E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $50 Mil Per Year

irfaIowa drivers could save a lot of money if they had better access to E15. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that if the higher blend of ethanol was widely available, Iowa drivers could save more than $50 million per year in fuel costs.

In its annual report on retail fuel sales, Iowa Department of Revenue data shows Iowa motorists purchased more than 1.2 billion gallons of E10. E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), representing more than 80 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S. On average, E15 is typically sold at a 5-cent discount to E10 in Iowa.

An IRFA analysis found that even with abnormally low petroleum prices:

· If only 20 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $12.7 million per year

· If a modest 50 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $31.7 million per year.

· If 80 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans would save $50.7 million per year.

“The economics are simple: the more Iowa motorists that have access to and are able to take advantage of low-cost E15, the more money consumers save,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Price is a big motivator when it comes to buying fuel, and cleaner-burning E15 is consistently priced at a discount to E10. If motorists across the state were able to utilize this safe, economical fuel, Iowa drivers would literally save millions of dollars of their hard-earned money, enabling them to spend it elsewhere in the state.”

IRFA reminds drivers that more than 100 million miles have successfully been driven on E15, and the higher blend of the green fuel is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, as well as flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

New Report Highlights Bioenergy’s Sustainability

SCOPEA new report shows the positive relationship between bioenergy and sustainability. The research from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and developed under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) is based on more than 2,000 references and major studies taking a comprehensive look at the current bioenergy landscape, technologies and practices.

Considering an extensive evaluation of current bioenergy resources status, systems and markets, potential sustainable expansion and wider adoption of this renewable resource the authors highlight recommendations for policy and deployment of bioenergy options: liquid biofuels, bioelectricity, biogas, heat, bio-based chemicals.

This assessment is a collective effort with contributions from more than 130 experts from 24 countries, encompassing scientific studies ranging from land use and feedstocks, to technologies, impacts, benefits and policy.

The authors considered how bioenergy expansion and its impacts perform on energy, food, environmental and climate security, sustainable development and the innovation nexus in both developed and developing regions. The report also highlights numbers, solutions, gaps in knowledge and suggests the science needed to maximize bioenergy benefits.

The panel discussion with the release of the report included experts from academia, industry and NGOs presenting and discussing the current status and trends in biomass production and its possible implications for policy, communication and innovation strategies for a sustainable future.

Biodiesel Use on the Rise in Iowa

irfaBiodiesel continues to be a pretty popular fuel in Iowa. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s revenue department data shows pure biodiesel (B100) sales in 2014 increased by more than 15 percent over 2013 to an all-time-high of 33.3 million gallons and now accounts for 4.6 percent of Iowa’s total diesel supply, up slightly from 2013.

Additionally, biodiesel is blended into almost 50 percent of all diesel sold, with an average blend level that climbed to 9.4 percent. The increased average blend level is largely due to a sizeable shift amongst retailers from B10 (10 percent biodiesel) in 2013 to B20 (20 percent biodiesel) in 2014.

“In the face of severe federal policy uncertainty, Iowa’s retailers and diesel users remained committed to cleaner-burning biodiesel in 2014,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the expiration of the federal biodiesel tax credit and uncertainty over the RFS, the increases in biodiesel sales and blending rates demonstrates the effectiveness of Iowa’s forward-thinking state policies. Policy makers in Iowa have wisely decided that cracking the petroleum monopoly cannot be left to federal policies alone – too much is at stake for Iowa’s economy and consumers. If the feds can reinstate the blenders’ tax credit and reenergize the RFS, Iowa will no doubt see even bigger gains in replacing foreign oil with homegrown biodiesel.”

Iowa has also shown its commitment to biodiesel by providing a tax credit to retailers selling B5 and higher blends, and starting this summer, Iowans buying B11 and higher blends will pay 3 cents per gallon less in state fuel taxes.

Tractor Cab Powered by Propane

2016_Ford_F650_chassis1A new conversion to a truck running on propane is showing just how easy and cost saving the fuel can be. Alliance AutoGas showcased the Ford F-650/F-750 tractor cab featuring a new product innovation – the Bi-Fuel AutoGas System – at the recent AutoGas Pavilion at the NPGA Propane Expo in Atlanta.

Westport’s Prins VSI system “plug and play” conversion on the 2016 Ford F650/F-750 is precedent setting in that no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring is required. The Bi Fuel Autogas system conversion of the F-650/F-750 features these critical components:

Costs less than its diesel or dedicated propane counterparts.

Reduces fleet operating costs by as much as 30%.

The new Bobtail conversion comes in at a lower cost than its diesel counterpart.

Offers increased range while reducing fuel costs.

“Best in Class” warranty of five years or 100,000 miles.

This plug-and-play conversion cuts the propane system’s installation time by half—about six hours—compared to a typical 12 to 14-hour installation time for any predecessor.

Hillary Clinton Talks with Ethanol Supporters in Iowa

ARF-LogoDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been meeting with supporters around Iowa this week since declaring her candidacy on Sunday and Wednesday had private meeting with ethanol supporters to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Mrs. Clinton met with farmer leaders and America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge, former lieutenant governor and agriculture secretary for Iowa. “We had about an hour with her and had a very good discussion with her,” said Judge in an interview after the meeting. “I felt very good after our conversation.”

Judge says Clinton was very receptive. “I believe that she was supportive of the Renewable Fuel Standard and supportive of continuing the research and development in renewable fuel and renewable energy that we started here in Iowa.”

Clinton supported the RFS when she ran for president in 2007 and Judge expects that to be the case this time as well. “I would like to get her out to see an ethanol plant and see how it works and I think we’ll have that opportunity this summer,” said Judge.

Listen to my interview with Judge here: Interview with Patty Judge, America's Renewable Future co-chair

RFA Welcomes New California E85 Station

RFANewlogoCalifornia is getting its latest E85 station in Calimesa. The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the partnership between Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company, a station that will be selling E85 for just 85 cents a gallon today (Wednesday, April 15).

Robert White, vice president of industry relations at the Renewable Fuels Association, commented, “It is great to see the second largest flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) market get more E85 stations. RFA congratulates Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company for identifying the need to bring this low-cost, cleaner-burning, alternative fuel throughout California. Consumers are searching for options, and many will now find E85.”

Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company have announced 13 new E85 stations slated for California.

NFU Disturbed by Renewable Energy Funding Cuts

nfu_logo1The National Farmers Union (NFU) is expressing its disappointment in proposed cuts to federal spending on renewable energy. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water spending subcommittee’s voted to reduce funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to building climate resilience, and many of our rural communities experience much-needed reinvestment from renewable energy development.” Johnson said. “Congress should increase, not cut, funds for renewable energy.”

Johnson noted that America’s family farmers and ranchers are already impacted by increased weather volatility related to the changing climate, including fewer workable days, increased potential for soil erosion, and increased crop insurance claims, and without support for renewables, they may have to brace for additional negative consequences.

“Other consequences, including fluctuating access to water resources and increased pest and weed pressure, will impact our efforts to produce sufficient food, fuel and fiber,” Johnson noted. “Renewable energy will also, in the long term, offer protection against volatile rates and contribute to our nation’s energy independence.”

Study Shows Ethanol’s Positive Economic Impact

neethanolboardA new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth over the last 20 years is tenfold. This news release from the Nebraska Ethanol Board says the “Economic Impacts of the Ethanol Industry in Nebraska” also reveals ethanol in the state is producing 2,077 million gallons per year with 1,301 full-time employees at 24 facilities, and with the green fuel and dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) from the ethanol production, it is putting $4 billion to more than $6.6 billion into the economy.

“The quantifiable economic impact of ethanol production on the Nebraska economy is clear,” said Paul Kenney, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “But we should also understand the enormous savings in health and environmental costs associated with displacing toxic petroleum products with cleaner burning biofuels like ethanol. Choosing ethanol fuels brings additional cost savings in terms of our health.”

Nebraska’s large ethanol production results in 96 percent (1.805 billion gallons) being shipped out of state and makes Nebraska one of the largest exporters of bioenergy. In addition, 58 percent of DDGS produced in 2014 were shipped out of state. These out-of-state shipments result in a net positive for the state and represent a direct economic impact by bringing new money into the state economy.

The study noted that Nebraska’s ethanol industry could be affected by emerging trends and at least four are worth watching – the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2), the extraction of corn oil, and world export markets for both ethanol and DDGS.

Many of these upcoming trends will be discussed later this week during the annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 16-17.

House E15 Waiver Bill Introduced

adrian-smithCongressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has introduced legislation to expand the existing waiver of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of motor vehicle fuel to include 15% ethanol blended gasoline (E15) in addition to E10.

EPA regulations currently curtail retail sales of E15 during the summer months. “Ethanol provides consumers in Nebraska and across America with a competitive, clean, domestically-produced alternative,” Smith said. “However, burdensome EPA regulations are restricting consumers’ options at the fuel pump.

EPA granted a waiver for E10 in 1990 and Smith’s bill would extend this waiver to also include E15.

“Though E10 received a waiver decades ago, the same regulatory relief has not yet been extended to E15,” said Smith. “We must pursue an all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes ethanol and other renewable fuels, by reducing red tape and encouraging innovation in the energy marketplace.”

“We applaud this effort by Congressman Smith to establish greater consumer choice and to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “We are hopeful that Congressman Smith’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

The legislation is similar to a bill introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Iowa Gov Branstad to Address BIO World Congress

biologoLongtime advocate for biobased fuels Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will speak at this summer’s Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) World Congress in Montreal, Canada. This news release from BIO says Branstad is slated to speak during the July 20 plenary session titled, “State and Regional Approaches to Developing the Biobased Economy.”

“Governor Terry Branstad is a true champion of our industry and the creation of a national biobased economy. He has voiced support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, advanced policies at the state level for a stronger rural bioeconomy and supported more research to advance second-generation biofuels,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “BIO could not imagine a better person than Governor Branstad to kick off the world’s largest conference on industrial biotechnology.”

“Governor Branstad has regularly provided leadership in articulating the importance of the biotechnology industry to our state,” said Joe Hrdlicka, executive director, Iowa Biotech Association. “We’re thrilled he will have the opportunity to share Iowa’s vision at such a critical industry event with an international audience.”

“Iowa is the nation’s premier leader in the renewable fuels industry and is capitalizing on its success in agriculture and its research capabilities in plant, animal and human biosciences to build a thriving biosciences industry within the state,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Iowa’s bioscience enterprises are discovering the innovations that will spur future economic growth and create jobs, improving the quality of life for people on a global scale — Governor Branstad is poised to tell our story.”

More information on the conference is available at www.bio.org/worldcongress.

Motor Clubs Make Pitch for E15

ace-flyin-15-hammondThe management of both the Association Motor Club Marketing (AMCM) and the Travelers Motor Club are making their pitch for the higher blend of ethanol known as E15. The American Coalition for Ethanol quotes AMCM Owner Gene Hammond from a blog post he wrote shortly after taking part on the “Biofuels Beltway March” fly-in (and speaking with Domestic Fuel), where he was part of ethanol advocates who visited 17 congressional offices in Washington, D.C.

Hammond writes: “That E15 hasn’t caused any damage to cars is no surprise to us, because during our entire time in the motor club business, we’ve never had a complaint about any blend of ethanol in gasoline, period.”

“But the critics and the E15 ghost stories haven’t gone away, so we did our part recently by meeting with Members of Congress about what we’ve seen, and more importantly what we haven’t seen, from the usage of E15 by our motor club members. If the anti-E15 predictions and warnings Congress has heard for the last two years were true, the people who had those problems would be well known to you by now.

But the charges aren’t true. We let Congress know how safe this fuel is. We don’t think motorists should be forced to use any fuel, but what the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) does is give every driver in the United States the option to buy a quality American made product like the E15 fuel blend if they choose.

More fuel choices mean more competition and that means our members save at the pump.”

Hammond’s entire blog post is available here.

Oakland Biodiesel Plant Gets $3.4 Million State Grant

Viridis1A California biodiesel maker is getting a $3.4 million grant to build and operate a refinery in Oakland. Viridis Fuels, LLC, is the benefactor of the California Energy Commission grant that will help the company turn fats, oils and greases into 20 million gallons of biodiesel each year.

The Viridis website says the company will use state-of-the-art technology that delivers 100 percent yields from the feedstock with virtually no contaminated waste water discharge.

The selected refining process, which includes degumming, bleaching, cold soak filtration, transesterification and esterification, can process even the most problematic multiple feedstocks to achieve an ASTM 6751 Grade finished product, in a plant with BQ-9000 Certification, that satisfies and exceeds all state and federal quality standards.

Highlights of the technology process

– Waterless patented resin technology, proven through operation of over 34 plants worldwide, virtually eliminates the need to handle back-end contaminated water.
– Multi-feedstock capability converts even the most problematic waste feedstocks and eliminates dependence on the availability and susceptibility to price changes of a single source of raw material.
– Sulfur and heavy metals removal which had been a serious challenge for earlier processing technologies.
– 100% Free Fatty Acid (FFA) conversion with no stripping so that no raw material is lost in processing.

The plant will use tallow; waste fats, oils and grease (FOG), yellow grease, virgin oils as needed and appropriate and purpose-grown crops and algae as they develop.

to construct and operate a biodiesel production facility in Oakland. This facility will produce up to 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually from fats, oils and grease.

Wilks Equipment Backs New Biodiesel Blend Method

infracal-2-and-infraspec-for-biofuels1Measuring the amount of biodiesel have been limited to Methods D7371 and EN 14078 which required FTIR spectrometers, putting expensive equipment in precarious positions either on a loading dock or in a truck. That’s why maker of analytical equipment, including biodiesel analyzers, Wilks is now backing the move to the ASTM D7861 biodiesel blend method and has the hardware that fits the bill.

Filter-based infrared analyzers, such as the Wilks InfraCal 2 Biodiesel Blend Analyzer and InfraSpec VFA-IR Spectrometer, are rugged, compact and much better suited for the environment where fuels are blended. Therefore, Wilks championed the new ASTM D7861 method which provides a fast, easy-to-use and inexpensive infrared method for measuring biodiesel (FAME-Fatty Acid Methyl Esters) in biodiesel.

The InfraSpec VFA-IR Spectrometer is a spectral range analyzer which contains a linear variable filter and a detector array covering the wavelength range of 5.4-10.8 μm (1850-925 cm-1) making it compliant with the instrument requirements of ASTM D7861. The InfraSpec Spectrometer can not only measure biodiesel in diesel, but also ethanol in gasoline and water in ethanol. It is a compact, portable instrument with a simplified PC interface that provides non-technical personnel with the ability to make measurements on-site at the blending terminal, fuel pump or laboratory where an ASTM method is required. The PC interface also provides data storage and transmission and the Wavemetrics Igor Pro package gives more sophisticated users the option to go beyond the simplified user interface for full spectral analyses. The test takes less than a minute and the measurement range is 0 to 100% with an accuracy of +/- 0.20 %.

Wilks also offers the InfraCal 2 Biodiesel Blend Analyzer, a rugged, compact, fixed-filter infrared analyzer. While is does not comply with D7861, results compare with D7371, EN 14078, and the new D7861 biodiesel blend methods.

EPA Sets Timeline for RFS Volume Requirements

epa-150Under a court settlement with the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced they will propose the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations by June 1, 2015, and issue the final 2014 and 2015 RFS blending targets by November 30, 2015. In addition, EPA will also release the proposed 2016 RFS RVOs by June 1 and the 2016 numbers will be finalized by Nov. 30.

The biofuels industry reacted immediately to the announcement. “This consent agreement is a good start,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We are particularly pleased that the Agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same time frame even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement.”

“By taking this action, they are ensuring that the RFS is back on a path to certainty for the biofuels industry, providing the necessary guidance for the industry to continue to thrive and advance alternative fuel options for American consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said.

“ACE has consistently said it is much more important for EPA to get the RFS done right than it is for them to get the RFS done quickly, and that bears repeating given today’s announcement that the RFS will be getting back on track for implementation,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive VP Brian Jennings.

National Biodiesel Board is pleased the EPA announcement said they would “re-propose volume requirements for 2014, by June 1, that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.”

“The volumes for Biomass-based Diesel in 2014 were approximately 1.75 billion gallons so EPA reaffirming its commitment to “actual use” appears to be a step in the right direction,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel.

Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman says the announcement sends a good signal to the advanced biofuels industry. “Now that we have a better idea of when it will happen, we look forward to working with EPA to make sure that the new RFS proposal supports the commercial deployment of advanced biofuels as called for by Congress.”

EPA intends to issue a Federal Register Notice allowing the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed consent decree.

What’s Your Favorite Alternative Fuel?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will you order an Apple Watch on April 10 or buy a Samsung S6 smartphone?”

The crowd has spoken and many who took our most recent ZimmPoll feel they have no use for either. Honestly, no one needs either one, but I sure want an Apple Watch. I am still in the minority though. The #AgNerds have spoken and the Samsung S6 has won. It will be exciting to see how the products make it in the real world or let’s say the farm world.

Here are the poll results:

  • Apple Watch – 17%
  • Samsung S6 – 32%
  • Both – 3%
  • No use for either one – 48%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is your favorite alternative fuel (to gasoline)?

Alternative fuels are all the rage and/or future necessity. The agriculture community seems to be torn as to which is the best for the industry. We want to know your opinion. If gasoline wasn’t an option, which alternative fuel would be your choice? Biodiesel, ethanol, propane, etc?