LifeLine’s Vision for Corn and Ethanol

Domestic Fuel CastLifeLine Foods sells ethanol, but ethanol is just one of many products the company produces. The St. Joseph, MO-based corn milling plant started off as a manufacturer of snack foods in 2001. Today, LifeLine’s identity is continually evolving. The 51 percent farmer-owned company is committed to innovation and is now partnered with ICM, Inc, a world leader in ethanol facility design and engineering, in the production of ethanol.

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from LifeFine Foods CEO Bill Becker about the company’s current innovations with corn, food and fuel and what’s in store for the future.
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DOE Says ‘20% Wind Energy by 2030′ an Attainable Goal

The U.S. Department of Energy says current wind power technology is capable of powering 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. A DOE report, “20% Wind Energy by 2030,” finds an acceleration in the growth of wind power could reduce national consumption of natural gas by 11 percent and consumption of coal by 18 percent each year. The report states that this would mean a reduction of 825 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“This is the equivalent of taking 140 million cars off the road,” said Randall Swisher, of the American Wind Energy Association.

“We can do this nationally for less than half a cent per kilowatt hour if we have the vision,” said Andrew Karsner, the DOE’s assistant secretary for efficiency and renewable energy.

According to the DOE’s report, the growth rate needed to reach 20% would pose challenges for the wind energy industry but is achievable. Already, the wind industry is attracting many new entrants — traditional utilities like Florida Power and Light, smaller wind developers and even big oil companies.

EU Asking Biodiesel Questions

The European Union wants more information about U.S. subsidies on biodiesel. The inquiry stems from a European Biodiesel Board (EBB) complaint at the end of April that American subsidies were unfair trade practices (see my April 25th post).

Now, according to this Reuters story, the EU is formally looking into the EBB charges:

“The Commission is in contact with the United States to clarify certain details regarding U.S. production,” an European Union diplomat said on Monday.

“This is an initial prerequisite to any move the Commission may take in this area,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

European biodiesel producers in April asked the Commission to impose duties on biodiesel imports from the United States on the grounds they broke international trade rules.

The National Biodiesel Board calls the charges hypocritical:

The head of a U.S. biodiesel group accused the EU sector of trying to use litigation for protectionist ends and said his group would “aggressively challenge” EU trade obstacles.

“It is hypocritical for the European Biodiesel Board to cry foul while they benefit from a blatant trade barrier,” said Manning Feraci, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board.

Feraci vows the NBB will aggressively challenge the EU trade barriers already in place.

Ethanol to Fuel New Road Fleet for U.S. Air Force

A new fleet of off road vehicles in the U.S. Air Force will operate on E85 fuel. MAG International Inc., the newest distributor of Flextek Flex Fuel Conversion technology, will help the Air Force meet its goal of reducing its exhaust emissions.

The U.S. Air Force recently accepted MAG’s bid to provide a new fleet of off road vehicles designed to reduce exhaust emissions. Reducing the exhaust emissions of its fleet is a major concern of the Air Force. The vehicles supplied by MAG will use Flextek technology to allow the vehicles to utilize emission reducing E85 fuel.

As an OEM Flextek distributor, MAG will be marketing to military installations and other government facilities as well as private off-road vehicle purchasers including farms, refineries, stadiums, hotels, resorts, casinos, amusement parks, airports, building complexes, universities and colleges.

Sustainable Ethanol in Sweden

Many critics of ethanol argue that it takes too much fuel to produce the alternative fuel. In fact, one reader made a comment stating that very idea just yesterday on the “An EPIC Salute at Indy 500” post. Well, SEKAB, a Swedish biofuel producer, says it has now introduced the world’s first fully sustainable ethanol.

Swedish SEKAB today announced that it is the first company in the world to supply verified sustainable ethanol. This ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane is quality assured from environmental, climate and social perspectives. SEKAB has together with progressive Brazilian producers developed criteria that cover the entire lifecycle of ethanol from the sugarcane fields to its use in flexi-fuel (FFV) cars.

Harvesting is to be at least 30 per cent mechanised today and this will increase to 100 per cent by 2014. In terms of the climate, the demands will result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from farming, production and transport by at least 85 per cent compared with gasoline.

Admittedly, SEKAB is working with sugarcane-based ethanol. But the Brazilian cane ethanol has been developing for more than thirty years while corn-based ethanol is still in its infancy of development. In an earlier post, “LifeLine Foods Just Happens to Sell Ethanol,” LifeLine CEO Bill Becker talked about technology that’s being developed as we speak to make the corn kernal, husk and plant just as sustainable as sugarcane when it comes to ethanol production.

Show Me Ethanol On Line

Show Me EthanolShow Me Ethanol became Missouri’s sixth majority farmer-owned ethanol plant in production last week, according to the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

Once at full capacity, the plant located in Carrollton, Mo., is expected to produce 55 million gallons ethanol per year, consuming 20 million bushels of locally grown corn and producing 176,000 tons of dried distillers grains for Missouri’s livestock industry. The plant has some 550 farmer investors.

A grand opening celebration is planned for this summer.

Corn Growers Urge Action Over Anti-Ethanol Campaign

The National Corn Growers Association is calling on its membership to communicate directly with food companies involved in the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s attack on corn farmers and U.S. ethanol production. NCGA singled out three companies in particular and asked members to express disappointment over their support for the GMA campaign.

NCGA“We’ve asked our farmers to pick up the phone or send an email urging these companies to stop this senseless campaign,” said Ron Litterer, NCGA president. “As part of the supply chain for Kraft, General Mills and Lakeside Foods, our growers need to make sure their voice is heard and respected.”

These three companies each have representatives on the GMA board of directors, and Litterer said he is hoping they will listen to farmers who supply them with raw product for food manufacturing and focus should be on the real problem – high energy costs. Litterer noted that a one dollar increase in the price for a gallon of gasoline has up to three times the impact on food prices as a dollar rise in the price of a bushel of corn.

Florida Official Calls for Gas Price Investigation But Supports Ethanol

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson is calling on Congress and the Bush Administration to launch full and thorough investigations into skyrocketing fuel prices.

FL Farm to Fuel“We’re being taken for a ride, and the evidence is everywhere, from the escalating prices we pay to fill up our vehicles with gasoline to the purchase of virtually all consumer goods,” Bronson said. “It is almost impossible to conceive of a product that is not dependent on oil in either its production or transportation to the stores in which it is sold.”

At the same time, Bronson is urging Congress to resist efforts to slow down the production of ethanol and biodiesel, arguing that the production of alternative fuels is the most effective option in assuring that fuel prices moderate and that future energy costs are affordable and he argues that it is a minor factor in food price increases.

“In fact, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors estimates that only 3 percent of the total increase in food prices this year is attributable to corn that is being diverted for ethanol production,” Bronson said. “Analysts say the most significant factors in increasing food costs are higher fuel prices, greater demand in countries such as China and India, and droughts in several major food-producing nations.”

Establishing a major alternative fuel industry in Florida is a top priority of Bronson, who is a Steering Committee member of “25x’25,” a national bipartisan organization committed to seeing the nation’s agriculture industry produce 25 percent of the country’s energy needs by the year 2025.

Bronson developed Florida’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative, a program designed to use Florida’s more than 10 million acres of farm and timber land to produce ethanol and biodiesel as a means of keeping Florida land in open green space and in an effort to reduce the state and nation’s dependency on foreign oil.

Ryan Hunter-Reay Steers Team Ethanol to a Best Ever Indy 500 Finish

“I came close to crashing six or seven times,” said Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. But, they key is he didn’t. More than a handful of IndyCar drivers had problems out on the track during the 92nd Indianopolis 500 with several drivers like rookie Graham Rahal and veteran Marty Roth sliding into the wall at turn four after being caught too high around the bend. But Ryan, who was the top finishing rookie at 6th place, said his crew’s strategy was to be patient and stay low, really low.

That strategy proved to be the best strategy for a team that, as Ryan explained it, “had no luck.”

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay comments on being the top finishing rookie at the 92nd Indy 500“You know what was nice about today, is we didn’t have any luck,” said Ryan. “You know, we didn’t have bad luck, we didn’t have good luck, we just had no luck.”

He says that’s all his team needed in order to snag the best Indy 500 finish in Team Ethanol’s history. Ryan says his team is definitely “punching above [its] weight” as it competes with teams like Ganassi, Andretti Green and Penske, but he says “there’s going to be much better things to come this year.” And a win isn’t out of the question for Ryan. All his team needs, he says, is a bit of luck.

Ryan steadily picked off cars throughout the race, both out on the oval and in the pits. Ryan started in position 20, but successfully passed 15 drivers holding 5th place in the final quarter of the race, before dropping back to a 6th place finish.

“When that line gets shorter and shorter in front of you after each pit stop and after each time you pick off cars and you’re so busy in you’re own little world there as you’re going through a stint. All of a sudden you’re sitting there with fifty laps to go in the race and there’s only four cars in front of you. It was like ‘Okay, we’re in it now.'”

Ryan said he did his homework, watching videos of past races just like a quaterback watches videos of past football games. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons this month,” said Ryan.

As far as the Indy 500 goes, he says, “qualifying doesn’t matter that much unless you’re on the front row.”

You can listen to Ryan’s comments from just after the race here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Scott Dixon’s Got Milk at 92nd Indy 500

Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle for the 92nd Indy 500In a race down to the pits, No. 9 Target Driver Scott Dixon with Chip Ganassi Racing sped past Vitor Meira during the final pit stop during a yellow to take the win at the Brickyard. Reporters commented on the look of shock on Scott’s face at winners circle and Scott confirmed that he was a bit shocked.

“It’s almost like you’re in a dreamland,” Scott said. “It was quite crazy. You know it’s something where you expect somebody to pinch you and you wake up and you’re just sort of asleep in your bed back at home. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Scott’s win is the first Indy 500 win to come after the reunification of the IndyCar Series and the Champ Series. The series split 12 years ago in 1995 and finally merged again this year. Scott said the reunification certainly means the talent pool for this year’s race was a bit deeper, but he says the real competition will come next year when the former Champ Series teams will have had a year to make adjustments.

Scott said his day started off right with his a good night’s rest and his wife’s pancakes for breakfast. He did admit he was a bit anxious going into the race. Scott said the entire month went pointedly smooth with his car and his crew and he didn’t want to see something like a poor pit stop slow his momentum. Scott, who won the IndyCar Series Championship in 2003, said this was his biggest IndyCar win to date.

Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle for the 92nd Indy 500“This is much more sweeter because it comes, you know, you work three weeks solidly and it comes down to one day to get it and have everything fall into place. It’s quite special,” Scott said.

Scott averaged a speed of 143.567 mph during the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and led for the last 29 laps of the race, the longest racing stretch all day.

The race was marked with eight yellow flags and that meant drivers didn’t pit once during a green. That took the pit pressure off the runner-up Vitor Miera. Vitor, who drives the N. 4 car for Panther racing finished second with an average lap speed of 143.547.

Marco Andretti, who drives the the No. 26 car for Andretti Green Racing, finished third with an average lap time of 143.541.

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay called it before the race. In a speech before EPIC members Saturday night he said the Ganassi cars would be the biggest competitors out on the track at the Brickyard. Ryan was just shy of a top five finish and came in 6th at the Indianapolis 500. Ryan was the top finishing rookie at the race and the 6th place finish marks Team Ethanol’s best Indy 500 finish to date.

When asked about Scott’s win, Ryan said “It’s nice to see the fastest car out there win.”

You can listen to audio from the press conference with Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi and Target Team Managing Director Mike Hull here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

An EPIC Salute at Indy 500

EPIC members salute troops and honor Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough's national anthemMembers of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council stood at attention just before the start of the Indy 500. Members clutched Team Ethanol hats to their chest during the salute to troops, a rendition of “God Bless America” and Julianne Hough’s version of the National Anthem. Julianne is a professional dancer who has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars”. She’s a two-time “Dancing with the Stars” winner. Her most recent win came last year with partner Helio Castroneves, an IndyCar Driver for the IRL. Helio is racing in the No. 3 IndyCar with Penske Racing. Right now the race is under its fourth caution. Helio is at position 14. Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay has broken into the top 10 and holds position nine.

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Ethanol and Racing at 92nd Indy 500

EPIC members applaud at the start of the 92nd Indy 500Ethanol isn’t just out on the track, but also in parking lots and parked in the infield at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, IN. And that’s something VeraSun CEO Don Endres (not pictured) is happy to see. Don is up in the Team Ethanol suite watching the 92nd Indy 500 with a few dozen other EPIC members as we speak. Just before the race I caught up with Don to talk about the success, challenges and future of ethanol over the past year with ethanol being showcased in the Indy Racing League. Don says he believes the ethanol industry is on the verge of a revolution with both starch-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. He adds that cellulosic ethanol should be a commercially viable option for the fuel industry in three to five years.

You can listen to my interview with Don here:

I also spoke with Jeff Broin (not pictured), CEO and founder of POET. He made a point to debunk claims that ethanol raises the prices of food. We also spoke about the future of ethanol production at POET, including cellulosic ethanol. Jeff wants to see more ethanol out at the pumps and says blender pumps are a big key to getting more ethanol into consumer fuel tanks.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Yamaguchi Signals the 92nd Indy 500 Start with Green “E” for Ethanol Flag

Olympian figure skater Kristy Yamaguchi is the latest star to win the “Dancing with the Stars” competition. She’s also the latest star to signal that the race is on. Kristy flashed the green ethanol flag and the 33 competitors in the 92nd Indy 500 took off for their 200 lap run around the Brickyard. Just thirty-seven laps into the race, Graham Rahal got too high around turn 4 and smashed into the outer wall.

Keep checking back for more updates! I’ve got pre-race interviews with EPIC members Don Endres, CEO of VeraSun, and Jeff Broin, CEO and founder of POET. I’ll post them shortly.

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album