Hythane Gains in Popularity

,A new fuel made by mixing natural gas and hydrogen is gaining in popularity. Eden Energy owns the technology to “Hythane” purported to reduce greenhouse gases and particulates that affect air quality.

In a company press release, Eden Energy says Hythane® was developed to help make a practical and affordable transition from petroleum-based fuel to hydrogen:

“Like Xerox, Hythane has entered the language to describe both our original product and all the others following in its footsteps,” said Greg Solomon, CEO, Eden Energy Ltd. “What remains unique about Hythane® is our optimized blend hits a ‘sweet spot’ with hydrogen that results in a 95% reduction in emissions compared to petroleum diesel. Even compared to cleaner natural-gas powered vehicles, Hythane reduces harmful nitrogen oxides by half.”

New projects using Hythane® and Hythane derivatives in truck and bus fleets are being reviewed for funding in many U.S .cities such as New York, Syracuse, Albany, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, Barstow, Santa Monica, and Sacramento. National programs are also underway in India and China.

Eden Energy officials add that their company has been tapped to put in the first public hydrogen fueling station in New Delhi, India. That country wants 20 percent of all the vehicles in the country to run on hydrogen by 2020.

Graham Rahal Says Ethanol is Sweet…

 Hank FM interviews Dallara No. 06 IndyCar driver Graham Rahal…sweet-smelling that is. Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Dallara was one of three IndyCar drivers at the Crystal Flash pump promotion in Carmel, IN this afternoon. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council sponsored the event.

This is Graham’s first season racing with an engine that runs on 100 percent ethanol fuel. The switch to an ethanol-fueled car also proved to be rather sweet for the 19-year-old Indy competitor. Graham won his first ever Indy race in St. Petersburg, becoming the youngest driver to win a major motorsports victory. Graham snagged the 13th pole position for his biggest race to date, the Indy 500.

I managed to snag some face time with Graham in between radio spots and autograph requests during today’s pump promotion. You can listen to Graham talk about his experience with driving on ethanol here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Hunter-Reay Says Ethanol Pump Promos Fight Negative Propoganda

Ryan Hunter-Reay autographs a replica of the Team Ethanol No. 7 IndyCar for a race fanTeam Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay says pump promotions help emphasize what ethanol is all about: giving consumers a break at the pump as fuel prices continue to spike. Ryan drives the No. 17 Rahal-Letterman Racing IndyCar in the Indy Racing League and he and two other IndyCar drivers were out at the pumps in Carmel, IN today educating consumers on a fuel that’s become the focal point of controversy.

The Indianapolis Star featured a cover story about the recent spotlight on ethanol, fuel prices and food prices. The local newspaper quoted Indiana Agriculture Director Andy Miller saying Congress’ proposed reduction or even end to federal ethanol subsidies “would be a major blow” for his state.

And that’s what Ryan wants to point out: that ethanol would be a considerable blow for consumers too… in every state. Ryan says, in some cases, ethanol helps keep gas prices down by as much as $0.50 a gallon. He says consumers have many questions about ethanol and its negative propaganda, wondering what’s true and what’s false. That’s where pump promotions help. Ryan says filling up on E10 or E85 helps open consumers’ eyes and gives them an opportunity to ask both ethanol experts and IndyCar drivers questions. “It’s worked for the IndyCar Series at 240 miles per hour, it can work for these folks driving at 35,” Ryan said.

I spoke with Ryan about how pump promotions are still a relevant tool in getting out the facts about ethanol. You can listen to my interview with Ryan here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Consumers Save Nearly a Dollar Per Gallon on E10 Ethanol Fuel

2008 EPIC and Indiana Corn Marketing Council ethanol pump promotion at Crystal FlashIt was a record-breaking event for the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. It was also record-breaking for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. Consumers pumped just under 3,600 gallons of ethanol-blended fuel at the Crystal Flash pump promotion this afternoon. Customers were able to fill up on an E10 blend for $2.97 and E85 for just $1.85. Minutes before the promotion started at 4 p.m. E10 was going for $3.84 while E85 was going for $3.29.

EPIC has been hosting pump promotions for three years. The Indiana Corn Marketing Council has worked with EPIC at Indianapolis metro area pump promotions for two. Both organizations agree that the events are a great way to promote ethanol while also highlighting the prestigious Indy 500 race, which is scheduled for this weekend. The Indy Racing League made ethanol the official fuel of its series when it switched to burning 100 percent ethanol fuel in its Indy race cars last year.

EPIC and Indiana Corn had expanded their ethanol pump promotion program this year, offering discounted fuel on three separate occasions this month. This third and final promotion during race week set records for both organizations. IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Jim Wilson greeted ethanol consumers with smiles, autographs and a rare opportunity for face time with IRL stars. Customers also got to check out a life-size Team Ethanol IndyCar replica and a 2008 Corvette Indy parade car. One lucky Hank FM listener will win a 2-year lease for the corvette during a special giveaway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow morning.

I’ll have interviews with the drivers, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Crystal Flash posted shortly.

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Author to Keynote Ethanol Conference

2008 Fuel Ethanol WorkshopThe author of “Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil” will be the keynote speaker at the 2008 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Nashville next month.

Robert ZubrinIn his book, Dr. Robert Zubrin shows how we could be using fuel dollars that are now being sent to countries with ties to terrorism to help farmers here and abroad. As the FEW keynote speaker, Zubrin will offer his vision of how switching to alcohol fuels could help safeguard homeland security and provide solutions for global warming and Third World development.

FEW 2008 will be held June 16-19 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. The international event features speakers, workshops and an industry trade show with more than 800 exhibitors. Last year’s FEW attracted over 5,000 attendees.

Hoosier Ethanol Opinions

Hoosier ethanol interviewThis week is the biggest week of the year for Hoosiers in Indianapolis with the 92nd Indy 500 coming up and since it is also the second year that the race will be running on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol, it’s a big week for the corn and ethanol industries in the state.

The Indiana Corn Marketing Council has been gearing up for the race with various ethanol promotions, including special discount fuel events at local fuel stations and a drawing to win a pace car Corvette. “But the real focus of this campaign is to educate the consumer about ethanol,” according to Mark Walters with the council. “What we are finding is that many consumers in Indiana are still on the fence about ethanol. They think its a good thing but they don’t know all the facts.”

Hoosier Ag TodayIndiana’s Hoosier Ag Today (HAT) radio network decided to find out just what consumers do know about ethanol by interviewing motorists at a recent ethanol pump promotion. Farm broadcaster Gary Truitt says he found that there is definitely a need for ethanol education.

“Our consumer sampling seemed to support Walter’s assertion that most Hoosier motorists still have an open mind about ethanol,” said Truitt.

Among the comments Truitt heard is that ethanol is a good idea and that anything that helps reduce our energy consumption is wonderful.

Listen to Truitt’s report here or read more on the HAT website.

Bubble in Renewables Feared

A report out from accounting firm KPMG says that 60 percent of executives believe that consolidation in the renewable energy sector will continue. That’s leading to fears that a bubble may be developing in the solar, wind, and biofuel sectors as bidders compete for assets and send prices sharply higher.

This story from Reuters says many of those same executives expect to jump in as well:

Thirty percent expect to purchase such a company themselves between now and 2010, the survey said.

Earlier this year, oil giant BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said it may part-float some of its green energy assets because Chief Executive Tony Hayward said BP’s own market capitalisation did not fully reflect the high market values of such assets.

Fears over climate change have boosted interest in renewable energy and government incentives such as mandates that green sources should account for a portion of the total motor fuel or power markets have helped make the industry more economically viable.

You can read the KPMG report by clicking here.

NBB Honors New Uses for Glycerine

The National Biodiesel Board has recognized a group of U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers for finding new uses for natural glycerine, a by-product of biodiesel production, replacing glycerine made from non-renewable petroleum.

This press release from the NBB has details:

For their research, Drs. Richard Ashby, Daniel Solaiman and Thomas Foglia of the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service Eastern Regional Research Center (EERC) in Wyndmoor, Penn. received the 2008 Glycerine Innovation Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement for research into new applications for glycerine, with particular emphasis on commercial viability.

The award, sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board and the Soap and Detergent Association, was presented today at the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Oil Chemists’ Society in Seattle, Washington.

“Through the development of new eco-friendly commercial uses for glycerine, the USDA is making an important contribution to our global environmental sustainability,” said Steve Howell, NBB’s Technical Director. “Commercial uses for natural glycerine help improve the overall value of biodiesel production while finding new uses for environmentally friendly, domestically produced products that can replace petroleum-based products.”

The biodiesel glycerine is being used in a wide variety of products from cosmetics to hard plastics.

USDA Chief Says “Underground” Tactics Have Targeted Ethanol

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has a difference of opinion with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

USDA press briefingDuring a Monday press conference, Secretary Ed Schafer said he had talked to the people who have “initiated these underground things that have been going on” to influence public opinion about ethanol incentives and found that while they understand that higher energy and transportation costs are the driving factor for increased food prices, they think “it’s easier” to target corn and ethanol.

“The change in the Renewable Fuels Standard, the change in the (ethanol) tariff or duty, isn’t going to effect food prices,” Schafer said. “We need to focus on things that will actually have an effect, instead of a short-term political solution we need to look long-term, because we have a long-term problem here.”

When asked directly if he was referring to the Grocery Manufacturers Association campaign against ethanol that was revealed last week by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call and publicized by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and others, Schafer said yes.

“Clearly, we have a difference of opinion with GMA,” said Schafer. “They are a trade organization driven by their membership and evidently that is the course they chose to take, not one that I would take.”

Schafer did say that they were now talking about “sharing information” with GMA. “I would just as soon we share information ahead of the fact,” he said.

Indy Frenzy

92nd Indianapolis 500I’m taking off for Indianapolis in about an hour. This year, I’ll be handling the Indy 500 on my own. The race isn’t until Sunday, but the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council has all kinds of pre-race activities scheduled for this week.

Tomorrow, I’ll be out at the pumps. Both EPIC and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council will be sponsoring discounted fuel. Consumers will have an hour and a half to get to the Crystal Flash station on 545 S. Rangeline Rd in Carmel, IN and fill up with E10 for $2.97 or E85 for $1.85. The promotion starts at 4 p.m.

EPIC is sponsoring a corvette giveaway with Hank FM on Wednesday.That’s right. A corvette. Qualified participants will try their luck at pushing a special button to see who will win the two-year lease of the 2008 vette. Find more information online at Hank FM’s Website. The radio station will will be providing live coverage of the Indy 500 on Sunday.

EPIC Fueling LogoOn Thursday, EPIC will host the Ethanol Summit and Panel Discussion. Guest speakers include Joie Chitwood of the Indianapolis Motorspeedway, Andy Miller, director the the State Department of Agriculture, Eermson Fittipidi, a two-time Indy 500 winner, Brazilian ethanol producer and driver of this year’s felx-fuel Corvette Z06 pace car, Bill Becker, president and CEO of LifeLine Foods – the provider of the E100 racing fuel for the IndyCar Series – and more.

The rest of the weekend will feature member activities, driver autograph sessions, garage tours, the IPL 500 Festival Parade and, of course, the 92nd Indy 500.

USDA Makes Case for Food and Fuel

Armed with power points and statistics, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a press conference in Washington DC Monday to discuss the case for producing both food and fuel in the United States.

USDA power point slide“We think the time has come for USDA to join in the public conversation about the relationship between food prices and biofuels,” said Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. “We want to offer our perspective and what has happened in the marketplace, to share our data and the analysis of what has happened.”

Presenting the data was USDA chief economist Dr. Joe Glauber, who pointed out that all commodity prices have risen in the past year, not just food prices. “We certainly don’t want to minimize what’s going on with ethanol, because it is a very important factor in today’s market, but it’s important to discuss it in its proper context,” Glauber said. He noted that all commodities are up 47 percent, food is up 46 percent, and oil is up 68 percent.

The factors Glauber says have contributed to higher food prices are economic growth, weather, export restrictions, higher food marketing and transportation costs, and finally, increases in biofuels.

An economic analysis of the pass-through for an increase in corn prices on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows that a 50 percent increase in corn prices raises the CPI less than one percent, but Glauber says, “It’s a difficult thing to sort out how much of the increase in corn prices was necessarily due to ethanol.”

However, he says the Council of Economic Advisers estimates the total global increase in corn-based ethanol production accounts for only about three percent of the recent increase in global food prices.

Link to USDA power point presentation slides.

EPA Seeks Input on RFS Waiver Request

The Environmental Protection Agency is following through on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s request to reduce the volume of renewable fuel required to be used in motor vehicles and other engines. EPA is publishing a Federal Register notice opening a 30-day comment period on the request. The RFS mandate for 2008 is the equivalent of 9 billion gallons.

EPAThe Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes provisions enabling the EPA Administrator to grant a full or partial waiver if implementation of the RFS would severely harm the economy or environment of a state, region, or the entire country, or if EPA determines there is inadequate domestic supply of renewable fuel. In consultation with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, EPA must decide on a waiver request within 90 days of receiving it.

SunEthanol Awarded Third DOE Grant

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded SunEthanol a $100,000 research grant to help America develop clean transportation fuels from a variety of non-food feedstocks, including corn stover, bagasse, switchgrass, sorghum, softwoods like pine, and high lignin poplar. This is the third DOE grant that SunEthanol has been awarded in the past year.

Sun Ethanol
According to the company, this latest grant will support SunEthanol as it pioneers a new process to simplify the production of clean ethanol fuel from two complex steps – hydrolysis and fermentation – into one simple step.

The company’s patented process, known as Complete Cellulose Conversion or “C3,” will be cheaper than the current process that uses enzymes to convert corn starch to fuel. Relying on a unique microbe discovered in Massachusetts, the Q MicrobeTM, SunEthanol’s C3 process has the potential to be the ultimate low-cost configuration for cellulosic ethanol technology.

Obama Calls for Greater Fed Role in Wind Power

Democratic Party presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has called for a greater role for the federal government in the wind energy business. He believes with the proper amount of help, the industry could produce half of the nation’s energy needs.

The senator made the remarks during his first campaign stop in the state that is becoming a leader in wind energy production in this interview with the Argus (South Dakota) Leader:

Q: Does the federal government have a role in promoting wind power, and if so, what is that role?
A: Absolutely. The main thing we need to do short-term is pass the tax incentives that will expire in December. If we don’t get those tax incentives, those federal tax breaks in place, then you’re going to see a whole lot of wind power generation and industry moving to Europe. It’s already starting to happen. That’s one of the reasons I supported the energy bill that was passed a year ago. Not because I was thrilled with some of the provisions. In fact, I tried to get some stripped out – like tax breaks for oil companies. But because it represented a huge expansion and investment in wind energy. I want to put $150 billion over the course of 10 years in research around wind, solar, biodiesel, advanced technology for more fuel- efficient cars. And we can pay for it by charging polluters who are helping to contribute greenhouse gases. That, I think, is not only good for the environment, not only good for our national security because over time we’ll reduce our consumption of foreign oil.

Obama goes on to say that if the federal tax incentives for wind energy aren’t renewed, this country will lose out to European interests.

Just for the record, here are the renewable energy policies of Obama, Sens. Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. You read, you decide.

More Biodiesel Plants Switching to Animal Fats

As the price of the main feedstock for biodiesel… soybeans… continues to rise, more producers are switching to alternatives, especially animal fats.

This story in the Des Moines (IA) Register says the change might help solve the food-versus-fuel debate:

Renewable Energy Group (REG) of Ames now runs animal fats in at least four of its seven biodiesel plants in the state, according to Gary Haer, vice president of sales and marketing.

He says the animal fat fuel works well in the diesel market, whether it’s blended at 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent with regular diesel.

“Biodiesel made from animal fats is a very good product, and we are using it as one of our alternatives to soybean oil,” Haer said.

Another biodiesel group, Benefuel, which uses an India-developed technology to process the animal fat, is scouting the state for investors and plant sites.

The article goes on to point out that Iowa is a natural place for an animal-fat biodiesel plant since the state is such a large producer of cattle and hogs, and the fats would be available from the rendering plants.

But don’t think that animal fats, just like soybeans, will be immune to price hikes. The price for this new commodity has jumped 8 to 9 percent this year.