Biodiesel, Hydrogen Studies Continue Despite Setback

scstateA school in the southeast will continue its studies into biodiesel and hydrogen production, despite an academic setback. This story from the Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat says South Carolina State University was trying to get its multi-disciplinary study of energy accredited but was put on probation and denied approval of a new master’s in energy and environmental science program by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. But Dr. Kenneth Lewis, dean of the College of Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, calls the decision a “minor setback,” and while the classes in the program scheduled for this fall won’t happen, the research the school does on biodiesel and hydrogen will go on.

Biodiesel from the cafeteria’s waste cooking oil has gone through various stages and is now at the point where it’s being tested, Lewis said.

“Right now we’re testing the fuel on small engines,” he said. But he’s looking at having the university’s vehicles operating on biodiesel produced at the center within three to five years. He noted that the lab can produce up to 40 gallons of fuel a day.

It’s a great advantage that the supplies for the process and that of the switchgrass/cow manure project [to make hydrogen] are practically free, according to Lewis.

“We can go to any farmer, any slaughterhouse and get the manure,” he said.

Lewis said that bacteria found in cow’s stomachs and manure break down cellulose in the switchgrass and produce hydrogen.

The school has also applied for a $300,000, three-year grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for the aquatic tanks and other supplies to grow algae to turn into biodiesel. Lewis is also looking at Jatropha for biodiesel production noting that South Carolina’s climate matches that of the plant’s native home, Mozambique.

Railways Not Required to Report Ethanol Delays

stbA few weeks ago, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) directed Canadian Pacific Railway Company and BNSF Railway Company to report their plans to resolve the backlogs of grain car orders and to submit weekly status reports on grain car service.

However, the order failed to address rail service problems for the delivery of ethanol, and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis has sent a letter to the STB asking why.

growth-energy-logo“With over 61 percent of all ethanol delivered by rail, it is imperative that these issues be directly addressed and given the same priority as grain shipments,” said Buis in the letter. “Earlier this year, we saw ethanol supply dwindle and prices skyrocket solely because of the inability to get rail cars to ship product – even to the point of having many plants reduce production. Ultimately, these service failures hurt the American consumer as these costs are borne in the form of higher gasoline prices, which impact every segment of the American economy.”

BNSF reported recently that they have been moving increasing volumes of grain and ethanol over the last several months and as of last month was “moving more year–to–date in 2014 than the same period in 2013.” In a statement, BNSF said they “have exceeded last year’s totals in ethanol…by 9% in latest year-to-date totals.”

The first report from the railroad companies was due to STB on June 27.

Export Exchange 2014 Registration Open

2014-export-exchangeRegistration is now open for Export Exchange 2014™, an international trade conference focused on the export of U.S. coarse grains and ethanol co-products.

Approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives and more than 180 international buyers are expected to attend Export Exchange 2014. The conference is being held Oct. 20-22 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel and is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

“Export Exchange brings together a group of U.S. suppliers and international buyers in a unique event focused on the expansion of established export markets and the development of new markets for U.S. coarse grains, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and other ethanol co-products,” said USGC Chairman Julius Schaaf.

“Over the past decade, the U.S. ethanol industry has emerged as a major producer of high quality animal feeds like DDGS and corn gluten feed,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “Export Exchange is the premier forum for connecting the producers and marketers of those co-products with customers around the world.”

Export Exchange is held every two years. The 2012 event broke records in attendance and attracted buying teams from 33 countries, including all of the top U.S. international coarse grains and ethanol co-products markets. Attendance at this year’s event is expected to set a new record, creating more opportunities for U.S. merchandisers to connect with buyers and build business.

Early registration discounts end July 31. USGC and RFA members are eligible for discounted pricing and should identify themselves as such at the time of registration.

Atlanta Now Has 12 E85 Pumps

protectlogoThe Atlanta metro area now offers a dozen E85 locations for drivers of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) as Ruby Shell & Protec Fuel joined forces to launch a new E85 station last week in Doraville, Georgia.

protec-e85This is the first E85 station for owner Maruf (Mike) Khan, but he also has a station in Buford, Ga. “I wanted to provide a choice for my customers and hopefully gain new customers looking to use the environmentally friendlier fuel made from U.S. resources,” said Khan.

“Many cars have flex-fuel capability, whether the drivers know it or not,” said Steve Walk, a VP of Protec Fuel. “Alternative fuels like this in any blend also benefit air quality in a sensitive area such as big cities like Atlanta. This station is another stepping stone for the use of ethanol blends in any gas vehicle, like E15.”

Ruby Shell is located at 5020 Winters Chapel Rd., Doraville, GA.

Protec Fuel, based in Florida, has partnered to help manage the E85 installation and provide fuel for the location’s new cleaner burning fuel offering of E85. Protec is a turnkey E85 company specializing in station conversions and fuel distribution.

Vermont Low Sulphur Requirement is Biodiesel Boon

As of July 1, Vermont has a new, low-sulfur requirement for all fuel oil in the state, and that could be a boon for biodiesel. In a news release from Gov. Peter Shumlin touting the new requirement of 500 parts per million on July 1, 2014, and 15 parts per million by 2018, along with a new Thermal Energy Finance Pilot Program to help Vermonters improve efficiency in their homes, the state says it is joining Massachusetts and New Jersey for such a requirement.

“Since more than half of all Vermont home owners currently choose oil heat, the low sulfur fuel mandate now in effect will greatly lower emissions and improve air quality,” said Matt Cota, Executive Director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. “It will also maximize efficiency and reduce service calls on existing systems, while allowing more Vermonters to install high efficiency oil heat units that require low sulfur fuel.”

whitemtnThe Stowe (VT) Reporter says the governor got a chance to check out firsthand… and first-nose… just how much cleaner boidiesel will be in helping meet the low-sulfur requirement during a news conference at White Mountain Biodiesel.

[The goverrnor] took a big sniff of the new low-sulfur fuel — organizers encouraged people to stick their fingers in it and take a whiff; it’s nothing like the heating oil they’re used to.

Biodiesel heating fuel emits 89 percent less greenhouse gases than regular heating oil, said Bob Kuhsel, a managing member of White Mountain Biodiesel, LLC. The New Hampshire company supplies biodiesel created from leftover cooking oil to Bourne’s and other fuel dealers.

For more information on biodiesel-based heating oil, check out the National Biodiesel Board’s Bioheat website.

Iowa Biodeisel Maker Counters Tax Group Argument

westerndubuque1A biodiesel producer is disputing claims by a taxpayer watchdog group that says producers of biofuels shouldn’t still be getting government assistance. This article in the Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald says a report by Taxpayers for Common Sense shows that Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa received more than $2.5 million in tax-funded assistance between 2009 and 2014, and the group pushes for the elimination of the bioenergy program in the federal farm bill. But Tom Brooks, general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel points to the good biodiesel has done in Iowa alone, producing 230 million gallons of fuel in 2013 and more than 7,000 jobs in the state.

Brooks said the government assistance is necessary to level the playing field with oil companies.

“Government has always had a hand in to help starting industries. Big Oil has had a hand up for over 100 years to the tune of several hundred billion dollars in tax supports that they still draw today,” Brooks said.

The watchdog report also makes a point of highlighting large agribusinesses that are benefiting from government assistance. Companies like Renewable Energy Group, Louis Dreyfus and Cargill received roughly $10 million each or more between 2009 and 2014, the report says.

Brooks said it is unfair to lump Western Dubuque Biodiesel in with those companies.

“I’m in the big, booming metropolis of Farley,” Brooks joked. “The (report) suggests we’re paying all these big companies. The vast majority of these producers are small.”

The article goes on to say that Brooks argues the report doesn’t take into account the savings for the country when biofuels reduce the dependence on foreign oil.

“What’s the cost to our taxpayers for those soldiers in Afghanistan and the Middle East? For every gallon of oil we buy not from the U.S., you’re giving to a foreign country’s economy and they may not exactly share our political values, let alone our moral values,” Brooks said.

DOE Allocates $4B in Loan Guarantees

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a loan guarantee solicitation making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.

DOE_logo1“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Maryland Energy Administration is accepting applications for its Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Grant Program (EVIP). EVIP funds will facilitate the installation of Direct-Current (DC) Fast Charging Networks in Maryland. DC fast charging stations allow for speedy charging of electric cars, adding sixty to eighty miles of electric driving range in nearly twenty minutes. The program is intended to promote energy independence in the State by facilitating greater investment in clean fuel automobiles which can be produced in the United States. Widespread adoption of electric vehicles is also a critical tenet of Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, which seeks to have 60,000 electric vehicles in Maryland by 2020.
  • On July 2, 2014 the EPA finalized the quality assurance program (QAP) rule for verifying the validity of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. To assist the renewable fuels community in navigating this final ruling, Genscape will host a free educational webinar, “The QAP Final Rule Frontier,” to explore the content of the newly finalized QAP rule at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 17, 2014.
  • SeaRoc Group has successfully completed the first major maintenance visit to Forewind’s Dogger Bank meteorological (met) masts in the North Sea at the beginning of June. The East (DB-MME) and West (DB-MMW) masts have been installed for 15 and 8 months respectively and scheduled structural inspection, instrumentation and cleaning tasks were undertaken. The met masts are collecting valuable wind, wave, atmospheric and marine traffic data for the proposed wind farms on Dogger Bank. The data will be used to help assess the technical options and economic viability of the projects in the zone.
  • PSEG Solar Source announced today that it will acquire a 13 megawatt (MWdc) solar energy facility near El Paso, TX from juwi solar (JSI). The project was originally developed by JSI and has a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with El Paso Electric Company. The plant, to be called the PSEG El Paso Solar Energy Center is located 14 miles north of El Paso, adjacent to the existing El Paso Electric Newman Generating Station. The $22 million acquisition will increase PSEG’s Solar Source’s portfolio capacity to 106 MWdc.

Many Still in the Heat of Hay

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Where are you in #hay14?”

It looks like farmers across the United States are all at different stages with this year’s hay crop. On our farm we started out with a bang. But were soon falling behind due to rain. No one is complaining about the rain though. I think I can easily speak for all involved in agriculture that we are very glad to be getting these early summer showers. Good luck to all those still in the heat of #hay14.

Our poll results:

  • Done – 25%
  • Right on schedule – 12.5%
  • Behind due to rain – 62.5%
  • Behind due to equipment – 0%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What will be on your Independence Day grill?”

The 4th of July typically equals family and friends gathering for a barbecue and barbecue’s equals meat. The choices for your grill are limitless. Will you be having the traditional meal of hamburgers and hot dogs? Or will you be showing off your culinary genius and serving Venison Osso Buco, Beer Grilled Chops or Thai Grilled Shrimp?

EPA Establishes Quality Assurance for RINS

epaIn addition to the final rule approving crop residue as a cellulosic feedstock, the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday established a “voluntary quality assurance program” for renewable identification numbers, or RINs.

The program is designed to maintain liquidity in the market for RINs under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) providing a means for ensuring that RINs are properly gener­ated through audits of renewable fuel production conducted by independent third-parties using quality assurance plans (QAPs). According to EPA, the QAP is intended to improve RIN market liquidity and ef­ficiency and improve the ability of smaller renewable fuel producers to sell their RINs.

Other provisions in the final rule regarding RINs include modifications to the exporter provisions of the RFS program to help ensure that an appropriate number and type of RINs are retired whenever
renewable fuel is exported.

Read the entire rule from EPA here.

Ethanol Report on Energy Independence

ethanol-report-adAs we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, many of us will be out on the roads driving to see family, friends and fireworks. But, thanks to upheaval in a little country halfway across the world, gas prices are up again so we are going to be paying more at the pump, a stark reminder that we are not so independent when it comes to our energy sources.

dinneen-capitolIn this Independence Day Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen reminds us that ethanol saves Americans money at the pump, stretches the fuel supply and is the perfect remedy for skyrocketing gas prices.

Dinneen talks about the new milestone reached this week in cellulosic ethanol production and why the government needs to be expanding the use of biofuels rather than contemplating scaling back our nation’s renewable energy policy and striking a blow for American energy independence.

Ethanol Report on Energy Independence

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

Minnesota “Spills Beans About Biodiesel”

saintsbaseballWhat could be more All-American this time of year than baseball… and biodiesel! This article from the Minnesota Farm Guide says the folks at the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) are combining the two truly patriotic loves during their “Spilling the Beans About Biodiesel” night at the St. Paul, Minnesota Saints baseball game at Midway Stadium on Tuesday, July 8.

Fans at tailgating can receive a free biodiesel t-shirt when they post a photo of themselves with the Saints’ cow mascots on social media, using the hashtag #BreatheBetterMN. Other events at tailgating include additional giveaways, a super hybrid Metro Transit bus that runs on biodiesel and more consumer-friendly information about biodiesel.

Prior to the Saints game on July 8, Minnesota Soybean will promote a coupon on their social media sites that could get game-goers a free $10 gas gift card. The first 50 people to bring the biodiesel coupon to their tailgating booth will receive a gas card.

Local media are being welcomed to the event with a chance to meet with and interview Minnesota soybean farmers who grow the feedstock for biodiesel. Contact Abby Bastian at abastian@wideopenthinking.com or 507-766-1038 for more information.

Springboard Biodiesel Offers Restaurants Incentive

springboardbiodiesel2Small biodiesel processor maker Springboard Biodiesel wants more restaurants to get into the act of brewing up their own biodiesel from their used cooking oil and grease. The company has declared July “Green Restaurant Month” and is offering $1,000 cash back to any restaurant in the U.S. that recycles the waste into biodiesel using one of their BioPro™ appliances.

Springboard Biodiesel’s CEO Mark Roberts explains, “Making biodiesel out of used cooking oil is not only profitable, it is possibly the single ‘greenest’ step a restaurant can take to improve air quality and reduce CO2 output.”

“We make an automated appliance that enables any business that cooks for large groups of people to convert their used cooking oil into premium grade fuel for 95 cents per gallon. Currently, the National average price of diesel hovers around $4.00 per gallon and will go higher. The fuel made in a BioPro™ runs in any diesel engine and costs one-quarter of the price.”

Over the last 6 years, Springboard Biodiesel has built a strong reputation within the green dining movement and is endorsed by the Green Restaurant Association, a national non-profit organization that assists member restaurants to become more environmentally responsible. The company also earned a prestigious “Kitchen Innovations” award from the National Restaurant Association in May of 2012 for the release of it’s BioPro™ EX.

Springboard Biodiesel has put nearly 1,000 of its biodiesel brewers in restaurants and breweries all across the U.S. and about two dozen other countries. Not only do the restaurant owners and brewers save the environment, but they also save the cost of paying someone else to pick up their old cooking oil, as well as having a great fuel source of their own to run in vehicles, such as delivery trucks.

RINs Around the Rosy

Renewable Identification Numbers, better known in the renewable energy world as RINs, are serious business, but there’s actually an app on the market to make them a bit more fun.

rins-appThe Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) introduced the RFS compliance calculator earlier this year as a free download on Apple’s App Store, allowing you to “model various RFS and refined product market scenarios until your thumbs fall off.”

RINs Around the Rosy enables you to take on a variety of roles, from EPA Administrator to gasoline blender, in an attempt to guide the refined products market through the Renewable Fuels Standard whilst avoiding a crash into the blendwall. Think of it as an RFS compliance calculator.

This app serves as a model of the RFS and refined products (gasoline and diesel) market. It gives you control over nearly two dozen variables, enabling you to set an infinite number of volumetric mandates and product demand forecasts, measure RIN carryover, test various gasoline and diesel blending options, and examine the impact of custom waiver scenarios. RINs Around the Rosy will track your inputs and assumptions and let you know if you have met the mandate you set or if and how you fell short.

To download the app, just search in the app store for RINS Around the Rosy.

Corn Fiber Approved as Cellulosic Feedstock

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules Wednesday to qualify additional fuel pathways for the production of cellulosic biofuel, including crop residue such as corn fiber.

EPA has now determined that crop residue does meet the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provided that “producers include in their registration specific information about the types of residues which will be used, and record and report to EPA the quantities and specific types of residues used.”

corn-cobsThe final rule comes just as the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol are being produced this week from corn fiber in Galva, Iowa. “As demonstrated by Quad County Corn Processors—which produced its first commercial gallon of cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber just yesterday—this feedstock holds tremendous potential to contribute meaningful volumes toward compliance with the RFS cellulosic biofuels standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen.

Dinneen says EPA should be commended for using a straightforward approach to accounting for the cellulosic content of biofuel feedstocks. “The ‘cellulosic content threshold’ method finalized in today’s rule is a common sense approach that minimizes administrative and accounting burdens for commercial producers, but upholds the spirit and intent of the RFS,” Dinneen said.

The EPA also finalized some minor amendments related to survey requirements associated with the ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) program and misfueling mitigation regulations for 15 volume percent
ethanol blends (E15) in announcements made on Wednesday.