EPA, UPS Team Up for Green Brown Trucks

""Shipping giant UPS has teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put more eco-friendly delivery trucks on the road.

""This story from CNN says UPS will order some new vehicles that uses technology developed by the feds, namely, a hydraulic hybrid system:

The Environmental Protection Agency holds many of the patents on the innovative technology, which was developed in an EPA fuel-emissions lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the help of engineers from Eaton Corp., which designs hydraulics systems.

"This vehicle to my right may look like a brown package truck that you'd see every day in your neighborhood," said UPS Chief Operating Officer David Abney, standing beside a prototype of the hybrid truck at a news conference Monday. "But underneath the hood is a whole different kind of technology."

The trucks combine a diesel engine with a unique hydraulic propulsion system that replaces the conventional drivetrain and transmission. Using hydraulic pumps and storage tanks, the vehicle captures and stores energy the way a battery does on an electric hybrid car.

The motor converts pressure from the hydraulic fluid into rotating power for the wheels and uses stored energy to accelerate the vehicle, thereby recovering more than 70 percent of the energy normally wasted during braking.

The article goes on to say that the design is perfect for the stop-and-start driving UPS does in cities. The first truck will hit the road in Minneapolis soon after the first of the year.

Reaching out: as the audience diversifies, MTV networks scores points at connecting with its many segments.(MTV Networks: targeting the multicultural customer)(Music Television)

Multichannel News September 20, 2004 MULTICULTURAL MARKETING. CABLE OPERATORS HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT FOR DECADES BUT IT’S ONLY IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS THAT MOST HAVE REALIZED IT HOLDS THE KEY TO A BIG PART OF THEIR FUTURE SUBSCRIBER GROWTH As the U.S. population continues towards a much more diverse mix of racial, ethnic and social backgrounds, cable companies must work harder than ever to reach out to important segments of their audience. Most know the first step in accomplishing that goal: offer programming that grabs viewers and connects with them each time they tune in.

All of this adds up to growing demand for shows that can pull off that vital connection, and that’s a trend that bodes well for MTV Networks.

Known since its early days as a company that stays tuned to its viewers’ every whim, MTVN has been honing its skills at serving the needs of increasingly diverse audience segments. website keenan and kel

Hence, the growing viewership at VH1 includes a sizable complement of African Americans, who didn’t used to consider the network an entertainment option, but now routinely do. Ditto MTV2, where a hip approach to hip hop fans has helped produce the highest ratings in the network’s history.

MTVN’s multicultural roots go way back. At the flagship network, pioneering shows like Real World have included racially diverse casts since their creation two decades ago, while Nickelodeon’s first original series, Clarissa Explains It All, smashed the long-held axiom that boys wouldn’t watch a show built around a female main character.

Today, the diversification continues and the audience has taken notice. A recent Horowitz Urban Market study singled out MTV as the top brand among Hispanic young people, while a Beta Research survey found the same group of viewers ranks MTV Espanol and VH Uno first and second among their favorite Spanish language digital networks.

VH1 Soul, another digital channel, has cultivated a unique audience of upscale, high income African Americans, while MTV Jams puts a 24-hour-a-day spotlight on one of the most influential contemporary music genres: hip hop.

At Nickelodeon, groundbreaking bilingual series Dora the Explorer entertains while teaching little kids Spanish words. Its digital spinoff, Nicktoons, will add a Spanish language riced next month while another digital sibling, The N, has wrapped production on Miracle’s Boys, a five-part drama about a young man who gives up a scholarship to MI’I” to come home to Harlem and raise his two brothers after the death of their mother. see here keenan and kel

Executives at MTV Networks have long attributed their ability to stay steeped in popular currents to their constant trolling for different points of view and a workforce that mirrors the audience at large. Company chairman Judy McGrath, in an interview earlier this year, described her approach this way: “It’s not about getting advice from the most powerful people. It’s about finding the person with the next idea for The Apprentice or The Osbournes and making sure that person has nay phone number.” MTVN’s penchant for diverse casts, evident in shows ranging from Nickelodeon’s Keenan and Kel to MTV’s Pimp My Ride, MTV2’s Sucker Free Sundays, and VH l’s Hip Hop Honors, make its portfolio of networks an attractive option for cable operators segmenting their marketing to different sectors of an increasingly multiethnic audience.

It’s an approach that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Jenny Alonzo, president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, singled out the company as an industry leader last year during an interview with Multichannel News. “MTV [Networks] is very forward thinking and they have been for many years,” Alonzo said. “They have a great story to tell, not just on air, but also off-air within their ranks and within their corporate offices. I think they represent diversity at every level–not just color diversity–but gender, sexual orientation, etc. They really do understand the value of having a team that represents our people.”

CAST Comments on Biodiesel

A new report looks at the technology behind biodiesel production.

The Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a new CAST Commentary—Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production:

This new CAST Commentary reviews the technology of biodiesel production in the United States and outlines major issues and policy implications associated with its expanded production and use. Specific topics include:

· Introduction to biodiesel fuels, their current use and future needs for development
· Summary and illustration of the biofuel production process
· Overview of quality requirements and concerns
· General characteristics of biofuels; advantages and disadvantages compared with petroleum diesel
· Economics of biodiesel production—current supply and demand, role of the U.S. government, existing and potential feedstocks, production costs, and technological advances
· Balance of energy—both energy requirements for production and potential energy output
· Conclusion, glossary, and complete reference list

“Biodiesel is developing into a widely accepted alternative fuel,” says Task Force Chair Dr. Jon Van Gerpen, University of Idaho, Moscow. “Quality concerns have been addressed, and most fuel today integrates easily into the existing diesel fuel infrastructure. Further expansion of the industry will require new or larger sources of vegetable oils and animal fats that can be produced at prices that allow biodiesel to compete with petroleum-based diesel fuel.”

The commentary will be presented at the National Farmers Union and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research in Washington, D.C. You can get a free copy of the commentary at the CAST web site, www.cast-science.org.

New Ethanol Studies Released

The Illinois Corn Growers Association today unveiled two landmark studies on ethanol that conclude production of the biofuel leaves a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline and has substantial room for growth without affecting corn supply to the food and feed sectors.

ICGADr. Steffen Mueller, principal research economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Energy Resources Center, studied the carbon footprint of the Illinois River Energy facility near Rochelle, Illinois which produces 55 million gallons of ethanol annually.

“We looked at the global warming and land use impact of corn ethanol produced at the Illinois River Energy ethanol plant — which is a modern, natural gas fueled facility — on a full life-cycle basis,” said Mueller. “We found conclusively that the global warming impact of the modern ethanol plant is 40 percent lower than gasoline. This is a sizable reduction from numbers currently being used by public agencies and in the public debate. The study also documents the significant net energy benefits of ethanol when compared to gasoline. And, additional opportunities exist to expand that margin even more through technological improvements and on farm changes in corn production that reduce green house gas emissions. Furthermore, corn supply for the ethanol plant was primarily met through yield increases in the surrounding area and, as documented with satellite imagery, without conversion of non agricultural land to corn.”

The study by Ross Korves, economic policy analyst at ProExporter Network, analyzed the consequences of a technology-driven revolution that is occurring throughout America agriculture which would see average corn production increase from 155 bushels an acre today to 289 bushels over the next two decades. The study suggests that sufficient amounts of corn will be available to increase ethanol production from the current level of 7.1 billion gallons last year to 33 billion gallons by 2030 with current technology. The study also factors in increased future demand for corn from both export and livestock (feed) sectors. Korves also looked at the environmental impact of ethanol production, predicting that the global warming impact (GWI) of the average ethanol plant would decline dramatically through increased efficiencies in coming years.

“The GWI of the average ethanol plant is expected to decline 27 percent by 2030,” said Korves. “By that year, the GWI of corn ethanol processed in a plant using a biomass combined heat and power system will be less than one-third of the GWI of gasoline.”

The Illinois Corn Growers Association also announced that the state has become a technological and commercial leader in corn-based ethanol.

Birmingham, AL to Test Hydrogen Bus

The City of Birmingham, Alabama will test a transit bus that will run on hydrogen next year.

This story from the Birmingham (AL) News says it’s the work of a University of Alabama-Birmingham engineering team, along with Auburn University… among others:

“This testing in Birmingham gives us a chance to evaluate the fuel cell in a unique, real world setting,” said Fouad Fouad, UAB team leader and chair of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

“We want to monitor the bus’s performance in our brutally hot and humid summers and the fuel cell’s ability to power the bus over the city’s hills and terrain,” Fouad said. “Only after studying these elements can we decide whether the hydrogen fuel cell is a viable option.”

The bus will be operated and maintained by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority. It will be compared to regular diesel and natural gas buses in the fleet.

The project is funded through a congressional earmark from U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby to research alternative fuels and hydrogen as an energy source.

The article goes on to say that the first phase of the test will use to small hydrogen fuel cells to run the bus, working up to a larger cell.

Teaching Biodiesel Production On the Run

Students from the University of Colorado are spreading the good news of biodiesel… and going mobile to do it.

This story from the Colorado Daily says the CU Biodiesel program is using donated, used restaurant cooking oil in a production facility that is contained in a trailer:

“I’ve taught everyone from post-graduate students to second-graders how to brew their own biodiesel,” said CU senior Mike West, director of education for CU Biodiesel. “That’s the whole point of the project — to show people how easy it is to brew biodiesel.”

The project West is referring to is a self-contained biodiesel trailer called ESTER, short for “fatty acid methylester,” or scientific name for biodiesel…

According to CU junior Josh Jaffe, director of outreach for CU Biodiesel, both byproducts of the conversion go right back to the benefit of CU causes. The biodiesel is used by the Buff buses to transport students and the glycerine is donated to the CU Recycling Center to be used as a fertilizing agent for composting.

“This is going to be CU’s in-house, or in-parking lot, biodiesel production facility,” Jaffe said of ESTER, which began construction three years ago through a $46,000 grant from the CU Environmental Center.

The trailer is capable of producing 500 gallons of biodiesel a month, but more importantly, can go to schools to teach more people how to brew their own biodiesel.

CU is also holding a contest to come up with a winning design for the trailer. Students with ideas are invited to download a blank form and submit their ideas by November 19th at www.cubiodiesel.org.

Thinking Small for Big Biodiesel Production

Iowa State University has received an $885,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant to see how small particles can be used to help make biodiesel production bigger.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the school’s Ames Laboratory is researching how nanoscale particles can be used to get chemical compounds (triglycerides, neutral lipids, and fatty acids) from microalgae for biodiesel production.

According to Kerry Gibson, a media relations staff member at Ames Lab, ISU just completed a research project that successfully used chemically-coated, honeycomb-like silica nanoscale particles to penetrate plant cell walls to deliver molecules to the cells. The biodiesel research project will attempt to use the nanoscale particles to penetrate the cell walls of microalgae to harvest chemicals from the algae to produce biodiesel without destroying the organisms. “It’s basically nanofarming,” Gibson said.

The lab will need to get another nearly $250,000 in funding for the three-year project, which is being headed by Victor Lin, Ames Lab chemist and ISU chemical and biological science program director.

Blue Signs Help Motorists Go Green in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is now using blue logo signs to inform motorists about the availability of E85 and/or biodiesel along interstate highways.

“The BIOFUEL logo program complements and supports Governor Bredesen’s Biofuel Green Island Corridor project, which provides competitive grants to help retail station owners convert or install storage tanks and dispensers to sell E85 and/or B20 to the public,” noted Ed Cole of TDOT.

“We encourage more eligible stations to advertise their E85 and B20 pumps on interstate signs,” said Alan Jones, Manager of TDOT’s Environmental Policy Office.

For participating stations, TDOT will install a highly visible BIOFUEL marker above mainline Gas logo boards and off-ramp signs at the interchange. To qualify, sites must meet location requirements of the logo sign program.

To learn more about this initiative, go to http://www.biotenn.org.

Ag Chief Addresses Concerns About Loans to Ethanol Plants

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer met with livestock, dairy, and feed grain organizations on Monday to explain how some rural businesses – including both ethanol plants and livestock industries – may be eligible for the USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program.

World Food Prize Ed Schafer“We walked through the B&I loan guarantee program, which has been used by their memberships, and we assured them that this was a long-standing program that we would use to help finance businesses in rural America, some of them may be ethanol facilities,” Schafer said. “We assured them that no specific money was being set aside only for the ethanol industry.”

Schafer understands why the livestock industry might have been concerned about stories that came out after comments he made to reporters at the World Food Prize symposium.

“It’s one of those situations where everybody is nervous out there, a lot of these folks have seen increased feed costs,” Schafer said. “There’s been a big effort by others to blame ethanol for increased feed and food costs and certainly ethanol production has been a small portion of that but it’s easy to kick around the new kid on the block and so we attack ethanol.”

He says there was a misunderstanding among some that the government was going to use part of the $700 billion bail out package to help ethanol plants that lost money this year by speculating on the commodity markets. But, Schafer said it was important for the livestock industry to know that the loan program is there for them as well. “And we’re going to pass along the elements of the Business and Industry loan guarantee program to them that they can pass out to their members.”

The program was established in 1974 to help local rural business by backing loans from private lenders for up to $25 million for credit-worthy entities. Loans are only given after due diligence is performed and the USDA has reviewed the businesses cash flow, management and other issues.

Ethanol Powered Super Car

A British company has developed a hot new sports car that can run on ethanol.

The description for the new Climax on its website is pure poetry:

climaxInspiration for the design came from the legendary Cooper Climax F1 car of the 50’s and is drawing on Britain’s vast Motor Sport Heritage while keeping a firm eye to the future. It is not a retro car, it is a modern Super Car designed with the discerning enthusiast in mind. It is revolutionary and has been designed to set a new standard in the niche vehicle sports car market. The Climax is bespoke and exclusive, quintessentially British, hand-finished, with excellent performance and superb handling.

The Climax can run on “both bio-ethanol and unleaded petrol, therefore enhancing performance and reducing the cars carbon footprint.”

One drawback – besides the $135,000 price tag – despite all the extras, the car has no roof – just a removable cover for parking outside. Like you would park a car like this outside!

Food and Fuel Forum in KC

Representatives from both sides of the food versus fuel debate discussed the issue on Friday in Kansas City during a forum held by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City.

KC ForumSpeakers included USDA Undersecretary Tom Dorr; editor Morton Sosland of Sosland Publishing Co.; and Randy Schnepf, agricultural economist with the Congressional Research Service.

The panel moderated by Mike Adams of Agri-Talk included two farmers – Blake Hurst, vice president of Missouri Farm Bureau and Ken McCauley, past chairman of the National Corn Growers Association – who represented the fuel perspective. On the food side were Robb MacKie, president of the American Bakers Association, and Dan Gustafson of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Notably, all four panel members made the point that biofuels are not the main culprit for rising food prices and agreed that major factors behind rising food costs include tight global grain stocks, export bans, and record energy costs. “It appears the volatile corn and wheat markets have adjusted down, for now. The key constraints on global grain stocks remain to be land available for agricultural production and crop yields,” said Schnepf.

McCauley noted that crop yields may double by the year 2030. “We are currently using all available technology to significantly increase corn production, and there is more technology in the pipeline that will boost yields even more,” McCauley said. “Likewise, we can find new markets for corn while still meeting all traditional needs and being responsible stewards of the natural resources we’ve been given.”

Ohio Ethanol Plant is 26th for POET

POET MarionThe world’s largest ethanol producer opened a third plant in Ohio on Friday. POET Biorefining – Marion is POET’s 26th ethanol plant, bringing the company’s total annual capacity to 1.54 billion gallons.

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) joined company representatives and local dignitaries for the opening ceremony.

“I could not be more proud of POET’s commitment to Ohio agriculture and Ohio jobs, and our nation’s national security,” Sen. Voinovich said. “This facility, along with the plants opened in Leipsic and Fostoria, represent a critical part of Ohio’s future economy and reaffirm Ohio’s role as one of the top agricultural states and as one of the leading innovators and developers of alternative energies in the nation. POET’s commitment could not come at a more needed time for our nation’s environmental, economic and national security needs.”

POET was recently listed by Forbes as one of “Eight Promising Alternative Energy Companies.” The company’s next major milestone will be the start of ethanol production before the end of the year at a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant currently under construction in Scotland, S.D.

South Dakota Corn Sponsors Ethanol Bowl

South Dakota CornThe South Dakota Corn Utilization Council is partnering with Northern State University to present the First Annual Ethanol Bowl next month.

The premiere event will feature the NSU Wolves facing Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rivals the Augustana Vikings on November 8 at Clark Swisher Activities Complex in Aberdeen, S.D.

“Northern State looks forward to celebrating a growing industry in our region and enjoy some great NSIC football,” said Bob Olson, NSU Athletic Director.

Wind Turbine Maker Locates in Arkansas

A German maker of wind turbines is locating to Arkansas, part of that state’s growing wind turbine manufacturing industry.

This article from the Northwest Arkansas Morning News says Nordex USA Inc will build a $100 million plant, employing 700 people in Jonesboro and beginning production in January 2010:

Nordex is an original equipment manufacturer, meaning some of its parts and components suppliers are expected to locate in the area, officials said.

Jonesboro’s location was a main consideration in the company’s decision to locate there, according to Nordex USA CEO Ralf Sigrist.

“Logistics is one of the main concerns, main constraints, main challenges for our industry,” Sigrist said. “The unique location in this area — it’s in the midst of the various possible wind markets: West Coast, Texas and the South up to North Dakota and the eastern corridor.”

Friday’s announcement broadens Arkansas’ rapidly growing wind energy industry.

Earlier this month, Netherlands-based Polymarin Composites, a fully owned subsidiary of Emergya Wind Technologies, said it would invest $16 million in a windmill blade plant in Little Rock that would employ 630 people within four years. One of the company’s suppliers, Wind Water Technology, simultaneously planned to employ 200 at the plant.

Last year, Danish-based LM Glasfiber announced it would build a $150 million windmill blade plant and eventually employ 1,000 people in Little Rock. That company also planned to open a training academy there as well as its North American headquarters.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe praised the move, saying this is an indication of the type of business that will only grow in the future.

Tampa Could Become Major Biodiesel Port

Tampa, Florida could become a major port for alternative fuels… just in time as an area just up the road is expanding its potential to produce biodiesel.

Yesterday, I told you about how Groveland is expanding its biodiesel production capabilities and hopes to rival Houston, Texas in terms of green fuel refining. Now, GreenHunter Energy Inc. of Houston might be building a $70 million facility to store and produce biofuels at the Port of Tampa and has paid $1 million to lease a 22-acre site, according to this story in the Tampa Tribune:

The project would give GreenHunter a “foothold in a deep-water port that handles over half of the transportation fuel used in the state of Florida,” GreenHunter Chairman and CEO Gary Evans said.

The publicly held energy company owns and operates the nation’s largest biodiesel plant, a 105 million-gallon-per-year refinery in Houston.

The company is also developing six wind-power projects in Montana, California and New Mexico. In addition, it recently paid $2.5 million for a 14-megawatt power plant near Tallahassee that uses wood waste to generate electricity.

Speakers Announced for the 2008 MO Agribusiness Summit

The line of speakers have been announced to participate at the 2008 Missouri Agribusiness Summit on November 12 in Columbia, MO. The purpose of this event is to provide information to agribusinesses and producers regarding current industry topics and to promote the local resources that are available to agribusinesses.

“The 2007 inaugural Summit covered a lot of great topics, and we’re hoping this year’s event is at a similarly high level. Last year, our attendees included producers, biofuel cooperatives, retailers and researchers, so the topics are geared toward that audience,” noted Kari Dowell of Williams Keepers, LLP, a sponsor of the event.

Speakers slated for the event include: Rep. Brian Munzlinger; Michelle Kautz of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition; Jenna Higgins of the National Biodiesel Board; Dept. Ag Director Don Steen; Gary Clark of the Missouri Corn Growers Association and others.

Additional sponsors are: Bryan Cave LLP, the Missouri Agricultural & Small Business Development Authority, Missouri Corn Growers, and Missouri Soybean Programs.