This morning Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, will give his annual state of the ethanol industry speech at the 2013 National Ethanol Conference, scheduled for 8:15am pacific time. We’re streaming it live for you. Just click on the play button to watch. There may be a short commercial to sit through to get started. Thank you.
Post Update: Here is the recording of this morning’s speech:
We will fight for biofuels was the key message delivered by both Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during the opening session of the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit, hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). As IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said during his remarks, 2013 will be a pivotal year for biofuels. Both Reynolds and Branstad said they would fight for the future of renewable fuels in both Iowa and at the federal level.
During her remarks Reynolds noted that the renewable fuels industry supports more than 82,000 jobs in Iowa and this is growing. However, she noted, the state must have a robust and skilled workforce if Iowa’s economy is to continue to thrive. She said they are working to close the skills gap that exists in Iowa today with their Skilled Iowa Initiative.
Branstad reiterated the economic role the renewable fuels industry plays in Iowa and around the country and said they the industry must continue to fight for the truth with facts.
“There are a lot of lies and misinformation, especially on the east coast and west coast and we in the Midwest have to fight for this industry which is so important,” said Branstad. “Having been Governor during the farm crisis of the 80s I know the difference between a strong, renewable fuels industry, and when we didn’t have it. We don’t want to go back to those bad old days.”
The winners of the 3rd Annual High School Renewable Fuels Video Contest hail from Muscatine, Iowa and wow are they clever. Alli Burns, Ana Arzate and Sariah Garrido of Muscatine took the top price in the “Fuel the Future” video contest for high school students that was sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) awarded the team its $1,000 prize during the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit. The video, titled “Fuel the Future” beat 37 other entries.
Second place, and winner of a $600 prize, was awarded to Sam Fathallah of Marion, Iowa for his video entitled, “Why You Should Use Ethanol 15.” Fathallah is an eleventh grader at Linn-Mar High School.
Third place was awarded to Drew Laviada-Garmon and Tiler Lemkau of Muscatine for their “Gangnam Style” spoof entitled, “E15 Style.” The two Muscatine High School seniors won $400 for their video.
“The renewable fuels industry needs to look no further than the IRFA YouTube page for its next big promotional video,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “The IRFA congratulates the ‘Fuel the Future’ winners as well as each of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this contest.”
So for those of you reading our blog who live outside of the U.S., let me give you a little context to the video. It is a superb spoof of an ASPCA commercial, a non profit that rescues animals, that featured Sarah McLachlan and her hit song “In the Arms of the Angels”.
Year two is underway in the EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future, competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors. The program offers students hands-on experience in designing future cars. The competition began in 2011 and during year one, the competition emphasized the use of math-based design tools and simulation techniques in establishing vehicle foundation.
In year two, students will be challenged to reduce the environmental impact of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, donated by GM. The teams must do this without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability. In years two and three, students will build the vehicle and continue to refine, test and improve vehicle operation.
During the three-year program, General Motors provides production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. DOE and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support. By sponsoring Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, GM and the DOE are developing the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Start off the new year with some solar education. According to The Solar Foundation, and the third annual National Solar Jobs Census report, the U.S. solar industry currently employs 119,016 people. Over the past month alone, the industry has seen a 13.2 percent growth rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 1 in 230 jobs created nationally during 2012 were created in the solar industry.
In anticipation for training the much needed workforce, Solar Energy International (SEI) offers a professional certificate program out of the Solar Photovoltaic lab facility in Paonia, Colorado and also online. While on-site, hands-on learning is still a core part of the program, students can take their prerequisites online and then finish off the program in the PV lab during the summer.
“We have hundreds of students travel to our world-class Solar Photovoltaic (PV) lab facility in Paonia, Colorado every year. The interest continues to increase every year and we needed to find a way to offer flexible educational opportunities that would allow our students to get their prerequisite course work completed so they could come to the week long hands-on labs in the summer,” said Kathy Swartz, Interim Executive Director for SEI.
“The SEI Online Campus has made this training a reality for thousands of people from all over the world while maintaining SEI’s rigorous quality standards of teaching and learning,” she added.
The 2013 Online Solar Training Schedule is now available and the new session kicks off January 14.
Several wind energy tax credits have been extended with the passage of the bill to avert the “fiscal cliff”. The tax credits are estimated to save up to 37,000 jobs while reviving business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Both the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects will help the wind energy industry continue to grow. The bill will cover all wind projects that start construction in 2013.
Energy produced from wind set a new record in 2012 with 44 percent of new electrical generation coming from wind energy according the Energy Information Administration. Despite this accomplishment, the uncertainty over the future of the tax credits caused many manufacturing companies to idle production lines and lay off workers. AWEA said uncertain federal policies have caused a “boom-bust” cycle in U.S. wind energy development for more than a decade. A long-term commitment to policy, including the PTC could end this cycle.
“On behalf of all the people working in wind energy manufacturing facilities, their families, and all the communities that benefit, we thank President Obama and all the members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014,” said outgoing AWEA CEO Denise Bode.
Rob Gramlich, who becomes the AWEA interim CEO on January 2, 2013 added, “Now we can continue to provide America with more clean, affordable, homegrown energy, and keep growing a new manufacturing sector that’s now making nearly 70 percent of our wind turbines in the U.S.A.”
I spent the weekend in the Twin Cities attending several environmental events. The first event was a screening of the documentary Chasing Ice, produced by environmental photographer James Balog who founded Extreme Ice Survey. It is hard for me to put my emotions into words after watching this moving. It was simultaneously incredibly beautiful and yet horrific. Beautiful in that the imagery of the ice was stunning and horrific because the crew caught on film the melting of glaciers.
James Balog, along with several teams, installed 25 cameras in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana and over the course of three plus years, the cameras took photos every 20-30 minutes and as I write this, have taken thousands of photos of the glaciers. Every six months, the teams traveled in oftentimes heralding weather to check the cameras, take additional photos and video and switch out memory cards. The results was stunning time lapse photography - who knew that ice could be so beautiful.
Yet what might have been most amazing, was that his cameras and crew caught what is to believed the largest calving incident ever recorded on film. A portion of a glacier in Greenland broke off (nearly the size of Manhattan) over the course of 75 minutes. It was amazing to watch but then the reality of what you are witnessing takes hold - watching the disappearance of the glaciers. While glaciers have calved for centuries, they typically stay about the same in size – one piece breaks off while more ice forms. Yet today, these glaciers are not being replenished, per say, they are vanishing.
One element of the film that could be most interesting, was that James Balog began as a climate skeptic and now believes that climate change is real, and a major part of it is caused by human actions. For those who already believe in climate change, or those who continue to be climate skeptics, this is a must see film. And for those climate skeptics who still deny that climate change is real after seeing this film, well then nothing will change your mind. (I would like to thank the Will Steger Foundation for providing 840 free tickets to see Chasing Ice).
DuPont has officially broken ground on its $200 million cellulosic biorefinery. When complete in mid-2014, it is expected to be one of the first and largest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world. Once fully operational, the facility will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corn stover residues. The company is also adapting its technology for use with other feedstocks such as switchgrass. Using data derived from its pilot facility in Tennessee has allowed DuPont to further minimize process and maximize technology. Once refined, its fully integrated end-to-end production system will be available to license globally.
The cellulosic biorefinery is situated adjacent to Lincolnway Energy in Nevada, Iowa. Joining James C. Collins, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, were representatives of the ethanol plant as well as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
“During my previous terms as governor, we were excited to bring ethanol production to the state. After many hard years of work by Iowa growers and technology companies like DuPont, Iowa now leads the country in renewable fuel production,” said Governor Branstad. This site in Nevada is the next critical step in our cellulosic ethanol journey. We look forward to bringing these advanced technologies online, creating local jobs and helping to deliver clean, sustainable energy.”
DuPont will contract with more than 500 local farmers to gather, store and deliver over 375,000 dry tons of stover per year into the Nevada facility. In addition to the estimated 60 full-time plant operations jobs, there will be over 150 individuals involved in the collection, stacking, transportation and storage of the stover feedstock seasonally during each harvest. The stover will be collected from an approximate 30 mile radius around the new facility and harvested off of 190,000 acres. Read the rest of this post…
The third annual “Fuel the Future” video contest, sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels, for Iowa high school students has begun. This year, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is searching for the best student-produced “campaign-ad” video that educates Iowans on why they should choose E15 and or biodiesel at the pump. The top three video entries will win prices in the amount of $1,000, $600 and $400 and winning videos will be debuted during the 2013 Iowa Renewable Fuel Summit on January 30, 2013.
“The polls may be closed in Iowa, but IRFA is asking Iowa high school students to keep the election cycle going by creating a campaign-ad video encouraging consumers to choose E15 and biodiesel at the pump in 2013,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “With attacks from ethanol and biodiesel opponents ramping up, we can’t wait to see how Iowa high school students set the record straight on renewable fuels. And we hope all Iowans will vote with their fuel tanks by asking for E15 and biodiesel in 2013.”
The “Fuel the Future” contest is limited to students currently attending high school (grades 9-12 in a public, private or home school) in Iowa. Video entries should not exceed two minutes in length and should be submitted to IRFA via DVD, flash drive, or secure web link. All completed video entries must be received in the IRFA office by January 18, 2013, to be considered for the contest.
For more information, including the official entry form and contest rules, please visit the Fuel the Future website. The winning video from last year’s contest, produced by Sam Ennis of Ames High School and titled “I Got You Ethanol”.
High school senior Jason Girouard from Brimfield, Massachusetts has won the Ethanol Rocks video contest sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association. Girouard was awarded $1,500. Freshman Emily Yue from Gilford, Connecticut and senior Lewis Kloster of Minneapolis, Minnesota were both awarded second-place honor and $500 a piece.
“The purpose of the contest was to get youth interested in learning about renewable fuel while having fun,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis. “However, I think we may have turned a few of the more inquisitive kids into ethanol evangelists. The enthusiasm about their learning experience was the biggest payoff of the project.”
Students from across the U.S. submitted entries and learned a bit more about ethanol along the way. Many focused on co-products produced during the ethanol production process such as distillers grains and CO2 used to carbonated beverages. Yet what judges found most intriguing was seeing the experiences of an urban American who walked into a corn field for the first time.
For those of you who are slacking off this afternoon and surfing the web looking for cool stories about renewable energy, well look no further. I have found the current greatest idea of the month: converting compost into fuel and then fueling cars made out of compost. Are you hooked?
Okay, so this is really not a real technology. The Onion is currently doing a spoof on Ted Talks and their lastest installment is on the greatest energy innovation of all time – compost. And it’s hilarious. The “innovator” says, “So how does it work? It’s quite simple. Instead of using gas, it uses compost.” He calls this concept, “compostization,” which he then describe the implementation plan. And leaves the fake audience with this thought to mull over, “Behind every great achievement is a visionary. I’ll be your visionary and you do the things I come up with.”
Yes, I must admit, I too would like to be your visionary and have everyone else do my work. That would be awesome!
I’m sure some of you are going to want to post a comment or send me an email or tweet that says it’s not funny to joke about something as serious as the need for new alternative energy sources. While I am an adamant believer that we do need to continue to develop innovatives technologies to produce energy, we also need to take a moment and be a less bit serious and have a little fun at our expense. And compost cars is just the ticket. I leave you with this famous quote, “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves.”
Florida-based Genuine Bio-Fuel says it has developed a new production process that refines biodiesel fuel in seconds using ultrasonic shearing technologies. Traditionally, it takes several hours to produce biodiesel using batch reactors and the result, says the company, is varying qualities of biodiesel, by-products, water consumption and contaminated water discharge. Genuine Bio-Fuel says using this technology limits future technological advancement.
“Batch reactors are too cumbersome and limiting, said Executive Vice President Jeff Longo. The batch process is time consuming, taking anywhere from a couple of hours to days to complete. Plus, it is not conducive for using a variety of alternative feedstocks of variable quality.”
The company invested in developing a new technology that would reduce operational costs, reduce energy usage and produce high quality fuel. The result was to use ultrasonic shearing that uses sound waves to bond a catalyst to feedstock, which creates a chemical reaction.
During the ultrasonic process, according to the company, the feedstock and catalyst are simultaneously added to the tank and passed through a chamber of ultrasonic sound waves. These sound waves jumble the elements so violently that they become instantly bonded together. After this reaction, the mixture flows into another tank where any remaining raw components will be expelled through a centrifuge – unlike the batch process, which uses water. From there the fuel is passed through an ion exchange polishing tank to polish the final product.
Longo says today Genuine Bio-Fuel is the only plant that truly uses continuous-flow, ultrasonic, shear-mixing technology to product biodiesel. In the process, the company also cut production time and costs, it energy use is about 60 percent below industry average, and there is no need for excessive heat and pressure.
It’s called the EBDI – Extreme Boost Direct Injection – and it may be the “little engine that could” revolutionize the automotive world to produce cars that get drastically improved fuel mileage while optimizing the higher octane properties of ethanol.
The engine was developed by Ricardo, Inc., and it was on display for automotive mechanics and technicians at the 2012 Congress of Automotive Service and Repair last week in New Orleans. Attendees were able to see the engine in model form and in a GMC Sierra testbed. Ricardo representatives, including Chris Talware (left) and Dr. Matti Vint, were on hand to talk with those at the event and participate in live broadcasts of the Bobby Likis Car Clinic Network from the trade show floor.
Vint says they designed the engine to run efficiently on straight gasoline up to 85% ethanol. “We got good savings with both E-0 as well as E-85, so we designed engines to be flex fuel capable,” said Vint, explaining how they used a systems approach that adjusted a number of variables to increase the “sweet spot” area of the engine.
“The net result is we’ve gotten equivalent performance of a 6.7 liter diesel engine that is in the Sierra truck with a 3.2 liter gasoline engine,” said Talware. That enables what they call “extreme downsizing” that allows it to be scalable to perform in a variety of applications. “The same technology could be applied to a tourist size vehicle, with a 1.4 liter engine,” said Vint. It’s also scalable in terms of market, whether it’s agricultural, light duty trucks or passenger vehicles.
A panel consisting of an automotive technician, an automotive engineer and an ethanol industry representative had the opportunity to bust some myths about ethanol at the National Automotive Service Task Force meeting in New Orleans on Saturday.
Renewable Fuels Association Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis, Ricardo Chief Engineer for powertrain controls Dr. Matti Vint, and automotive talk show host/service center owner Bobby Likis each addressed one myth about ethanol related to the vehicle industry.
Vint busted the myth that ethanol ruins engine performance by detailing the benefits of the fuel’s higher octane rating, which is a measure of its anti-knock properties. “The higher octane, the higher the cylinder pressure you can operate without causing destructive damage to the engine,” he said. “So high octane is good for extracting the maximum performance of the engine and improving the efficiency.” He explained how designing engines like the Ricardo EBDI (Extreme Boost Direct Injection) engine will better utilize ethanol’s higher octane rating.
Likis busted the myth that ethanol poses repair and service problems. “In the 41 years I’ve been in the automotive service business, I’ve never had a single engine fail as a result of ethanol,” he said, noting that engines have been designed to run on E10 for the past 30 years.
Finally, Davis busted the myth that consumers don’t want choice at the pump. “A recent survey complete by American Viewpoint showed 61% were in favor of replacing imported fossil fuel dependency with renewable fuels like ethanol,” Davis said, pointing out that the approval of E15 allows more options for model year 2001 and newer vehicles.