Importance of Ethanol

The development of agriculture-based biofuels is critical to revitalizing rural communities, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.

Schafer NAFBSpeaking to farm broadcasters meeting in Washington, Schafer said managing the blending of energy and agriculture is one of the top priorities for USDA. “If we over the next ten years could convert one-fourth of the four billion barrels of foreign oil that we import into this country into biofuels, not only would it increase the security of our country, it would double farm income,” said Schafer. “You can imagine if we doubled farm income in this country, what a revitalization would take place in rural areas.”

Regarding the concern about food and feed price increases relating to biofuels, “We need to remember that only about 25 percent of the corn crop goes into ethanol today and we have been able to stay ahead of that by yield increases,” Schafer said. “We have heard of this ‘perfect storm’ coming together – increased consumption, energy prices, biofuel generation, weather patterns – all those have come together to form this huge pressure on food and feed costs. I don’t think its a perfect storm.”

He explained, “When you have a storm, and you’re out on the calm sea, the storm comes in and jumbles everything up for awhile and then the storm goes away and the sea becomes flat again. The reality here is consumption and as consumption is increased we are not going to fall back.”

Schafer says corn ethanol will continue to be important in meeting the Renewable Fuels Standard and as a stepping stone towards cellulosic ethanol.

Listen to Schafer’s comments on biofuels here.

New Gas Detector Can ‘See’ Ethanol

se.pngSensor Electronics of Minneapolis has developed a new gas detector that can detect dangerous concentrations of ethanol. The detector is thought to be ideal for protecting biofuel refineries.

It’s designed for applications in biofuel processing plants, pipelines, pumping stations, storage facilities, fuel dumps, distribution networks and the like.

Calibration is quick, easy: The gas detector simply sniffs a whiff of ethanol, then locks itself into ethanol’s chemical “signature.” Thereafter, any significant concentration triggers an immediate warning.

Because this self-contained gas detector uses no mirrors or beam-splitters, it shrugs off rain, snow, fog, smog. It also ignores temperature/pressure/humidity extremes, as well as interference (false signals) from other gases.

The cylindrical unit measures 8 inches high overall, 2.5 inches diameter. The stainless-steel housing cannot rust or corrode, meaning exceptional operating life.

Monsanto, Mendel Helping Develop Biofuel Grass

monsanto.gifSeed giant Monsanto and Mendel Biotechnology are teaming up to develop a variety of grass seeds ideal for ethanol and biodiesel production.

This story from the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch has more:

[St. Louis-area]-based Monsanto will lend its crop testing, breeding and seed production expertise to the BioEnergy Seeds & Feedstocks unit of Mendel, which is headquartered in Hayward, Calif.

Together, they will explore the potential of grasses as a feedstock for making cellulosic biofuels — fuel that is made from leaves, stems, stalks or other non-edible parts of plants.

Scientists in many companies and research institutions are tackling the challenges of unlocking energy from cellulosic sources to produce fuel. If they succeed, it could alleviate the demand for corn-based ethanol that is putting pressure on world stocks of food and animal feed.

Monsanto and Mendel have been involved in biotechnology projects in corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola for more than a decade.

Earthrace Begins Its Journey Again

earthrace.JPGThe biodiesel-powered boat has started on its round-the-world journey… again. As you might remember, it was nearly a year ago that the “Earthrace” had to abandon its attempt to break the world record for circumnavigation of the globe in a boat.

This article from Biodiesel Magazine says the green-fueled boat left port at Sagunto, Spain, on Sunday, as it makes its way around the globe on 100 percent sustainable fuel:

“For the next 40 days we’re going to believing on adrenaline,” said Pete Bethune, a skipper for Earthrace, who auctioned off his home and sold his company to fund the building of the $1.5 million vessel. “The crew have entered race mode and we have one thing on our minds – the world’s record,” he said.

With its voyage beginning in Sagunto, Spain, the boat will travel east to the Azores where it will stop for refueling, and then go on to Puerto Rico.

The crew of the 78-foot vessel plans to complete the voyage in less than 65 days, which would easily come in under the present record of 74 days, 23 hours, and 53 minutes, set in 1998 by the United Kingdom boat Cables & Wireless Adventurer.

“This time it’s really happening and we’re all raring to go,” Bethune said earlier this year. “Our new team is working really well together and we have the skills we need on board [as well as] the ground-crew to break the record.”

You can follow the Earthrace’s progress at

Groundbreaking on Oil from Ethanol

VeraSunVeraSun Energy broke ground on a new facility last week that will tap into ethanol for oil.

VeraSun’s patent-pending Oil Extraction process is designed to yield 7-8 million gallons of corn oil annually from 390,000 tons of distillers grains currently produced at VeraSun’s ethanol production facility in Aurora, S.D. The corn oil will then be made available for sale into the biodiesel market, thus increasing the renewable fuel supply without an additional feedstock supply. The result of the process also includes enhanced distillers grains through the concentration of protein and the reduction of fat. One gallon of corn oil yields roughly a gallon of biodiesel.

VeraSunAccording to VeraSun’s Don Endres, “With fuel prices where they’re at, with diesel prices where they’re at, we need more fuel, and this will go right into the biodiesel market, fit right into that fuel stream so it’s a much more highly-valued in the fuel stream then, what it is as oil in the fuel.”

VeraSun expects to start producing the corn oil later this year. The company also plans to use the process at two of its plants in Iowa next year.

Among those giving a hand at the groundbreaking were South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, Reid Jensen with the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council and Matt Hartwig of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Ethanol Industry Supports Farm Bill Changes

Farm BillA tentative agreement reached by conference committee members on funding for a new farm bill would reduce the tax incentive for blenders to use ethanol from 51 cents a gallon to 45 cents. The president of the Renewable Fuels Association says they can support that.

RFA“We do understand that they are looking at that in order to pay for cellulosic tax credits and some other important programs,” said Bob Dinneen in an interview Monday. “While we wish they could find other means of paying for those important priorities, we understand the budget constraints that Congress is under.”

The ethanol blenders credit reduction would go into effect once the Environmental Protection Agency administrator certifies that the 7.5 billion gallon mandate has been reached. The ethanol import tariff would also be extended until Dec. 31, 2010, which would be in line with the ethanol tax credit.

Meanwhile, a new subsidy of up to $1.01 per gallon would be created for ethanol made from biomass sources other than corn.

The reduction in the existing blenders tax credit would reportedly save over $1 billion, while the blenders credit for celllulosic ethanol would cost approximately $400 million.

Tax credits for biodiesel were also stripped from the bill.

Congress is currently working to complete a new farm bill under the fifth extension of current law. Congress passed and President Bush signed the latest extension until May 2 but it will likely be May 8 before they can actually get a bill finished and on the president’s desk. The current law expired in September.

Gen. Colin Powell to Speak at Biotechnology Summer Conference

The state of sustainable agriculture in developing countries will be one of the main issues addressed at the BIO International Convention this summer. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is hosting the convention in San Diego from Tuesday, June 17 through Friday, June 20.

Biotechnology leaders from around the globe will be descending upon San Diego, one of the leading biotech hubs in the world, to discuss the most pressing issues and share their unique perspectives. In addition, there will be a total of 36 regional and country pavilions within the BIO Exhibition with several new pavilions, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dubai, and South Africa.

This year’s convention will focus on the promise of biotech innovation to heal, fuel and feed the world. International case studies on biofuels, biomanufacturing, research funding, and international collaborations will focus on examples from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, North America, Singapore, and Sweden. Two additional breakout session tracks will focus on doing business globally and global health. A session entitled, “The Dynamics of a Globalized World and the Future of the Biotechnology Industry,” will feature international public officials sharing insights on the evolving business landscape.

This year’s keynote speakers include Gen. Colin Powell, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Continue reading

Trends in Driving Green

re.gifA new podcast from takes a look at how consumer demand for “green” options in the automobile industry is changing. The “Driving Green” interview features Jonathan Oritz of Foreign Affairs Auto. He says, “The integration of electric vehicles will be driven by consumer demand.”

As owner of Foreign Affairs Auto, Florida’s 1st Smart Dealership, Mr. Ortiz provides first-hand perspective of the changing demographics he sees at his dealership of the typical green car enthusiast, and advises new dealers contemplating carrying green autos what it takes to make it a success.

When asked how his interest in green cars and electric cars developed and how he became Florida’s 1st Smart Dealership, he responded, “I was attending a University in Rome in 2003 when I began researching bringing a Smart Car to the US for my personal use. I contacted Daimler Chrysler and they repeatedly told me it was not available in the USA. A few months later I came across a company in Santa Rosa, CA named ZAP. ZAP had spent millions to make the Smart Car legal in the USA so that it could pass all DOT and EPA regulations. My family and I flew down and signed a formal license agreement and became the first dealership to offer the Smart Car. We had an amazing two years but were informed by Daimler they would be importing the cars and marketing it on their own and brought our Smart Car era to an end.

“It left us with a sentimental void but opened our eyes to an enormous market with Florida residents seeking fuel efficient earth friendly vehicles, so we began our search for the next Smart Car. Continuing our relationship with ZAP, we decided to go even greener with their electric vehicles.”

Mr. Ortiz also noted a change in demographics of the green car enthusiast as consumers come to terms with $4.00 gas, opening it up to a larger more mainstream audience. He is also convinced that the market for EVs will be driven by consumer interest and demand to have a cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicle, not the diminishing fuel reserves. ZAP has one of the largest and growing distribution systems in the USA for 100% electric vehicles.

Director of Cleanfield Alternative Energy Resigns

ce.jpgThe Director of Cleanfield Alternative Energy has stepped down from his leadership position. Massimo Giovannetti’s resignation will be effective April, 25, 2008.

Tony Verrelli, President, Cleanfield Alternative Energy, said, “We wish Massimo all the best success in the next stage of his business career. Massimo was instrumental in the growth of the Company and was a strong advocate for Cleanfield; he always acted in an exemplary fashion in the conduct of his duties as a Director”.

About Cleanfield Alternative Energy

Cleanfield Alternative Energy is the parent company of Cleanfield EnergyTM and is committed to the development of renewable energy products for various applications. Cleanfield’s V3.5 can be mounted on ground-mounts or rooftops, offering electricity independence and security. The V3.5 operates in various wind conditions with less concern about wind direction or variability than conventional wind turbines.

Wheldon Wins at Kansas

No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Driver Dallara/Honda/Firestone Dan WheldonEngland’s Dan Wheldon takes the win in Kansas. The No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone Driver said the race was tight and exciting and, at one point, he said he nearly crashed. But, Dixon said he finally started taking advice on saving his fuel. Instead of getting out in front for most of the race, Dixon said he took every opportunity he could to save on gas.

Second and third place at the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 went to No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Driver Tony Kanaan and No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Driver Scott Dixon.

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 18th.

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Corn Growers Chairman Responds to Attacks on Ethanol

National Corn Growers Association Chairman Ken McCauleyThe recent criticism of ethanol doesn’t sit too well with the chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. Ken McCauley says the figures used in the article published today in the Kansas City Star, for example, were too vague. He says they didn’t properly represent real data and were spun in such a way to make ethanol a culprit… a culprit of rising food prices, rising gas prices and lower fuel economy.

You can hear my interview with Ken here:

Ken is pictured here with Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, EPIC Executive Director Toni Nuernberg and EPIC Director of Operations Robert White.

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Getting To Know Toni

Ethanol Executive Director Toni NuernbergToni Nuernberg is the newest member of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. She joined EPIC as the new executive director about 2 months ago, replacing Tom Slunecka after he accepted the offer to become the Vice President of Business Development for KL Process Design Group in South Dakota. We already heard from Toni during EPIC’s press conference on the “Food and Fuel” discussion. But, I took the opportunity to grab ZimmComm’s first one-on-one interview with Toni at the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300.

You can hear what Toni has to say about joining EPIC and about recent criticism of ethanol here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Tiny Taste of Indy

Marina and Rebbecca BravoJust being able to snag a ticket to the race means a huge Indy experience for most racing fans. But, some race-goers are lucky enough to snag tickets for the Hot Lap, taking their Indy experience one step further. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council holds a raffle for every member racing event. For the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 here in Kansas, EPIC sent 5 members and guests for a spin around the track.

Mike Sobetski with LifeLine Foods brought his brother Bob along for the pace car ride. Kurt Bravo with Midwest Ethanol gave his tickets to his mother and fiance, Marina and Rebecca. Each of them jumped at the chance to circle the track twice at over 100 mph. And, each of them said they would do again… in a heartbeat.

You can listen to Marina and Rebecca’s reactions here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Ryan Has High Hopes for “Home” Race

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-ReayTeam Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay knows that the ethanol industry started here, in the nation’s heartland. That’s why he fondly refers to the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 as a “home” race. He knows that the Midwest is where most of ethanol production begins. He said a high finish for today’s race at the Kansas Speedway would be a great start to the 2008 racing season. And, he says there’s no reason Team Ethanol can’t snag a great position… which he hopes will be a top 5 or even a top 3 finish.

You can listen to Ryan here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Rahal Shares in Pre-Race Excitement

Bobby Rahal of Rahal Letterman RacingEarlier today, Bobby Rahal addressed the members of EPIC who came out to enjoy the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300. Rahal said he felt good about today’s race and he was confident in Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, despite the tendency for crowding out on the Kansas Speedway’s 1.5 mile oval. There’s already been three delays due to Indy cars bumping and grinding out there on the track. So far, Ryan has avoided the trouble.

You can listen to Rahal here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album