One of the big issues that continues to dog the biofuels business, especially ethanol production, is the use of food crops as fuel sources. While many have made the case that the crops can provide both food AND fuel (consider the dried distillers grains from ethanol production, for example), a New Jersey-based company thinks it has a way to remove the food part from the debate altogether.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to Kef Kasdin, CEO of Proterro, as she tells us about her company’s method of actually creating, not extracting, sugars. You’ll be able to hear how this process makes sugar for as low as 5 cents/pound… a pretty good bargain compared to 10-20 cents/pound of more conventional methods.
Boise, Idaho is certainly famous for its potatoes, and just about everyone’s favorite way to have those spuds are french fried. A local cab company is looking to take advantage of all that leftover cooking oil by turning it into biodiesel to run in its vehicles. KBOI-TV reports that Recab wants the idea to catch on in other cities in America’s Northwest:
Recab will soon have older model Mercedes Benz cars that have been converted to run on bio-diesel. One of the owners James Orr got the idea from his love of vintage cars and the environment.
“Whenever I realize these cars are as reliable as they are and they could be used in such an eco friendly way that’s what spawned the whole concept,” said Orr.
The company expects its french-fry-powered cabs to be on the road in a couple of weeks.
Earlier this month, Hall of Fame recording artist Neil Young stopped by Sioux Falls, South Dakota to fill up his LincVolt with POET-DSM cellulosic ethanol. LincVolt is a hybrid-electric 1959 Lincoln Continental with onboard charging powered by cellulosic ethanol. He’s on a cross-country tour to highlight renewable energy.
During his visit, Young said you don’t see much about what is going on with the climate in the media. “It’s just not a fast moving subject. It’s a slow moving big story. But it’s not going to be going away unless we do something.”
Fuels America has released a new video highlighting the truth behind high gas prices and how renewable fuels can help. Many studies, including a report from the American Security Project, have shown that the country can’t drill its way out of high gas prices and vulnerability to global oil markets. In addition, recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data shows drilling will still leave us with oil that costs upwards of $215 per barrel.
Other studies have shown that renewable fuel lowers gas prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, reducing the average American’s gas bill by more than $1,200 per year.
Posted by John Davis – April 3rd, 2013
A university in the Netherlands debuts a wind turbine without blades, which means it produces no noise nor even casts any moving shadows.
The Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo recently installed the EWICON, or Electrostatic WInd energy CONvertor, which turns wind energy in electrical power without moving parts at the Delft University of Technology:
The Ewicon can be installed on land or sea, and can also be integrated in the roof of a tall building. The principle is as follows: Using high voltage, electrically charged droplets of water are produced in the horizontal elements. At the same time these horizontal elements, which are electrodes, generate an electric field. As the wind forces the electrically charged droplets against this electric field towards the earth, the converter is charged to DC.
This video also explains how the concept works:
This new type of wind turbine might be especially welcome in urban areas, where some opponents have complained about the noise and the repetitive shadows a traditional turbine casts.
Posted by John Davis – April 2nd, 2013
The Illinois Soybean Association’s checkoff-funded campaign touting the benefits of biodiesel is getting ready to make its next stop at a major petroleum tradeshow. Started in early February, ISA’s “Get Pumped Up!” On Biodiesel campaign goes to Indianapolis, Ind., for the Midwest Petroleum and Convenience Tradeshow (M-PACT), April 16-18th:
“A strong and growing biodiesel industry strengthens the Illinois soybean industry and the state’s economy,” says Lyle Wessel, soybean farmer from Waterloo, Ill., and ISA director. “Biodiesel’s environmental and cost benefits are central to ISA’s effort to get diesel drivers excited to fill up with this accessible, renewable fuel.”
ISA’s “Get Pumped Up!” On Biodiesel campaign debuted at the Mid-West Trucker and Trailer Show in Peoria, Ill., in early February. The campaign features a tradeshow display with an original animated video and an educational brochure customizable for the different segments of biodiesel customers. Visitors also receive a complimentary “Get Pumped Up!” hand gripper for completing a short survey about biodiesel use.
Aside from the economic value of production, the campaign touts biodiesel’s reliability, cost-efficiency and sustainability. Compared to petroleum diesel, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by more than 50 percent. Biodiesel blends are approved by most modern OEM automakers.
ISA points out that its state sells more biodiesel than any other state. Check out the YouTube video below.
“Some crop rotation and tillage combinations are more environmentally benign than others,” said Ben Gramig, a Purdue agricultural economist and the study’s lead researcher. “But there are water quality and greenhouse gas tradeoffs when collecting stover.”
As Gramig explains, stover is the parts of a corn plant that remain after grain harvest. Greenhouse gases from cropfields are released into the atmosphere when carbon escapes disturbed soils during stover removal. Emissions also occur when nitrogen fertilizer is applied to the land or crop residues decompose. Plowing fields loosens soil and, when combined with removing stover, causes increased soil erosion.
The study examined the environmental effects and costs of stover collection from eight corn-soybean rotation and continuous corn systems in a watershed typical of the eastern Corn Belt. The comparisons were made by combining results from watershed and greenhouse gas computer simulation models and minimizing the cost of stover collection, to select which farming practices to use in an agricultural watershed.
A RIN is a Renewable Identification Number, which is given to refiners upon the purchase of renewable fuels. It is then used by refiners every February to establish that they have met their previous year’s obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
These recent stories raise a question as to why RINs are being blamed in the increase in gasoline prices. RINs are given away for free by ethanol and other renewable fuel producers to refiners and only have value in the submission of the report in February. We are currently in the month of March and soon to be in April.
There are questions that need to be asked on why such swift dramatic price shifts are being reported in the market. Are speculators at work? There is an excess of over two billion RINs. Why is that not proving and providing stability?
I encourage the media to ask these types of questions, but to simply jump on and blame the renewable fuels sector is incorrect.”
This week is Ag Week. Have you thanked a farmer yet?
For those of you reading this post and wondering why you should thank a farmer, remember that they not only produce our food, but also our fuel and fiber. Growers are planting and harvesting crops that are used to create biofuels – biodiesel, ethanol, cellulosic and soon algal-based biofuels.
Need some inspiration? Watch country singer James Wesley music video, “Thank a Farmer.” You can find James’ song on YouTube and purchase it at iTunes.
Did you know that the oldest, continuous tax subsidy for oil companies was enacted by Congress in 1913, making 2013 the 100th year of federal tax subsidies specific to the oil industry? Shouldn’t this event garner a party? The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) thought so and on March 14, 2013 held a “Century of Subsidies” birthday party for big oil in Washington, DC. On hand for the event were Rick Schwarck, president of the IRFA and CEO of Absolute Energy, Monte Shaw, executive director for IRFA and Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE.
Schwark noted that they are not saying all the tax subsidies are necessarily bad and should be discontinued, but rather, that oil has had 100 years of an unfair advantage over all other fuels, including ethanol, and when discussing policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the debate should be a full, fair and factual discussion that looks at how to level the playing field.
Today, here are the current oil specific tax subsidies: Expensing of Intangible Drilling Costs; Percentage Depletion Allowance; Deduction for Tertiary Injectants; Geological and Geophysical Expenditures; Exception for passive loss limitations for oil and gas; Enhanced oil recovery credit; and Marginal oil well credit.
To counterbalance the “Century of Subsidies” and other policies that favor petroleum, ACE and IRFA called upon Congress to protect the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS cracks open the petroleum monopoly to give consumers non-petroleum choices at the pump. Consumers benefit from market access to lower cost renewable fuels like E15 and E85.
“If oil companies cannot stand on their own two feet after 100 years of clinging to certain taxpayer subsidies, Congress shouldn’t hurt American consumers by repealing the RFS, a policy that helps level the playing field with oil a little bit by giving people affordable and renewable fuel choices,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “ACE members met with Congress during our fly-in this week to emphasize how the RFS costs taxpayers nothing and has succeeded in delivering benefits for all Americans.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace is now an “Honorary Iowan”. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad gave him this honor due to his work in highlighting the importance of ethanol and E15. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series both use E15.
“Iowa is one of the largest producers of ethanol. All the NASCAR cars are running on 15 percent ethanol, and I hope that one of these days all Iowans can run on 15 percent ethanol also,” said Wallace.
“This video proves once and for all that today’s ethanol is not your father’s ethanol. The ethanol industry has made impressive strides in the last 30 years in production volumes, foreign oil displacement, production efficiencies, co-products, job creation, and cellulose and advanced ethanol market entry. The ethanol industry has a great story to tell and this video helps us tell it with data, color and occasionally humor. Whether you think you know all there is about ethanol or you are new to the topic, this video is a must-see! It is a great primer,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA’s President and CEO.
In addition, RFA just released a newly updated mobile E85 locator app. The Flex-Fuel Station Locator application for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch and all Android devices is free and can be found in the App Store and Android Marketplace. This new version will help users pinpoint any station in the United States offering E85.
“With more than eleven million flex-fuel vehicles in America, we wanted to make it easier, faster, and perhaps more educational and fun for drivers to find E85,” said Robert White, RFA Director of Market Development. “Americans increasingly demand more fuel choice at the pump. They want alternatives to petroleum, especially foreign petroleum. They want fuels which are domestic, renewable, and environment-enhancing. They bought FFVs for a reason and we want to keep fueling the change.”
This Valentines Day, spread some cheer by telling Big Oil just how much we heart them – NOT! On this love filled holiday, Fuels America sent out a Valentine Day video, “We Love Oil” to show that although love is in the air this week, America is suffering from a broken heart caused by oil.
How do you love oil? “I love how when the oil companies are making more profits than any other industry in history, ever, they still get billions in subsidies ever year. I mean, that’s awesome.”
Awesome indeed. This video must be watched and go viral!
Fuels America says it is time to end America’s love affair with this finite and expensive fuel source that has led to higher gas prices, and climate change-inducing weather that makes us the wrong kind of hot.
So what are you waiting for? Tweet this out already @FuelsAmerica.
People are still talking about Chrysler Group’s Super Bowl ad that highlighted the importance of America’s farmers, and today more than 100 Iowans have signed a letter urging Chrysler to recommend the use of E15 in its new vehicles. According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, are necessary to maintain the farm prosperity that renewable fuels have created over the last seven years. The signatures were gathered during the 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.
The letter stated, “E15 is playing an important role in growing the nation’s economy and providing fuel choice for consumers. Ford and General Motors have already approved E15 for their new cars. The undersigned Iowans ask Chrysler to also approve E15 for its new vehicles.”
“We commend Chrysler for its outstanding Super Bowl ad showing support for the American farmer,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Now Chrysler needs to take concrete action and recommend E15 for use in its new vehicles. E15 contains 50 percent more farmer-made ethanol than today’s standard blend. Iowans want to be able to use homegrown fuels like E15 that reduce our dependence on imports and support our farmers.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be speaking live here at the National Ethanol Conference in Las Vegas at 8:00 am Pacific time. We will be live streaming and posting the recorded file shortly afterward – along with photos and audio.
Post Update: You can watch Sec. Vilsack’s remarks in the video – audio is posted below the video.