BioBox Mini Offers Small-scale Biodiesel Production

Pacific Natural EnergyBiodiesel production is going from large-scale to small-scale. Pacific Natural Energy is introducing the BioBox Mini to offer smaller companies efficient and effective biodiesel production through a single 20-foot cargo container.

With minimal cost and equipment, entry-level customers have the ability to lead the masses towards biodiesel independence. The BioBox Mini can process up to 400,000 gallons per year of ASTM-quality biodiesel and costs less than $250,000. That translates to a ROI of approximately six months, including a production build-up period.

The BioBox Mini includes all the required equipment to start your own complete commercial biodiesel production business:

— PNE 25 SS “Mini” – Turnkey Biodiesel Processor
— 2,750-gallon total capacity WVO filtration/dewatering/storage system
— 400-gallon WVO vacuum suction tank
— One-hundred 55-gallon WVO collection lids

“No one gets left to fend for themselves. We want biodiesel to succeed, and that means every customer must succeed,” says Eric McLeod, PNE’s founder and CEO.

PNE says the BioBox Mini offers a minimum of 400 gallons of biodiesel per 8-hour batch. The company also promises to offer both training and an on-site PNE representative to run the facility for the first several weeks of BioBox operation.

PNE has a YouTube video to help customers understand how their products can help them become biodiesel-independent:

Brown Gets Even Greener

UPSBack in March John posted info that the shipping giant UPS was ramping up its efforts to do business the GREEN way when it added 167 compressed natural gas (CNG) powered delivery trucks to its fleet.

Now, old brown is outdoing itself. UPS has placed an order with DTNA’s Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation for the largest order of alternative-fuel and drive-train commercial vehicles to date. This time, UPS will be adding 300 CNG vehicles to its fleet, plus, 200 hybrid electric vehicles.

These environmental friendly vehicles are part of Daimler’s world-wide “Shaping Future Transportation” initiative and will be used by UPS for daily delivery operations across the United States and will function in concert with their current fleet of conventional diesel powertrain vehicles.

Daimler FreightlinerFCCC is the first manufacturer in the industry to introduce hybrid commercial vehicles into fleet operations, with over 160 HEVs in service since 2004, in addition to over 1,000 CNG-fueled chassis in service since 2000.

The hybrid-electric power train, combined with a diesel engine and electric motor, drive the FCCC chassis to achieve an over 40% improvement in fuel economy and an over 90% reduction in emissions compared to baseline non-hybrid vehicles.

UPS expects its fleet of hybrid trucks to save 176,000 gallons of fuel and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,786 tons each year.

Major Wind Project Planned for Minnesota

In a move to expand its renewable wind energy development, while reducing carbon emissions, Minnesota Power has announced a plan to buy a North Dakota power line and use that infrastructure to move wind-generated electricity.

This article from Finance and Commerce says that the Duluth-based company has already been buying about half of the coal-generated power that has been moving through the line:

The transmission line will instead be used to pipe wind power to Minnesota customers. Mullen said the majority of Minnesota Power’s energy is derived from coal, and the transition will help the company meet the state standard of 25 percent renewable energy. The plan is to transfer the line’s the power source from coal to wind over the course of a decade, shifting to 100 percent wind energy by 2025.

“We’re finding it very competitive right now to go out and find the right renewable energy mix,” including power from water, wind and wood, [vice president of marketing and public affairs with Minnesota Power Pat] Mullen said. “This project alone should get us to, and probably exceed, our renewable energy goal.”

Minnesota Power owns two 50-megawatt wind farms near Young Unit 2 that are already up and running.

Mullen said the utility plans to begin developing several hundred megawatts of new wind generation near Center, N.D., once the transmission line purchase is complete.

Minnesota Power serves 141,000 retail customers, as well as some of the biggest industrial companies in the country.

Old Ducks Getting New Biodiesel

One of the fixtures of Boston Harbor are the World War II-era amphibious landing vehicles, affectionately known as “ducks.” Those tourist-carrying ducks are going to have more than water rolling off their backs… they’ll have carbon emissions rolling away as they switch to cleaner burning biodiesel.

This story in the Boston Herald says Boston Duck Tours has been wanting to make the change for some time, and now it is making the green fuel part of its package:

The $300,000 vehicles initially will run on a B5 biodiesel fuel blend that’s 5 percent vegetable oil, according to director of vehicle maintenance Tony Cerulle. The vehicles’ manufacturer will only cover the one-year warranty for their diesel engines if that mix is used.

“We’ll probably go up to 40 percent or 50 percent (vegetable oil) after that,” Cerulle said. “But the real savings is if you were to run straight vegetable oil or blend your own biodiesel.”

Five “ducks” will run on the green fuel.

Biodiesel Maker Practicing What It Preaches

A Colorado biodiesel producer is following its commitment to making the green fuel by moving its headquarters into a green building. Blue Sun Biodiesel has moved into one of just 26 Leadership and Energy and Environmentalism Design (LEED)-certified buildings in the world.

This article from Biodiesel Magazine says LEED means the building reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent to promote a “whole-building” approach to sustainability:

“Blue Sun Biodiesel is working to reduce their carbon output at all stages through careful management and process,” said Mike Miller, president of Blue Sun Biodiesel.

The move testifies to Blue Sun’s commitment to green business practices, said Jeff Probst, chief executive officer of Blue Sun. “With the decision to locate our headquarters in a sustainable building, we’ve shown our commitment,” he said.

“It is important to be committed to the core principles of your business in every way,” Miller said. “Blue Sun Biodiesel recognizes that everything we do, including the office in which we work, should say something about the quality of products we offer and our industry leading principles.”

Ethanol Impact is Sobering

Biofuels have become an essential component of the world’s motor fuel supply, according to a report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEAIEA estimates that biofuels will account for nearly two-thirds of the non-OPEC oil supply growth this year, or more than 1.5 million gallons per day.

“While it seems unlikely that biofuel targets will be reversed in the near future, it is sobering to realize the amount of oil that would be needed to replace them,” the IEA report said.

According to the report, replacing the global supply of ethanol and biodiesel-based biofuels added to the U.S. and European markets since 2005 would require an additional 1 million barrels of crude oil to be processed per day.

Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen says the report points out the importance of ethanol production. “In the face of record oil, gasoline and diesel prices, it might seem pennywise but would be pound foolish to walk away from our commitment to biofuels and a diversified energy future,” he said.

Bill Would Give Tax Break for Flex Fuel Vehicles

Now would be a good time for legislation that would provide federal tax credits for purchases of flex-fuel vehicles, according to the head of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC).

ThuneSen. John Thune (R-SD) plans to introduce a bill this week that would let buyers of cars or trucks capable of running on up to 85 percent ethanol enriched fuel claim a $1,000 tax credit.

“As the ethanol industry approaches the pending ‘blend wall,’ Senator Thune’s legislation may be an idea whose time has come,” says NEVC executive director Phil Lampert.

NEVCAccording to Lampert, NEVC has discussed the idea in the past considering the federal income tax credits that are provided to vehicles that are capable of operating on propane, natural gas, electricity, and hybrid vehicles but had decided not to push the issue since “automakers producing FFVs don’t currently add additional costs to the retail price of these products.”

Thune, who was among a bipartisan group of Senators that sent a letter last week to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), says his legislation would encourage consumers to buy more flex-fuel vehicles, which would in turn increase demand for E-85 and blender pumps.

Sweet Source for Ethanol

A sweet source for ethanol could be a smart choice for food and fuel that can grow almost anywhere.

ICRISATAccording to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), sweet sorghum may be the perfect crop for ethanol production. It grows in dry conditions, tolerates heat, salt and waterlogging, and provides steady income for poor farmers.

ICRISAT Director General Dr. William Dar says, “We consider sweet sorghum an ideal ‘smart crop’ because it produces food as well as fuel.”

Sweet SorghumUnlike sugarcane, sweet sorghum can be grown in many different areas. It is the world’s fifth largest grain crop—behind rice, corn, wheat and barley – grown on more than 107 million acres in 99 countries with United States, Nigeria, India, China, Mexico, Sudan and Argentina being the leading producers.

Last year, ICRISAT helped to build and operate the world’s first commercial ethanol plant using sweet sorghum as a feedstock, together with farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India. Scientists from ICRISAT and from India’s National Research Centre for Sorghum (NRCS) have developed varieties of sweet sorghum that would contribute to a reliable and steady supply of sweet juice for ethanol production.

Greasy Thieves Stealing Biodiesel Bounty

A few years ago, restaurants couldn’t GIVE the stuff away… literally. But now that people have figured out how to turn used, dirty, old cooking grease into clean-burning biodiesel, what used to be waste is now a hot commodity… so hot that thieves are starting to snatch up the used grease.

We told you about this problem last August 20th. Now, this story from the Christian Science Monitor says the thefts of the now-valuable used cooking oil are on the rise nationwide:

In March, grease bandits in South Bend, Ind., broke bin locks to get to their oozy booty. One collector, Griffin Industries Inc., has two detectives working cases in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and against an entire grease gang in northern Arkansas.

Grease is a traded commodity like gold or pork bellies, and its price has tripled in the past two years – leading to increased theft. The reason: Grease can be used to make bio-diesel and has seen the same price spike as corn and other biofuel inputs.

“We monitor grease theft on a regular basis. Right now it’s a big issue,” says Christopher Griffin, director of legal affairs for Griffin Industries Inc. in Cold Spring, Ky. The company collects raw grease in 20 states and boils and filters it into “yellow grease,” which is what is used to make biodiesel.

Yellow grease is becoming liquid gold. It now trades on US commodities markets for 32 cents per pound, up from a low of 12 cents in 2006, according to data from The Jacobsen website.

“People who were not in the industry in 2006 are seeing this is a moneymaker,” says Mr. Griffin. The trouble for these grease greenhorns, he says, is that there’s no free grease anymore – it’s all under contract. “So those people, if they can’t get the volume of grease they want, then they will just steal it.”

The story goes on to say that police departments, which used to think the grease theft reports were just jokes, now take them seriously. And the problem has gotten so bad there’s a lawyer out there who specializes in defending these grease thieves. Now there’s a greasy shyster if ever there was one!

Big Plans for Biodiesel in Miami

The City of Miami is moving forward with plans to run a thousand of its vehicles on biodiesel.

This story from Emerging Energy News
, based on a report from the South Florida Business Journal, says Mayor Manny Diaz has received the green light from the city council and has signed into law the measure to make the conversion:

Biodiesel of South Florida, led by Federico Garcia-Cartaya, reportedly emerged as the top bidder for the biodiesel supply contract, according to the report. Biodiesel of South Florida’s supplies will be drawn from soybeans grown in the United States.

Diaz aimed to have 1,000 city vehicles operating on hybrid technology or alternative fuels by 2012. The mayor has identified biodiesel and ethanol as the two main alternative fuels in his campaign.

The article goes on to say that nearby Coral Gables is already testing biodiesel… but on a much smaller scale.

Green Star Releases Report on Algae-to-Biodiesel

Green Star Products has released a report that shows the company’s progress in the new field of algae-based biodiesel.

In a press release, Green Star says its 40,000 liter demonstration facility in Montana is one of the world’s largest and has served as a scientific and engineering milestone towards the commercial production of algae for energy and food:

The algae industry is in such an embryonic state that very few people even understand the real algae production problems, much less, claim solutions for the production of algae.

Contents of the 20-page report are available on Green Star’s web site:

Phase I now is complete and has been successful in controlling the most important variables in algae production, i.e. temperature of water in large systems, salinity (salt content), evaporation, pH (acidity-alkalinity) and most all initial costs of construction.

Experts agree that the major hurdles in production of algae are associated with the control of the mechanical and physical parameters of the growth environment for the algae and the high capital costs of construction of that environment.”

Many suitable high-lipid (oil) algae species have been cultivated and already exit to produce the First Generation of sustainable energy farms. Present available algae species can produce 4,000 gallons of oil per acre each year, which is 50 times greater than the oil yield from oilseed crops such as soybean or canola crops.

The press release goes on to say that the development of algae as a biodiesel source will help the world solve the energy crunch, global warming, and the food supply crisis simultaneously.

Minnesota Adopts Biggest Biodiesel Standard

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has signed into law a measure that will increase his state’s biodiesel mandate from 2 percent currently to a whopping 20 percent by 2015.

As you might remember from my post last Friday (May 9th), the standard will be phased in over the next several years and will only be in effect when there’s adequate supplies of biodiesel available. In addition, due to Minnesota’s cold winters, the standard will apply only during the months of April, May, June, July, August, September, and October.

The news was welcomed, obviously, by the National Biodiesel Board:

Ed Hegland, Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board and a Minnesota farmer, praised the legislation’s commitment to fuel quality. “The legislation includes quality assurance and national ASTM fuel specifications,” he said. “We will continue to work with state leaders and stakeholders impacted by this legislation to ensure only quality fuel continues to enter the marketplace.”

The measure also calls for additional feedstocks of algae, waste oils, and tallow, as well as other future feedstocks being researched in the state make up 5 percent of the biodiesel’s content.

Ethanol Group Names Deputy Director

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has promoted Robert White to the new position of Deputy Director.

Robert WhiteWhite joined EPIC in 2006 as Director of Operations. He has played a major role in the expansion of E85 across the country. White also spearheaded the effort for a uniform labeling effort at the pump, which now has the EPIC “e” logo approved for use at retail outlets in 30 states. His latest accomplishment is the start of a blender pump program for the industry.

Prior to joining EPIC, White was the Deputy Director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC). He has served on various boards and advisory committees, and has worked in the corn and sorghum industries on ethanol affairs.

Iowa to Increase Ethanol and Biodiesel Infrastructure

A new state law will help expand ethanol and biodiesel availability in the state.

Iowa Governor CulverAmid several bills signed by Iowa Governor Chet Culver on Monday was one that makes changes to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program created in 2006 to expand renewable fuel infrastructure and access to renewable fuels all across Iowa.

Among the changes are enhanced grants for E85 and biodiesel infrastructure, bonus grants for adding pumps at multiple retail outlets, allowing retailers to receive grants for both E85 and biodiesel pumps, and allowing blender pumps to qualify for the grant program.

Governor Culver says the law “modernizes the very successful state renewable fuels infrastructure program and makes biofuels more accessible and available for individuals traveling throughout Iowa.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says the bill will boost Iowa’s efforts to bring more E85 and biodiesel to Iowa consumers. “Roughly 80 percent of Iowa flexible fuel vehicle owners do not have access to E85 within their ZIP code,” said Shaw. “This proactive legislation should cause petroleum wholesalers and retailers to rethink the profit potential for adding renewable fuels to their product mix.”

The bill also calls for the creation of a state-wide renewable fuels marketing plan and marketing campaign for owners of flex fuel vehicles.

Look To Ohio For Fuel Cell Innovation

Fuel Cell CorridorOhio describes itself as a leader in the fuel cell industry and a prominent figure in clean energy innovations. And, to support its claim, the state will host the Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium at the University of Akron this Tuesday and Wednesday (May 11-12). The Ohio Business Development Coalition wants to showcase the state’s “nurturing business environment” for renewable energy.

Fresh on the heels of the passage of Ohio’s Energy Bill, the Symposium provides an opportunity for fuel cell industry leaders to discuss the critical role of alternative energy resources for Ohio’s future.

This month, Ohio Gov. Strickland signed into law a landmark energy reform bill that will require at least 25 percent of the electricity sold in Ohio to be generated from advanced energy technology by 2025 — with a minimum of 12.5 percent from renewable energy resources. At the same time, Ohio government leaders have agreed to pursue a jobs and economic development stimulus package that will provide $150 million in advanced energy supply chain funding to further stimulate industry development.

Ohio is one of the few places in the world where you can find all phases of fuel cell development taking place. The state is also home to the Ohio Fuel Cell Initiative, a multi-million-dollar program that aims to spur job creation in Ohio while positioning the state as a national leader in the growing fuel cell industry.