Growth Energy’s Model Ethanol Plant

Growth Energy Model PlantDuring the Farm Progress Show last week several companies featured some cool technologies and displays featuring agriculture’s role in producing clean energy such as biofuels. One partnership that has been very successful is that between New Holland and Growth Energy. New Holland has very publicly shown its support for ethanol has developed equipment for farmers to more easily harvest their energy crops.

When visiting the New Holland booth not only could you see this amazing equipment, but you were able to see a model ethanol plant – thousands of Farm Progress attendees have never has the opportunity to visit an ethanol plant.

In this video with Kelly Manning, vice president of development for Growth Energy, you can get your own virtual tour of the ethanol plant. The educational display was under glass and the ethanol plant was built to scale demonstrating the role feedstocks play in the production process as well as how the products are delivered from the plant.

MIT Researchers Convert Lead to Solar Power

Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.

Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading

RFA Making Inroads in Motorcycle Education

rfa-biker-bobbyConcluding the sixth year of sponsorship at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Buffalo Chip Campground, Robert White with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) believes they are making some real headway in getting the true story about ethanol to motorcycle riders.

“The education to the riders is actually taking on a new life,” said White. “We’re seeing riders talking to riders.”

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, White talks about a rider who pulled up for the Free Fuel Happy Hours who said he defended ethanol to his friends at the rally who told him it was a bad for his motorcycle. “He said ‘I kinda came unglued on them’,” he related. The biker told him that he had been talked in to using it at the rally the year before, and he’s “been using it this entire last year without any issue.”

In another case, White said a guy with a brand new Harley said he had been told by the dealer not to use ethanol and he wanted to get a response to that. “And I said why would you believe me?” White said. “I didn’t engineer your motorcycle, I didn’t put the parts together, I’m not providing a warranty for that motorcycle.” The man agreed, noting that neither did the dealership, but his owners manual from Harley in fact said he could use 10% ethanol. “Harley’s been doing this a long time, as have (other motorcycle manufacturers) they know what fuel is going to be most prominent, least expensive, highest octane option for these motorcycles, and it’s going to be ethanol.”

White says they are looking forward to next year, which will be the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where RFA will having an even bigger presence with an even bigger crowd.

Find our more about RFA making inroads in motorcycle education here:
Ethanol Report on Motorcycle Education

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Listen below to White’s interview with automotive expert Bobby Likis from Sturgis:

Bio Revolution America Uses Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is coming to biofuels. On August 3, 2014, Bio Revolution America launched a 45 day Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund its biofuels projects in Appalachia and within one week is reporting reaching 30 percent of their goal. The company has developed a Bio extractor machine that has they believe has the potential to change the face of biofuel manufacturing. The extractors are made in America, have six years of field testing and are patent pending.

According to Bio Revolution America, the machine extracts 100 percent carbon neutral bio oil and byproducts from plants using a cold oil extraction process. Cold oil extraction uses no chemicals or solvents and leaves everything in its natural, organic state. The bio-oil can then be used in foods, as biodiesel and the pressed meal can be used for cosmetics, medicine and more.

“There has probably never been a time in the history of America when something this important could happen,” said Bio Revolution America spokesperson Randall Richards. “Everyone wins! We help create jobs and income in the poorest parts of the U.S., We help save the environment, and become the world’s leader in pure, green, bio technology on a large scale!”

Upon reaching their Indiegogo funding goal they plan to help farmers in Appalachia plant seeds this fall so that the plants can be harvested in the spring 2015. The initial outreach is taking place in Appalachia, but will expand from there to the Midwest and Western U.S. in the next year.

ACE Awards Celebrate Power by People

Recipients of the annual awards presented last week by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) exemplified the organization’s new theme of “Power by People.”

ace14-gene-lacyGene Griffith of Patriot Renewable Fuels received the organization’s Grassroots Award from ACE Director of Member and Industry Relations Lacy Dixon. Griffith was recognized for the many ways Patriot has promoted ethanol to the public, including an electronic sign on the highway near the plant in Annawan, Illinois that features revolving messages about the benefits of ethanol. They also have been very active on social media with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Producers also have to help educate the public, as well as the industry associations,” said Griffith. Interview with Gene Griffith, Patriot Renewable Fuels

ace14-jerryRecognized for excellence in journalism was Jerry Perkins, editor with Biofuels Journal. Perkins was Farm Editor with the Des Moines Register for more than 15 years and says there is no conflict between him being a journalist and his support of ethanol.

This year’s Paul Dana Award went to Charlie Good, owner of the Good and Quick store in Nevada, Iowa. Good had a conflict and was unable to attend the ACE conference but I interviewed him in March at the ACE Fly-in where he told his story about deciding to offer higher blends at his store over his suppliers objections. “I had to de-brand because the oil company didn’t want that under their canopy,” said Good. “My sales are up 20-25% a month and of the gallons that they’re up, virtually all of it is the ethanol fuels.” Interview with Charlie Good, Iowa fuel retailer

As already noted, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) received the Merle Anderson Award this year, presented by Merle himself. The Father of Ethanol was in rare form as he presented the award to his congressman, as you can hear all of in the audio file and see a portion in the video below. Merle Anderson Presents Award to Rep. Collin Peterson

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

ACE Celebrates “Power by People”

This morning during the opening session of the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) launched a new campaign featuring the people of ethanol. Their redesigned website features personal and authentic stories of the people who built and continue to innovate the ethanol industry. In addition, ACE released a new video, “The Home Place”.

ace14-jennings“Instead of keeping the industry’s most valuable players on the bench and pouring all our trust and money into playing defense with facts-alone, ACE’s Power by People campaign features the compelling and positive stories of the individuals and families who built the ethanol industry and those who support and continue to benefit from ethanol,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings during his state of the union address this morning.

“The story of ethanol is a profile in courage about grassroots people who, without any precedent to guide them, set out with their families and neighbors to rescue their communities from economic disaster by building ethanol plants,” continued Jennings. “For far too long the stories of these people have gone untold, and that’s why ACE is launching the new Power by People campaign.”

Jennings said the organization has produced several video testimonials from people of all walks of life that ACE members can use to promote ethanol on their websites, through social media, and in meetings with the public. He also noted the group plans to continue and expand the campaign in the months ahead.

Listen to Jennings’ opening comments at the ACE conference: Brian Jennings, ACE Executive VP

View the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.

Amyris & GOL Take to the Skies with Biojet Fuel

Amyris along with Brazilian airline GOL have flown the industry’s first commercial flight with farnesane, a recently approved jet fuel. Flight 7725 left from Orlando, Florida July 30 at 5:15 pm ET and landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

GOL committed to fly its Boeing 737 fleet with up to a 10 percent blend of the renewable farnesane fuel starting with this initial flight on July 30, 2014. According to Amyris, Farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum fuels. When blended with Jet A/A1 fuel at 10 percent, farnesane can also reduce particulate matter emissions, decreasing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas.

The global aviation industry has committed to aggressive goals to reduce its GHG emissions, including achieving carbon neutral growth by 2020 and reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2005. In addition to improving the efficiency of airplanes and flight operations, this renewable biofuel represents a major opportunity for commercial aviation to reduce emissions. The approved renewable jet fuel is drop-in and can be blended directly with petroleum jet fuel without any changes to airplanes, engines or fueling infrastructure. Amyris will now begin to quantitatively measure the positive impact to GHG emissions and air quality with every flight using the renewable jet fuel.

Bringing Solar Power to Rural India

The Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have launched a new video series, “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India”. The series documents the health, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities living in Uttar Pradesh, India, a rural, low-income, off-the-electric-grid region that is rapidly becoming a hotbed of solar activity. The film provides a first-hand look at the companies seeking to make good on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide solar for all citizens by 2019.

“Hundreds of millions of low-income, rural Indians have been suffering from energy poverty for decades. With little access to reliable energy, they’re depending on dirty fossil fuels like kerosene to light their homes and that has serious health effects. Solar power is the key to ending energy poverty,” said Justin Guay, associate director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

This past spring, Guay traveled to Uttar Pradesh with Vrinda Manglik, Associate Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, and Andrew Satter, Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. They spent a week visiting innovative companies like Simpa Networks and OMC Power that deliver everything from LED lightbulbs to mobile phone charging with the help of innovative pay-as-you-go solutions. They also visited villages and interviewed people living beyond the grid and benefiting from companies expanding clean energy access.

According to Sierra Club, around the world, 1.4 billion people lack modern, reliable electricity; they are living in energy poverty. In India alone, approximately 400 million Indians are living in energy poverty. Those who do have power suffer from chronic unreliability issues as well as pollution from coal-fired power plants that kill more than 100,000 people every year. But innovative companies and entrepreneurs are creating a booming market for distributed energy beyond the grid in India and providing a clean and affordable energy source that is improving the health and quality of life for many people.

“Energy poverty is a hurdle for economic mobility and improving the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. Energy is necessary for social, economic, and environmental progress. Electricity access allows for lighting into the evening hours, which can be used for studying or running a business. It is required to keep schools open and health centers running,” added Rebecca Lefton, Senior Policy Analyst for CAP.

Leading up to the world premiere of the video, the Sierra Club and CAP released a series of behind-the-scenes video clips of their week in India, filmed using Google Glass. The technology was used for translations from Hindi to English, flight information, navigation, and the filming of parts of the video series.

Solutions to Threat Oil Poses for Armed Forces

A new video offers solutions to the threat oil poses for America’s armed forces and the nation’s security. The video was developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Truman National Security Project. The new video details the growing danger of oil use to the country’s national security. The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest institutional oil consumer, using more than 100 million barrels every year to power ships, vehicles, aircraft, and ground operations. That’s enough oil to drive around the Earth more than 4 million times. According to the two organizations, this high use leads to greater unpredictability for missions, especially given oil’s vulnerability to price swings on the world market.

“Moving fuel on the battlefield is dangerous and expensive,” said Michael Breen, a former Army captain and executive director at Truman. “A ten dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the military $1.3 billion — money we can’t use to accomplish our mission and protect our troops.”

The groups argue that despite oil industry advertising championing new domestic production, so called “new oil and gas” resources aren’t really new at all. And they are only available because the oil industry is now desperate enough to go after dirtier, more difficult and expensive oil than they were before. They they said is neither a sustainable solution for our armed forces or our country.

“As the era of cheap and easy oil comes to an end, the oil industry’s desperation for continuing profits has led to more and more destructive practices that are not solving the problems associated with oil use,Hybrid Humvee” said Siv Balachandran, an engineer and oil analyst at UCS. “The real solution is to use less oil.”

Balachandran and Breen noted that the armed forces are adopting new, innovative technologies to reduce oil use while creating a stronger, more effective fighting force. For example, the Navy uses biofuels made from algae and other advanced sources, while the Army is powering Humvees with hybrid-electric engines. These technologies could benefit civilians too.

“The country is already making progress on this front, with federal and state policies helping cars go farther on each gallon of gas and putting thousands of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road — saving the country money while reducing emissions and creating jobs, but the work is not done,” said Balachandran. “By supporting policies that cut oil use even further, we’ll keep America healthier, wealthier, and more secure.”

Breen added, “As the largest institutional consumer of fuel in the world, the U.S. military is leading the way in reducing oil use and investing in renewable options. That’s good for America’s budget and for national security. Our communities – the veterans and national security leaders of Operation Free, and the scientists of UCS – are united in supporting the military’s innovative clean energy solutions.”

Corn Interns Educate About E85 Cost

Illinois CornLet’s put those interns to work. That’s what Illinois Corn is doing. Interns Tim Marten, a student at SIU-Edwardsville, and Elizabeth O’Reilly, a student at ISU, have been tasked with creating short videos that promote corn. The internships are funded by two communications scholarships from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Here’s an example of one of them below. You can find others here.

The first video highlights how gas prices are determined, illustrating the cost that E85 SHOULD be at the pump when priced appropriately.

Don’t Turn Your Back on the RFS

With no end in sight on the turmoil in Iraq and oil prices and gas prices on the rise as a result, Americans United for Change (AUFC) have launched a new ad campaign encouraging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stay the course and not turn its back on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

‘Control’ will being airing on national cable stations including MSNBC, CNN and Fox News June 3, 2014 just head of the 4th of July weekend. The strategy is one designed to let people know that preserving the RFS and cheaper choices at the pump for Americans means more stability in gas prices even during times of turmoil in other countries.

The bottom line, says AUFC, now is not the time for the U.S. to slip further into dependency on foreign oil by discouraging ethanol and biodiesel production, which boosts our nation’s economy, rural communities, national security and environment.

Jeremy Funk, communications Director for Americans United for Change said of the new TV campaign, “If anything should give the EPA pause before deciding to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard, it’s the bubbling turmoil in Iraq. While the escalating violence has yet to significantly disrupt oil production in the region, just speculation that it will has already sent oil prices on their way to a 6-year high heading into the 4th of July weekend.”

Funk continued, “Any time there is unrest in oil-producing regions overseas, it’s a recipe for jittery markets and inflated oil prices back home. It’s the price American consumers pay at the pump again and again living in a nation so reliant on foreign oil. It’s the reason why the nation can’t afford to scale back the RFS now and put all of our eggs in Big Oil’s basket. Big Oil says ‘don’t worry, we’re producing more domestic oil than ever’, but they don’t mention it only amounts to a third of what Americans consume each day. Big Oil doesn’t mention they’re actively trying to widen the domestic supply vs demand gap by spending millions of dollars campaigning to put out of business their cheaper, cleaner renewable fuels competition that accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s gas supply.”

Dismantling the RFS, says Funk, would take away what protection American consumers do have from supply shortages, market whims and Middle East instability. He also notes that not continuing forward with the RFS would undermine America’s national security by requiring more imports from regions whose policies and interests often clash with our own.

This TV ad follows on the heels of several others all focused on keeping the RFS in place including ‘The Kingdom’, ‘Bottom Line’, ‘Simple Choice’, and ‘Why Mess With Success’.

Fight Over Clean Power Plan Gets Dirty

I’ve written a bit about the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from utility plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan has caused hope and consternation and both environmental groups and the utility industry is weighing in.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has cited a new disinformation campaign has been waged by “Big Polluters” who they say are intent on subverting the country’s first ever carbon pollution standards (aka, Clean Power Plan. In response, NRDC has launched a campaign of it’s own in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Study and National Mining Association (NMA) who say that putting limits on carbon will increase electricity prices. However, both the Washington Post and Denver Post have fact checked the study and claims and found some of them to be false.

“The real truth is: We need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign.

NRDC launched the ad on national television outlets and digital platforms to challenge critics of carbon pollution standards proposed on June 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The standards, when finalized says NRDC, can reduce carbon pollution at least 30 percent by 2030 by empowering states and utility companies to work together to make reductions in the most cost-effective way for each state.

In addition to debunking opponents’ claims, the NRDC ad goes after Big Polluters’ efforts to undermine energy efficiency initiatives in a number of states. For example, utility and fossil fuel-funded front groups peddled disinformation to attempt a freeze on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2014.

But ramping up energy efficiency, NRDC has shown, can help accomplish the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and help consumers. NRDC recently released an analysis showing that strong limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, can put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.

Sierra Club Launches Wind Energy Jobs Ad Campaign

With uncertainty around the major federal wind incentive, the Sierra Club has launched a national ad campaign urging Congress to reauthorize the critical incentive for domestic wind energy investments. The campaign focuses on Members of Congress with wind manufacturing jobs in their districts and states that are at risk of the Wind Production Tax Credit is not renewed.

The first wave of ads targets 20 House members who have been silent as the Wind Production Tax Credit has expired, and involves a television advertisement targeting Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) as well as geo-targeted online ad buys in 20 other districts. These members represent districts and states with a growing wind industry who have not taken a position in support of extending the federal Production Tax Credit for Renewable Energy. In most cases, they have taken no position at all.

The Wind Production Tax Credit expired at the end of last year, in part, said the Sierra Club, because of new opposition from groups backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers and other dirty fuels interests who’ve also fought to preserve the $4 billion in annual tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

“The Wind Production Tax credit is arguably one of the best bets we’ve made on clean, domestic energy,” said Dave Hamilton, Director of Clean Energy for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “It encourages huge investments, creates good American jobs, helps our country become more energy independent, and cuts air and water pollution. But many in Congress are failing to act, leaving thousands of American workers and communities across the country blowing in the wind.”

The wind industry employs more than 80,000 American workers and produces enough clean energy to power 15 million homes. It saves more than 30 billion gallons of fresh water each year compared with other energy sources. According to the American Wind Energy Association, if growth remains steady, the industry will produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030. Continue reading

CSP: ELEMENTS Awarded to Southern Research Institute

Southern Research Institute has signed a jointly funded cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the DOE’s new Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS) funding program. The program is part of the SunShot Initiative. CSP: ELEMENTS supports the development of high-temperature thermochemical energy storage (TCES) systems that enable concentrating solar power plants to produce electricity in the evenings and even overnight when the sun is no longer shining.

“Southern Research Institute is excited and honored to be selected by DOE for this project,” said Michael D. Johns, vice president engineering at Southern Research Institute. “We are proud to be recognized for our leadership in alternative energy, and the development of this innovative thermochemical storage system is in great alignment with the work at our recently established Southeast Solar Research Center, where we design, test, and validate technologies throughout the solar energy spectrum.”

CSP technology employs mirrors that concentrate reflected sunlight onto receivers containing heat transfer fluids. From there, the fluids are used to heat water, which in turn generates steam that is used to power turbines and produce electricity. By adding thermal storage to these facilities they are able to operate at significantly higher capacity factors and produce approximately double the energy for the same size power facility. In addition, the production of electricity can be shifted to occur at the same time as peak power demand, making the electricity much more valuable.

More specifically, the Southern Research Institute project will develop a TCES system that uses a low-cost calcium-based sorbent in a reversible closed-loop endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle. The system stores energy during mid-day when sunlight is plentiful in the endothermic step, and then releases energy when the sun is no longer shining during the exothermic step, allowing for electricity to be produced in a more stable and consistent fashion. This TCES system is projected to cost less than a current state-of-the-art molten salt storage systems, and will be able to store the same amount of energy in a system about one-sixth the size. Continue reading

ECOZ & CDP to Accelerate Renewable Energy

ECOHZ and CDP have signed a partnership to create an open source standard for ECOHZ’s GO² product, allowing other providers around the world to offer this new solution and participate in advancing renewable power generation. The product allows enterprises to track their renewable power consumption as well as develop new renewable generation. ECOHZ says with this system, companies will be able to send a clear signal to the market of what energy type is preferred. In addition, the companies using the technology will also be helping to finance the deployment of new renewable power.

ECOHZ is a provider in Europe of Guarantees of Origin (GO), the only way to document renewable energy from production to consumption. CDP is an international NGO that works with investors, companies, and governments to drive environmental disclosure and action to deliver sustainable economies.

“The EU Parliament’s recent vote in favour of a new law governing corporate reporting of non-financial information, and increased political pressure for everyone to respond to climate change, make enterprises look for certified solutions to stand out with their commitment to sustainability,” said Nigel Topping Executive Director of CDP. “GO and now GO2, are solutions that enable enterprises to take concrete steps to consume renewable energy, and even contribute to building new renewable sources. ECOHZ is the leader in this market and we are excited about the opportunities we see for our partnership.”

There has been a call for more transparency from companies on their non-financial performance and contribution to sustainable development. With climate change issues, governments, regulators and investors are all looking for concrete ways to measure performance. This solution delivers that means of measurement by building on the GO system and bundling renewable energy consumption with a contribution to new renewable energy production. GO² unleashes power plant projects previously blocked due to lack of financing. GO² is a new way to achieve energy neutrality through the creation of new renewable production accessible to corporations that want the lead the way to a cleaner energy future.

Tom Lindberg, Managing Director in ECOHZ AS, added, “We experience increasing interest from large enterprises for documented renewable energy. With GO2 we give increased choice to companies who want to be a leader in sustainability and actively communicate it to their stakeholders. By joining forces with CDP, a global organization accelerating action to achieve sustainable economies, we will drive increased awareness among leading corporates of the opportunities for purchasing documented renewable energy, and linking this directly to the building of additional renewable power capacity.”