New Company Looks to Lead U.S. Hydrogen Market

A new company has been formed that looks to lead the U.S. hydrogen market.

Eden Hydrogen Inc. is the product of the merging of two American subsidiaries of Australian-based Energy Ltd… Hythane Company of Denver, Colorado and HyRadix of Des Plaines, Illinois. This story from the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch web site says the new company will be headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois.

“Eden Hydrogen is a milestone in our growing capacity to deliver integrated hydrogen solutions to customers in the U.S. and globally,” said Greg Solomon, Executive Chairman, Eden Energy Ltd. based in Perth, Australia. “We have captured the hydrogen supply chain within a single, efficient company.”
Robert Gray has been named Chief Executive Officer of Eden Hydrogen Inc. He was formerly Chief Executive Officer of Eden Innovations Ltd. and a past president of HyRadix. Roger Mamaro, President of Hythane Company, will lead global operations and Dave Cepla, President of HyRadix, will lead global sales and marketing for the new company.

“As consumers in the U.S. and around the world demand cost effective and clean alternatives to petroleum, the market for hydrogen-based fuels and technologies is rapidly expanding,” said Robert Gray, CEO, Eden Hydrogen Inc. “Eden Hydrogen is uniquely positioned to provide economical onsite hydrogen generation, delivery, and storage.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a study that recommends the government spends $55 billion over the next 15 years to help hydrogen vehicles are competitive with their petroleum-fueled counterparts on American roads.

Free Webinar Offered: Improving Your Bottom Line With Ethanol

LugarU.S. Senator Dick Lugar yesterday announced that the International Trade Association at the U.S. Department of Commerce has organized a free webinar titled, “Improving your bottom line with ethanol,” on August 12, 2008, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

According to the announcement, the web-based seminar will provide U.S. petroleum retailers with information on the current market for E85, ethanol conversion logistics and government programs that advance E85 distribution within the United States.

“America needs to transform our transportation sector and cut our oil import bill by establishing biofuels that are available to every motorist in the country. With just 103 E85 pumps in Indiana, too few Hoosiers have access to this competitively priced, high-performance, homegrown fuel. We need to ensure that virtually every new car sold in America is a flexible fuel vehicle and that at least one quarter of American filling stations have E85 pumps,” Lugar said.

The webinar’s schedule is as follows:

2:00-2:05: Introduction of the Webinar Session and the Presenters
2:05-2:25: U.S. Market for E85 Capable Vehicles
2:25-2:45: Ethanol Conversion Options, Logistics, and Contracts for Fuel Provisions
2:45-3:05: Government Assistance and Incentives for Ethanol Conversion
3:05-3:30: Industry Comments and Q&A Session

To subscribe to the event or for more information, contact Shannon Fraser by Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at Shannon.Fraser@mail.doc.gov.

California Plant to Make Ethanol from Waste

BlueFire Ethanol Fuels of California has been given the go-ahead to build the nation’s first commercial biowaste-to-ethanol facility in Los Angeles County.

Blue Fire EthanolThe county’s regional planning commission unanimously agreed to issue a zoning permit to BlueFire Ethanol to build a $30 million facility in Lancaster, located north of Los Angeles. The plant will be built next to a landfill and construction is scheduled to begin in the fall.

BlueFire Ethanol selected the Lancaster location because an estimated 170 tons of biowaste material, including woodchips, grass cuttings and other organic waste, already passes by the property every day. The plant is also designed to use reclaimed water and lignin, a byproduct of the production process, in order to produce its own electricity and steam.

The new facility will use BlueFire’s commercially-ready concentrated acid hydrolysis technology process which could convert the waste into as much as 3.2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

New Alliance for Food and Fuel

Alliance For Abundant Food and EnergyA group of major players in the agribusiness sector have joined together to highlight the ability of American agriculture to meet both food and energy needs.

The Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy includes Archer Daniels Midland, DuPont, John Deere, Monsanto, and the Renewable Fuels Association.

The alliance asserts that “By growing more crops and developing more efficient ways of processing them, we can produce enough food to meet the world’s needs. The Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy understands that innovations in Agriculture can support the development of greater productivity, enabling farmers to effectively supply both the world’s growing food and energy demands.”

The companies involved have contributed towards a fund that will be used for national advertising and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

Run on Biodiesel, Keep Your Warranty

With the rising interest in biodiesel and the increasing popularity of biodiesel-fueled vehicles (as we reported last Tuesday, July 22nd), consumers need to know how they can use the green fuel and still keep their manufacturer’s warranty.

Recently, biodiesel received ASTM approval for meeting standards for fuel use. That means that any biodiesel that meets that standard is as safe as regular diesel fuel. But some auto manufacturers and dealers are being a little hesitant in giving biodiesel a thumbs up for use. This story from the gas2.0.org web site has tips from the Northwest Biofuels Association to make sure that those car makers will honor their warranties, even if you use biodiesel:

* Whether or not a biodiesel blend is “recommended” by your automaker is separate from the question of whether the use of biodiesel affects engine warranty coverage. Make sure you know exactly what your automaker specifies.
* Because vehicle warranties only cover parts and workmanship, fuel is not covered under any vehicle warranty.
* Conversely, if consumers that use biodiesel have an engine failure unrelated to the use of biodiesel and the cause is found to be faulty parts or workmanship, then the failure would be covered by the warranty.
* If a customer brings in a vehicle that has used biodiesel and the customer is told that the warranty is voided solely because the customer is using biodiesel, this violates the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
* A vehicle’s warranty cannot be voided solely due to the use of biodiesel.

The association included the tips with a letter written in collaboration with Oregon auto dealers and Oregonian biodiesel distributors.

Tennessee Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Planned

DuPontDaniscoDuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation have announced a partnership to construct an innovative pilot-scale biorefinery and state-of-the-art research and development facility for cellulosic ethanol in Vonore, Tenn.

According to DuPont Danisco, the pilot-scale biorefinery will develop the commercial package for the partnership’s leading cellulosic ethanol technology. The project will also utilize UT’s world-class expertise in cellulosic feedstock production and co-product research, as well as its work with Tennessee farmers to develop the first dedicated cellulosic energy crop supply chain for cellulosic biorefineries utilizing switchgrass. The facility design will incorporate the flexibility to operate on two different non-food biomass feedstocks, including corn stover, cobs and fiber, and switchgrass.

Ethanol Experts Available

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has unveiled a new Renewable Fuels Experts Database to help fight public misconceptions about ethanol. EPIC is the first organization to offer such a media resource containing experts from the renewable fuels industry.

EPIC ExpertsThe database is an online tool that allows journalists to find experts by searching keywords or a category list such as alternative blended fuels, state of the industry and cellulosic ethanol. More than 65 experts are currently in the database with detailed biographies, published works and links to view recent TV, radio and print interviews with more resources added every day.

RFS Restrictions Could Delay Cellulosic Ethanol

Members of a House Agriculture subcommittee are expressing concerns that restrictions under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act could be detrimental to the development of second generation ethanol using biomass.

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing to review the RFS implementation and agriculture producer eligibility. Chairman Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) said restrictions in the definition of “renewable biomass” under the RFS limit the participation of private forestland owners.

“As our economy diversifies its energy supply, it is critical we take advantage of all potential sources of renewable biomass,” Holden said. “Unfortunately, the RFS contains some restrictions that could delay and threaten meeting the aggressive targets for cellulosic ethanol in the RFS and hold us back from achieving energy independence.”

Robert Meyers EPAEnvironmental Protection Agency Deputy Assistant Administrator Robert Meyer noted that the new law does “limit the crops and crop residues used to produce renewable fuel to those grown on land cleared or cultivated at any time prior to enactment of EISA, that is either actively managed or fallow, and non-forested. EISA also requires that forest-related slash and tree thinnings used for renewable fuel production pursuant to the Act be harvested from non-federal forest lands.” This was just one of the many complexities he outlined in the challenge EPA has in implementing the RFS in a timely manner.

Meyers said EPA began working on implementation of the law immediately once it was signed by the president in December, but he was hesitant to be definite about when that might finally be accomplished, saying only that they hope the final rule to be finished “some time this fall.” Complicating the matter still further is the request for a partial waiver of the RFS submitted by Texas Governor Rick Perry, which EPA has delayed making a decision on due to the volume of comments received.

Postal Service Delivering on Alternatives

Your mail could be delivered using green energy.

This story from NPR says that the U.S. Postal Service has the largest fleet of alternatively-fueled vehicles in the country… 43,000 strong. And that’s just the beginning of its green efforts:

It’s using solar cells to power some buildings. It’s using eco-friendly packaging.

It’s so hip, it even has a vice president of sustainability.

Walt O’Tormey, USPS vice president of engineering, says this independent federal agency is pushing harder than most to move away from petroleum.

“We’re exploring all the alternatives in the marketplace for us, just to get out of gas consumption,” O’Tormey says. “And we know we owe the environment … to come up with a technology that does not impact the environment.”

This summer, the Postal Service is testing the latest generation of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with General Motors.

“We’ll test anything!” O’Tormey says. “Propane, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, electric. We have electric vehicles delivering packages in midtown Manhattan, and we have plenty of test sites, from the Grand Canyon to Alaska.”

Considering that each one-cent increase in the cost of petroleum-based fuels costs the USPS $8 million more, it’s no wonder officials want to burn anything but non-renewable sources. Maybe it will help keep down the price of a stamp.

MO Gov Candidates Debate Ethanol

As we reported back on July 16th, ethanol has become a key issue in the race for Missouri’s governor office. Tonight, the two key opponents in the debate over Missouri’s ethanol mandate, one of the first in the nation, faced off in a televised debate.

Republicans Congressman Kenny Hulshof and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman tangled over each other’s positions on the green fuel… with Hulshof backing Missouri’s ethanol mandate and Steelman siding with Big Oil and calling for repeal of the mandate.

During the debate on Springfield’s KY3-TV, Hulshof defended ethanol saying the big oil companies have spent tens of millions of dollars to blame ethanol for the nation’s energy woes. He says Steelman has been misled down that path, when in fact, “the only solution we’ve been able to come up with as far as increasing our supply of energy has been domestic biofuels. Instead of looking to the Mideast for our energy needs, why aren’t we looking to the Midwest?”

Hulshof also pointed out that ethanol is being credited with keeping gas prices down by up to 40 cents a gallon. And in Missouri, where a 10 percent ethanol requirement for nearly every gallon of gas sold is in effect, we are enjoying some of the lowest prices in the country (Coincidence? I think not!).

You can here both of their comments on the KY3 web site.

While I realize that this is a Missouri debate before our August 5th primary, I think it is indicative of the debate and attacks that ethanol and biodiesel are undergoing across the country. Keep an eye on this race… it could have implications throughout the U.S.

Shrimp Goes Big with Biodiesel

Researchers at Mississippi State University are looking at ways to turn the millions of pounds of shrimp parts not used for food into biodiesel.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the project is being funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), part of a federal/state partnership that matches National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts and resources with state academic institutions:

The goal of the research project is to find a higher value for the millions of tons of shrimp and other seafood waste that gets processed each year near in the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, according to Todd French, an assistant microbiologist at MSU who is a lead on the project.

“What we’re trying to do is find pieces to the puzzle and find something that has a higher value than their byproduct currently has where a lot of times they have to pay to truck off,” French said.

Seafood-based biodiesel production would be a boon for existing shrimp processors looking to eliminate some of their disposal costs, which have been estimated at about $145,000 per producer. As a building block for fuel, the waste also would bring additional income streams from the products it’s used to create.

Mississippi State has been a very hot place for biodiesel recently. As you might remember from my post on June 16th, the school is also working on turning wastewater sludge into biodiesel (in fact some of the same researchers are working on the shrimp-to-biodiesel project). In addition, back in May, we told you about how Mississippi State was the winner of Challenge X… a four-year engineering competition with 17 university teams from across North America developing General Motors vehicles using alternative energies. That winning vehicle ran on biodiesel.

CO Ranked High in Using Less Oil

Colorado is ranked high in the states becoming less dependent on oil, according to a study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In fact, it ranks ninth out of all fifty states; California ranks first and Mississippi ranks last. A primary reason is the addition of their alternative fuels infrastructure and promotion of such fuels.

NRDCThe study notes that Coloradans spend about 4.5 percent of their annual income on gasoline — an average of $1,835.95 a year — compared with Mississippi, the most vulnerable state in the nation, where residents spend nearly 8 percent of their annual income on gasoline.

Other reasonings noted as Colorado’s high ranking in this study was the standard that Gov. Bill Ritter called for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions as part of his Climate Action Plan. In April, the Governor asked state employees to reduce petroleum use by 25 percent.

“Citizens are looking for ways to reduce consumption, and we have alternative fuels and alternative transportation available,” said Megan Castle, director of communications for the Governor’s Energy Office.

There are currently 72 biofuels stations within the state of Colorado and 20 additional planned to open soon. Biofuel sales statewide are now at about 1 million gallons a month, Castle said.

EPAC 18th Annual Conference Concludes

Ethanol Producers and Consumers’ (EPAC) 18th Annual Ethanol Conference concluded in Kalispell, Montana yesterday. The conference featured more than twenty speakers within the one and a half day event. The focus of this year’s conference was to help dispel the myths of the food and fuel debate.

Vander Griend1“We’ve been looking at nations outside the U.S. to see what ethanol influences there are around the world,” said Dave Vander Griend, president and CEO of ICM, Inc. (seen left). Vander Griend expressed that his plants are truly food AND fuel plants.

Other speakers and moderators at the recent EPAC conference included: Kelly Davis of Hawkeye Gold, HartwigMichelle Kautz of NEVC, Julie Ward of R.J. O’Brien, Steve Markham of CHS, Inc., Matt Hartwig of RFA (seen right), John Urbachuk of LECG, LLC, Robert White of EPIC, Gerson Santos-Leon of Abengoa Bioenergy, Joe Jobe of the National Biodiesel Board, and Al Weverstad of General Motors, among others.

“Thanks to the many speakers, moderators and vendors who have agreed to be part of the agenda,” noted Executive Director of EPAC, Shirley Ball.

The 19th Annual EPAC conference will be held in Bozeman, Montana June 29 and 30, 2009. For more information on EPAC, visit www.ethanolmt.org.

Study Offers Objective View of Food Price Drivers

An agricultural public policy group is releasing a new study today that offers a comprehensive, objective assessment of the forces driving food prices.

Farm Foundation Food Price StudyThe Farm Foundation study “What’s Driving Food Prices?” was written by three Purdue University economists. Lead author Wally Tyner says that while ethanol demand is definitely the main reason for increased corn prices, the ultimate driver behind ethanol demand is higher oil prices.

“Crude oil’s strongest and most direct impact on food prices has been through its effect on the demand for biofuels,” Tyner said. “Higher oil price means higher gasoline price, higher gasoline price means more demand for ethanol because ethanol is a substitute for gasoline, and the higher ethanol demand means more demand for corn and more demand for corn means higher corn prices.”

The result has been that the price of crude oil and the price of corn are now linked, Tyner says, which is a revolution for global agriculture.

Farm Foundation 75th logoFarm Foundation president Neil Conklin says what the study shows is that today’s food price levels are the result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including global changes in production and consumption of key commodities, the depreciation of the U.S. dollar, and growth in the production of biofuels.

Farm Foundation is an independent group with a 75 year history that does no lobbying and has no allegiance to any particular agricultural commodity. Farm Foundation will host a free webinar on the report, July 30 at 1 p.m. EDT.

Read the full report here.

Diesel Vehicles Gain Popularity, Good for Biodiesel

Diesel-powered vehicles are gaining in popularity, despite the higher price of diesel fuel compared to regular unleaded gasoline. And that rise in interest in those vehicles is good news for the biodiesel industry.

Business Week reports sales are brisk with many makes getting into the business:

Howard Cooper Volkswagen in Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, says that a buyer putting money down today will probably have to wait until January to receive his car. Volkswagen of America plans to sell 15,000 TDI Jettas this year. Next year, VW figures to sell more than 30,000.

The diesel sedan starts at $22,640, including shipping, and the station wagon at $24,240, a premium of about $2,000 over a similarly equipped model with a gasoline engine. BMW is also going ahead with plans to launch a diesel 3 series this fall. It also has plans for an X6 diesel after that. Honda is launching a diesel engine in an Acura sedan in 2010.

Perhaps the company most fully invested in diesel engines is Global Vehicles of Alpharetta, Ga., which plans to roll out Mahindra-branded pickup trucks at the end of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. Mahindra is the brand marketed by Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra. Some 200-plus dealers have signed up to sell the vehicles. Global Vehicles Marketing Director Xavier Beguiristain says the company is undeterred, but not unconcerned.

The obvious big attraction is the better mileage diesel vehicles get. Mahindra pickups are expected to get about 30 mpg. That’s more than 50 percent better than full-sized pickups and 30 percent better than some midsize pickups. And VW’s TDI Jetta could get up to 44 miles to the gallon.

This is good news for the biodiesel industry, as the increased production meets the increased demand (or is that the other way around?). Vehicle manufacturers do warn that using homemade biodiesel could void the warranty. So make sure to use commercially-approved biodiesel… at least until that three years, 36,000 miles is up.