Indiana Has Special Events Along I-65 Corridor

Four E85 stations in Indiana held promotions today to celebrating the opening of a four-state “biofuels corridor” along Interstate 65. According to the American Lung Association of Indiana, this will mark completion of the two-year project which began with a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand biofuels infrastructure in Indiana. Drivers of flexible fuel vehicles can now travel the entire length of I-65 in Indiana and the next E85 station with a quarter of a tank to spare.

The events today included those at the Family Express in Demotte; Gas City in Hammond; Gas America in Greenwood; and Thorton’s in Clarksville.

“The American Lung Association of Indiana joined in this celebration because vehicles that use E85 and B20 biodiesel instead of traditional petroleum fuels produce significantly less emissions that can be harmful to lung health,” said Brett Aschliman, health promotions manager for the American Lung Association of Indiana.

Other corridor partners included: Energy.IN.gov, Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance, General Motors, South Shore Clean Cities, BioTenn, Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn, US Department of Energy and American Lung Association of Indiana.

Corvette Powered by Cellulosic Ethanol Wins Green Challenge

The Corvette Racing team of Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows went down in history as the inaugural winners of the Green Racing Challenge. The 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans win also cinched the American Le Man Series GT1 championship for O’Connell and Magnussen.

Corvette WinsThe No. 3 Corvette C6.R also had the best score in the Green Challenge, securing the team award in the GT class for Corvette Racing and the manufacturer award for General Motors. Powered by cellulosic E85R ethanol made from waste wood, the winning Corvette had the best overall score in the competition based on based on performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact.

“It’s not just about making the engine more efficient and more environmentally friendly,” explained GM Racing Group Manager, Steve Wesoloski. “We looked at things like reducing wheel bearing friction and aerodynamic drag to win the Green Challenge. Alternative renewable fuels are an important part of GM’s gas-friendly to gas-free program, and GM already has more E85-capable vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer. Green Racing ties in with what the corporation is doing in production vehicles.”

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), and SAE International, the “Green Challenge” put the spotlight on emerging fuel technologies, including the international debut of a hybrid electric prototype race car utilizing E10. Cars were measured on performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact.

“The Green Challenge is not only a revolutionary concept in motorsports, but it is also providing a valuable testing ground for new technology that will ultimately benefit the average motorist,” said Toni Nuernberg, executive director of EPIC. “This race demonstrates the performance and environmental benefits of using ethanol enriched fuels which is something we can all do today to make an impact.”

California Ethanol Lawsuit Blasted

Both the California-based New Fuels Alliance and the LA Times have taken fuel refiner Tesoro to task for suing the state over a regulation that would boost ethanol consumption in the state by 2010.

TesoroThe company, which operates refineries in Los Angeles and the city of Martinez, says “the new fuel specifications could conflict with the state’s push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and could have ramifications for the environment and U.S. food prices.”

New Fuels AllianceThe New Fuels Alliance, a group that includes the California Renewable Fuels Partnership, released a statement calling the suit “a blatant attempt by Tesoro to try to use the regulatory and legal process to gain competitive advantage in the market place. Other oil companies are moving toward increased ethanol use to extend gasoline supply, lower cost, and even increase profits. Tesoro didn’t see this market shift coming and is now trying to gum up the works based on a feigned and disingenuous concern about climate change and food prices.”

The Alliance is calling on the California Air Resource Board to request immediate dismissal of the case.

The LA Times blog GreenSpace points out that the “text of the lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, says precious little about Tesoro’s worries over food supply and prices. Rather, the company’s core complaints are that California Air Resources Board’s new rule: takes effect too quickly, forces companies to pay for emissions offsets if they don’t meet the 2010 deadline, and requires expensive refinery modifications that might not be compatible with California’s still-evolving Low Carbon Fuel Standard.”

Reporter Elizabeth Douglass concludes, “The problem for Tesoro and other refiners is that the whole move to biofuels is eating away demand for its products. That might have something to do with the company’s sudden concern about ethanol’s impact on the environment and the nation’s food supply.”

DuPont Biofuels Goals on Track

DuPontA DuPont executive says plans to bring advanced biofuels programs to market are on track and making significant technical progress toward the commercialization of biobutanol and the conversion of cellulosic feedstocks economically into biofuels.

DuPont John Ranieri“Biobutanol and cellulosic ethanol have the ability to transform the biofuels industry,” Vice President & General Manager John Ranieri told an investor conference last week. “Our flexible business models allow us to penetrate different geographies with the ability to convert various feedstocks to meet the significant global demand for biofuels.”

DuPont is developing and commercializing an upstream biofuel technology to produce cellulosic ethanol that will use non-food energy feedstocks such as corn cob and switchgrass, and a downstream biofuel technology to produce biobutanol, a high-performance biofuel that can be delivered through existing gasoline distribution channels.

In May, DuPont announced a joint venture with Danisco to deliver low cost, sustainable cellulosic ethanol technology. In July, the DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC joint venture announced a partnership with the University of Tennessee to build a pilot and demonstration facility for the cellulosic ethanol technology, groundbreaking scheduled later this month. DuPont is jointly developing biobutanol with BP in a partnership first announced in 2006.

National Biofuels Action Plan Expected

Sam BodmanEd SchaferDepartment of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman are planning to release the National Biofuels Action Plan tomorrow in Washington DC.

The action plan is an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry. The Cabinet Secretaries will announce additional news related to the biofuels industry, new biofuel technology and ethanol blending.

The announcement will be made at the USDA building on Tuesday at 11:30 eastern.

Transition to a Bioeconomy: Part III

In just about a week and a half, government officials, bioenergy experts and leaders in the private industry will gather in St. Louis, Mo., for the third in a series of conferences sponsored by the Farm Foundation addressing the issues facing rural areas as they move to a bioeconomy.

Michael Popp, professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Arkansas, is one of the coordinators for the Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts conference, Oct. 15th-16th at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at Union Station.

“The purpose of the conference is to provide an unbiased presentation of issues that are going to affect us in agriculture and otherwise as we transition to a bioeconomy.”

Popp defines the bioeconomy as the complex supply chain associated with providing the agricultural feedstocks, including biomass, to turn into fuel. He includes solar and wind energy in that definition as well.

Among those attending the conference will be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, who will address public policy challenges for the bioeconomy and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr.

Popp says with the this particular conference will talk about rural development issues and the environmental factors, especially for the second-generation biofuels plants. And he says he expects
a good turnout for this more centrally-located conference.

“[Those] who should attend would be the financial community that might be asked to provide loans to these kinds of biofuels investments, rural development people – be that from municipal, state or federal governments, and finally, academia and industry to get more information on what’s truly out there and going on.”

There’s still time to sign up to attend the conference. Click here for more information, and I’ll see you in St. Louis!

To hear more of Cindy’s interview with Michael Popp, click here:

Sweet Sorghum for Ethanol in the Southeast

Southeast Renewable FuelsThe land around Lake Okeechobee has long been one of the largest sugarcane producing regions in the nation. One company now wants to use a tract of land along the lake to produce sweet sorghum for ethanol.

Southeast Renewable Fuels
plans to build a 20 million gallon per year ethanol production plant on a 60 acre site in Hendry County and have it operational by 2011, with the intention of building at least two more plants around the Lake Okeechobee area.

Southeast Renewable FuelsCompany CEO Aaron Pepper says they currently has sweet sorghum field trials underway in various types of soils in the counties surrounding Lake Okeechobee. He is shown here inspecting some of those trials. The company is negotiating with area farmers about planting sweet sorghum, which is similar to the sugarcane familiar in the area and grows up to 15 feet tall, but can yield two harvests per year and so could be planted on sugarcane acreage when it is fallow.

The company is looking to raise at least $75 million for the project, the majority of which may come from investors in Brazil and Spain.

Making Ethanol at Night

Ethanol Plant at NightEthanol plants are cool in a lot of ways. They’re producing a domestic fuel solution to our energy problems and that lessens our dependency on foreign oil for example.

But they can also make a pretty picture too. I was driving south through Missouri last night and passed through Laddonia and the POET plant there.

This was a handheld snapshot from the highway (not much traffic at the time I was passing by).

Report: Biodiesel, Ethanol & Renewables to Create 4.2 Million US Jobs

A new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors says 4.2 million Americans will have green industry jobs by 2038… a dramatic increase from the current 750,000 green jobs in the country now.

“This report proves that being green is not optional, it is necessary for a healthy and robust economy,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. “Creating green jobs is an investment we must continue to make.”

Under assumed scenarios and with government commitment and investments, the report projects Green Jobs could contribute 10% of new jobs through 2038, representing the fastest growing job segment in the U.S. economy. By 2038, the report forecasts that renewable electricity production will create 1.23 million jobs; alternative transportation fuels 1.5 million jobs; engineering, legal, research and consulting positions will be more than 1.4 million; and commercial and residential retrofits at 81,000 jobs, for a total of 4.2 million.

The report assumes that 40 percent of the country’s electricity will come from alternative sources, such as wind, solar and biomass, 30 percent of gas and diesel for the nations vehicles will come from renewables, and homes and businesses will reduce their energy use by 35 percent by 2038.

The report was released during a Forum on the Environment and Energy held in Miami.

Debt Repayment Could Help Biodiesel Refiner

Investors have stepped in to give troubled Imperium Renewables, which operates a 100-million gallon biodiesel refinery in the Seattle area, a boost to repay some of its debts.

This story from the Seattle Times says Imperium has also hired a third-party debt restructuring firm to help it negotiate down debt with other creditors:

“With this recapitalization and cooperation of our creditors, we hope to resume operations as soon as possible,” said Chief Executive John Plaza in a statement.

Neither the sum contributed by investors nor the total outstanding debt were disclosed.

Closely held Imperium raised significant amounts of cash and obtained a $41 million loan and a $60 million credit facility from Societe Generale as it built one of the nation’s largest biodiesel plants, the first in a planned global network.

But plans for further expansion and a public stock offering were scrapped as the company struggled with the high cost of raw materials and financial markets unreceptive to biodiesel ventures.

Officials believe that this will be significant step in turning the company’s fortunes around but admit it still has an uphill battle ahead.

Wall Street Bailout Bails Out Stalled Biodiesel, Solar & Wind Credits

The U.S. House of Representatives has reversed direction from just a week ago and approved 263-171 the Senate’s version of the $700 billion bill to fix the nation’s financial crisis.

And this story from Reuters says incentives for biodiesel, wind and solar are also the big benefactors from the vote:

Legislation to extend the renewable energy tax credits, which were set to expire at the end of the year, had been stalled by a dispute between the House and the Senate over how to pay for the tax breaks.

However, attaching the energy tax credits to the economic rescue package gave them new life.

The legislation extends for one year the production tax credit for wind energy, with an eight-year extension for investment tax credits for businesses and homeowners to install solar energy equipment.

Buyers of plug-in electric cars would receive tax credits ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

The bill also extends a $1 per gallon production tax credit for biodiesel through 2009. This measure closes a “splash and dash” loophole where companies mixed foreign biofuels with U.S. biodiesel to receive the U.S. subsidy, but then sold the fuel at a discount to European markets.

Webinar Previewing 2009 Fleet Alt. Fuel Vehicles

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute (AFVI) will be sponsoring a live webinar, Fleet Solutions:
Light-Duty OEM Product Preview 2009
, that will introduce 2009 alternative fuel fleet vehicles on Tuesday, October 21 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time. This webinar will include 2009 vehicle information on fuel economy, emissions benefits, and available incentives.

AFVI is the education provider and information link between the alternative fuels and vehicles industry and public/private fleets and other proponents of alternative fuels. AFVI is fuel and technology neutral. Their primary focus is to help improve our country’s transportation energy supply by facilitating market integration of new transportation fuels and technologies while minimizing environmental impacts.

To register for the webinar, click here. The webinar is free but space is limited.

Geographic Information Helps Plan Ethanol Pipelines

Colonial PipelineMajor U.S. pipeline company Colonial Pipeline is using geographic information system (GIS) technology to study the feasibility of shipping ethanol by pipeline.

According to a press release from ESRI, a mapping and software company, Colonial is using GIS to find the best ways to get ethanol from the production areas of the Midwest to pipelines and terminals and retail gas stations on the coasts.

Working with GIS technology, Colonial has been able to build business models for shipping ethanol via pipelines. Within the business model, Colonial can weigh the costs associated with various railroads, the production capacity for each ethanol plant, and the various transit times from producer to pipeline. Colonial engineers map and model possible scenarios of transporting ethanol from producer to train, barge, or truck and pipelines and terminals, then back to trucks. Concurrently, the company can analyze population data within the GIS to determine where the greatest demand for ethanol exists.

Miami Biodiesel Plant Seen as Alternative to ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’

As some folks call for more offshore drilling of non-renewable petroleum, a place known for its beautiful beaches is looking to biodiesel as an alternative to drilling platforms breaking up that breath-taking views.

This story from Miami Today says Biomix Energy Corp. wants to build a biodiesel plant on the Miami River:

The first phase of the project, expected to be operating by the end of next summer, could yield 15 million gallons of production a year, said Steven Karpel, chief operating officer of Biomix Energy Corp.

The completed facility, an estimated $40 million to $50 million investment, is expected to produce 30 million gallons annually beginning in 2011, he said.

The company is in the process of securing a three-acre site on the river and an official OK from Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, as well as planning and zoning officials.

The article goes on to say that the Biomix Energy plant might need a zoning change to become a reality, however, commissioners lacked a quorum at the latest meeting and could not vote on it.

Just last month, Dade County commissioners debated about what more drilling would do to the area’s vital tourist industry, and the article reports Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz as saying that the more we drill, the less we’ll consider alternative fuels.

Camelina Biodiesel to Fuel Jets

The world’s leading producer of camelina… a non-food oilseed… is teaming up with the University of North Dakota to produce biodiesel jet fuel from the grain.

Great Plains – The Camelina Company and the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at UND have agreed to allow the EERC to use Great Plains’ proprietary technology to produce advanced fuels:

Great Plains has studied the science and agronomy of camelina for over 10 years and for the past three years has contracted with growers throughout the United States and Canada to grow the crop. Currently, the company is processing camelina seed to create biodiesel, but the EERC technology will maximize the biofuels potential for the crop.

The EERC has developed a feedstock-flexible process that can utilize various crop oils to produce combinations of jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, and propane that are identical to petroleum-derived fuels, enabling direct substitution with these fuels and providing renewable options across the spectrum of fuel needs.

“The EERC has strategically positioned itself to be the first to produce a truly sustainable renewable fuel that can be used the same way as traditional fuels with no special requirements,” said EERC Director Dr. Gerald Groenewold.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us and we can’t wait to hit the ground running,” says Sam Huttenbauer, CEO of Great Plains. “Not only is camelina a non-food crop, but it will also provide for an identical replacement of the traditional petrochemicals with the technology that the EERC has pioneered.”