Thinking Small for Biodiesel

While much of the talk regarding biodiesel these days has been about mega-refineries that try to keep up with the growing demand for the green fuel, there was some recent “small” talk about the biofuel… in fact, microscopic talk.

nanotxlogo.bmpThis story in the Fort Worth (TX) Business Press says at the recent conference on nanotechnology, NanoTx 2007, in Dallas, scientists discussed how to apply the control of matter on the molecular level to biodiesel production:

Last year, researchers at UT Arlington’s college of engineering developed a microreactor that could dramatically reduce the time and cost needed to process biodiesel fuel.

“We are actively seeking companies that build biodiesel refineries to be our partners in this nanotechnology development effort,” said Dr. Richard Billo, associate dean of engineering at the school. “The microreactor can take what is now a 90-minute process to convert vegetable oil to biodiesel fuel and reduce it to less than four minutes, even down to as little as six seconds, depending on some beginning variables,” he said.

nanotx1.JPGThe energy segment of the conference (pictured at right) was reported to be very popular as the scientists also talked about how to recapture heat produced from engines.

Jatropha’s the Choice for Hawaii’s Biodiesel

jatropha.jpgThanks, in part, to a $677,000 grant from the U.S. government, a program to plant jatropha trees to use as a feedstock for biodiesel in Hawaii will soon get underway.

This story on says the tropical plant is a natural for the island paradise… and having to import all of its petroleum products makes biodiesel a no-brainer for Hawaii:

Hawaii County Economic Opportunity, the non-profit organisation that was awarded the grant, will be exploring the cloning and mass production of jatropha plant seedlings to be marketed to commercial growers in the biodiesel industry.

The project aims to produce 3 million seedlings within three years and create 70 jobs for the local community. U.S. Senator for Hawaii, Daniel K. Akaka said the project is an important step forward for Hawaii to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a self-sustaining energy future.

Monsanto Sets Sights on Ethanol Innovation

MonsantoMonsanto Company, the self-described global leader in technology-based solutions
and agricultural products, has announced it will be ramping up its development in the ethanol industry. Monsanto is now collaborating with Perten Instruments to stay within the cutting edge of emerging ethanol technologies.

Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and Perten Instruments today announced a collaboration to develop advanced process analytical tools to help ethanol plants gain efficiency in their ethanol production process. The collaboration will focus on the development and application of technology to monitor the operating conditions and improve the efficiency of ethanol production. One area of focus will be to optimize ethanol yields based on incoming feedstock quality, such as Processor Preferred® High Fermentable Corn hybrids. The collaboration will also explore technologies to determine and improve the quality of ethanol co-products such as dry distillers grains (DDGS).

The collaboration will work to develop rapid analysis methods using Perten’s near infrared technology for process monitoring at over a dozen processing points in each ethanol production facility.

Westar Building Kansas’ Largest Wind Energy Program

westarenergy.JPGWestar Energy has launched a more than $500 million plan to develop three wind farms in Kansas, totalling 300 megawatts… or the equivalent of the energy to power 88,000 homes.

This story on the WIBW web site says it will be on three separate sites: a 6,000-acre wind farm near Scott City, 12,000 acres southeast of Concordia, and a 5,000-acre wind farm near Medicine Lodge:

“In January, Governor Sebelius called on the utilities of Kansas to invest in clean, renewable energy as a way of making the state more energy independent,” Bill Moore, Westar Energy president and CEO, said. “Westar Energy is committed to providing customers with reliable electric energy at a reasonable price and to do so while continuing to be good stewards of the environment. Our proposed wind energy plan recognizes these important committments.”

The facilities are expected to be up and running by the end of next year.

Aspen Airport Offsets Some of Its Carbon Footprint with Biofuels

Aspen AirportAspen, Colorado has been a favorite destination for many in the jet-set for some time, but all those jets are not good for the mountain resort area’s environment. Airport officials, knowing they can’t do much right now about the planes’ pollution, are making moves to offset as much of the carbon footprint as possible.

This story in the Aspen Daily News says green fuels and wind power are helping the airport reach those goals:

The airport will likely achieve those reductions by using alternative fuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel, in its vehicles, encouraging shuttles and rental car companies to use alternative fuels, providing incentives such as free parking for passengers who use alternative fuel or electric vehicles, and regulating or using more efficient construction equipment, [Mary Vigilante of Synergy Consultants] said. The airport may pursue special federal grants to help pay for the effort and make the terminal more energy efficient.

The airport is already buying enough wind power through Holy Cross energy to offset all of its electricity use, according to officials.

Officials admit the jet airliners are still the biggest problem, but they say they’ll tackle what they can now.

Imagine It with Biodiesel

childrensmuseumatlanta.gifThe Children’s Museum of Atlanta’s motto is “Imagine It!” Well, now schoolchildren can expand those imaginations, thanks to a biodiesel-powered bus donated by a couple of benefactors.

This story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it’s been dubbed the “Imagine It! Express”:

Museum board member Elizabeth Klump and her husband Michael recently donated a biodiesel bus to take children to the museum for school trips. It goes into service Oct. 20, transporting kids from two elementary schools in southwest Atlanta.

The downtown museum, on Centennial Olympic Park Drive, has seen attendance skyrocket since the Georgia Aquarium opened on the other side of the park in 2005.

But as the price of gas has climbed in recent years, some school districts have had to cut back on field trips.

“A lot of times, we’ve been hearing that the distance is an insurmountable barrier. For some schools, it costs too much to drive here,” said museum spokeswoman Lisa Kay Bokovoy.

The museum will provide the biodiesel and a driver.

POET Finalizes Agreement With DOE

POET and the U.S. Department of Energy have signed a cooperative agreement for a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

According to a company release, the agreement finalizes the first phase of a DOE award that was announced in February and will govern all aspects of the project leading up to construction. With the agreement in place, POET will move forward on project preliminary design and engineering, environmental engineering, biomass collection and other activities.

POETAccording to the cooperative agreement, phase one of the project will last approximately 20 months. A subsequent phase two agreement will then be negotiated to cover construction which is expected to take two years. Following construction, facility operation is expected to begin in 2011.

Project Liberty, POET’s cellulosic project, will convert an existing 50 million gallon per year (mgpy) dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa into an integrated corn-to-ethanol and cellulose-to-ethanol biorefinery. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 mgpy, 25 percent of which will be from corn fiber and corn cobs. By adding cellulosic production to an existing grain ethanol plant, POET will be able to produce 11 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn, 27 percent more from an acre of corn, while almost completely eliminating fossil fuel consumption and decreasing water usage by 24 percent.

New RFA Chairman and Board Members

Chris StandleeThe board of directors for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has unanimously elected Chris Standlee, Executive Vice President of Abengoa Bioenergy in Chesterfield, Missouri, as chairman. He succeeds Ron Miller, President and CEO of Aventine Renewable Holdings, Inc., in the position.

“It is an honor to be elected chairman of the RFA,” said Standlee. “For more than 26 years, the RFA has worked tirelessly to ensure proper policies and markets are in place to develop a robust U.S. ethanol industry and the results speak for themselves. I intend to work equally as hard to follow the precedent set by Ron Miller and keep our industry on an upward path.”

RFADuring a meeting this week in Washington, DC the RFA board honored Ron Miller for his service as chairman of the RFA. Aventine is one of the oldest members of the RFA and Miller has held the position of chairman on three different occasions, most recently from 2005-2007.

RFA also elected other new officers during the board meeting.
Vice Chairman – Tom Branhan of Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC in Watertown, SD
Treasurer – Nate Kimpel of New Energy Corp. in South Bend, IN
Secretary – Jeff Broin of POET, Sioux Falls, SD

Bob Dinneen remains president of RFA, which represents more than 80 percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S. To qualify as a Board member, the company must be an ethanol producer.

Baucus Unveils Biofuels Incentives

Sen. Max BaucusSen. Max Baucus, from Montana has taken the wraps off a tax package that is designed to help biodiesel and ethanol.

This story from Ethanol Producer Magazine says Baucus’s bill would add enough money to put the total incentive $9 billion above the 2007 Farm Bill’s baseline levels… but part of that money would come from taking away from existing biofuels tax incentives:

One of the provisions of the bill would decrease the 51 cents per gallon ethanol blenders tax credit to 46 cents per gallon. Language in the bill indicates that the change would come into effect in 2009. Although the blenders tax credit would be reduced, the 54 cents per gallon ethanol tariff would remain in place through 2010 if the provisions are enacted.

Another biofuels provision in the bill is a new ethanol tax credit for cellulosic ethanol producers. The 50 cents per gallon credit would be added to the 51 cents per gallon under the ethanol blenders tax credit and the 10 cents per gallon small producer credit and is applicable for up to 60 million gallons per year.

The bill also calls for a two-year extension through 2010 of the $1 per gallon and 50 cents per gallon biodiesel tax credit. In addition, small biodiesel producers would see a four-year extension of the 10 cents per gallon tax credit.

Power Plant Growing Algae for Biodiesel & Ethanol

A power plant near Farmington, New Mexico is working to make itself a greener operation. The Four Corners Power Plant is growing a crop of algae to be turned into ethanol and biodiesel.

This story in the Farmington (NM) Daily Times says it is a circular process:

Arizona Public Service Company, which owns the 2,040 megawatt coal-fired power plant, has had success with a similar project at the Redhawk Natural Gas Power Plant. During one year, the algae grown there absorbed between 258 to 450 tons of carbon dioxide per acre, said spokesman Steven Gotfried. The harvest was good and the lipids, or oils, were turned into biodiesel while the starches became ethanol.

“We were the first to ever take emissions from a power plant, feed carbon dioxide to the algae, take that algae and convert it into both ethanol and biodiesel,” Gotfried said.

greenfueltech.gifGotfried said GreenFuel Technologies contacted the power company because it wanted to test the experiment in a real-world setting.

Arizona Public Service Company partnered with GreenFuel Technologies on the project.

Indiana Biodiesel Plant Gets Construction Funding

Indiana Clean EnergyIndiana Clean Energy, LLC has secured funding for construction of an 80-million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant near Frankfort, Indiana.

This article from the Lafayette-West Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier says Dougherty Funding is providing $52 million in financing to build the plant:

“We believe this is a significant step in putting the final pieces in place so that we can break ground and begin working to bring this exciting project to Frankfort,” said Indiana Clean Energy founder and board member Murray Gingrich.

Citing time required to work on the project and a need to diversify management experience of the company, Gingrich recently stepped down as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Indiana Clean Energy. Kevin Kelley of Kelley Engineering LLC in Brookston succeeded him.

The plant will have rail access and be near an Archer Daniels Midland grain facility.

Former Military Base Becoming Biodiesel Producer

Nova Biosource FuelsThe former naval shipyard at Seneca, Illinois near Chicago will soon be the home to a 60-million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant.

This story on the Chief web site says Nova Biosource Fuels is building the plant:

One of the premier components of the project is the pre-fabricated pipe that transports the biodiesel fuel within the plant. Nova Biosource chose Edwards Engineering, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, IL, to take on this task because of their cutting edge technology and industrial experience. The project was so large that Edwards opened a separate facility specifically for this project, which is added good news for the Illinois economy. Edwards employs approximately 75 workers in their 50,000 square foot pre-fabrication facility in Minooka, IL, and as part of an installation team on-site at the Seneca plant.

Nova Biosource has more than 230 million gallons of biodiesel capacity under construction or in operation throughout the country.

Major Biodiesel Plant Headed for Kentucky

A 60-million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant is slated for Paducah, Kentucky, scheduled to be finished in three years.

This story on the KFVS-TV web site says Southland Renewable Fuel will build the plant:

McCracken County, the City of Paducah, Paducah-McCracken Riverport Authority and the Greater Paducah Economic Development Council announced the plans Tuesday.

The plant will use an environmentally friendly “waterless wash” process that emits “virtually” no air emissions to create clean-burning alternative fuel.

It’s the first large-scale biodiesel plant in western Kentucky.

The plant will also produce six million gallons of glycerin each year.

E85 to Fuel 2008 Season of the American Le Mans Series

Pumping up with ethanolIt’s not quite official, but the Vice President of Media Communications for the American Le Mans Series says the ALMS will be making an announcement within a week about it’s future with ethanol. Bob Dickinson says ALMS will move to an E85 blend of ethanol fuel for the series’ 2008 season. He says the series’ switch to an E10 blend was a positive move and the ALMS wants to continue to stay on the cutting edge of fuel technology.

You can listen to my interview with Bob here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album

Shell Sets the Standard for Ethanol Fuel

Sam Sweeney grills American Le Mans Series Driver Peter DumbreckSam’s Mart on 5640 New Northside Drive, NW in Atlanta, GA is among the network of Shell stations within the metropolitan area that uses an E10 blend of fuel in all of it’s fuel grades offered at the pump. Bob Walden is the Manager of Special Projects for Sam’s Mart. He says Shell is a leading player the ethanol industry when it comes offering the fuel to consumers at the pump. For Bob, pump promotions like the one the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council put on today help turn consumers on to “the future of fuel.”

Bob is pictured here with the local Sam’s Mart management team and American Le Mans Series Drivers Tom Milner and Peter Dumbreck. Bob is on the far right. I’m also pictured on the far right just below Bob.

You can listen to my interview with Bob here:

2007 Petit Le Mans Photo Album