Georgia Ethanol Plant Progress

Bill SchaferConstruction on what is expected to be the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in southeast Georgia is making good progress, according to plant officials.

Range Fuels senior vice president of business development Bill Schafer gave an update on the project at last week’s Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Omaha.

“We expect to be producing ethanol next year,” Schafer said of the plant that will use woody biomass as a primary feedstock.

Schafer says they have been experiencing many of the usual construction-related delays with the project. “Everything costs more and takes longer than you thought it would,” he said. “It’s nothing exceptional, it’s the things you would expect. But anything that constitutes a delay is a real disappointment for us because we really want to get this up and going as quickly as we can.” Range Fuels received a grant from the Department of Energy for the project, as well as private financing.

Range FuelsIn addition to using woody biomass as a feedstock, they are experimenting with energy crops that can be grown in the region. “We have test plots we have established with Ceres on our Soperton site,” he said. “We intend for the site to be a showcase for some of the technologies we see in the future feeding this industry.”

Schafer noted that the restrictions on woody biomass that can be harvested from federal lands that are included in the energy bill passed by Congress last year concern them when it comes to the development of cellulosic ethanol. They support legislation proposed by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) that would broaden the definition of cellulosic ethanol within the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to include more biomass gathered from federal lands.

Listen to an interview with Schafer from the ACE conference here:

Citizens for Energy Freedom Conference

A group dedicated to energy independence and fuel choice is holding a conference to bring other like-minded Americans together to “organize and win the battle against the oil cartel.”

citizens for energy freedomThe Founding Conference of the Citizens for Energy Freedom in Des Moines, Iowa on September 13-14.

The group is pushing for congress to pass a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex-fuel vehicles. The Open Fuel Standard Act, has already been introduced in the Senate (S3303) and the House of Representatives (H6559).

By making flex fuel the American standard, we can open the fuel market worldwide, as all foreign car makers would be impelled to convert their lines over as well. Around the globe, gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels made from any number of sources, including not only corn and sugar, but cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues and weeds, as well as methanol, which can be made from any kind of biomass, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash.

Conference information and registration are available on-line at energyfreedomconference.com.

Continuation of RFS Good for Consumers

The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month to deny a request that would have cut the Renewable Fuels Standard in half was obviously good news for corn growers and ethanol producers. But it was also good news for consumers, according to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

e-podcastIn this edition of “Fill Up, Feel Good,” EPIC executive director Toni Nuernberg talks about how the RFS is helping to keep gasoline prices lower than they would be otherwise and ethanol production continues to help America become more energy independent. The EPA’s decision also allows EPIC to continue with its mission of consumer education about ethanol.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (4:30 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Florida Researcher Wins Award for Work Including Biodiesel

A University of Florida professor has been recognized with the highest honor the Florida State Horticultural Society bestows for his work that includes research to get more oil from plants to produce biodiesel.

This article from the school’s newspaper, InsideUF, says Wagner Vendrame, an associate professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center, Homestead, picked up the society’s Presidential Gold Medal Award:

Presented to Vendrame at the society’s annual meeting this summer, the award is the most prestigious honor from the FSHS, given to the individual whose work published in the previous five years of the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society has contributed the most to the Sunshine State’s horticulture sciences.

Vendrame joined UF in 2001 and has more than 16 years of experience in plant micropropagation and biotechnology. His research program involves production and conservation of plants using tissue culture, molecular biology and cryopreservation techniques.

Vendrame is well known for his work propagating selected hybrids of the jatropha nut, which has some great potential in the biodiesel business.

Clark Headlining Wind Energy Forum

General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of military forces in Europe and former presidential candidate, will be leading the opening day’s session at the HUSUM WindEnergy trade show and congress in Husum, Germany Sept. 9-13, 2008.

Clark will be speaking at the “Wind Power Forum: The New Energy Economy,” at the conference.

HUSUM is the world’s largest, longest-running and best-attended wind energy industry trade show, congress and job fair taking place in Husum, a small North Frisian coastal town.

More details about HUSUM are available at the event’s web site.

Galva Holstein Opens Iowa’s First Blender Pump

Galva Holstein Ag., LLC opened the first ethanol blender pump within the state of Iowa on August 14. The fuel dispensing unit will sell the products of E10, E30, E85 and unleaded fuel at 1583 Market Avenue in Galva, Iowa. The site has been selling the alternative fuels of E85 and biodiesel since the spring of 2005, but just recently added the new blender pump. Over 175,000 gallons of E85 have been sold to date at this site which was noted remarkable because Galva’s population is only 350.

“With the assistance of IDED (Iowa Department of Economic Development) grants,” said Anne M. Johnson of Galva Holstein Ag., “which we are truly grateful for, we were able to add blender pumps this summer to this location and are now dispensing E10, E30, and clean-burning E85. All of us at Galva Holstein Ag are delighted to be a part of the energy ‘solution’ and feel that we are helping corn/grain farmers from the Mid’West’ instead of big oil guys in the Mid’East’. Renewable fuels are popular here and we continue our efforts to keep them in the good press.”

A re-grand opening is scheduled for September 17th to kick-start the blender pump and continue educating FFV drivers about the many benefits of using E85 and E30. The ENCORE blender dispenser includes eight nozzles dispensing fuel, has security lighting and overhead canopy for driver’s convenience. It is a 24-hour cardtrol facility that accepts all major credit cards.

Any level of ethanol above 10 percent is only approved for use in flexible fuel vehicles.

Ethanol Branding at the Pump

Flex stationA new fuel station in Colwich, Kansas could be the poster child for ethanol branding.

TJ Convenience store, which is supported by local ethanol plant designer ICM, offers four different ethanol blends – E10, E20, E30 and E85. The higher blends can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

Flex stationSenator Sam Brownback (R-KS) helped ICM president Dave Vander Griend cut the ribbon during a pump promotion held Monday to celebrate the opening of the new station and to kick off a new initiative in Kansas that will help fuel station retailers obtain funding and the equipment needed to sell higher blends of ethanol.

The station is literally branded from top to bottom with the “e” logo, developed as a brand for ethanol by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. One of the primary goals of the new Kansas initiative is to increase the state’s blender pump infrastructure by installing a minimum of 100 blender pumps over the next year. Currently there are three.

According to Kansas Corn Commission chairman Bob Timmons, the program “will help strengthen our economy by encouraging blender pump infrastructure development, and take us one step closer to weakening our dependence on foreign oil.”

Wisconsin Promotes E85 with New Vehicle

According to the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, the state’s new “Alice in Dairyland” will be driving a fully loaded 2008 GM Tahoe. The vehicle is being offered to the state’s agricultural ambassador, Ashley Huibregtse, by the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board and General Motors.

“It’s very appropriate that our state agricultural ambassador starts her year-long, statewide drive at an ethanol plant and that she does so driving our ethanol-fueled car,” says Ken Rosenow, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board President and corn grower from Oconomowoc. “Having Alice in Dairyland drive the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board’s E85 Chevy Tahoe while she promotes agriculture across the state is the perfect symbol of how corn-based ethanol drives our state’s economy in an economical, fuel-efficient and renewable manner.”

As a public relations specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Alice in Dairyland annually travels the equivalent of a trip around the world during her 12-month tour, driving an ethanol capable E85 Chevrolet Tahoe donated by the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board.

This vehicle is one of the many that GM will be offering as a cost-free lease to states that belong to the Governor’s Ethanol Coalition. This is the third year of General Motor’s promotion.

Currently, Wisconsin boasts 114 E85 fueling stations throughout their state.

Ethanol Hearing in Nebraska

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) brought the Senate Agriculture Committee to the heartland Monday to get to the heart of the food vs. fuel debate. The hearing was the culmination of a statewide energy tour Nelson kicked off last week that also included stops at an E85 fuel station in Omaha and an ethanol plant in Hastings.

Ben Nelson at Hastings ethanol plantDuring the hearing held at University of Nebraska-Omaha, Nelson commented that ethanol has been “been blamed for practically every problem under the sun. What’s next? Summer colds? Computer viruses? Bad hair days?”

Witnesses at the hearing came from both sides of the ethanol debate, including poultry and livestock producers who argued that ethanol production was driving up their feed costs.

Tim Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, testified on behalf of his organization as well as the National Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board. “The world is hungry for both protein and petroleum, and the American corn grower can help satisfy both in the form of energy from ethanol and protein from corn-fed red meat and poultry,” Recker said.

Jim Jenkins, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, also testified at the hearing. “Ethanol, in addition to the rapidly growing wind industry, offers our nation a significant opportunity to begin the important diversification our energy portfolio away from fossil fuels,” Jenkins said.

Other witnesses included Dean Oestreich, Chairman of Pioneer Hi-Bred and Vice-President DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition; Dr. Thomas Foust, Biofuels Technology Manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Jeff Lautt, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations with POET.

Kansas Launches Ethanol Blender Pump Program

EPICKansas Corn CommissionKansas is now the second state to lead the nation in raising public awareness for higher blends of ethanol as the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), ICM and the Kansas Corn Commission Monday launched a blender pump incentive program for the Sunflower State.

EPIC Deputy Director Robert White says the blender pumps will allow gas stations to sell more blends of ethanol-enriched fuel to consumers driving flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). “This program will provide support and incentives to fuel station retailers who want the opportunity to offer blender pumps, and raise awareness among consumers,” White said during a kickoff event to announce the program Monday in Colwich, KS.

The initiative will help fuel station retailers obtain funding and the equipment needed to sell higher blends of ethanol, which range from E20 to E50 and can only be used in FFVs. One of the main goals is to increase the state’s blender pump infrastructure by installing a minimum of 100 blender pumps over the next year. Currently, three blender pumps are open in the state thanks to a pilot program adopted by the Kansas Department of Agriculture that made Kansas one of the first states in the nation to allow ethanol blender pumps.

Earlier this year, South Dakota launched a similar program.

MO Biodiesel Plant Set for Opening

A combination soybean-crushing and biodiesel plant is set for a grand opening ceremony in Southwest Missouri.

This story in the Fort Scott Tribune says the Prairie Pride, Inc. soybean oil extraction-biodiesel refining facility located about six miles east of Fort Scott, Kansas near Eve, Mo. will have the ceremony and other activities starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23.:

The company’s $80 million 210-acre production facility, which began operations last fall, crushes soybeans to extract the soy oil, a product which is then refined into biodiesel fuel…

Prairie Pride is a new generation producer cooperative that requires the producer to be a member in order to sell to the plant, which will eventually convert 21 million bushels of soybeans each year into 30 million gallons of biodiesel fuel, and 486,000 tons of soybean meal that can be fed to livestock. Co-op producers from five or six nearby states share in the ownership and profit of the operation.

Producers and farmers in Bourbon County, Vernon County, Mo., and other surrounding counties within a 100-mile radius will benefit from the plant. Prairie Pride, Inc., receives a percentage of the profits for every gallon of biodiesel sold. More than 1,000 producers have invested money in the plant. The average investment per producer is about $36,000, company officials said.

Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, along with representatives for Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and Missouri Senator Kit Bond, will join local officials for the ceremony.

The plant could generate more than $250 million in gross income annually and employs between 35 and 40 people.

Central Florida Town Becoming Biodiesel Mecca

A town in Central Florida is on track to become a vital center of biodiesel production, second only to an area around Houston Texas.

This story from the Orlando (FL) Business Journal says Groveland, about 30 miles west of downtown Orlando, is on track to have three biodiesel refineries up and running by the beginning of next year:

Together, the three Groveland plants — CleanFuel LLC, Southern Energy Holdings Inc. and Summit Biodiesel — represent a significant investment in the area: Southern Energy estimates its operation alone cost $5 million — and the three firms could create up to 100 jobs, paying a minimum of $15 an hour.

Dottie Keedy, director of the Lake County Department of Economic Growth & Redevelopment, said the jobs being created through the biodiesel companies are significant for the area.

The companies also have ambitious 2009 sales targets for their operations: Summit Biodiesel, $3.8 million; Southern Energy Holdings, $9 million; and CleanFuel, $120 million.

CleanFuel currently produces about a million gallons of biodiesel a year and expects to ramp that up soon to five to six million gallons a year. Southern Energy Holdings will open its 350,000-gallon-a-month plant next month with plans of increasing that output to 1 million gallons a month. Summit will open a 1-million-gallon-a-year refinery in the Groveland area next year.

Solar Panel Cleaner Needed in Wake of Wildfires

The recent California wildfires, that have charred thousands of acres and done millions of dollars in damage, have also had an impact on the state’s important solar power industry. The soot from those fires obscures the photovoltaic cells, making them less efficient.

SolarFrameWorks, a maker of solar technology, has introduced a new solar panel cleaning agent, PowerBoost… a touchless, biodegradable solution that cleans solar panels to boost their power production. This company press release has more:

“Solar panel cleaning is extremely important to achieve maximum output of a solar electric system,” said Dr. Patrina Eiffert, CEO, SolarFrameWorks. “The financial impact of a clean solar panel is immediate. More electricity produced by the solar panels means less dollars billed by the utility company and a direct savings to the owner. During this time of year, when solar systems generate the most power due to air conditioning usage, cleaning maintenance is especially important.”

Available for both residential and commercial applications, PowerBoost can be applied within minutes using a standard garden hose. The intense foaming solution contains high-quality surfactants that remove grime thereby increasing the level of solar insulation that is able to reach the solar cells. PowerBoost works on all types of glass, such as the tempered glass layered on the top of most crystalline solar panels. PowerBoost not only enhances the cleaning process but leaves behind a specially-formulated coating to reduce the number of cleanings required.

More information, including how to order the solution and cleaning system, is available at SolarFrame Works web site’s PowerBoost page: www.solarframeworks.com/powerboost.html.

E85 and Biodiesel Promotions in Minnesota

Two fueling facilities in Minnesota will offer alternative fuel discounts in the next week. Neubauer Sinclair Oil Company in Wells, Minnesota and Kwik Trip in Eyota, Minnesota will be holding the promotions.

Neubauer Sinclair, located at 479 North Broadway, will promote E85 and B2 at the site tomorrow, August 16, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. The station will sell E85 for 85 cents off per gallon and B2 for 25 cents off per gallon for the two hours. Event sponsors for the promotion are: Faribault County Corn & Soybean Growers, MN Corn Growers Assoc., MN Soybean Growers Assoc., General Motors Corp., National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, US Dept of Energy Clean Cities, American Lung Assoc. of MN & The MN Clean Air Choice Team.

Kwik Trip at Highway 14 and Highway 42 in Eyota will promote E85 on August 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The station will be offering E85 for 85 cents off per gallon. Event Supporters include: Olmsted County Corn & Soybean Growers, MN Corn Growers Assoc., General Motors Corp., National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, US Dept of Energy Clean Cities, American Lung Assoc. of MN & The MN Clean Air Choice Team.

For more information on these two events, go to www.cleanairchoice.org.

Kansas Ethanol Initiative to be Announced

EPICKansas Corn CommissionA new program and pump promotion will help raise awareness for higher blends of ethanol in Kansas.

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), ICM and the Kansas Corn Commission are holding the event, which will include discount prices on ethanol blends for flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) at TJ’s Convenience Store in Colwich from 6:30 to 8:30 am on Monday. FFV owners will have a 40 cents discount on E20, 60 cents discount on E30 and E85 will be offered for just $1.85/gallon. All drivers can save 20 cents per gallon on E10 fuel, approved for use in any gas powered vehicle or engine.

Immediately after the pump promotion, EPIC and the Kansas Corn Commission will announce a major new initiative for the state. Speakers will include Robert White, deputy director of EPIC; U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback; Adrian Polansky, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture; Dave Vander Griend, president and CEO of ICM, Inc.; and Bob Timmons, chairman of the Kansas Corn Commission.