Supporters Sign Up For Ethanol

Ethanol SignHundreds of supporters have been “signing up for ethanol” on a website sponsored by the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

The website is tied in to an advertising campaign which started running in South Dakota at the beginning of August. The campaign highlights the role of ethanol in increased energy security, economic development and decreased gas prices.

The goal for the group is to get at least 4,000 state residents to register their support at the web site signupforethanol.com. However, the website is attracting ethanol supporters nationwide, not just South Dakota. Names of people from at least 25 other states are listed on the website ethanol supporter scroll. States from coast to coast are represented – including California, New York, Florida, New Hampshire, Washington, Arizona and more.

The site also offers links to information about ethanol and ideas for how supporters can take action.

Turning Ethanol Into Hydrogen

Researchers at Ohio State University say they have found a way to efficiently convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen.

Umit OzkanAccording to OSU professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering Umit Ozkan, a new catalyst can makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90 percent yield, at a workable temperature, and using inexpensive ingredients.

Ozkan says the catalyst could help make the use of hydrogen-powered cars more practical in the future, she said.

“There are many practical issues that need to be resolved before we can use hydrogen as fuel — how to make it, how to transport it, how to create the infrastructure for people to fill their cars with it,” Ozkan explained.

The process starts with a liquid biofuel such as ethanol, which is heated and pumped into a reactor, where the catalyst spurs a series of chemical reactions that ultimately convert the liquid to a hydrogen-rich gas.

The new catalyst is much less expensive than others being developed around the world, because it does not contain precious metals, such as platinum or rhodium.

The research was presented last week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia.

Ethanol Fuels Debate in Nebraska

Candidates for an open U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska faced off at the state fair in Lincoln this weekend and ethanol was a topic of debate.

Nebraska Senate DebateRepublican Mike Johanns, Democrat Scott Kleeb and Green Party candidate Steve Larrick all discussed the important issues of energy, climate change and renewable fuels – although most of the sparks flew between Johanns and Kleeb.

Former Nebraska governor Johanns, who resigned as US Secretary of Agriculture last year to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Chuck Hagel, accused Kleeb of being quoted as saying that “corn based ethanol will not be a part of our future.” Johanns noted that new breakthroughs in corn genetics will soon bring a 40 percent increase in the yield of dryland corn, making corn-based ethanol even more viable.

Kleeb claimed he was misquoted and has “always been a supporter of ethanol.” However, he believes the country also needs to develop other “green” energy solutions, such as solar, wind and other technologies such as cellulosic ethanol production.

The biggest clash between the two came over the proposed Warner-Lieberman Climate Security Act, which Johanns opposes and Kleeb supports.

Propane Touted as Fuel for Fleets

Motorsports legend Jack Roush joined a group of auto company executives, fleet operators and propane marketers to demostrate to the press and public some propane-fueled vehicles in New York City.

The event was hosted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), and this press release from the council says a Ford propane F-150 pickup developed by Roush Industries was the demonstration vehicle:

“Aside from its superb engineering, this F-150 is a propane alternative-fueled vehicle that has an established refueling infrastructure to support it,” said Jack Roush, chairman of the board of Roush Enterprises and CEO and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, Livonia, Michigan. “It has lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and diesel pickups and costs less to operate, and it contributes to the reduction of America’s dependency on foreign oil.”

The other propane-fueled on-road vehicles on display also drew a great deal of interest from fleet operators: a Blue Bird Vision school bus, a medium-duty General Motors truck, a Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser, and a Chrysler 300 sedan. “School administrators using the propane-fueled bus like its performance and its low operating costs,” said PERC Vice President Brian Feehan. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision is factory-built to operate on propane and features the GM 8.1-liter V8 engine with a liquid propane injection system.

The release goes on to point out that, for a long time, propane has been a popular fuel for vehicles such as forklifts and some off-road vehicles. It’s now gaining more acceptance in fleet vehicles, such as buses, taxis and police vehicles. While propane is currently in 11 million vehicles, that number is expected to grow as the cost of conventional fuels and worries over greenhouse gases continue to rise. It’s estimated that propane could trim up to 30 percent of fleets’ fuel costs.

Show Me Ethanol Grand Opening

Show Me EthanolShow Me Ethanol, a new farmer-owned ethanol plant in Missouri, will be celebrate its grand opening this weekend.

Show Me Ethanol in Carrollton started production in May of this year and is opening its doors to members of the community on Saturday. The 55 million gallons per year plant is the sixth ethanol plant in the state, joining facilities in Macon, Craig, Malta Bend, Laddonia and St. Joseph.

The grand opening event will begin with guided plant tours and a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a complementary lunch at noon and additional plant tours until 2 p.m.

Purdue Study Show Biodiesel Benefits in Buses

A new study from Purdue University shows that buses that have been running 10 percent biodiesel are reducing pollution without any loss of fuel economy.

This press release from the school says the report, prepared by Gregory Shaver, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, doctoral student Dave Snyder and undergraduate Chris Satkoski, found that upping that mix to 20 percent would have even greater results:

The university’s Technical Assistance Program at the Purdue Research Park arranged for the engineers to prepare the study for IndyGo Public Transportation Corp., which provides mass transit in Indianapolis. The report was presented to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard earlier this month at Purdue’s Ray W. Herrick Laboratories in a visit organized by the university’s Energy Center.

The report compared bus operations in April 2006 and April 2007 to determine the impact of switching from standard diesel fuel, referred to as B0, to B10, which contains 10 percent biodiesel. IndyGo switched its entire fleet to B10 in 2007.

“In our assessment, we would recommend going to B20,” Shaver said. “We also saw a significant benefit to using the diesel-electric hybrid buses, so we would recommend increasing the number of hybrids in the fleet. The best bang for your buck might be running B20 in hybrid buses, depending on the initial cost of hybrids compared to standard buses.”

The researchers say switching to B20 could save Indianapolis 360,000 gallons a year, while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

Study to Show CO2 Reduciton with Biodiesel

The National Biodiesel Board has teamed up with two companies to launch a pilot program to show how much lower emissions are using biodiesel. NBB, along with Chicago-based Indigenous Energy, LLC, developers of emissions tracking systems, and Los Angeles-based States Logistics, a fleet and logistics company using clean technology, to put together the six-month over-the-road test.

This press release from the NBB says when they are finished, they’ll put together a report that quantifies States Logistics’ emissions and carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction from using biodiesel:

So far, results for May and June showed a 16.5 ton reduction in CO2 emissions.

“The pilot program uses our patent-pending technology and reporting system with inputs from States Logistics over-the-road activity to show carbon and emissions reduction,” said Peter Probst, President and Director of Research & Development, Indigenous Energy. “States Logistics is a perfect company to develop the pilot because of their commitment to using biodiesel and the concern of their customers for environmental stewardship.”

States Logistics uses B5 and B99 in seven 2007 trucks, running on average approximately 27,000 miles a month. The pilot program takes into account several areas to measure carbon footprint including vehicle type, distance traveled, number of gallons used, percentage of biodiesel used and biodiesel feedstock type, such as soybean oil. The end result is a report on total CO2 emitted from both the petroleum diesel and biodiesel, CO2 reduction from using biodiesel and the quantifiable cost to offset petroleum CO2. The results will be presented at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

Eventually, the information can be used by companies to sell carbon offsets. But for now, States Logistics is using it to demonstrate to its customers why it uses biodiesel and how it is good for the Earth… a goal the NBB has in mind:

“When we announced the BioTrucker Fuel Card last year at GATS, we thought about next steps for providing value to cardholders,” said Tom Verry, Director of Outreach and Development for NBB. “This CO2 reduction reporting could become a value-add report for fleets to use as a publicity tool for their customers.”

Ethanol Potential in Georgia

SE Bioenergy Conference ChamblissSenator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia is proud that his home state is playing a role in the production of alternative, domestic fuels.

“We’re not only producing ethanol from corn with a couple of facilities in south Georgia, but because of our soils and long growing season, we’re going to be a major participant in cellulosic based ethanol production as well,” Chambliss said at last week’s Southeast Bioenergy Conference.

Chambliss is also very proud that his alma mater, the University of Georgia, was recently awarded a nearly $2.5 million in grants from the Department of Energy for cellulosic biofuels development.

Listen to an interview with Chambliss from the Bioenergy conference from Southeast Agnet reporter Tyron Spearman:

USDA Meeting Will Address Farm Bill Energy Programs

USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr will hold a public meeting next month to work on implementing renewable energy programs authorized under the recently enacted farm bill.

Tom Dorr“Continuing to develop renewable energy is a key component of President Bush’s strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” Dorr said. “This meeting is an opportunity for business owners, citizens and agricultural producers to discuss the best ways to harness the untapped renewable energy resources in rural areas.”

USDA plans to implement the farm bill’s energy provisions in consultation with the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.

The meeting will be held September 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EDT) in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building, USDA. More information about the meeting and how to arrange to speak or make a presentation can be found on the Federal Register website.

REG Able to Produce Algae-Biodiesel on Commercial Scale

Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group has announced it has the technology to produce biodiesel from algae on a commercial scale.

This article from Biodiesel Magazine says while the biodiesel maker isn’t producing algae itself, it is providing the crucial elusive step for some companies that are producing the slimy feedstock:

REG has adapted it multi-feedstock technology to refine oil from a variety of algae strains and produce biodiesel exceeding ASTM standards. The results indicate the process can be commercialized when sufficient quantities of algae oil become available. At this time, REG is working with algae companies to develop their process. “We have worked with a variety of algae companies that we think will become producers,” said Daniel Oh, chief operating officer of REG. “We can work with algae companies who are trying to define what they are trying to do from a strain selection perspective to the smartest way to scale up to a commercial scale.”

REG officials believe companies will be able to provide them with algae oil on a commercial scale in the next three to five years.

Biodiesel Maker Looks at Pipeline to Erie, PA’s Ports

Lake Erie Biofuels, the Pennsylvania biodiesel maker with a 45-million gallon a year biodiesel refinery on the shores of Lake Erie (so it’s not just a clever title) is reportedly considering building a pipeline from its plant to the ports of Erie, PA… but company officials aren’t saying much about the project.

However, the Erie Times-News did find somebody who would talk:

Raymond Schreckengost, executive director of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, said the authority has had “very preliminary” discussions with a company about the project.

Lake Erie Biofuels officials could not be reached for comment.

Schreckengost said the company is now transporting about 1.5 million to 2 million gallons of biofuels a month by railroad cars to the port for shipment.

The pipeline would probably be about 6 inches in diameter and would follow the path of an existing sewer line that extends from the former International Paper Co. property, where the biofuels plant is located, to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and then to the port’s facilities.

The article goes on to say that Lake Erie Biofuels plans to pay for the pipeline itself, if it decides to build it, IF it is economically feasible. Port authority officials say they would help the company find a grant to help fund the project, if needed.

Sustainable Biodiesel Looks for Public Input

A non-profit group dedicated to making sure that the production of biodiesel is a sustainable proposition is looking for your input how to keep biodiesel refining, well, sustainable.

The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA) has released a first draft of its “Principles and Baseline Practices for Sustainability” for a 45-day public comment and review period. This post on the gas2.0 web site has more details:

The opening paragraph of the report succinctly sums up what their vision of sustainable biodiesel production is:

“Sustainable biodiesel is biodiesel that is produced in a manner that, on a lifecycle basis, minimizes the generation of pollution, including greenhouse gases; reduces competition for, and use of, natural resources and energy; reduces waste generation; preserves habitat and ecosystems; maintains or improves soils; avoids use of genetically modified organisms; and provides community economic benefit that results in jobs and fair labor conditions.”

Much of the document reads like a list of practices and standards that farmers and industry should be adopting regardless of what they grow or produce — whether it’s for biodiesel or not — but there are many included items that are specific to the biodiesel industry. Some examples:

* Use waste oils and rendered oils as a biodiesel feedstock before using crops
* Make sure that the energy put in to making biodiesel is less than the energy produced
* Use local feedstocks whenever possible

Once again, you can read the draft document for yourself by clicking here. Don’t forget to give the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance your two cents worth as well.

USDA Study Reveals Sweet Potatoes Yield More Carbs for Ethanol Than Corn

According to Biofuels Business, sweet potatoes yielded two to three times the carbohydrates for ethanol production as field corn, research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found. ARS released a report on the findings today. Scientists received similar results with tropical cassava.

The research found that sweet potato carbohydrate yields were similar to the lower limits of those produced by sugarcane, the highest-yielding ethanol crop. Another advantage for sweet potatoes and cassava is that they require much less fertilizer and pesticide than corn, the ARS said.

Lew Ziska, a plant physiologist at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, U.S., performed the study with colleagues from Beltsville and at the ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama, U.S.

The disadvantages to cassava and sweet potato were higher start-up costs, particularly because of increased labor at planting and harvesting times. Further studies are needed to get data on inputs of fertilizer, water, pesticides and estimates of energy efficiency. Overall, the data indicate it would be worthwhile to start pilot programs to study growing cassava and sweet potato for ethanol, especially on marginal lands.

New Law Means New Labels for Biodiesel Pumps

This December, the Federal Trade Commission’s new rules on labeling of biodiesel pumps kicks in. Basically, pumps that dispense greater-than-5-percent biodiesel blends will have to have a label indicating that pump’s blend.

The National Biodiesel Board hosts a web site, AllThingsBiodiesel.com, that sells the new labels… among the many other objects sold there:

“Our goal is two-fold. We want to help petroleum retailers comply with the labeling law as painlessly as possible, while at the same time expand their marketing efforts,” said Doug Whitehead, Director of Operations for the National Biodiesel Board. “We have eye-catching pump topper kits available for sale, for those whose goal is to not only comply with the regulations, but actually market biodiesel to consumers and boost demand.”

The FTC published the final ruling on biodiesel pump labeling on June 23. One of the approved labels is for blends between 5 and 20 percent and the second is for B100 (100 percent biodiesel). If a retailer has a blend between 21 and 99 percent, an order can be placed on AllThingsBiodiesel.com. Hosted by NBB, All Things Biodiesel is the premier online biodiesel marketplace. It houses a directory, an information exchange, classified ads and a store for biodiesel merchandise and marketing materials.

Blends of 5 percent biodiesel and less do not need the label since they meet all the same standard for petroleum diesel, D975.

MO DNR Holds Fleet Managers Workshop

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held their annual fleet manager workshop yesterday in Jefferson City, Missouri. Approximately 45 were in attendance and five speakers presented, including State Fleet Manager Cindy Dixon (pictured).

Discussed were issues relating to annual reporting, alternative fuel purchasing requirements, E85, and biodiesel among more.

“It’s exciting to see the drastic increase in E85 fueling stations throughout Missouri this past year,” said Missouri DNR Energy Specialist and Alternative Fuels Coordinator Cindy Carroll who moderated the workshop. Missouri added 68 E85 sites from Aug. 2007 to Aug. 2008 bringing the total to 97 facilities. Missouri ties Iowa for 5th in the largest number of E85 fueling locations.

Carroll noted that the state requirement for alternative fuel vehicle purchase has increased from 50 percent to 70 percent over the past year. Also, E85 fuel usage among state fleet vehicles has increased by 53 percent.