Poultry Company Behind Ethanol Waiver Request

Governor Rick PerryAn article in the Houston Chronicle this week traces Texas Governor Rick Perry’s request for a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard back to a March 25 meeting with Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, owner of Pilgrim’s Pride, the country’s largest chicken producer.

Pilgrims PrideAccording to the article, Pilgrim gave $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association chaired by Perry shortly after that meeting.

In the following weeks, Pilgrim’s Pride lobbyists and public relations firm Public Strategies helped Perry’s staff work out the details of waiver request, which was submitted on April 25.

Getting More From Biodiesel By-products

Researchers at Rice University are finding more uses for the glut of glycerin brought about by the rise in popularity of biodiesel.

A story from the school says the researchers have found a way to use E. coli and other bacteria to turn glycerin into chemicals formate, succinate and other valuable organic acids. The article says the work is being featured in the journal Metabolic Engineering:

“Biodiesel producers used to sell their leftover glycerin, but the rapid increase in biodiesel production has left them paying to get rid of it,” said lead researcher Ramon Gonzalez, Rice’s William W. Akers Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “The new metabolic pathways we have uncovered paved the way for the development of new technologies for converting this waste product into high-value chemicals.”

About one pound of glycerin, also known as glycerol, is created for every 10 pounds of biodiesel produced. According to the National Biodiesel Board, U.S. companies produced about 450 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007, and about 60 new plants with a production capacity of 1.2 billion gallons are slated to open by 2010.

A year ago, this same team of Rice researchers found a way to convert glycerin into ethanol… at a cost of only about 40 percent of getting the green fuel from corn. This latest discovery is expected to help the bottom line of biodiesel producers.

REG Finishes Buy of US Biodiesel

Regulators have given Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group (REG) the green light for finalizing its buy of a U.S. Biodiesel plant in Houston, Texas.

This article from the Central Valley Business Times says REG will start producing biodiesel on July 7th:

The REG Houston facility could produce 35 million gallons per year it it runs at, or near, full capacity, the company says.

Under the contract, REG will manage production operations and ensure the finished biodiesel exceeds ASTM quality specifications. Soybean oil is expected to be the primary feedstock under the agreement.

The facility includes an on-site laboratory, raw material and finished product storage as well as truck, rail, deepwater and pipeline access.

All former U.S. Biodiesel Group employees at the Houston facility will remain on the job as REG staff.

First Blender Pump to Open in Kansas

Zarco 66The first blender pump in Kansas offering ethanol blended fuels of E20, E30 and E85 held a celebratory opening. Zarco 66 Earth Friendly Fuels Station at 2005 W. 9th Street (corner of 9th and Iowa streets) has been designed and built with a number of environmentally-friendly aspects.

“Blender pumps allow gas stations, like Zarco 66, to sell more blends of ethanol-enriched fuel to consumers driving flex-fuel vehicles giving them a choice for cleaner air,” said Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) Deputy Director, Robert White. “We are excited to partner with Zarco 66 to help with the opening of the state’s first blender pump, and I encourage other gas stations to research blender pump installation in their local markets.”

The ethanol dispensing unit was provided by DresserWayne. “‘We are pleased to be working with innovative retailers like Scott with Zarco who are truly pioneers for bringing renewable fuels to the marketplace. His use of our leading forecourt technology to not only improve his customers experience at the pump but to educate them about renewable fuels is a model for others to follow,” said Director, North America Product Management for Dresser Wayne, Scott Negley.

Including Zarco 66, there are 39 E85 fueling stations throughout the state of Kansas.

More Biodiesel Facts to Dispute Food-vs.-Fuel

An interesting piece was posted on the AgWeb.com web site that I thought made a pretty good argument in the food-versus-fuel debate.

Greg Anderson, a family farmer who grows soybeans near Newman Grove, Nebraska (and serves as an ex-officio member of the United Soybean Board Executive Committee) makes some pretty strong arguments that there is not a great food shortage brought on by the rise in popularity of biodiesel:

Historically, surplus soybean oil supplies dragged down the overall price of soybeans. There was, and still is, plenty of soybean oil for meeting the demands of food production. But the surplus needed to be utilized. That’s why the soybean checkoff helped develop the U.S. biodiesel industry through research funding to find new uses for soybean oil. One of those uses was soy biodiesel. Over time, the industry grew and provided great new opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers, not to mention increased energy security and environmental benefits for us all. This helped boost demand for soybeans, but not at the risk of sacrificing food use.

So where is the soybean oil going? Continue reading

Used Cooking Oil Powering Jacksonville’s Fleet

City vehicles in Jacksonville, Florida’s will be running more and more on biodiesel… and the green fuel will help clean up the city’s waste.

This story from the Jacksonville Business Journal says the city is making 100 percent biodiesel at its fuel depot and mixing it to B20 to run in its diesel-powered vehicles:

Fleet management picks up used cooking oil from Naval Station Mayport, The Avenues and Orange Park malls and two Hooter’s restaurants in Jacksonville. The Avenues mall operations manager, Jim Leitner, said the free exchange is working well. The city provided stainless steel tanks about a year ago and has a weekly collection service.

When the division can accurately gauge its weekly B100 production capacity, it can begin signing on other restaurants for the service. Division Chief Sam Houston said the program will be “big business — important, steady business” for the city.

The city has invested about $68,000 in the plant, mostly on equipment, since it opened a year ago. Erik Preacher, who’s in charge of inventory control and financial administration for fleet management, estimates that the plant will pay for itself within the first few months of full operation.

The money the city could save is substantial. B100 costs about $4 a gallon on the market but only about $1.50 a gallon to make. Considering that Jacksonville was already purchasing about 80,000 gallons a year in biodiesel and the city uses two million gallons of diesel a year (which could be replaced by the cheaper, home-brewed fuel), you could see how the savings would add up. Now while I’m not sure that there is enough used cooking oil to make up the two million gallons of petroleum diesel, this project is certainly a step in the right direction.

14 Stations to Receive Funding for E85 Infrastructure in Michigan

MI Dept. LaborA recent announcement was made by Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth Director Keith W. Cooley that will allow funding for E85 infrastructure at fourteen retail facilities throughout Michigan. This endeavor is part of an initiative that will bring more renewable fuels to the state.

“Investing in alternative energy infrastructure and promoting the use of ethanol is an important element of our effort to diversity Michigan’s economy,” Granholm said. “This program will help deliver the 267 million gallons of ethanol per year Michigan already produces and will deliver advanced cellulosic ethanol as it comes online.”

Stations will receive up to $70,000 to install their E85 infrastrucure. All have agreed to begin selling the alternative fuel by November 15 of this year. The awardees and cities they will be selling the fuel are:

Corrigan Oil Corp., (Brighton)
Coyne Oil Corp., (Mount Pleasant)
Downtown Wixom Development, (Wixom)
Haggerty Joy Mobil, (Canton)
Jawad Marathon, (Southfield)
Ten & Greenfield Sunoco, (Oak Park)
274 Gratiot Corp., (New Haven)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Cheboygan)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Davison)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Jackson)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Lansing)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Lansing)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Livonia)
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, (Ypsilanti)

Stations can also use the Federal income tax credit that will allow 30 percent of the cost of their project up to $30,000.

There are currently 70 E85 fueling facilties across the state of Michigan.

Iowa Farmers Keep High Harvest Expectations Despite Record Floods

Domestic Fuel Cast

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from Craig Floss, Chief Executive Officer for the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Julius Schaaf, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Gary Edwards of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #5:

You can also subscribe to the Domestic Fuel Cast using the following url/feed link: http://www.zimmcomm.biz/domesticfuel/domestic-fuel-cast.xml.

USDA Report Good News for Ethanol

NASSThe USDA Planted Acreage report out Monday was good news, although it does not yet reflect the damage from Midwest flooding.

Corn planted area is reported to be 1.31 million acres more than was estimated in the March intentions report at 87.3 million acres, down just 7 percent from last year. That is the second highest since 1946, behind last year’s total of 93.6 million acres. If it were all to make it, growers would harvest 78.9 million acres for grain, down 9 percent from 2007 and the second highest since 1944.

RFAPutting the acreage report in context with respect to America’s ethanol industry, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said it shows how American farmers are capable of meeting the growing demand for feed, food, fiber and fuel.

“This report once again demonstrates that together with agriculture, American ethanol producers can help lead this nation in new, renewable energy direction,” said Dinneen.

National Corn Growers Association chairman Ken McCauley says his corn in Northeast Kansas looks good right now and it’s important to remember that there is plenty of corn being grown outside of Iowa.

“I tell you what, everybody is going to produce some corn,” McCauley said. “Iowa will produce a lot of corn and when you get down to it we’re gonna have a good corn crop and it could even be one of the better one or two or three.”

Listen to an interview with Ken here:

New EPIC Board Member Calls for a Cohesive Ethanol Industry

Another representative of Fagen Incorporated has joined the ranks in the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Matt Sederstrom of Platinum Ethanol is a new board member, elected at EPIC’s first annual meeting earlier this month.

Matt says he hopes to drive a solid cohesiveness in the ethanol industry, bringing more members and industry partners together for a common cause.

“Now more than ever you’re probably seeing a need for us to step up and be more of a cohesive industry,” Matt said. He echoed LifeLine Foods‘ Dave Vander Griend saying “everyone has to shoulder the load.”

Chuck spoke with Matt at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

Biodiesel Boat Shatters World Record

Sixty days after it left port in Sagunto, Spain… and 14 days ahead of the previous world record… the 100 percent biodiesel-powered boat, Earthrace, has finished circling the globe faster than any other boat ever has before.

This update comes from the Earthrace’s web site:

Sagunto, Spain, 27 June 2008, 13.24 GMT: Earthrace, the world’s fastest eco-boat, has smashed the world speed record for a powerboat to circumnavigate the globe, knocking almost 14 days off the previous record.

The boat crossed the finish line in Sagunto at 13.42 GMT on Friday 27 June having travelled around 24,000 nautical miles fuelled by biodiesel to demonstrate and draw global attention to the potential for alternative fuel sources.

“This fantastic team of people and our astonishing boat have broken the record by a massive margin, said Pete Bethune, New Zealand skipper and owner of Earthrace, “I finally feel that all the sacrifices made, especially by my wife and daughters, have been worth it. I don’t even know how to begin to thank all the individuals and companies that have supported us along the way, some of them since the very beginning over five years ago. Without them, none of this would have been possible”

While it is the end of this world-record ride, it’s not necessarily the end of the road for the Earthrace. The boat and crew will start a two-year promotional tour, visiting Europe, the Caribbean, US and Australia, before returning home to New Zealand.

Big Wind Projects Not the Only Solution

While big wind farms are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s plan to have wind power make up 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply by 2030. But at least one small wind power generator is saying, “Don’t forget about the little guys.”

A press release from Kentucky-based Wind Energy Corporation, which uses a unique sail-like design (pictured right) for its wind turbines that is more friendly to birds and bats, says the company’s CEO, James R. Fugitte, says the DOE’s “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030″ report puts too much focus on large-scale wind farms, new transmission lines and an overall major expansion of the electricity grid system in the U.S.:

“Utility-scale electricity, whether provided by fossil fuels or renewable sources like wind and solar, is not the sole answer to what ails us,” said Fugitte. “The best way for communities, institutions and commercial enterprises to mitigate rising fuel costs is to invest in on-site renewable energy generation assets that can work in conjunction with their traditional sources of power. On-site ownership also greatly accelerates attention to conservation.”

Wind Energy Corporation is a pioneer in the untapped commercial and community distributive energy market. “Distributive” means providing power directly to, and under the control of, consumers and businesses. While the government is focused solely on large wind farms designed to sell electricity into the overtaxed national power grid, Wind Energy Corporation is bringing an alternative wind energy solution to the marketplace. Continue reading

GM Announces 18 FFVs for Model Year 2009

GMDETROIT – General Motors will offer 18 flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in model year 2009. The number of E85 compatible vehicle models available in 2009 is a sharp increase from the past following the group’s commitment to making their line at least half E85 compatible by 2012.

“We continue to believe that biofuels, specifically E85, is the most significant thing we can do in the near-term to offset future energy demands,” said Beth Lowery, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. “We are on target to make 50 percent of our vehicles flex-fuel capable by 2012 providing the infrastructure is in place.”

The models cover the gamut from the four-cylinder Chevrolet HHR small crossover to the full-size Cadillac Escalade ESV luxury utility.

Infrastructure includes both the availability of the E85 fuel and stations where it is sold. Currently, there are more than 1,600 E85 stations thorughout the U.S.

GM cars and trucks account for 3 million of the 7 million flex-fuel vehicles on U.S. roadways and the company produced more than 1 million flex-fuel models in North America and Brazil last year.

Below is the listing of 2009 models GM offers that include flex-fuel capability at no additional charge to the customer:

Chevrolet: Avalanche, Express, HHR, HHR Panel, Impala, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe

GMC: Savana, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL

Cadillac: Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT

Hummer: H2, H2 SUT

Buick: Lucerne

“We are pleased to see the increasing number of models of FFVs that General Motors will be offering during model year 2009 and are especially excited about the new 4 cylinder addition to their E85 model lineup,” stated Executive Director of the NEVC, Phil Lampert.

E85 Stations Rise Above 1600

The Glenville Mobil Mart in Glenville, New York is the proud 1,600th E85 fueling facility. The station is located at 245 Saratoga Road in Glenville, New York and the milestone was made just in recent weeks when they began selling the alternative fuel.

NYSERDA“We decided to sell E85 to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Stephen Weekes, President of Glenville Mobil. “We need E85.”

The station currently sells regular unleaded gasoline as E10 and diesel. They are open 24 hours and offer a full convenience store and 24 hour Dunkin Donuts. The 5000 E85 tank supplies four E85 nozzles.

Glenville Mobil received a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority which contributed to half the cost of the E85 infrastructure.

At this time last year, only 1230 stations were providing E85.

EPIC Board Embraces Veteran Experience with Ethanol

Gary Pestorious (pictured speaking with EPIC founder Ron Fagen) isn’t new to ethanol nor to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Gary was elected for another term as an EPIC board member at the organization’s first annual meeting.

As a two year veteran with EPIC, one thing Gary stresses is EPIC’s role in the ethanol industry. He says EPIC is not a political arm, rather its an organization meant to do exactly what its name states “promote and inform.”

Gary says informing the public is crucial to the growth of the industry, “once [consumers have] understood the truths, they’re always for ethanol… If you understand ethanol you will vote for it.”

Chuck spoke with Gary at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here: