E85 in Atlanta

e85 PumpThe greater Atlanta metro area officially welcomed its first E85 station station last week, thanks to help from General Motors, CleanFUEL Distribution, SP Petroleum, and Indore Oil. The pump is located at the Texaco Food Mart in Smyrna.

CleanFUEL Distribution supplied the necessary E85 conversion parts and equipment, which were used to convert the dispenser to E85 compatibility. SP Petroleum performed the equipment conversion service, and CleanFUEL Distribution, along with its partner Indore Oil, are providing and transporting the fuel to the station.

Atlanta is the third of six stops on GM’s E85 Fall Kick-off of the Fuel for Thought Tour, an effort to educate consumers about the use of E85 as an alternative to gasoline. According to GM officials, another 20 to 25 E85 pumps will open around Georgia in the next six months.

Ethanol Blended Gasoline Record

The Energy Information Administration gasoline supply and production information released Nov. 7 indicates a new record for ethanol blended with conventional gasoline.

The Weekly Supply Estimates Report shows that conventional gasoline blending with ethanol reached an all-time high of 2.119 million barrels per day as of the week ending Friday, Nov. 2.

Such so-called discretionary blending is not required under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Georgia Groundbreaking Marks Cellulosic Milestone

Range Fuels PerdueGeorgia Governor Sonny Perdue welcomed a new phase in ethanol production to his state with Range Fuels’ groundbreaking of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant this week.

“Georgia is proud to partner with Range Fuels to lead the nation in delivering cellulosic ethanol as a solution to America’s dependence on foreign and fossil fuels,” said Governor Perdue. “Our abundance of natural resources, as well as our growing bioenergy research and development community and access to global markets firmly establish Georgia at the forefront of the national movement to a higher level of renewable energy.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman also attended the ceremony Tuesday at the site of the plant in Soperton, Georgia.

“Together, the Department of Energy and Range Fuels are blending science and technology in order to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. The biorefinery soon to stand on this site is the result of President Bush’s initiatives to expand the use of homegrown alternative fuels, protect the environment, and enhance the nation’s energy security,” Bodman said.

The first two phases of the Range Fuels project, in which the Department of Energy is playing a cost-sharing role, is projected to process 1000 tons per day of wastewood to produce about 30 million gallons of biofuels and chemicals.

Green Gadgets Produce Portable Power

This week is “Green Week” as NBC promotes various ways of saving energy, and, thus, saving the planet. If you happened to be watching the Sunday Night Football Game on NBC, you might have noticed the halftime show was done without the normal studio lighting (I think it was Bob Costas who said there were more dim bulbs than normal in the studio that night).

This posting on SciFi.com lists the top seven gadgets that are able to produce portable power. One gadget, in particular, that caught my eye was number five on the list… the Micro Wind Turbine:

microwindturbine.jpg5. Micro Wind Turbine
Want a surefire icebreaker at the beach, the cottage or the stadium parking lot next week? Just bring along Atlantic Power Master’s Micro Wind Turbine, set it up, offer to plug everyone in — and you’ll be renewable energy-powered party central. The turbine generates about half the amount of power used by a typical home, and it’s small, lightweight, and easy to set up. It’s also kind of portable (more like transportable) — just plan for someone else to bring the cooler. Oh, and get there early — we’re told it can take three hours to set up. Ah, that’s just pre-game anyway. It’s available now for a little under (gulp) $10,000.

Missouri Biodiesel Maker Hits Quality Standard

Mid-America Biofuels of Mexico, Missouri has become the first biodiesel maker in the state to achieve an important quality standard. The company’s biodiesel has met the standards of the BQ-9000 voluntary fuel quality assurance program. The program is overseen by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC) and has been adopted by the National Biodiesel Board and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.

nbb-logo.jpgThis NBB release has more:

“Mid-America Biofuels is committed to producing quality biodiesel, and we are pleased to become an accredited BQ-9000 Biodiesel Producer under the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program,” said Cliff Smith, general manager, Mid-America Biofuels. “This accreditation is the next step in ensuring that our customers receive the highest quality biodiesel available.”

Twenty biodiesel production facilities have been accredited as producers under the program, and nine are Certified Marketers of biodiesel.

Candidates Vye for Iowa Biodiesel Vote

clinton.jpgPresidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and John McCain (R-Arizona) made separate stops at two Renewable Energy Group biodiesel facilities during their campaigns in Iowa today.

mccain-bus.jpgClinton toured the 30-million gallon REG network biodiesel production facility in Newton, while McCain attended the ribbon-cutting of the new REG headquarters in Ames. The fact that two national candidates are pushing biodiesel is a welcome sight to the National Biodiesel Board:

“These two visits in the same day exemplify the bipartisan recognition of biodiesel’s many benefits, ranging from economic development to energy security to climate change,” said Darryl Brinkmann, who serves as Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and spoke at the event. “The NBB applauds efforts to increase public awareness of the many benefits associated with expanded biodiesel production and use.”

Keep in mind, though, that neither one has been a great advocate of biofuels when it really counted: during their votes in the U.S. Senate. Back on June 5th, I told you about McCain’s flip-flopping ways when it comes to alternative energy with this from a UPI article:

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., skipped the Iowa caucuses, perhaps sensing that, among other things, his opposition to ethanol subsidies would not go over well in a corn-growing state like Iowa.

Seven years later, he is crisscrossing the country again to win support for his bid to become the Republican presidential nominee, and this time his route includes stops in Iowa.

The article points out that in a speech in Virginia in April McCain said that while he would encourage the growth of ethanol infrastructure, he still won’t sign off on government subsidies.

Clinton is a bit of a fair-weathered friend of biofuels as well, as I pointed out in a July 24th post from this Newsday article:

At one time, Clinton stood squarely with ethanol’s opponents, and voted several times against ethanol bills.

When the Senate last took up ethanol-related legislation in 2005, the former first lady unsuccessfully opposed requiring refiners to boost their use of renewable fuels and the 51-cent tax credit.

Previously, she had warned that requiring added ethanol would bring higher gasoline prices and environmental risks.

“We are providing a single industry with a guaranteed market for its products — subsidies on top of subsidies on top of subsidies and, on top of that, protection from liability,” she said during an April 2002 Senate energy bill debate. “What a sweetheart deal.”

So let’s see where both these candidates REALLY stand when the Iowa Caucuses are over.

Could Biobutanol Beat Cellulosic to Market?

BiobutanolDuPont and BP are working to bring a next generation biofuel to market on a commercial scale and officials are optimistic that it might get there before cellulosic ethanol.

Philip NewIn an interview with Ethanol Statistics, Philip New, President of BP Biofuels, said “he wants to avoid setting expectations that are inappropriate on the basis of cutting edge biotech. We (BP) have our targets, but I hope that we will have butanol available on a commercial scale, before we have cellulosic ethanol on an economically sound basis.”

New says biobutanol potentially has some advantages over traditional ethanol and yet is still a corn-based fuel. “There is an interesting dilemma facing the biofuels industry called the E10 wall. Some countries will want or need to go beyond a 10% ethanol blend, but we have a car fleet that is overwhelmingly E5 or E10 capable. Flex-fuel vehicle sales are increasing in the United States, but not enough to increase consumption significantly beyond 10%. The properties of butanol allow you to blend it with gasoline up to 18%, which buys you time to increase the market share of flex-fuel vehicles. In addition, you can transport butanol through pipelines and it has 88% of the mileage of gasoline, compared to under 70% for ethanol.”

New addressed an audience of managers and CEO’s about the future of biofuels at a next generation biofuels market conference in Amsterdam last month.

Legislation Would Increase RFS Without Energy Bill

Concerns about a languishing energy bill in Congress are motivating Senators to take action that would increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) even without it.

U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) have introduced legislation called the Renewable Fuels Strategy Act of 2007 that contains several provisions including a larger Renewable Fuels Standard of 36 billion gallons of annual renewable fuel use by 2022.

ACEThe 20th annual American Coalition for Ethanol praised the act, according to Executive Vice President Brian Jennings, “A comprehensive approach to the production, distribution, and consumption of ethanol is absolutely crucial to advancing this country’s energy situation from its current state to a more positive, diversified future.”

The bill also calls for increased production of Flexible Fuel Vehicles and expanded renewable fuels infrastructure, including an increase in the tax credit from 30% to 50%. The infrastructure provisions apply to E85 pumps, but also to Blender Pumps, which dispense mid-level ethanol blends between 10% and 85%.

The Renewable Fuels Strategy Act is co-sponsored by Senators Lugar (R-IN), Cantwell (D-WA), Craig (R-ID), Johnson (D-SD), McCaskill (D-MO), and Klobuchar (D-MN).

In addition, Senators Domenici (R-NM), Nelson (D-NE), Grassley (R-IA) and Thune (R-SD), introduced a Renewable Fuels Standard amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill that specifically calls for the production of 21 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by the year 2022.

Massachusetts Bill Proposes Biofuels Targets

masslawmakers.jpgMassachusetts lawmakers will consider a proposal designed to increase that state’s use of biofuels. State Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Sal DiMasi, working with Governor Deval Patrick, filed a bill today that sets usage standards and creates a state Biofuels Task Force, responsible for addressing issues, such as energy crop incentives, tax credits for advanced biofuels research and development, fuel performance standards, and requirements to produce flex-fuel vehicles.

This story in the Mass High Tech version of the Bizjournals.com has more:

Specifically, the bill would require the use of biodiesel in all blends of transportation and heating fuels, starting at 2 percent biodiesel in 2010 and increasing to 5 percent in 2013. The state would also eliminate the gasoline excise tax on cellulosic ethanol.

The Task Force will design and submit recommendations for a more comprehensive biofuels program by the end of March, according to officials.

School’s Grassroots Biodiesel Now Fueling Buses

gaston.gifWhat started as a project to brew biodiesel in some old pots from the school cafeteria has turned into a 100,000-gallon-a-year production line that saves the school an estimated $125,000 a year in fuel costs.

This story in the Charlotte (NC) Observer says two years ago, the Gaston County Schools started making their own biodiesel from leftover grease from a local cracker factory, school cafeterias, and local restaurants and is the first school district in the state to make its own fuel:

“Grady [Truett, the schools' assistant transportation director] came to us and said, `I can make diesel,’ ” said Transportation Director Baxter Starr. Starr smiled in disbelief, but he listened. And he supported the idea.

Starr and schools’ Superintendent Reeves McGlohon are proud of the program — especially because their biodiesel is easier on the lungs of the children who ride Gaston buses, they say.

That was Truett’s original inspiration.

“People might not know this, but school-bus emissions are worse inside the bus than outside,” Truett said. “That small particulate soot goes deep in your lungs. It doesn’t stop at your nose.”

Gaston uses a mix of biodiesel and regular diesel. Running the buses with straight biodiesel requires a lot of filter-changing, and the straight biodiesel thickens at cold temperatures.

The department has taken on the fuel-making without adding extra employees, Starr said. Next year, Starr may ask the administration for another person to run a second production shift.

The article goes on to say that Truett was able to find the biodiesel brewing equipment for cheap on the Internet and through old military surplus and other equipment… saving the district even more.

Now that’s what I call a quality education!

Georgia Cellulosic Plant Groundbreaking

Range FuelsA cellulosic ethanol company funded by California-based Khosla Ventures is holding a groundbreaking this week for its first planned facility in Georgia.

The Tuesday event at Range Fuels in Soperton, Georgia will include remarks from Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Range Fuels CEO Mitch Mandich and Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla.

The facility has a goal of producing 100 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol from wood residues and wood-based energy crops, with a first phase of producing 20 million gallons annually sometime in 2008. Range Fuels is receiving a $76 million grant from the US Department of Energy to help fund the project.

Pacer Named Georgia Biofuels Pioneer

PacerPacer Fuels of Austell, GA., has been named a “Pioneer in Biofuels” by Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin. Pacer Fuels, the sole provider of alternative fuels to the fleet of vehicles operated by Peachtree City (PC), was honored for its development and marketing of biofuels.

Here, in a ceremonial fueling of a PC Fire Truck, are; Charise Stephens, Georgia Clean Cities Coalition; Steve Atkins, PC fire fighter; Jill Stuckey, GA Environmental Facilities Authority; PC Mayor Harold Logsdon; Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin; Paul Tomaszewski, co-owner, Pacer Fuels; Janice Furguson, co-owner, Pacer Fuels; and Millie Lowenthal, Pacer Fuels, alternative fuels coordinator.

Biodiesel Documentary Maker Screening Film

revolutiongreendvd.gifJessica Kelly, maker of the documentary “Revolution Green: A True Story of Biodiesel in America,” returned to her alma mater, the University of Colorado, for a screening this past weekend of her movie.

jessicakelly.jpgIn a story from Boulder’s (CO) Daily Camera, Kelly explains that a year ago on Thanksgiving she was at Willie Nelson’s home, and the oil used to fry the turkeys was turned into fuel for her ride home. Her film introduces biodiesel maker Bob King:

bobking.jpgA decade ago, King chose to solve a grease overflow problem at Maui’s landfill. He now has turned that grease waste into biodiesel fuel and built 10 biodiesel plants across the country.

After the free-screening on the Colorado campus, Kelly held a biodiesel question-and-answer session.

“Really, our main focus is we want people to learn about biodiesel after watching the film and realize that one person can make a difference,” Kelly said.

Senators Urge Consideration of Higher Ethanol Blends

ThuneSenator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) led a bi-partisan group of Senators in writing a letter to the President last week urging him to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to approve higher blends of ethanol in commercial gasoline. The current maximum blend for non-flex fuel vehicles is 10% ethanol.

“The current 10% standard, or blend wall, will soon impact production capacity and could be very harmful to the ethanol industry in South Dakota and across the country,” said Thune. “By increasing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline, we can reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and make renewable fuels a key component of our nation’s energy policy.”

GrassleyGrassley said, “With consideration of a new farm bill as well as a new energy bill well underway, ethanol and renewable fuels are at the forefront of the discussion. And, while we’ve seen a tremendous jump in knowledge, promotion and usage of renewable fuels, there remain very real barriers. In the absence of widespread E85 use at this time, it’s important to ensure a market for today’s ethanol production.”

The Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill is scheduled for floor debate this week. Senator Thune successfully inserted into the Senate 2007 Farm Bill a study of the E10 blend wall and a “Sense of the Senate” resolution directing the federal government to approve higher blends of ethanol after the successful completion of the appropriate studies.