.  In line with this thinking, under 2 million gpy ethanol modules could soon be the new “big-scale”. In other words, Greenbelt’s technology is the perfect example of “community energy,” or locally owned energy projects, and they can produce modules from 100,000 to 2 million gpy.

“Our model is for our technology to be used to locally recycle (or process) locally generated feedstocks (ideally waste materials) into products that can be consumed locally,” said Eng. Greenbelt’s target feedstock is waste material and their suite of products include ethanol, filtered water and fertilizer. “So our target market,” continued Eng, “is anyone generating an appropriate feedstock at quantities too small to make it worth transporting long distances but large enough to take advantage of one of our systems.”

Eng explained that their technology can use a wide range of feedstocks to produce cellulosic ethanol and byproducts. Feedstock types include wastes from the ag and food industries; waste beverages and beverage bottling process waste; corn harvested for local dairy cow consumption; non-food alternative energy crop growers; island communities; and developing countries. In addition, he said farming consortiums in remote areas who can aggregate their wastes and/or low value crops and convert them into products they would otherwise have to pay high prices for due to the high cost of transportation because of their remoteness, is also a great target for their technology.

The Greenbelt technology is different than large-scale technologies in several ways. The company provides a commercially viable, small scale, modular, energy efficient feedstock-to-product ethanol production system. The overall system is semi-automated with their distillation and dehydration modules fully automated, explained Eng. “The front-end (typically fermentation) module only requires a minimal amount of manual labor each day for feedstock input. Additionally, the load out of products requires some oversight if not manual handling in some instances,” he added.

A key component to the system’s uniqueness and its high efficiency is the inclusion of a patent pending membrane dehydration module. Greenbelt is the only biofuel company that offers membrane technology. “Membrane use allows for a less complicated system design and requires about a third less energy compared to a molecular-sieve as a result of the complexity,” said Eng.

There is also a slight but simple difference in how it works. Continue reading

Louis Dreyfus Purchases ICM SMT Technology

Louis Dreyfus Commodities has signed a contract to purchase two Selective Milling Technologies (SMT) from ICM. The systems will be installed at Louis Dreyfus Commodities Grand Junction, LLC, located in Grand Junction, Iowa, and Elkhorn Valley Ethanol, LLC, Louis Dreyfus Commodities logolocated in Norfolk, Nebraska. According to ICM, SMT is a value-added technology that increases ethanol yield, reduces viscosity and increases oil recovery.

“Our ethanol plants are both located in areas of high feedstock production and we are committed to responsibly investing in these assets to give them further strategic advantages in the industry,” said Bruce R. Chapin, Vice President – Chief Operating Officer, North American Region for Louis Dreyfus. “We are excited to choose Selective Milling Technology as a value-added technology not only because of its proven ability to increase ethanol and oil recovery yields, but also because of the potential we see with ICM’s line of sight that builds upon the SMT platform.”

Chris Mitchell, president of ICM, Inc., said, “ICM is very pleased to continue offering SMT as a yield enhancement solution for our ethanol plant customers. SMT is ICM’s platform technology to our proprietary Fiber Separation Technology and Generation 1.5 Technology. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, a global merchandiser of commodities and processor of agricultural goods.”

Growing Use of Technology for Growers

nbb-14-frank-legnerCommodity groups across the country also took interest in the happenings at the recent National Biodiesel Conference. Frank Legner, Legner Farms is a member of the Illinois Soybean Association and attended the conference to relay the update on biodiesel to growers in Illinois. He talks about how he uses precision agriculture on his farm where they grow 50/50 soybeans and corn.

“With the high prices of commodities in the years previous farmers have used their capital in many different ways. Our farming operation decided to put our capital towards technology. Where we farm you could have about four different soil types on a piece of land and those soil types all have different productivity indexes that have been benchmarked from the University of Illinois. We use those soil maps as a good foundation of how we are going to come up with a plan. We soil sample on two and a half acre grids and when we make these sample sites we overlay them on our SMS advance desktop software to make sure that sample site is in one soil sample. When we get the readings from the lab, we use that to write our VRT recommendations.”

They can then compare results from previous years and start selecting what hybrids will work in each field. Frank said it is kind of like a draft. The multiple hybrid planting is something that he sees them utilizing in the very near future as well.

Frank also shared that colors don’t mix when you are dealing with this level of technology. He shared that precision planting has been the best way for them to use their green planter with their red tractor. Legner Farms has truly adopted the use of technology to create efficiency and increase profitability. He goes on to explain how they have taken advantage of different precision ag company’s innovations and looks forward to seeing what’s next.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Frank here: Interview with Frank Legner

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

ICM Signs Canadian Ethanol Plant

ICMlogo1Renewable energy technology company ICM of Colwich, Kansas has signed a Letter of Intent with IGPC Ethanol of Ontario, Canada to be the first Canadian adopter of ICM’s Generation 1.5™ technology.

Adoption of the technology will enable IGPC Ethanol to produce corn fiber cellulosic ethanol. “Through our previous collaboration with ICM, we believed it was important to continue down the path of obtaining their critical platform technologies that are necessary for making a sustained impact on agriculture and economic development within our region,” said IGPC Ethanol CEO Jim Grey.

ICM’s Generation 1.5™ Technology introduces a cellulosic ethanol production capability by adding ICM’s Fiber Separation Technology™ (FST™) building block onto IGPC Ethanol’s current ICM Selective Milling Technology ™ (SMT™) platform. Once the FST™ and SMT™ platforms are in place, the Generation 1.5™ technology can be added. Development of ICM’s Generation 1.5™ technology was funded, in part, by a U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Technology Office contract that ICM was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Abengoa to Use ICM Oil Separation System

ICMThe ICM Advanced Oil Separation™ System (AOS™) will be deployed at Abengoa Bioenegy plants Madison, Illinois and Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

The AOS™ is a specially-designed combination of equipment that utilizes an ICM-proprietary, patented process to maximize the recovery of non-food-grade bio-oil from emulsion concentrate after the centrifugal separation of mid-stillage (syrup). Installation of the two corn oil extraction systems is expected to occur later this year.

abengoa logoICM’s AOS™ will enable the recovery of a significant quantity of corn oil per bushel of corn processed, enabling the Madison and Mt. Vernon facilities to generate additional sources of revenue.

ICM Director of Sales & Product Management Brock Beach said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Abengoa Bioenergy to deliver corn oil extraction technology and support corn oil’s expansion into higher-value co-products. The investment in our AOS™ technology affirms the shared vision of pursuing sustainable development efforts for the global renewable energy industry.”

66 Projects Receive ARPA-E Funding

Sixty-six research projects were selected to receive funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), part of the Department of Energy’s “OPEN 2012″ program. The projects, which show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment, will receive a combined total of $130 million.

The selected projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states and focus on a wide array of technologies: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power and energy storage. Approximately 47 percent of the projects are led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by large businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs, and 1.5 percent by non-profits. The “OPEN” funding began in 2009 and to date, there nearly 285 projects that have been awarded approximately $770 million in awards.

There were a wide-range of projects selected. For example, Plant Sensory Systems was awarded $1.8 million over three-years to develop an enhanced energy (sugar) beet optimized for biofuel production. The beets will be engineered to use fertilizer and water more efficiently and produce higher levels of fermentable sugars compared to current feedstocks.

Another example is Metabolix, who received a subaward to work with UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science to reengineer biochemical pathways for carbon fixation into camelina. Carbon fixation is the key process that plants use to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into higher energy molecules, such as sugars, using energy from the sun.

Click here for the full list of 66 OPEN 2012 winners.

Pacific Ethanol to use Corn Oil Technology at 2nd Plant

Pacific Ethanol has announced the implementation of corn oil separation technology at a second plant.

Pacific EthanolThe company is planning to install the technology, which recovers corn oil as a co-product from the ethanol production process, at its Stockton, California plant. The company has awarded Edeniq with a contract for its patented OilPlus(TM) technology, which is expected to be implemented at the Stockton plant by the second quarter of 2013. In June 2012, the company announced the implementation of corn oil separation technology at its Magic Valley, Idaho facilty.

“Corn oil is a high value co-product for the Pacific Ethanol plants, provides us with further diversification of our revenue streams and contributes additional operating income to the plants,” said company president Neil Koehler. “Our Stockton plant is the second of our facilities to implement corn oil separation technology, and we expect to soon award contracts for our two other Pacific Ethanol plants.”

ICM Inc. was awarded the Magic Valley installation contract for its patented Advanced Oil Separation System™, which was scheduled to be complete by the end of this year to begin generating revenue for the company in the first quarter of 2013. Pacific Ethanol estimates that the plant could produce as much as 12 million pounds of corn oil per year.

SoloPower’s Flexible Solar Cells Receive Certification

California solar cell maker SoloPower received ETL certification for its next-generation, thin, flexible SF1, SP1, and SP3L SoloPanels to UL 1703 and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Company officials say this just adds to to its track record on flexible solar modules:

[Tim Harris, CEO, of SoloPower says,] “It represents another step towards our goal of making solar the main source of energy for commercial and industrial buildings worldwide…”

“Being ETL certified to both UL and IEC standards is a significant milestone on the road to full scale commercialization,” said Bruce Khouri, President & Chief Commercial Officer and a building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) pioneer. “In addition to bringing to the market world-class, high efficiency, flexible modules, our first-of-their-kind rooftop installation kits are designed to rapidly expand the versatility for commercial and industrial rooftop solar applications. With BIPV as one of the fastest growing segments of the solar industry, we are thrilled to be able to share our unique solutions at Intersolar.”

Another SoloPower product, the SP3S SoloPanel, has been ETL certified to UL standards and is anticipated to be certified by the IEC soon. The SF1 and SP1 SoloPanels are made for twelve-inch and sixteen-inch standing-seam metal roofs, with the SP3L and SP3S SoloPanels best for commercial and industrial low-slope buildings. The company is also boasting three first-of-their-kind, easy, non-penetrating installation kits: the SoloSaddle(TM), SoloEdge(TM), and the SoloBridge(TM), more versatile on a variety of roofs.

Solar Power for Cell Phones

Looking for a new way to charge your cell phone? Then look no further than the sun. Solio has released an improved universal Solar Charger for all electronic devices, including your phone, that stores power for up to one year and never overcharges. This device sounds perfect for places that are lacking outlets, like airports, airplanes and restaurants three of the places your phone battery loves to die.

So how does it work? You charge it up for free with a little help from the sun, and then when you need power for your MP3 player, GPS or phone, you simply plug the solar charger into your electronic equipment using one of the multiple “tips” that you switch out. The charger is compatible with over 3,200 devices and stores in its own sleek case.

For those of you who live in the Iowa where it never seems to stop raining this year, no worries. The solar charger has a back-up plan. It can be charged a USB port or wall charger, both included. The price for this nifty gadget is around $99.

New Fuel Economy Standards May Benefit Ethanol

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) signed a joint final rule that establishes greenhouse gas emission standards and corporate fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2012-2016. This National Fuel Efficiency Policy requires passenger cars and light trucks to get an overall average of 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 while cars are expected to average 39 mpg and trucks will be required to get 30 mpg. According to the current administration, this measure is expected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program.

However, we could actually reduce oil imports and emissions even more under this program by using ethanol.

Ricardo’s EBDI engine technology

Let me explain. The easiest way to gain the improved fuel economy is through “engine downsizing,” in other words, using smaller engines. But the new smaller engine technologies will not mean less power, like in the past. According to Ethanol Boosting Systems, their technology enables gasoline engines to “reach their full potential” by utilizing performance enhancing properties of ethanol in conjunction with advances in direct injection (DI) and turbocharging.

Here is how their system works: The EBS approach uses controlled direct ethanol injection to add a very significant vaporization-enhanced On-Demand Octane BoostTM that essentially removes the knock limit on engine performance. The elimination of the knock constraint has been proven by systematic engine dynamometer tests. This allows a small gasoline engine to provide the same or higher torque as compared to a conventional engine of much larger size. Continue reading

GPS App Finds 85 Percent Ethanol Stations

Want to know where you can buy E85? There’s an app for that now.

garminThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today launched a new application for Garmin GPS units that that maps out the location of E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) for users with flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

“The most frustrating thing for many FFV owners is not knowing where they can fill up with higher level ethanol blends, like E85,” said RFA Director of Market Development Robert White. “With this new feature, drivers going to the grocery store or to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving will know the exact location of the nearest E85 pump.”

Using the Garmin navigation system, FFV owners can download station locations and program their device to guide them to upcoming E85 stations. The Garmin application is available for download on There, consumers can download individual state data, a combination of states, or national data directly to their computer and then to their Garmin devices. Directions for installing this point of interest (POI) data are now available.

While the program is currently only available for Garmin GPS units, RFA is working to bring this data to other navigation systems and will update station location data quarterly.

MotionPower Moves to Big Rigs

MotionPowerA couple of weeks ago, Joanna told you about how a company had installed a system that would capture the energy of cars and light trucks that went through a fast-food drive through (see her post from Sept. 14, 2009).

Now, New Energy Technologies has announced it has successfully tested its MotionPower technology for generating electricity from the movement of heavy trucks and long-haul vehicles, and the renewable energy company will now develop a full-scale system suitable for field testing, and ultimately, commercial deployment:

The Company’s MotionPower™-‘Heavy’ system for heavy vehicles has been engineered to generate electricity while addressing utility demands and commercial considerations unique to large vehicles, including minimizing payload disruption, ensuring passenger comfort, and making special allowances for integration of the system at commercial trucking sites such as ports, weigh scales, border crossings, and central distribution sites.

Heavy-duty trucks have up to 25 times more kinetic energy than a typical car traveling at the same speed. New Energy Technologies Inc.’s engineers have developed the MotionPower™-Heavy technology as a fluid-based system, uniquely capable of drawing significant amounts of energy from a single vehicle without jarring its payload or creating passenger discomfort. The efficient transfer of energy from heavy vehicles to the MotionPower™-Heavy system ensures greater electricity production and easier device adoption.

Company officials believe the system will be scalable for electrical generation.

You can see a video of the technology here.