Ethanol, Biodiesel Pipelines Moving Fuel in Southeast

One of the problems ethanol and biodiesel have had is how to get their product from areas of production to areas of consumption. Pipelines help conventional, petroleum-based fuels, so it’s only natural that biofuels would need to adopt similar technology.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP has announced successful testing of ethanol through its 16-inch, 195-mile Central Florida Pipeline (CFP) system between Tampa and Orlando, Florida and the beginning of testing of a biodiesel pipeline in the Southeast U.S. This story in the Oil & Gas Journal has details:

It is finalizing mechanical modifications to the pipeline to offer ethanol transportation services to its customers by mid-November and is evaluating batched ethanol transport possibilities for other parts of its pipeline system.

The company says the short length of the pipeline will limit transmix.

CFP has segregated storage for the ethanol at the Orlando end of the pipeline. Total storage capacity is 546,000 bbl, contained in 28 tanks of 8,190 gal. – 80,000 bbl each. Land is available for expansion.

Kinder Morgan has completed more than $60 million in ethanol projects including modifications to tanks, truck racks, and related infrastructure for new or expanded ethanol service in the Southeast US and Pacific Northwest and has approved an additional $27 million for ethanol projects in the Southeast.

The company is also undertaking tests to assess commercial transportation of biodiesel through its pipelines, running blended B-5 biodiesel through a segment of its Plantation Pipe Line system between Collins, Miss. and Spartanburg, SC. The company expects test results by the end of October. It also is evaluating transporting biodiesel on its Portland-Eugene, Ore. line to support Oregon’s forthcoming biodiesel mandate.

Senator Grassley at World Food Prize

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa paid a visit to the World Food Prize breakfast on Friday morning to introduce the secretary of agriculture and make a few comments of his own about the importance of American agriculture in feeding the world, as well as honor his colleagues from the Senate, George McGovern and Bob Dole, who are this year’s World Food Prize recipients.

World Food Prize Chuck GrassleyHe believes that increasing the use and acceptance of biotech crops is vital. “We’re entering a new generation in agriculture,” Grassley said. “This generation not only encompasses feeding the world, but also fueling vehicles and eventually getting in to treating patients through pharmaceuticals in crops. This offers opportunities for biotechnology growth throughout the world that will continue to feed populations and provide new prospects for our rural communities.”

In a brief interview after the breakfast, Sen. Grassley said that biotechnology gives us an opportunity to have a stronger agriculture allowing for multiple uses of agricultural crops. “Things like the World Food Prize give an opportunity to educate people about biotechnology,” Grassley said. “By expanding agriculture you can provide food, fiber and fuel.”

Grassley said that the incentives for biodiesel included in the financial bailout passed by Congress are critical to development of the industry. “That’s how you get infant industries started,” he said. “The best proof of that is that we would not have an ethanol industry today were it not for the ethanol incentives.”

He got very passionate about the need for incentives in developing any alternative energy. He used the example of developing cellulosic ethanol. “People say we ought to have cellulosic so we’re not using grain, but how do they think we’d ever get a second generation of ethanol from cellulosic if we don’t have the first generation of ethanol, and we wouldn’t have the first generation if we didn’t have the tax incentives and the public policies to encourage an infant industry.”

Asked if he is concerned about Senator McCain’s comments about doing away with ethanol incentives, Grassley said, “Not as long as I’m in Congress. When he’s president of the United States, we’ll still be developing an ethanol industry.”

Listen to an interview with Grassley at the World Food Prize here:

You can also download the audio with this link:
Chuck Grassley interview (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

American Farmers Can Help the World Produce Food and Fuel

World Food Prize Ed SchaferThe answer to feeding a growing world population lies with building on the success of the American farmer, according to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, who addressed the World Food Prize breakfast Friday morning in Des Moines.

“Our focus should be on sharing our technology, equipment and know-how, processes and procedures to help farmers all over the world boost the productivity of their land,” Schafer said. “Just in the last 15 years, our corn yields have increased from an average of 100 bushels per acre to 150 bushels per acre, a 50 percent increase in yield in 15 years.”

“Gains of this kind have allowed the United States producers to meet the rising demand for food and feed and fuel, while maintaining record level exports and strong food aid donations,” Schafer added.

Listen to Schafer’s address to the World Food Prize here:

You can also download the audio with this link:
Ed Schafer at World Food Prize (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

Biodiesel Sustainability

Next to productivity, sustainability is the word being used most often at the World Food Prize symposium this week to talk about what is needed in global production of both food and biofuels.

Victoria CarterThe National Biodiesel Board formed a sustainability task force earlier this year, and one of the members of that task force is Victoria Carver with the Iowa Soybean Association. She says they are in the process of developing an advisory committee of experts and will be holding a symposium next month on the issue.

Carver attended many of the sessions at the World Food Prize symposium and was pleased with the overall emphasis on biotech crops, which can help increase production while not increasing land use. However, she did challenge a speaker during one session who said that biofuels were responsible were increasing food prices. “Food prices in real terms have come down dramatically in real terms, adjusted for inflation,” she said. “Do we really want to create a paradigm where farmers actually lose value in their product over time? And it’s especially important here at the World Food Prize because they are addressing issues of agriculture in developing countries which is a great economic opportunity there.”

In addition, Carver noted that biofuels have helped keep energy prices lower than they would be otherwise. “We know in this country that the increase in biofuels that’s been stimulated by the Renewable Fuels Standard has resulted in less of an increase in fuel prices than we would have had without it, by 40 cents a gallon,” she said. “I think it’s important that we think critically about the assumption that biofuels are kind of a culprit.”

Listen to an interview with Victoria here:

You can also download the audio with this link:
Victoria Carver interview (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

More on Schafer at Farm Foundation

As promised, I’ve got some more material for you from Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, who addressed attendees of the Farm Foundation’s Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Impacts Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

Schafer praised Farm Foundation’s long commitment to promoting the free-form type of discussion and debate we saw at this just-concluded conference of state and federal government officials, academics and representatives of the private industry. He says this is where real solutions to the challenges that face Rural America will be found.

“I’m really pleased that USDA can play a strong part and [be] a strong collaborator in this important work.”

Schafer says we must ask the tough questions, such as how are we going to grow the feedstocks of the future, what are they going to be, where we going to grow them… and how we get those feedstocks into the biofuel supply chain.

“The science that is critical to for the trans to a new bioeconomy also demands a strong partnership as we move forward on the research arena… the federal, the land grant and the private sector research coming together for this important mission.” Schafer adds that as we make the transition, corn ethanol is the bridge to cellulosic ethanol using the infrastructure and industry established by the corn ethanol industry.

Listen to Schafer’s address to the Farm Foundation here:

Download audio file here.

World Bank President on Biofuels

World Food Prize Bob ZoellickThe president of the World Bank made an appearance at the World Food Prize symposium Thursday on World Food Day and commented on world production of food and biofuels during a press conference.

Robert Zoellick noted that some biofuels are more efficient than others, like sugarcane ethanol in Brazil, and he believes that “biofuels in the future are going to be a critical component of a larger energy mix.” He also acknowledged the importance of creating the marketing framework which he says is “partly what some of the oilseeds-based and corn-based biofuels are about.”

He urges policy makers in the U.S. to consider some ways to change the structure of tariffs and subsidies for ethanol, such as having some “safety-valves” that would allow for the reduction of subsidies when prices reach certain levels.

Listen to Zoellick’s comments here:

You can also download the audio with this link: Zoellick on Food and Fuel (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

World Food Prize Winners on Food and Fuel

World Food Prize Laureates McGovern Bertinin DoleThe ability of the world to grow enough agricultural crops to produce both food and fuel was a topic of discussion at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines on Thursday, which was also World Food Day.

This year’s World Food Prize honorees, former Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole, pictured here with 2003 World Food Prize laureate Catherine Bertini, were asked what they thought about whether food and fuel production can co-exist.

“I think there is a moral challenge in utilizing food for fuel at a time when there’s so many hungry people in the world,” McGovern said. “On the other hand, if it’s kept within reasonable bounds, I think it can be good for both agriculture and nutrition.” He stressed the need for the development of non-food sources for fuel.

Dole noted the importance of new energy sources in the presidential election and he thinks the answer lies in having a number of alternatives. “There’s switchgrass and other biofuels, and there’s nuclear energy and drilling off-shore,” Dole said. “We gotta do everything we can, it’s not all going to be ethanol.”

Listen to McGovern’s and Dole’s comments here:

You can also download the audio with this link: World Food Prize Winners on Food and Fuel (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

Soy Biodiesel Means Fuel and Protein

World Food PrizeMaking soybeans into biodiesel is no food versus fuel competition – rather it is food AND fuel.

“When you talk about soy biodiesel, you can actually burn the soy and eat it too,” says Jim Hershey, who is executive director for both the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program and the World Soy Foundation.

During a World Food Prize luncheon sponsored by the soybean industry on Thursday, Hershey said that when you take the oil to use as a fuel, you’re still left with every bit of protein from the soybean. “By raising more soy for biodiesel, we actually raise more protein and that’s what the world needs,” Hershey said.

Hershey says they have calculated that of the 100 million gallons of soy biodiesel produced in Iowa last year, “the protein that came from those beans would feed 30 billion rations of soy” based on 25 grams per day.

Listen to an interview with Hershey here:

You can also download the audio with this link: Jim Hershey at World Food Prize (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

E85 Grand Opening in Pueblo, CO

Western Convenience at 3201 Lake Avenue in Pueblo, Colorado will hold a grand opening event to celebrate their offering of E85 on Wednesday, October 29. The event will allow consumers to receive promotional pricing on E85 plus learn more about the fuel.

The celebration will began at 11 a.m. and will include a live radio remote, hot dogs, refreshments and the fuel special of E85 for 85 cents per gallon until 2 p.m.

Sponsoring this event are: the Colorado Corn Growers Association, the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition, Southern Colorado Clean Cities and Western Convenience.

There are now four E85 fueling facilities in the city of Pueblo to fuel their just over 2,200 registered flexible fuel vehicles.

Credit Crisis Hot Topic at Farm Foundation Conference

The recent credit crisis in the country was certainly a hot topic of conversation at today’s Farm Foundation Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts Conference here in St. Louis, Mo.

Cole Gustafson, a biofuels economist with North Dakota State University, says the current credit issues is going to make financing any venture a challenge, but he says the existing ethanol and biodiesel plants are in pretty good shape as far as financing goes.

He says any new ventures will have to make sure they have solid financial fundamentals before they’ll be approved for any loan.

“Wall Street is nervous in general,” he says. And any one interested in getting financing for a new biofuels project will have to make sure they have their financial basics in good order and might need to diversify.

Listen to my conversation with Gustafson here:

Schafer Tells Farm Foundation to Get Ready for Breakthroughs

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer has just finished addressing the folks attending the latest Farm Foundation’s Transition to a Bioeconomy Conference going on in St. Louis, Mo.

Schafer reminded the crowd how hard the current administration has worked to promote the biofuels field in this country, and thus, how hard it had worked to help the farmers who are either directly or indirectly tied to this change to a bioeconomy.

He said that now, more than ever, we need to keep exploring new technologies and new ideas to secure our energy independence and in turn, our national security. Schafer added that ethanol and biodiesel, as well as other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, will be key to that energy security and independence.

I’ll have some more audio from Schafer’s address to the Farm Foundation, but for now, let me give you a little bit of what he told reporters who caught him for just a few minutes before he had to head out.

I asked him about the importance of a meeting such as this, where diverse opinions are brought together to come up with a consensus as to what might be the best direction to go.

“These conferences are very important because what you get is that diverse viewpoint. And when you’re challenging one another, you end up picking up the good pieces and forging good public policy and direction.”

He added that this isn’t solely a price issue or an environmental issue or an economics issue… all must be looked at for a biofuel policy for America.

Listen to Schafer’s comment here:

Biotech for Biofuels

Pioneer Hi-Bred International continues to work on increasing agricultural productivity to both feed and fuel the world.

World Food Prize Paul SchicklerPioneer president Paul Schickler spoke on a panel at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines Wednesday and one of his points is that biotechnology can “address both the food availability issue as well as making a meaningful impact on our dependence on petroleum based products.”

“We can do that through a number of sciences in the market today and additional generations will be on the market in the years ahead,” Schickler said.

Listen to Schickler biofuels comment here:

You can also download the audio with this link: Paul Schickler on biofuels (mp3)

Schickler also took the first question to the panel, which was “How optimistic are you that the world can reduce hunger by half by 2015?”

Schickler stated that he was very confident that goal could be reached, simply on the basis of increased food production, using hybrid corn as an example. “If you look back throughout the development of hybrid corn, productivity has improved at about one and a half percent per year,” he said. “As we look to the future, we think we can double that, and that has already started to show up in the last 8-10 years through the use of biotechnology, plant genetics and improved agronomic practices.”

Listen to Schickler’s answer to that question here:

You can also download the audio with this link: Paul Schickler at World Food Prize (mp3)

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

Transition to a Bioeconomy: Day Two

Back at it this morning at the Farm Foundation’s Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts Conference in St. Louis, Mo. Today is another big day, as we’re hearing from another variety of speakers who bring a lot of different viewpoints to the table.

Later this morning, we’ll hear from the financial side of the issues facing Rural America as it not only faces this changing bioeconomy but the recent market turmoils as well. I’m really looking forward to that talk, and I’ll bring you some highlights as they come.

In addition, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer will talk to the group, and we’ll let you know what he has to say.

It’s this free-form back-and-forth conversation that the various stakeholders bring to this meeting that makes Farm Foundation’s format so successful. There will be
two more meetings scheduled for this coming winter and spring (2009) focusing on the global aspects of the bioeconomy and how to get extension offices throughout the nation more involved.

Of course, none of this happens without the work of many good Farm Foundation folks, including this lady, Communications Director Mary Thompson. She has been a truly valuable asset for yours truly, making sure I’ve had a place and the resources to bring you these updates. Many thanks again, Mary!

As I said, I’ll have more updates to come. Stay tuned!

Food and Fuel Production Co-Exist in Brazil

World Food PrizeThe promise of new science and technology for increasing food and fuel production was part of a conversation panel at the World Food Prize Norman Borlaug Symposium in Des Moines on Wednesday.

Among the panelists was Brazil’s former minister of agriculture Roberto Rodrigues, co-chair of the International Biofuels Commission, who talked about the importance of biofuels development for developing nations. “Biofuels depend enormously on sun,” Rodriques said. “That means that the production of biofuels, bioelectricity and agri-energy in general will happen between the two tropics – the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn – Latin American countries, African countries and the poorest Asian countries,” meaning that the poorest countries could be the producers of the most important commodity – energy.

World Food Prize Roberto RodriguesRodrigues says “absolutely we are going to improve new technologies and we are able to feed humankind and produce biofuels all together.” He notes that Brazil is a good example of what can be done in that regard and that there is a “myth” that production of sugarcane for ethanol is reducing the production of food. “This year we have a record grain production, but we also have record sugarcane production, record meat production and record production of dairy products -so there is no competition between sugarcane and food in Brazil and we can apply that in African, other Latin American and Asian countries.”

Listen to Rodrigues’ comments here:

See photos of the World Food Prize event here.

Managing Water for Future Ethanol Sustainability

The amount of water that goes into growing the corn that goes into ethanol has been a big topic of conversation between those for and against production of the green fuel. That’s why it is a topic of conversation at the Farm Foundation’s Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Impacts Conference in St. Louis this week. This gathering of government officials, academics and industry leaders is designed to take on the tough questions facing Rural America as it moves to a bioeconomy.

One of the people in the ethanol/water discussion is Noel Gollehon, a senior economist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says the amount of irrigated corn is particularly concerning.

“About 15 percent of corn that is in counties that have ethanol plants is irrigated.” He adds that it takes 2,500 gallons for a bushel of corn. Now, while a large amount of that is grown in areas that uses the natural rainfall, what is worrisome is the corn grown in the drier western plains, where it equates to 750-1,000 gallons of irrigation water for each gallon of ethanol using irrigated corn as a feedstock. He says the answer might be cellulosic ethanol. However, he says it is no panacea and might be just as damaging to finite underground water sources.

“Working through this transition (to a bioeconomy), we have to use what we have,” says Gollehon. “But as we look forward, we hope we can develop cellulosic-based ethanol that doesn’t rely on that type of crop that has to be irrigated in those environments.”

Gollehon says we’ve been irrigating in this country for about 100 years, and if we want, we can keep doing that until all the water is gone… if we want to go down that route. But he believes that conversations, such as this one at the Farm Foundation’s conference, coupled with new technologies will get people to look at longer-term sustainability.

Hear more of my conversation with Gollehon here: