BYD Motors Debuts Largest Battery Powered EV

The world has been introduced to the largest batter powered vehicle developed by BYD Motors. The company unveiled the double barreled EV bus during the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, Texas this week. During a ceremony, attendees were invited by VP Michael Austin to, “throw off the shackles of a single-fueled system – an electric platform is ‘adaptable’ – it becomes cleaner as you do, through the use of renewable wind, water and solar renewable power generation.

60-foot BYD transit busAustin challenged the status-quo of those promoting fossil fuels as a clean alternative. “The consequences of our choices today will leave a legacy that our children will live with, both environmentally and economically, for decades into the future.”

The Lancaster eBus, a 60-foot, articulated battery-electric bus, can drive 170+ miles with a passenger load of up to 120 people. “BYD’s mission is to create safer and more environmentally-friendly battery technologies. This has resulted in the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable, and incredibly long-cycle technology — the foundation of BYD’s Electric buses,” BYD Motors Fleet Sales Vice President, Brendan Riley. “These buses run entirely off battery power lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of 2-4 hours. No additional generation capacity is needed to be built to charge our buses at night since the grid is only 40% utilized.

Also on display at the BYD Exhibit was a 40-foot, Battery-electric Transit bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authority. AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling boasted that the 40-foot bus on the Expo show floor was the only bus, “that drove over 1500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles all the way to Houston for the Expo under its own power.”

AVTA tested BYD buses in the hottest part of the Lancaster, California summer in August with full air-conditioning running and with 5250 pounds of sand bags to simulate a full passenger load. Hickling added, “We drove nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises — up to 250 miles per bus charge and we covered almost 750 miles in 24 hours! We are very impressed with BYD technology and quality. The most interesting news about this 1500 mile journey to Texas is that it was completed for $200 in electricity–the lowest cost trip to the show of all buses.”

Has RFS Uncertainty Hurt Your Community?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Are you ready for MyFarmRadio on your mobile device?”

Don’t worry if you are part of the majority and have never heard of MyFarmRadio. We won’t accuse you of living under a rock just yet, because it is still very new. On November 3rd the new platform MyFarmRadio will launch. The 24/7 digital mobile radio channel will focus on a mix of best-in-class news, weather and markets along with entertaining and informative conversation for America’s farmers and ranchers. The app will allow listeners to pick and choose what they want to hear – and when they want to hear it.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes, plan to get the app – 22%
  • Yes, want to know more – 17%
  • No, only listen on my radio – 6%
  • No, get my farm news other ways – 22%
  • What’s MyFarmRadio? – 33%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Has the uncertainty for the RFS caused by the EPA hurt your community?

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been facing more than a year of uncertainty as the biofuels industry waits for the final 2014 rule that will determine the final renewable fuel volumes. Renewable fuel categories include ethanol, biodiesel, cellulosic and advanced biofuels. What impact has this had on your community?

EPA Admin McCarthy Visits FuelCell Energy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy visited FuelCell Energy this week to get a tour of the 15 MW Dominion Bridgeport fuel cell park. The company showcased the affordability of fuel cell solutions. According to FuelCell Energy, distributed fuel cell power generation enhances the resiliency of the electric grid with low carbon power production and low emissions.

“I’m excited to have EPA Administrator McCarthy in Bridgeport and that our efforts to become one of the greenest cities in America are being recognized nationally,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We are home to the Bridgeport fuel cell park, which has fueled green job growth and powers up to 15,000 homes at any given time with virtually pollutant free energy.”

FuelCell EPA visitDuring her public remarks at the Bridgeport fuel cell park, Administrator McCarthy commented that now is the time to embrace a clean energy future and that innovative solutions such as the Bridgeport fuel cell park reflect the pathway for American energy security and ingenuity.

John Smatlak, VP of Power Generation Technical Services for Dominion said the company is pleased to have added 15 MW of renewable fuel cell energy in Connecticut to their existing 2,100 MW of power from their Millstone Power Station along with their Somers Solar Facility that produces 5 MW. “These stations are generating clean, reliable electricity for Connecticut and it was a pleasure to share that with Administrator McCarthy.”

The project is located on a remediated brownfield site in an industrial area of Bridgeport, Connecticut, using only about 1 1/2 acres of land to provide 15 megawatts of continuous renewable power.

“Our fuel cell power plants are at the confluence of energy, environmental and economic policy,” added Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “Megawatt scale fuel cell plants are part of the portfolio to rebuild our energy infrastructure. Low carbon power generation that is virtually absent of pollutants enables siting the power plants in urban areas and the continuous distributed power generation enhances resiliency of the electric grid.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFMinneapolis-based solar specialists JJR Power have announced they are carving out a niche by helping customers navigate the complex financial waters. The company works with businesses, schools, nonprofits and farms, assisting them in gaining the clear economic value that solar can provide when coupled with the available incentives.
  • A student team at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC) will receive $14,874 from EPA to study the feasibility of treating food waste mixed with swine manure and gather data from the process related to energy use, greenhouse gases and recovered nutrients. The UMC project is one of only 42 student team projects funded this year in Phase I of EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program. The P3 program is designed to stimulate the development of projects and designs that deliver sustainable, alternative approaches to address environmental challenges.
  • Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits has promoted Craig Ammann to the position of Director of Sales – North America. Craig is responsible for leading, communicating and directing the Regional Sales, Technical and Product Managers within this group.
  • Admirals Bank, a national leader in residential solar and renewable energy financing, is announcing the addition of two new residential loan products to its suite of innovative financing options: The FastTrack and FastTrack Deferred loan programs. These products allow for faster loan approval times, a more seamless application process, and enhanced service levels and availability. The FastTrack program will be offered through a dealer program.

Algal Industry Questions Focus on Biofuels, America

Matt Carr, joined the Algae Biomass Organization this past June as the executive director coming from the BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) where he was introduced to algae and the algae story and he thought this is where the country should be going in terms of sustainable fuels. Carr joined Joe Jobe, NBB and Michael McAdams, Advanced Biofuels Association on a panel to give attendees of the 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference a policy update and industry outlook for advanced biofuels.

“We’re in a tough spot,” said Carr when asked the state of the algal industry. “The advanced biofuels sector grew up on the backs of strong federal policy support, R&D funding from the Department of Energy in the early days along with the nabce-14-carrRenewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and tax policy. Right now all of those areas are uncertain and its causing our members and other across the advanced biofuels industry to question their focus on fuels and their focus on America and to look at other markets in other countries to potentially deploy that technology.”

With elections coming up, Carr was asked if he thinks the political environment will change. He said that the industry is at a point now where it has to see something change. “When we have conservative Republicans recognizing its Washington getting in the way of American innovation and job creation we’ve reached a tipping point.”

What stood out for Carr as part of the panel was the shared sense of frustration with Washington. But he is hopeful that both sides of the spectrum can come together and recognize the opportunity the country has in advanced biofuels.

Interview with Matt Carr, Algae Biomass Organization
Remarks from Matt Carr, Algae Biomass Organization

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

Honeywell’s UOP Tech for Military’s Renewable Diesel

honeywell-uop-logoTechnology from Honeywell’s UOP LLC will be used to produce renewable diesel. This company news release says the technology was secured under the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project.

Emerald Biofuels LLC will use Honeywell’s UOP/Eni Ecofining™ process technology to refine non-edible oils and animal fats into renewable diesel, also known as Honeywell Green Diesel™, which is a drop-in replacement for conventional diesel derived from petroleum.

Emerald is being supported by a $70 million contract from the Defense department project, which is focused on creating economically viable production capacity for advanced drop-in biofuels, including feedstocks, refining, transportation and logistics. Emerald is expected to produce 85 million gallons of renewable diesel per year under the project.

“Our renewable process technology leverages UOP’s 100 years of refining expertise to produce Honeywell Green Diesel, a drop-in diesel that, unlike biodiesel, is chemically identical to petroleum-derived diesel and does not require changes to engines or fuel infrastructure,” said Veronica May, vice president and general manager of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit. “This proven technology is being used in commercial production today.”

The Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project is the military’s program to create assured, affordable and economically viable production capabilities and capacities for items, such as drop-in renewable fuels, essential to national defense.

For the last two years, UOP has licensed Ecofining technology to Emerald to produce 85 million gallons per year of Honeywell Green Diesel at a facility on the Gulf Coast. Ecofining technology is also being used by Diamond Green Diesel in Norco, La., to produce renewable diesel from used cooking oil and other feedstocks.

Researchers to Turn Biomass into Plastic

While turning biomass into energy has been most of the talk, some researchers are looking at turning biomass into a more valuable product: plastic. This article from the University of Wisconsin-Madison says researchers at that school, along with scientists from the University of Minnesota and Argonne National Laboratory, will use a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore ways to produce renewable plastic precursors and other substances from biomass.

huber1“We’re trying to make very high-value commodity chemicals from biomass that can be used to make different kinds of plastics and plasticizers,” says George W. Huber, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison. “So many people have been focusing on fuels, which are a pretty low-value product — $600 or $700 per ton — but we’re going to be making products that are worth more than $5,000 per ton.”

Joining Huber on the UW-Madison portion of the grant are Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James A. Dumesic; chemical and biological engineering Professor Christos Maravelias; chemical and biological engineering research Professor Bill Banholzer; and chemistry Associate Professor Ive Hermans. This team of researchers, who also are affiliated with the Wisconsin Energy Institute, bring to the project combined expertise in biomass conversion, process design, techo-economic modeling of biochemical and biofuels production, and catalysis.

Researchers at Argonne will provide high-throughput tools for screening large amounts of catalysts used in the biomass-conversion process, and University of Minnesota researchers will contribute expertise in separating products from the reactants and solvents used in their production.

The three-year project involves both elaborating the basic scientific principles involved in converting biomass into useful chemicals that are otherwise petroleum-derived, as well as developing efficient processes that can be scaled up in order to make bio-based production more competitive with petroleum refining.

Tips for Biofuel Investment In Turbulent Times

As a biofuels plant, how do you make sound plant management and investment decisions in an environment of political turmoil? This was the theme of one of the panel discussions during the 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference that nabc plant management paneltook place in Minnesota this week. The conversation focused on how the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that has not been finalized for 2014 as of this writing, affects decisions made for biofuels plants. The panelists discussed tips and strategies on how they try to keep their business healthy and growing while also trying to position themselves for continued, future success.

Insights were given by Mike Jerke, CEO, Guardian Energy Management LLC; Brian Kletscher, CEO/General Manager, Highwater Ethanol; and Randall Doyal, CEO/General Manager, AL-Corn Clean Fuel who all run currently operating ethanol production facilities. While each one pointed to the prices of feedstocks as being the number one cost of production (feedstock costs are 80 percent of a plant’s production costs) there are other ways to streamline efficiencies to stay competitive and one strategy is to diversify into bolt on advanced biofuels technologies.

Doyal noted that the big takeaway for the attendees was that the existing ethanol industry is looking at those next generation biofuel opportunities. “They look down the road all the time, and that the existing ethanol plants are not Gen 1 – we’re way down the road from Gen 1. We’re far more advanced than that and we look forward to bringing that type of thinking into advanced biofuels,” Doyal said.

When focusing on policy, Doyal said policy directly affects a plant when it decides how to deploy its capital. “If you have uncertainty in policy, it creates an uncertain environment in the lending community and it creates uncertainty in your own board room.”

Doyal stressed, “If you don’t have good, consistent, clear policy, it’s hard to figure out your path forward.”

Listen here to Chuck’s interview with Randall Doyal speaking about how policy uncertainty affects plant decisions: Interview with Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

Click here to listen to the comments of the three panelists:
Remarks from Mike Jerke, Guardian Energy Management
Remarks from Brian Kletscher, Highwater Ethanol
Remarks from Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

NBB Cautiously Optimistic About RFS

“We’ve exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels. Then we had the devastating proposed rule that has gone on for a year now. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll have something here within the next few weeks and that it will be positive,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) who was one of the panel members of panel that discussed federal biofuels policy and the long-term prognosis of the advanced biofuels industry. The discussion was part of the National Advanced Biofuels Conference that recently took place in Minnesota and also included a robust discussion on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nabce-14-Joe Jobe NBBJobe noted that the biofuels industry and particularly the advanced biofuels industry is beleaguered. “We’ve been under attack by uncertain policy signals, but we need to keep up the fight and double down on the fight. We need to get more of our message out there. We need to get more involved in policy advocacy, we need to get the RFS working again,” said Jobe.

The industry has demonstrated the RFS can work well said Jobe. “We created it to be a stable energy policy.”

Last year was a record breaker for the biodiesel industry – it grew from producing just over one billion gallons in 2012 to just under 2 billion gallons in 2013. “Advanced biofuels are here. The industry has exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels,” Jobe stressed.

The policy discussion will continue during the 2015 National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo taking place in Ft. Forth, Texas January 19-22. Registration is open.

Jobe urges the industry to step up its advocacy efforts and its policy efforts to ensure the future of the advanced biofuels industry.

Interview with Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board
Remarks from Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

Get the New RFA Advocacy App

RFA Advocacy AppThe Renewable Fuels Association has just announced a new mobile app – RFA Advocacy.

The app is free of charge and available to download on all iPhones and Android-powered smartphones. The app offers easy access to RFA’s talking points, charts, videos, and infographics. It also features RFA’s newsfeed, maps of Capitol Hill, a one-stop social media sharing platform, and easy-to-use legislative tracking of key bills and votes.

“We wanted to offer a mobile one-stop-shop for all key ethanol-related information,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA, when discussing the new app. “RFA’s mobile app offers something for everyone. There are talking points to help counter the fictional food vs. fuel argument, information on cellulosic ethanol, and a list of 75 facts about ethanol. RFA’s technical expertise is easily accessible with a touch of the charts, videos, or infographics sections. Additionally, anyone interested in contacting their Member of Congress can easily locate them as well as submit an opinion on key ethanol-related legislation all without leaving the app.”

Dinneen continued, “It is my hope that this new technology will give individuals the tools they need to combat attacks against the ethanol industry, inform friends and family about the benefits of ethanol, and remain engaged in ethanol-related policymaking and legislation.”

Search for it in the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Cleveland Regional Transit Adopts Propane Buses

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has adopted propane autogas. The organization has purchased paratransit shuttle buses to transport persons with disabilities. The first of its kind in Ohio, according to RTA, the new shuttles are projected to save $21,000 per vehicle in fuel costs and maintenance over a six-year period. The agency will recoup its investment in just over one year.

RTA Paratransit“We learned of other transit agencies that were successful using propane autogas technology to save money and lower their environmental impact,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland RTA. “When you can save money while saving the planet, it’s a no-brainer.”

Built on a Ford E-450 chassis, each paratransit shuttle bus is equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system installed by Green Alternative Systems. ElDorado National-Kansas designed the body of its Aerotech bus model on a fiberglass composite reinforced structure. The floor plan configuration features a wheelchair lift to accommodate passengers with disabilities. With more than 700,000 trips annually, the paratransit shuttles operate on-demand to qualified customers.

“We’ve combined a proven, durable, lightweight bus design with leading-edge alternative fuel technology to produce a cost-effective vehicle for paratransit shuttle service,” said Jeff Montgomery, president of ElDorado National-Kansas. “We are proud to join our dealer Meyers Equipment and ROUSH CleanTech to meet the special transportation needs of the Greater Cleveland RTA.”

The RTA is one of the largest transit systems in the nation. Currently, the agency is building an onsite propane autogas fueling station.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Abengoa Bioenergy plant in Hugoton, Kansas, which converts plant cellulose into ethanol, will celebrate its grand opening October 17, 2014 with a visit from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The plant was built to produce 25 million gallons of ethanol from nearly 350,000 tons of biomass annually. The event will be 11 a.m. at the Abengoa Bioenergy plant, 1043 Road P, Hugoton.
  • The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has released a graphic highlighting the complexity of regulating the generation of electricity under the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. View the graphic here.
  • The new Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 presents three visions of the future of the global wind energy industry out to 2020, 2030 and up to 2050 showing how the global wind industry will deliver in terms of covering global electricity demand, new jobs, CO² emission savings, cost reductions & investment rates, offshore development, and more.
  • Vista Solar has announced that it will participate in TechWomen 2014. As part of the U.S. Department of State’s TechWomen exchange program, leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley will host 78 women from the Middle East and Africa during October. Through mentorship and exchange, the program provides participants access and opportunities to advance their careers in the STEM fields, and inspire women and girls in their communities.

RFA Updates Fueling A Nation, Feeding the World

An updated version of the paper “Fueling a Nation, Feeding the World,” has been released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The publication outlines ethanol’s contribution to the global food and feed supply and also contains information that RFA said disproves the “fabricated food vs. fuel” debate.

Fueling a nation“The U.S. ethanol industry has quietly evolved into one of the largest feed processing sectors in the world, generating nearly 40 million metric tons of high-protein, high-energy animal feed in the 2013/14 marketing year,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “The RFA publication is a resource intended to educate policymakers and consumers about the industry’s role in producing feed, to counter the nonsensical food vs. fuel notion, and explain the benefits of ethanol production and co-products for both food and feed markets.”

The booklet outlines the co-products of ethanol production, such as distillers grain, corn distillers oil and corn gluten feed. For example, a 56-pound bushel of corn will yield 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of distillers grain, which is commonly fed to beef cattle, dairy cows, swine, poultry, and even fish. The handbook explains that “the feed produced by ethanol plants in 2013/14 would be enough to produce nearly 50 billion quarter-pound hamburger patties — or seven patties for every person on the planet.”

The publication concludes by stating, “Not only are U.S. ethanol producers helping to meet future demands for energy, but they are also helping to meet the increasing food and feed needs of a growing world.”

RFA will be sharing the booklet with international buyers and U.S. producers of ethanol-related co-products, such as distillers grain, at the Export Exchange taking place in Seattle, Washington October 20-22 2014.

Small Biodiesel Maker Closing Indicative of RFS Problem

yokayo1While the closing of one small biodiesel maker in California might not seem like big news, it’s certainly indicative of the problems facing the industry, big and small producers alike. This story from the Ukiah (CA) Daily Journal says that Yokayo Biofuels, which turned waste cooking oil into biodiesel, has closed.

[Kumar Plocher, Yokayo Biofuels' CEO] says the biggest reason for their closure was due to a lack of government support both at the state and federal levels. He explains that the carbon credit programs, those where petroleum companies are required to buy a certain amount of renewable fuels, allowed his company to bank carbon credits, normally valued high based on demand. This year state and federal value levels were very low: the state’s due to tampering by global companies that flooded the market and at the federal’s due to the Obama administration and the EPA. “Every year the federal government is supposed to raise the requirement of renewable fuel that should be purchased. At the beginning of 2014, they did not do that; they kept it static. They waited until September to announce a tiny increase, and by that time the damage was done and carbon credits were worthless all year. Every mid-term election year, the dollar per gallon subsidy that goes to biofuels has been absent; they wait until after the election.”

Plocher’s complaint is a common one among advanced biofuel makers and their advocates this year. In fact, at the recent National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo, Michael McAdams, founder and president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, said the partnership between the federal government and industry has to have clarity and certainty, but that’s not been the case lately.

“What we haven’t had in the last two years is certainty for the people I represent in the advanced and cellulosic sector,” McAdams said.

Similarly, Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), pointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimates that corn prices will hit an eight-year low because of the government’s failure to follow through on the promises made in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Indeed, today’s USDA report should be the closing argument in the debate over the 2014 RFS final rule,” Dinneen continued. “When farmers made their planting decisions for the 2014 season, they anticipated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House would continue to enforce the statutory RFS volumes. But in one fell swoop, the EPA’s proposed rule wiped away demand for 500 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum. Now, farmers are faced with corn prices below the cost of production and the risk of returning to an era of increased reliance on federal farm program payments.”

There is a little good news in all of this. Plocher was able to sell Yokayo Biofuels’ biodiesel assets to like-minded Simple Fuels.

Biodiesel Research Leads to Biochar Grant

isubiochar1Researchers at Iowa State University looking into ways to make biodiesel more profitable have found a way for farmers to cash in on biochar, a charcoal-like substance used as a carbon sequestering resource. This article from the school says ISU students Bernardo Del Campo, Juan Proano and Matthew Kieffer are expanding their horizons and have picked up a U.S. Department of Energy for $150,000 to help make the idea a reality.

“In the beginning, it was biodiesel and consulting. It was playing around as a club figuring out ‘How do we do biodiesel? How do we help the farmer?’ Proano said. “In that phase, we figured out that Biochar could be a good addition in order to improve the health of the soils on a farm.”

As the group began looking at the idea of making a profit with the research they had done, it became apparent that a change needed to be made.

“People have been doing this pretreatment for some time, but we did it [for] pennies. It was a really reduced budget.” Proano said.

From there, the company began working with around 20 individuals from many different backgrounds and ethnicities to make different products from another bio-renewable resource, Biochar.

The article goes on to explain that biochar starts as sawdust, and through biomass pyrolysis, the sawdust is turned into the biochar, which acts like a sponge to help clean up farm chemicals from streams and rivers while also enriching the soil.