Biodiesel Blend Regulations Expected to Boost Support and Demand

Biodiesel is expected to become a hotter commodity with consumers. The ASTM International D02 Main Committee has approved a trio of ASTM specifications for biodiesel blends.

  • Changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification (ASTM D6751)
  • Finished specifications to include up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification (ASTM D975)
  • A new specification for blends of between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.

Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel blends for several years, with some citing the need for that spec as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 use in their diesel vehicles.

Steve Howell, Chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, said, “The new ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel. The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump.”

The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the regular diesel fuel pool also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fueling stations nationwide.

For more information about biodiesel visit the USDA Biodiesel Website.

Duke Energy Ohio Looks for Renewable Energy Options

Duke EnergyDuke Energy Ohio is seeking proposals for renewable energy resources. The energy company says it’s looking to begin delivering energy through more renewable means sometime between 2009 and 2012. The effort falls in line with Ohio’s new renewable energy portfolio standards.

Types of renewable resources that would qualify:

— Wind energy
— Solar photovoltaic or solar thermal energy
— Geothermal energy
— Fuel derived from solid wastes not mainly due to combustion
— Biomass energy
— Hydroelectric power
— Biologically derived methane gas
— Energy derived from pulping/wood manufacturing
— Fuel cells
— Storage facilities that use off-peak power from renewables.

The recent Ohio energy law requires Ohio utilities to generate 50 percent of their renewable power from facilities located within the state.

Ethanol and Dan Wheldon Win in Iowa

Iowa Corn Indy 250This year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 is over and as usual, ethanol won. Actually, Dan Wheldon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing won the race.

He’s seen here holding up the trophy which is a replica gas pump.

The Team Ethanol car ran as high as 3rd place but according to driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay, they lost a gamble on fuel strategy. He ran a strong race all day and really wanted to finish on the podium in front of so many fans of ethanol but it wasn’t to be. He finished 8th though and maybe he’ll get some breaks to go his way next time.

I’m out of here and heading home before getting on the road again tomorrow for the “Transition To a Bio Economy” conference in Berkeley, CA. I’ll be doing some posts from there starting on Tuesday.

Don’t forget to check out my photo album from all the activities of the past few days.

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Ethanol Starts The Iowa Indy

Green FlagThe Iowa Corn Indy 250 is underway here at Iowa Speedway and the weather is perfect.

Team Ethanol started at position 17 but driver Ryan Hunter-Reay made a bold move and jumped to 7th almost immediately and has been holding there by mid race.

I’ll post more at the end of the race which, depending on cautions, won’t be long.

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Ryan is the One

Ryan Hunter-ReayThe qualifying session for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 got rained out last night so unfortunately that means the drivers will start according to their points standing. That was a blow to Team Ethanol. The car was performing very well and would likely have had a much better starting position. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who spoke at the EPIC member reception last night, says he’ll make up for it though.

Members attending the reception were able to ask him questions, get his autograph and have their pictures taken. This little guy seemed very surprised to be picked up by Ryan for a picture.

You can listen to Ryan’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Conference Addresses Ethanol Policy Issues

Farm Foundation Bioeconomy Conference“Policy Risks and Consequences for the Biofuels Industry” will be one of the topics addressed during a Farm Foundation conference entitled “Transition to a Bioeconomy: Risks, Infrastructure and Industry Evolution” June 24-25 in Berkeley, California.

Seth Meyer with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) will talk about some of the findings in a new report that presents 500 different scenarios based on possible weather, production and other market influences.

Seth Meyer FAPRIMeyer says they found that the two main important factors in any scenario are the price of oil and feedstock production.

“We did this in January and yet we’ve seen oil prices exceed most people’s expectations and that changes the dynamics of which policies are important,” Meyer said. “And then you add to that an unexpected change in (corn) yields and it changes which policies are important yet again.”

Generally speaking, if oil prices are high and production is normal, the Renewable Fuels Standard for corn ethanol is less important. “When we start getting a short crop, those mandates all of the sudden become very binding. It’s a very complicated question,” said Meyer.

When it comes to the blender’s credit, Meyer says that again depends on the situation. “If oil prices would moderate, the mandates would be driving production.”

Listen to an interview with Meyer here:

Domestic Fuel will provide coverage of the Transition to a Bioeconomy conference that will include an overview of the industry, how biofuels are impacting other segments of the market, and the bioeconomy’s impacts at the farm level. Other sessions will address risks of the bioeconomy; legal, transportation and public policy infrastructure issues; and the challenges and opportunities of the next decade in research, education, business and finance.

Ethanol Car Pits During Practice

Ethanol CarThe Ethanol Car wound up practice in the top 10 with a combined (2 sessions) lap speed of 183.114.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the driver got in 166 practice laps and is ready to go for tomorrow’s race.

To get a sense of what it’s like in the pits, at least in practice, I shot some video during this morning’s session.

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Iowa Speedway Pace Car Ride

Pace CarAfter today’s ethanol press conference the media were treated to rides out on the track in the Iowa Speedway Pace Car.

Our driver was Davey Hamilton.

For most of us it was our first time and even though we only went about 95 mph, the curves were tough to deal with. As hard as I was pressing up against the door I was very glad to have my seat belt on.

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Driving Agricultural Productivity

Troy HobbsMonsanto was represented at this morning’s ethanol press conference at the Iowa Speedway by Troy Hobbs, Corn Biofuels Strategy Lead. He started his comments explaining that the company’s mission is to drive productivity in the agricultural sector. He spoke to how quickly they’ve been able to increase the per acre yield in corn with their research on seed and traits.

With their Processor Preferred program they’re working with ethanol plants to make sure they’re getting the corn that is best suited to their production. He also made a good point about how ethanol production is helping keep American dollars in America which is good for our economy.

You can listen to Troy’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Iowa Corn Growers Optimistic

Craig FlossJust a few minutes ago I got interviewed by one of the journalists here and he asked what I had heard from corn growers who are at the track. I told him they’re very proud to be growing the fuel that’s being used in the IndyCars out here and that they’ll recover from the flooding problems they’ve been having.

Representing the Iowa Corn Growers Association at this morning’s ethanol press conference was their CEO, Craig Floss. They’re one of the main sponsors of this weekend’s Iowa Corn Indy 250. Craig said he had a chance to fly over the state yesterday and he was not prepared to see how much water is still standing in fields. However, he also had to say that he saw a lot of corn growing in areas outside of the river bottoms. He thinks they’ve still got a good opportunity to produce a good crop this year.

You can listen to Craig’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Using All The Corn And Making Ethanol

Mike SobetskiOne of the speakers at the ethanol industry press conference here at Iowa Speedway this morning was Mike Sobestski, Vice President/COO, LifeLine Foods. Besides talking about the company he also explained how they use various parts of a corn kernel to make food and fuel.

An interesting point he made was that the part they use to make ethanol is the undesirable part that’s not good for much else. He even brought along some jars of product to show reporters the different elements of corn they use. The company and their methods are a great example of how much is being done by ethanol producers today to make their operations more sustainable while helping meet our energy demands.

You can listen to Mike’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

An Inside Look at Ethanol

Toni NuernbergThis morning at Iowa Speedway, representatives of the ethanol industry held an “inside look at ethanol” press conference. One of the speakers was Toni Nuernberg, Executive Director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Toni started out talking about the mission of EPIC and talked about the types of promotional work they’ve been doing. She says that motor sports was the springboard that helped get the ethanol message out in the public. She says that working with the IRL has proven the performance capability of the fuel. I thought she made an interesting point in saying that the role of EPIC has evolved to one of defense of the industry due to the attack that has been launched against it.

You can listen to Toni’s comments here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Ethanol Driver Pleased with Practice

Ryan Hunter-ReayWe had a sunny day yesterday at Iowa Speedway until mid-afternoon when a thunderstorm popped up and absolutely drenched the track. It cut short practice plans although there’s going to be plenty of that today if the weather cooperates.

I found Team Ethanol driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay, seen walking to the first practice session yesterday, taking a break near the team garage. He seemed pretty pleased with the car’s performance and as of now is still 7th in practice speed.

You can listen to my interview with Ryan here:

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

Biomass Pellets Making Electricity

An energy cooperative has successfully completed a test burn of 150 tons of biomass pellets to produce electricity at a power facility near Kansas City, Missouri… a first for biomass pellets in the U.S.

This story on redOrbit.com says the Show Me Energy Cooperative (SMEC) has produced the power at the Aquila power company’s generating facility at Sibley, Missouri from pellets made of non-grain bearing crops of cellulose, including switchgrass, cornstalks, cereal straws, fescue straw and other agricultural residues or energy crops that have no food value:

Steve Flick, Chairman of the Board, states, “This is our first pilot project of utilizing biomass pellets in Missouri for coal firing. On behalf of our Farmer Members and its Board Of Directors, we are proud to be a part of this historical event. We look forward to working with the State of Missouri regulatory groups, Aquila and Kansas City Power & Light to provide economic opportunity to local farmers while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

SMEC’s goal is to produce thousands of tons of renewable energy pellets to displace non-renewable fuel. If adopted on a global scale, this has the potential to displace millions of tons of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for today’s climate change crisis. While others are relying on food crops to create energy, SMEC is demonstrating a sustainable, environmentally friendly way that doesn’t threaten the food supply or skew the market.

Not only does the process make power from renewable, non-food source natural feedstocks, it saves more than 250 tons of C02.

Biodiesel Wins Full ASTM Approval

As you might remember from my post this past Tuesday (June 17th), biodiesel received preliminary approval from a subcommittee of ASTM International… an organization that sets standards for a variety of things, including fuels.

Now, biodiesel has cleared the next important hurdle as the full ASTM International D02 Main Committee voted to approve three long-awaited specifications for biodiesel blends. This National Biodiesel Board press release has more:

After more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts in the blended fuel balloting process, ASTM has finally voted to approve three key sets of biodiesel specifications that should significantly bolster automaker support and consumer demand for biodiesel:

* Changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification (ASTM D6751)
* Finished specifications to include up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification (ASTM D975)
* A new specification for blends of between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.

Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel blends for several years, with some citing the need for that spec as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 use in their diesel vehicles.

Steve Howell, Chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, said, “The new ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel. The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump.”

The standards are expected to garner wider acceptance of the green fuel, especially among automakers and fleet managers.