New Spokesman at Biodiesel Board’s DC Office

There’s someone new for you to meet at the National Biodiesel Board.

The group has announced Michael C. Frohlich is the new Director of Communications at NBB’s Washington, DC office:

“Michael has diverse experience and knowledge in the communications field,” Manning Feraci, Vice President of Federal Affairs stated. “I am confident he is the right person for the position, and I have no doubt he will be a valuable asset to the NBB and its members.” Feraci continued. Frohlich brings nearly six years of communications experience in Washington, DC to NBB. Prior to joining the organization, Frohlich served as U.S. Representative Randy Neugebauer’s (TX-19) Communications Director and Chief Spokesman. In Neugebauer’s office, Frohlich worked in depth with local and national media on energy and agriculture issues.

Joe Jobe, the CEO of the NBB, stated, “I am pleased that Michael is joining our Washington DC team. I know that Michael will work closely with the media and effectively highlight the importance of the biodiesel industry and the environmental, economic, and energy security benefits of our fuel.”

Forgive Michael the casual picture… I kind of pressed him on short notice so you could see him. But, coming from a guy who blogs from the comfort of his couch, I like the look. In addition, you’ll notice that he’s in San Francisco during this picture. Maybe he’s scoping things out ahead of time for next February’s National Biodiesel Conference.

Good to have you aboard, Michael!

Petit LeMans Features Green Challenge

Petit LeMansRoad Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series signature endurance racing classic, will feature a race within a race next week as car manufacturers compete to excel in fuel efficiency and environmental impact in addition to performance.

In conjunction with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Society of Automotive Engineers, the “Green Challenge” puts the spotlight on emerging fuel technologies, including the worldwide debut of a hybrid electric prototype race car featuring cellulosic E85 racing ethanol. The Series can now boast that every one of its race cars compete using one of four alternative fuels – either clean sulfur-free diesel, E10, cellulosic E85 racing ethanol, or electric hybrid.

EPIC LeMansLast year, EPIC and fuel supplier VP Racing Fuels introduced E10 to the Series. This season, EPIC brought in E85 as one of the fuel options. Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing have chosen to use only E85 during the racing season.

“The auto manufacturers competing in the American Le Mans Series have made it very clear that this is a direction and an overall initiative that is important to them,” said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the Series. “We are the only series in which manufacturers can aggressively develop breakthrough technologies for automobiles that consumers will ultimately buy and drive, reinforcing the American Le Mans Series as the most relevant racing series in the world.”

Monitored criteria in the Green Challenge will include race car performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gasses emitted and petroleum displaced. The 11th Annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta opens October 1 with practice and qualifying, leading up to the October 4 start of the 1,000-mile, 10-hour American Le Mans Series signature race.

Saab’s Futuristic FFV

Saab plans to display a new E85 concept vehicle at the Paris autoshow in October. The futuristic Saab 9-X Air BioHybrid concept is a four-seat convertible that features wrap-around glass. It is designed to include a 1.4-liter Saab BioPower engine with turbocharging.

The wraparound “glasshouse” is tinted and is part of a system Saab calls a Canopy Top. A retractable hard top slides underneath the rear deck for what Saab promises would be “fresh air motoring free from buffeting.” With the top raised, says Saab, “it assumes the look of a true sports coupe.”

Also announced recently is that GM will offer its five-door, hatchback Pontiac G3 as E85 compatible in Spring 2009. The G3 is now sold in Canada and Mexico. The 106-horsepower small car will get an estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway using a 1.6L Ecotec four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmission.

Florida to Host Third Cellulosic Ethanol Summit

Florida will host the 3rd annual Infocast Cellulosic Ethanol Summit to be held in November.

Cellulosic Summit 08The first two summits were held in Washington DC, but organizers say “the transitional stasis of a federal election year and the accelerated ambition of the states to pursue their own alternative fuel programs, prompted a venue change to Florida which is rapidly proving to be a pioneer in the quest for renewable energy.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen is once again serving as chairman of the summit, which will feature both US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson as keynote speakers.

A variety of hot-topic issues will be addressed at the summit, including the impact of the biofuels debate on the industry, the burgeoning variety of feedstock supply lines, the growing interest from the financial sector in commercializing industry growth and a trio of reports from the frontline by leading developers from the biochemical, non-enzymatic and industrial biotech communities.

The event will take place November 17-19 at the Westin Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, including a pre-summit briefing on “Developing A Sustainable Cellulosic Ethanol Industry” that will kick off the summit on Monday. Registration and other information can be found here.

Virginia Plant to Make Ethanol From Barley

A Virginia company is moving forward with plans to construct a barley-based ethanol facility which would be the first large-scale fuel ethanol plant in the state.

Osage Bio EnergyOsage Bio Energy plans to build Appomattox Bio Energy facility in Hopewell, Virginia with groundbreaking scheduled for Friday, October 3.

BarleyThe ABE facility is designed to produce 65 million gallons per year of ethanol using regionally grown barley as the primary feedstock. According to the company, barley can be grown in double-crop systems with established food crops such as soybeans in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Osage Bio Energy also intends to capture the energy value of barley hulls through conversion to fuel pellets that can either be used for process heat in the ethanol process or marketed as a green energy fuel in domestic or export markets. In addition, the facility will produce a barley protein meal as a co-product for animal feed.

New Ethanol Ad Campaign

RFA TV adThe Renewable Fuels Association has launched two new television commercials this week stressing the benefits of today’s domestic renewable fuels industry.

Entitled “Faces” and “Places,” the two 30-second spots feature real Americans from Hereford, Texas who are actively leading America toward a more secure energy future.

RFA TV adIn “Faces,” local Hereford residents explain why ethanol is critical to America’s energy future. In “Places,” the geographic diversity of America’s ethanol industry is on display as the self-proclaimed “Beef Capital of the World” is also home to two ethanol biorefineries.

RFA President Bob Dinneen says the purpose of the campaign is to spotlight the nation’s ethanol producers and give them the credit they deserve. “This industry is about real people all across the nation committed to doing their part to ensure a brighter energy future for generations to come,” Dinneen said. “Hereford, Texas, with 1.5 million cattle and two ethanol biorefineries epitomizes the importance of ethanol to America’s energy and economic security.”

See the two ads here.

Places – TV Ad from GoodFuels on Vimeo.

Faces – TV Ad from GoodFuels on Vimeo.

E85 with a Ford Mustang

A 1999 Ford Mustang GT has been converted to run on the alternative fuel bend of 85 percent ethanol. The engine was changed by the owner, Steve Shrader of Mount Holly, NC.

“The Mustang ran great for more than a year,” noted Shrader. “In the quest for more horsepower, we pulled the engine out of the car to see just how far we could push the horsepower level out of a 4.6L Mustang engine which is street legal and still has a cold A/C. The most recent results were staggering. Running on summer blend E85, the car made 640 horsepower, measured at the rear wheels. With a typical 15 percent driveline loss, that is about 750 hp, if measured at the engine, compared to Ford’s dismal factory output of 260 hp.”

Although this car is not a daily driver nor built to be a commuter car, Shrader said it makes a nice weekend cruising toy and it still makes trips to the dragstrip for fun runs.

Shrader added, “The great results are largely contributed to E85’s 105 octane and cooler-burning characteristics, which allow us to really push the engine beyond what a gasoline engine can safely handle.”

Automobile manufacturers do not recommend converting a gasoline powered vehicle to run on E85.

15 Percent Ethanol Solution

The American Coalition for Ethanol is proposing a solution to gasoline disruptions and higher prices caused by recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico – a 15 percent solution of ethanol.

ACE logoIn a posting on the ACE blog this week, they note that Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have caused nearly a quarter of U.S. fuel production to be shut down, and about 20% of U.S. refining capacity could be lost for months.

In response, states are seeking and the government is granting temporary waivers for certain requirements for gasoline, essentially providing more flexibility to blenders in an attempt to help supply keep up with demand.

While officials wring their hands trying to tinker around the edges to free up more gasoline, a largely overlooked source of meaningful relief comes in the form of ethanol – more of it, to be exact.

State and federal officials should look at increasing the percentage of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10% up to 15% or even 20%. Even if it’s a temporary measure, this would be an immediate solution to increase the availability of fuel.

ACE is encouraging people to ask their state and federal lawmakers to consider E15 an option to deal with the fuel shortages caused by the hurricanes.

Food and Fuel Forum in KC

The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City is holding a forum on Food and Fuel next month to examine the challenges and opportunities of meeting food and fuel demands.

Kansas City Agricultural Business CouncilThe forum will feature both agricultural and food business leaders, including representatives from the National Corn Growers Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, the American Bakers Association, and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

The forum will be held Thursday, October 23, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the American Royal court in Kansas City. Registration and further information can be found here on the ABC of KC website.

Five States Form Wind Energy Transmission Group

Five Midwestern states have joined together to develop an electric transmission system that should help promote wind energy in the region.

This AP story from the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press says Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota have formed the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative:

The coalition of governors will study the costs of developing more wind energy and delivering it on power lines. The states also plan to propose some form of financing new transmission lines.

Lack of adequate power lines is a major impediment to wind energy development in the region.

The initiative will identify the region’s wind energy resources and the transmission infrastructure needed to develop them in the most cost-effective manner.

State officials also will seek solutions to a number of current barriers to additional transmission investment, such as how costs of new power lines should be allocated.

The group will meet for the first time in October and hopes to have results of a study of regional electrical transmission capacity next year.

Rebuilding with Biodiesel

Officials in Parkersburg, Iowa recently received a check for $10,520 to help them rebuild their town destroyed by an F5 tornado back on May 25, 2008.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the money is from donors from all over the state:

The initial idea of the fundraiser was for donors to pledge five dollar amounts, signifying the approximate cost of a gallon of biodiesel. Iowans across the state, including biodiesel producers, marketers, and railroad companies all contributed to the effort.

Julie Vyskocil, a biofuels specialist with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said the support received from the biodiesel industry and Iowans, demonstrating their concern for a fellow Iowa community in need, was overwhelming. “Donating biodiesel was a unique and practical way that we could help Parkersburg,” Vyskocil said. “Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production and it seemed fitting to donate fuel produced in the state of Iowa that would be necessary in the rebuilding process.”

The money will go toward buying biodiesel that runs the equipment that continues to cleanup and rebuild the town. If you remember the photo on the left from right after the storm happened at the end of May, the town doesn’t look like that anymore. But there’s still plenty of work to do. It’s nice to know that biodiesel will be part of that effort.

Biodiesel Fueling Cross-Country Trip

Following the route of the famous Cannonball Run of the 1970s (made even more famous by the movie in 1981), a pair of advertising copywriters will attempt to go from the East Coast to the West Coast… entirely non-stop and entirely on biodiesel.

This press release from the Willie Run ’08 web site has more information:

Scheduled for departure from Midtown Manhattan on September 22, Nik Bristow and Brian Pierce from Atlanta’s Fitzgerald+CO will embark on “Willie Run ‘08”, the first-ever non-stop, cross-country trek powered entirely by Willie Nelson’s own BioWillie® biodiesel. The two-man team will follow the route of the infamous Cannonball Run and arrive less than 40 hours later in Los Angeles on September 24. They won’t stop for fuel. They won’t stop to go to the bathroom. In fact, excluding driver changes, they won’t stop for anything for almost 3000 miles.

Their vehicle of choice? The “Willie One,” a diesel Volkswagen Jetta with an additional 60 gallons of fuel capacity that, along with the diesel car’s superior fuel economy of approximately 45-50 mpg, will allow it to travel coast-to-coast without a single fuel stop.

Bristow and Pierce have been biodiesel supporters for years and are ardent fans of Willie Nelson. After discovering the BioWillie® brand and linking those two passions, they began developing a relationship with BioWillie® and creating print ads and other marketing concepts on a pro bono basis.

“We’d been working on the BioWillie brand for a while and we were doing some pretty cool stuff. But it occurred to us that we were working with Willie Nelson, the original outlaw of the music industry, so we needed to be doing something outlaw. So we came up with Willie Run ’08,” said Pierce.

There are plenty of questions that come to mind, especially “what about going to the bathroom?” Well, you can find out the answer to that and more in some pretty hilarious videos the guys have posted on their web site:

Sapphire Closer to Green Crude Production

Sapphire Energy is another step closer to bringing algae-based Green Crude Production to commercial scale with additional financing from existing and new investors, including an investment holding company owned by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

Sapphire EnergyThe latest investments bring the company’s total funding to substantially more than $100 million, and Sapphire is now financed to scale up its production facilities to full commercial feasibility.

Sapphire Energy uses sunlight, CO2, industrial microorganisms, non-arable land and non-potable water to produce alternatives to common products made from petroleum. Sapphire’s Green Crude is similar to light sweet crude and can be refined into chemically identical fuel products such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel products entirely compatible with the current energy infrastructure—from pipelines and refineries to cars and airplanes.

Sapphire hopes to achieve initial commercial production capability of 10,000 barrels per day of algae-based oil.

First Step for Ethanol-Producing Microbes

A team of researchers from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and Mascoma Corporation say they have found a way to produce genetically engineered bacteria that ferment cellulose to produce ethanol more efficiently.

The group reported last week that, tor the first time, they have been able to genetically engineer a thermophilic bacterium, capable of growing at high temperatures, and this new microorganism makes ethanol as the only product of its fermentation.

Lee Lynd“Our discovery is one potential avenue for research to facilitate turning inedible cellulosic biomass, including wood, grass, and various waste materials, into ethanol,” said Dartmouth engineering professor Lee Lynd. “In the near term, the thermophilic bacterium we have developed is advantageous, because costly cellulase enzymes typically used for ethanol production can be augmented with the less expensive, genetically engineered new organism.”

Lynd explains that this discovery is only the first step for future development of ethanol-producing microbes that can make ethanol from cellulosic biomass without adding enzymes. Lynd is the corresponding author on the study and the chief scientific officer and co-founder of Mascoma Corporation, a company working to develop processes to make cellulosic ethanol.

Updated Biomass Energy Website

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently updated the website for its Biomass Program and is seeking feedback from those interested in biofuels.

DOE Biofuels graphicThe Biomass Program works with industry, academia and national laboratory partners on a portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies. Through research, development, and demonstration efforts geared at the development of integrated biorefineries, the Biomass Program helps transform the nation’s renewable and abundant biomass resources into cost competitive, high performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Among its goals is focusing research and development efforts to ensure that cellulosic ethanol is cost competitive by 2012.