ASTM Publishes New Biodiesel Blend Specs

New specifications for biodiesel have been published by one of the most highly regarded standard development organizations in the world.

ASTM International has published new biodiesel blend specifications for:

* ASTM D975-08a, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils — used for on- and off-road diesel applications; revised to include requirements for up to 5 percent biodiesel.
* ASTM D396-08b, Specification for Fuel Oils — used for home heating and boiler applications; revised to include requirements for up to 5 percent biodiesel.
* ASTM D7467-08, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oil, Biodiesel Blend (B6 to 20) — a completely new specification that covers finished fuel blends of between 6 (B6) and 20 (B20) percent biodiesel for on- and off-road diesel engine use.

The move is seen as a benefit to biodiesel makers, consumers, as well as engine and vehicle manufacturers. It received praise in this National Biodiesel Board release:

Bob McCormick, Principal Engineer on Fuels Performance at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), said, “The new ASTM standards for biodiesel blends are the result of years of negotiation between the various parties at ASTM and years of research on how the properties of biodiesel blends affect engine performance. NREL has conducted extensive research over the past 4 years to support development of these standards, which we believe will lead to an expansion of markets for biodiesel while at the same time ensuring that users have trouble-free performance.” This research was jointly supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

Steve Howell, Technical Director for the NBB and Chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, noted that the specifications are set on a performance basis for a diesel engine, not on the feedstock or the production process. “These specifications combine the input of engine interests, petroleum interests, and biodiesel interests, as well as government and military representatives, researchers and academics. It took cooperation and a lot of data and information sharing between all those parties to reach consensus. This is an important achievement for the biodiesel industry that will help move us forward.”

ASTM has also approved some updates to its standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, which is designed to control pure biodiesel (B100) product quality prior to blending with conventional diesel fuel.

You can find out more by clicking on the ASTM web site: www.astm.org.

Also, you can hear the opening statements from today’s press conference by clicking here:

Goodyear, AZ to Add E85

Recently, Goodyear, AZ received a $91,000 grant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community casino revenues to add E85 infrastructure. About one-quarter of the city’s 370 vehicles can run E85.

According to the Arizona Republic, Goodyear fleet superintendent Richard Sweepe said the city has been buying FFVs for four years, but has had no E85 to fuel them. “If we were looking to replace our police car fleet and there were E85 vehicles available to meet our needs, we always went with the E85 vehicle,” he said. Eighty-five of the city’s 103-vehicle flex-fuel fleet is for the Goodyear Police Department, one of the city’s largest fuel consumers, according to Sweepe.

There is no specific timeline for adding the E85 equipment at one of the city’s three fueling stations. The city can receive the grant funding as early as November.

Currently, there are twenty-three E85 fueling locations in the state of Arizona.

Alternatives Fuel Michigan Senate Race

With high gas prices cutting into motorists’ pocketbooks and Michigan’s auto industry, it’s no wonder that biodiesel, ethanol, wind and solar are figuring into the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Carl Levin and Republican Jack Hoogendyk.

This story from MLive.com says the two have very different approaches on how to fix the energy crisis that has crippled the state:

Levin and his Republican opponent, Jack Hoogendyk, both say the U.S. must reduce its dependence on imported oil. But they disagree on whether drilling should be allowed in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and what should be done to prompt alternative energy development.

Hoogendyk said he would boost domestic oil production by supporting offshore drilling and tapping the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which he says can be done without harming the environment.

Levin has opposed drilling in areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Great Lakes because “drilling could have devastating and permanent effects on fragile ecosystems.”

Oil and gas companies already have leases on 68 million acres of federal land for exploration and drilling that have not yet been used, Levin said. The country needs to turn more toward renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass to make the energy supply more stable and self-sufficient, he added.

The article goes on to say how schools and companies in Michigan are exploring more ways to expand alternative energy use, and Levin says the federal government needs to be more involved in those efforts.

Biodiesel Cop Car to Debut

A police car, designed from the ground up specifically for law enforcement officers and will run on biodiesel, will debut during a nationwide tour starting tomorrow (Oct. 14th).

The Carbon ‘E7′ built by Carbon Motors Corporation will be shown during the nine-city 2008 Pure Justice Tour starting in Chicago, heading to the West Coast and finishing in Florida in the middle of December:

The vehicle will display a robust collection of world-class technological and design enhancements, including an ergonomically correct cockpit inspired by jet fighters and helicopters, a high powered clean-diesel engine capable of running on biodiesel (that will provide 40 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and will meet or exceed the driving performance of current vehicles), integrated external and internal surveillance capabilities, radar, LoJack, an automatic license plate recognition system, radiation and biological threat detectors and 360 degree, high conspicuity built-in LED emergency lighting.

You can read more about Carbon Motors on the company web site: www.carbonmotors.com.

Transitioning to St. Louis

The latest in a series of conferences sponsored by the Farm Foundation on how this country can transition to a bioeconomy takes place this week in St. Louis, Mo.

Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts brings together government officials… featuring USDA chief Ed Schafer…, bioenergy experts and leaders in the private industry to discuss environmental and rural development issues in that transition:

The conference program will examine how the emerging bioeconomy may impact such things as domestic and global land use, water quality, jobs and local economies. Other sessions will focus on how this emerging bioeconomy may be shaped by green technologies, public policies or public attitudes.

This conference is a collaboration of Farm Foundation, and USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Economic Research Service, Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

The nation’s rapid transition to a bioeconomy has significant implications for agriculture, the food system, rural communities and the global economy. This series of conferences are deisgned to inventory current knowledge, highlight lessons learned to date, identify future possibilities and determine future information needs. These conferences and the products produced from them will provide government, industry, academic and community leaders with objective information and analysis they can use to make more informed decisions related to the bioeconomy in the next decade.

There are at least two more conferences planned by Farm Foundation over the next couple of years to include implications of a global bioeconomy and extension education for a bioeconomy.

I’ll be in St. Louis to cover the events for Domestic Fuel and our sister web site, AgWired.com. See you there!

E85 Stations Exceed 1,800

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announced today that the number of E85 stations has now exceeded 1,800. There are currently 1,802 private and public refueling stations across the U.S. The number of facilities have grown 28 percent since October 2007.

“It’s exciting to see E85 stations grow so rapidly within the past year,” noted Executive Director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, Phil Lampert.

Currently, the states with the highest number of E85 sites are: Minnesota with 357, Illinois with 188 and Missouri with 112. Unfortunately, seven states do not offer E85 including: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Alaska and Hawaii.

Lampert added, “Fuel retailers have many incentives to add this clean, renewable product to their facilities. The spike in E85 fueling facilities is a direct reflection of the Federal income tax credit that the NEVC and our partners worked hard to implement in 2005. Additionally, the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 that allowed franchise operators to install E85 fueling sites are two of the most significant Federal actions that have been implemented to address the growth of E85 fueling nationally. We are hopeful that future federal actions will appropriate at least a part of the $200 million that was authorized in EISA to assist with continuing to expand the E85 fueling infrastructure.”

Distillers Grains Conference

A major by-product of ethanol production will be the focus of an international conference next week in Indianapolis.

The U.S. Grains Council and USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service are co-sponsoring the International Distillers Grains Conference with approximately 140 major foreign buyers, nutritionists, and feed ingredient importers expected to attend. The meeting will be held October 19-21 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Exports of DDGs expected to hit 3 million metric tons valued at an estimated $600 million this marketing year and next year they are projected to reach at least 4 million metric tons at $800 million, making this a major value-added commodity for the United States.

Registration for the conference is still open on-line at distillersgrainsconference.com.

Panda Ethanol Restructures

Panda Ethanol has announced the successful restructuring of funding arrangements on a 115-million gallon-per-year, biomass-fueled ethanol refinery in Hereford, Texas.

The restructuring was made with the support of the project’s lenders and will allow for the completion of construction and startup of the facility.

“The successful restructuring of the Hereford project’s funding arrangements represents a vote of confidence in our ability to manage the remaining construction at the Hereford facility,” said Darol Lindloff, chief executive officer of Panda Ethanol. “We continue to believe that, once completed, the Hereford refinery will be one of the most cost-efficient ethanol production facilities in the United States.”

Panda Ethanol expects to complete construction of the Hereford refinery by January 30, 2009. The company has disclosed that it may need to obtain additional working capital for the future operation of the facility depending on future market conditions and commodity pricing.

Ethanol Benefits Outweigh Costs

A senior economist with the nation’s largest general farm organization says the benefits of ethanol outweigh the costs.

AEM Terry FranclDuring the Association of Equipment Manufacturers AgExecutive forum in St. Louis last week, American Farm Bureau senior economist Terry Francl said that the consumer is seeing a benefit from ethanol.

“The bottom line on the ethanol side is that although it has driven up the cost of things such as feed and food to a certain extent, for every extra dollar that consumers spend for food, they have reduced gasoline costs approximately $2. So it’s a win-win situation for consumers, and for that matter, taxpayers,” Francl said.

The economist says people involved in agriculture and ethanol need to work harder to try and get this message out in the media and to the general public. “It’s not something that is easy because there are a lot of anti-ethanol people that provide a lot of misinformation but we just have to be vigilant and try and address those issues when they come up.”

While the American Farm Bureau is a general farm organization with equal representation from both the crop and livestock sectors, they have continued to support the development of ethanol and biodiesel because of the benefits they offer to the farm sector in general. Francl also points out that the farm equipment sector plays a vital role in helping to increase productivity so that producers can supply both food and fuel for the world.

Lots of good stuff in their presentations, which you can listen to here:

Wind Is Energy ‘Gift’ For Native Americans

“The buffalo were a gift,” [Tribal official Ken Haukaas] continued. “The wind is a gift.”

Native Americans on the Great Plains are harvesting a new gift these days… wind power. This story in the New York Times says tribes such as the Rosebud Sioux on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota are builidng wind turbine farms, which could give an economic boost to the tribes’ 29,000 members:

“We’re broke here,” Mr. Haukaas said. “We’re poor.” But, he added: “The wind is free. There’s energy here all the time.”

Mr. Haukaas believes that “the same thing that brought the buffalo brings the wind.”

“The buffalo were a gift,” he continued. “The wind is a gift.”

In 2003, after erecting a 750-kilowatt turbine that powers the Rosebud Casino near the Nebraska border, the Rosebud Sioux tribal council set its sights on building the Owl Feather War Bonnet wind farm, a 30-megawatt project that could power about 12,000 homes, each about 1,200 square feet.

After five years of negotiations with a non-Indian developer, Distributed Generation Systems Inc. of Colorado, the tribal council president, Rodney M. Bordeaux, said Thursday that he expected to sign a construction deal that would bring in some $5 million to the tribe over 20 years.

The article goes on to say that federal officials believe that wind energy could revitalize sagging Native American economies, but they admit that wind energy deals on Indian lands are few and far between… in fact, there’s just one… a 50-megawatt project on the Campo reservation near San Diego. But this latest deal could be a sign a new wind is blowing.

Mo Gov Candidates Debate But Agree on Alternative Energy

Candidates for governor in Missouri aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on much these days (and trust me… we’re hearing and seeing plenty of tit-for-tat attack ads here in Central Missouri), but Republican Kenny Hulshof and Democrat Jay Nixon did seem to agree on the importance of renewable energy during their debate this week in Kansas City.

According to this story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, both men see alternatives as key for the economy:

With pocketbook issues uppermost in voters’ minds, both men promised to create jobs by beefing up job training and aggressively marketing the state to employers.

Asked for specifics, Nixon said the state should encourage construction of a windmill plant and an auto assembly plant for flex-fuel vehicles. Hulshof called for an oil refinery and research funding to turn algae into biodiesel.

But just in case you thought this debate was any kind of love fest, it was the ONLY thing the two seemed to agree upon. Oh well… back to the attack ads.

Cellulosic Ethanol Company Goes Public

A South Dakota-based cellulosic ethanol company has gone public and changed its name.

KL EnergyKL Process Design Group is now KL Energy Corp, a move that will help the company generate funding to develop its second commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production facility.

Since January of 2008, the KL has been producing cellulosic ethanol using waste wood as feedstock, at a commercial scale facility near Upton, Wyoming. The plant has been supplying fuel grade ethanol this year for the American LeMans Series.

FEMA Buys Biodiesel Buses for New Orleans

New Orleans is getting some biodiesel buses… thanks to some money from the federal government.

This press release from Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has given the city the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) $44 million to replace… and to upgrade… 204 buses and 31 vans that were destroyed by flooding during Hurricane Katrina:

The standing FEMA policy would have resulted in RTA receiving 204 buses that were 12 years old, to match the age of the vehicles they were replacing. Instead, FEMA has agreed to obligate the money for as many as 115 new biodiesel buses, which cost about $380,000 each…

“I am so glad that FEMA has agreed to replace the RTA fleet with the type of buses that are needed,” Sen. Landrieu said. “The existing FEMA policy was not designed to handle the loss of an entire transit fleet, and putting forward millions of taxpayer dollars to find and purchase 10-year-old buses that would have required combined maintenance and replacement within a couple of years would not have been an effective use of government funds.

Landrieu had been a longtime advocate of changing the FEMA policy.

Ethanol in Focus at AEM Ag Executive Forum

Ethanol and biofuels in general were in the spotlight at a forum for agribusiness executives held this week in St. Louis by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

About 100 executives of farm equipment companies and other agribusinesses attended the one day event, which featured a number of presentations that focused on biofuels. Even those speakers who were addressing other topics ended up discussing ethanol and its impact on the agriculture industry.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers AgExec Forum Ed SchaferSecretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer started the forum off by discussing agriculture issues of today and the future, with the top two being trade and biofuels. “The continued development of the renewable fuels industry is critically important to the future growth of American agriculture,” Schafer said.

He talked about the release this week of the Biofuels Action Plan, which he calls “an essential road map that points out how we are going to meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.” He says the plan points out the way to use different feedstocks, what needs to be done to commercialize second generation biofuels, and the infrastructure needed.

Also talking about biofuels during the forum were Dr. Jay Lehr of The Heartland Institute, Terry Francl of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Allen Rider with 25x’25 and a panel of commodity organization representatives.

Ethanol Across America Paper Focuses on Higher Grain Prices

Recently, the Ethanol Across America education program released a White Paper titled: Ethanol Economics from Ranch to Restaurant, authored by Chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) Jim Jenkins. Jenkins is also cattleman and a restaurant owner. This White Paper presents a unique perspective on the impact of increased grain prices on his two businesses and how it may drive industry to more efficiency and greater profitability.

“A number of factors have led to the recent historic increase in commodity prices, but market forces are kicking in—creating stability, and profit opportunities for livestock producers, biofuels producers and the rural communities in which they live and do business,” noted Jenkins in the paper. “The advent of the biofuel industry is helping lead America out of decades of stagnant commodity prices—while, for the first time, providing consumers with a viable fuel choice for their vehicles.”

Ethanol Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan education campaign of the Clean Fuels Foundation and is sponsored by industry, government, and private interests. U.S. Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), Co-Chairmen.