Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , |

EPA: Science overwhelmingly shows greenhouse gas concentrations at unprecedented levels due to human activity

WASHINGTON – After a thorough examination of the scientific evidence and careful consideration of public comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. EPA also finds that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat.

GHGs are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses; as well as other threats to the health and welfare of Americans.

These long-overdue findings cement 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States Government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Business leaders, security experts, government officials, concerned citizens and the United States Supreme Court have called for enduring, pragmatic solutions to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change. This continues our work towards clean energy reform that will cut GHGs and reduce the dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security and our economy.”

EPA’s final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findingsdo not in and of themselves impose any emission reduction requirements but rather allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation.

On-road vehicles contribute more than 23 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. EPA’s proposed GHG standards for light-duty vehicles, a subset of on-road vehicles, would reduce GHG emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles.

EPA’s endangerment finding covers emissions of six key greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of scrutiny and intense analysis for decades by scientists in the United States and around the world.

Scientific consensus shows that as a result of human activities, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are at record high levels and data shows that the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, with the steepest increase in warming in recent decades. The evidence of human-induced climate change goes beyond observed increases in average surface temperatures; it includes melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans due to excess carbon dioxide, changing precipitation patterns, and changing patterns of ecosystems and wildlife.

President Obama and Administrator Jackson have publicly stated that they support a legislative solution to the problem of climate change and Congress’ efforts to pass comprehensive climate legislation. However, climate change is threatening public health and welfare, and it is critical that EPA fulfill its obligation to respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants.

EPA issued the proposed findings in April 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380,000 comments, which were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings.

Information on EPA’s findings: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html

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Introduction to the Renergie Weblog

Posted on November 28, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , , |

Company Milestones
(1) Renergie drafted the legislation (“HB 1270”) for the creation of an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana. On June 21, 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative (“Act 382”). Act 382, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the U.S. enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry, is based upon the “Field-to-Pump” strategy. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that moves fuel ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline by including a mandatory variable blending pump pilot program and hydrous ethanol pilot program;

(2) On December 20, 2008, Renergie submitted a testing exemption application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On-site blending pumps, in lieu of splash blending, are used for this test. On February 4, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a tampering waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana. On February 24, 2009, the U.S. EPA granted Renergie a first-of-its-kind RVP waiver for the purpose of testing hydrous E10, E20, E30 & E85 ethanol blends in non-flex-fuel vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles in Louisiana; and

(3) On October 18, 2007, Renergie submitted a grant application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), pursuant to the Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program, for the purpose of funding the comprehensive development of a sweet sorghum-to-ethanol industry in Florida. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida DEP’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. On January 20, 2009, the Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000.

As a means of introduction for first-time visitors, the following is a list of the currently most popular articles and links on the Renergie weblog.

https://renergie.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/bps-strategy-to-limit-liability-in-regard-to-its-gulf-oil-gusher/
BP’s Strategy to Limit Liability in Regard to Its Gulf Oil Gusher

https://renergie.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/bp-is-not-the-only-responsible-party/
BP is Not the Only Responsible Party

http://donovanlawgroup.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/bp-oil-spill-of-april-2010-why-class-action-lawsuits-may-not-be-in-the-best-interests-of-potential-plaintiffs/
BP Oil Spill of April, 2010: Why Class Action Lawsuits May Not be in the Best Interests of Potential Plaintiffs

http://donovanlawgroup.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/regional-greenhouse-gas-cap-and-trade-programs-may-be-the-solution/
Regional Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Programs May be the Solution

http://donovanlawgroup.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/the-u-n-approval-process-for-carbon-offsets/
The U.N. Approval Process for Carbon Offsets

http://donovanlawgroup.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/the-role-of-offsets-in-climate-change-legislation/
The Role of Offsets in Climate Change Legislation

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/perspective-why-carbon-emissions-should-not-have-been-the-focus-of-the-un-climate-change-summit-and-.html#more
Why Carbon Emissions Should Not Have Been the Focus of the U.N. Climate Change Summit and Why the 15th Conference of the Parties Should Have Focused on Technology Transfer

http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=503204
Act 382

http://fieldtopump.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/our-nations-need-to-transition-to-hydrous-ethanol-as-the-primary-renewable-transportation-fuel/
Our Nation’s Need to Transition to Hydrous Ethanol as the Primary Renewable Transportation Fuel

http://fieldtopump.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/the-renergie-field-to-pump-strategy/
The Renergie “Field-to-Pump” Strategy

http://fieldtopump.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/floridas-port-to-pump-advanced-biofuel-initiative/
Florida’s “Port-to-Pump” Advanced Biofuel Initiative

http://blenderstaxcredit.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/independent-ethanol-producers-in-florida-have-the-legal-right-to-receive-blenders-tax-credit/
Independent Ethanol Producers in Florida Have the Legal Right to Receive Blender’s Tax Credit

https://renergie.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/why-the-ethanol-import-tariff-should-be-repealed-2/
Why the Ethanol Import Tariff Should be Repealed

https://renergie.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/independent-u-s-ethanol-producers-will-not-survive-as-price-takers/
Independent U.S. Ethanol Producers Will Not Survive as Price Takers

http://fieldtopump.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/louisiana-enacts-the-most-comprehensive-advanced-biofuel-legislation-in-the-nation/
Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation

http://blenderstaxcredit.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/why-big-oil-should-not-be-allowed-to-monopolize-the-blender%E2%80%99s-tax-credit/
Why Big Oil Should Not be Allowed to Monopolize the Blender’s Tax Credit

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Study Concludes That Use of Cellulosic Feedstocks to Meet US Biofuel Requirements Will Still Likely Result in Expansion of the Gulf Dead Zone

Posted on September 11, 2009. Filed under: Cellulosic | Tags: , , , |

Study Concludes That Use of Cellulosic Feedstocks to Meet US Biofuel Requirements Will Still Likely Result in Expansion of the Gulf Dead Zone

Green Car Congress

10 September 2009

Costello
Nitrate output within the MARB (colored bars, lefthand y-axis) and mean areal extent of hypoxia in the NGOM with “No Buffer” and “50% Buffer” (gray scale bars, righthand y-axis). Nitrate output columns represent mean values and the 80% credible intervals from modeling. Credit: ACS, Costello et. al. Click to enlarge.

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh found that while moving from corn to cellulosics to meet the biofuel goals specified by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) for ethanol production may result in a 20% decrease (based on mean values) in NO3 (nitrate) output from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) relative to corn, this will still result in increased nitrate loadings, contributing to the expansion of the hypoxic “Dead Zone” in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM). (Earlier post.)

The findings suggest that an aggressive nutrient management strategy will be needed to reach the goal of a 5,000 km2 areal extent of hypoxia set forth by the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force even in the absence of biofuels, given current production to meet food, feed, and other industrial needs. Their paper was published online 13 August in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural fertilizer have been found to promote excess growth of algae in water bodies—a problem that’s common across North America and in many areas of the world. In some cases, decomposition of algae consumes much of the oxygen in the water. Fertilizer applied to cornfields in the central US—including states such as Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin—is the primary source of nitrogen pollution in the Mississippi River system, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico.

Each summer, the export of nitrogen from the MARB creates a large NGOM “Dead Zone”—a region of oxygen-deprived waters that are unable to support aquatic life. Marine species either die or flee the hypoxic zone, so the spread of hypoxia reduces the available habitat for marine species which are important for the ecosystem as well as commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf.

A 2008 study by Simon Donner of the University of British Columbia and Chris Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin concluded that ramping up the production of corn ethanol to meet the targets set by the new US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would worsen pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, increasing the growing hypoxic region. (Earlier post.)

In the current study, Christine Costello, W. Michael Griffin and H. Scott Matthews of CMU and Amy E. Landis of the University of Pittsburgh took a system-wide approach in considering the NO3 output and the relative areal extent of hypoxia in the NGOM due to the introduction of additional crops for biofuel production. They stochastically estimated nitrate loading to the NGOM and used these results to approximate the areal extent of hypoxia for scenarios that meet the EISA 2007 biofuel goals for 2015 and 2022. Crops for ethanol include corn, corn stover, and switchgrass; all biodiesel was assumed to be from soybeans.

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) calls for the production of 36 billion gallons (Bgal) of biofuels by 2022 of which 15 Bgal is corn ethanol and 21 Bgal is “advanced biofuel”. Advanced biofuels are assumed to be 20 Bgal of ethanol that is derived from switchgrass or stover and one Bgal of biodiesel derived from soybeans. Achieving these goals may result in a significant increase in demand for agricultural products. Simultaneously as populations increase so will demand for food/feed products. A pressing question to answer is how will an increase in agricultural activity impact nutrient loading to the NGOM and ultimately the size of the hypoxic zone.

—Costello et al. 2009

The team modeled in two scenarios for the use of vegetative buffer strips (VBS) to reduce run-off: one at a 100% level and one at a 50% level. The authors note that 100% interception of runoff by buffers from agricultural fields is unlikely; they included this idealized scenario to illustrate the need for aggressive nutrient management within the MARB.

They found that NO3 output for corn-derived ethanol will be higher on average than output for switchgrass- or stover-derived ethanol. While use of cellulosics result in lower NO3output on a per unit basis compared to corn (e.g., one gallon ethanol or one acre), the decrease is insufficient to reduce the hypoxic zone below the EPA’s 5000 km2 target.

 

 

In summary, the results of modeling hypoxic area indicates that meeting the biofuel goals set forth by EISA will likely increase the occurrence of hypoxia in the NGOM, regardless of the selection of crops. This work also suggests that aggressive nutrient management is needed even in the absence of energy crops or stover use. There are a number of options to consider for mitigating nitrogen loading from agricultural activities, including wetland construction, vegetative buffers, tillage management, and precision fertilizer application.

…The results presented here suggest that only when all of the nitrogen runoff associated with the production of corn, soy, and switchgrass is reduced will the EPA goal be met. This is an oversimplification since the approximation of the areal extent of the hypoxic zone includes unmitigated output from all other N sources within the MARB, i.e., other agricultural crops, wastewater treatment facilities, etc. Any aggressive management strategy aimed at reducing nutrient sources within the MARB will likely target these other sources as well.

…The presented results demonstrate that using cellulosic crops for biofuel production will decrease TN [total nitrogen] loading to the NGOM relative to corn but overall TN loading will still increase as the goals of the EISA are met, adding to the need for aggressive nitrogen mitigation strategies.

—Costello et al. 2009

Resources

  • Christine Costello, W. Michael Griffin, Amy E. Landis and H. Scott Matthew (2009) Impact of Biofuel Crop Production on the Formation of Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/es9011433
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Act 382 Creates the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative

Posted on July 13, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , , |

ACT No. 382

HOUSE BILL NO. 1270

BY REPRESENTATIVES PERRY, BOBBY BADON, BALDONE, BILLIOT, HENRY

BURNS, CHAMPAGNE, CHANEY, ELLINGTON, GISCLAIR, ELBERT

GUILLORY, HARDY, HAZEL, HOFFMANN, HOWARD, JOHNSON, LEBAS,

LITTLE, RICHARD, RICHMOND, GARY SMITH, JANE SMITH, AND ST.

GERMAIN AND SENATORS N. GAUTREAUX, LONG, RISER, THOMPSON,

AND WALSWORTH

FUELS: Creates the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative

AN ACT

To amend and reenact R.S. 39:364(A)(1) and to enact R.S. 39:364(A)(4) and Chapter 23-B of Title 3 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, to be comprised of R.S. 3:3761 through 3763, relative to the development of a biofuel industry development initiative; to provide for pilot programs; to provide for state incentives; to provide for the purchase or lease of fleet vehicles; to provide for the purchase of biofuels; and to provide for related matters.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:

Section 1. Chapter 23-B of Title 3 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, comprised of R.S. 3:3761 through 3763, is hereby enacted to read as follows:

CHAPTER 23-B. THE ADVANCED BIOFUEL INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT

INITIATIVE

§3761. Legislative findings and definitions

A. The legislature hereby finds and declares that the development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana is a matter of grave public necessity and is vital to the economy of Louisiana. The use of advanced biofuel will expand United States and Louisiana fuel supplies without increasing dependency on foreign oil. The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing: (1) increased value added to the feed stock crops which will benefit the producers and provide more revenue to the local community; (2) increased investments in plants and equipment which would stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed; (3) secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant co-products becoming available at a competitive price; and (4) increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations would stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region. Blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump will offer the Louisiana consumer a fuel that is less expensive, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana is vital to ensuring the broad-based rural economic development of Louisiana and is a matter of public policy.

B. The legislature finds and declares that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires the following comprehensive “field-to-pump” strategy:

(1) Feedstock other than corn:

(a) Derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops.

(b) Capable of an annual yield of at least six hundred gallons of ethanol per acre.

(c) Requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn.

(d) Tolerant to high temperature and water logging.

(e) Resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils.

(f) Capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand.

(g) Requiring no more than one-third of the nitrogen required to grow corn thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the waters of the state.

(h) Requiring no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.

(2) The distributed nature of a small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility network reduces feed stock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies, and provides for a more broad-based economic development. Each small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility shall operate in Louisiana.

(3) Advanced biofuel supply and demand shall be expanded beyond the ten percent blend market by blending fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump. Variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, shall offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30, and E85.

C. As used in this Section, the following terms shall have the meanings hereinafter ascribed to them:

(1) “Advanced biofuel” means hydrous ethanol derived from sugar or starch (other than corn starch) or anhydrous ethanol derived from sugar or starch (other than corn starch).

(2) “Anhydrous ethanol” means an ethyl alcohol that has a purity of at least ninety-nine percent, exclusive of added denaturants, that meets all the requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) D4806, the standard specification for ethanol used as motor fuel.

(3) “Hydrous ethanol” means an ethyl alcohol that is approximately ninety-six percent ethanol and four percent water.

(4) “Small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility” means an advanced biofuel manufacturing facility operating in Louisiana that produces no less than five million gallons of advanced biofuel per year and no more than fifteen million gallons of advanced biofuel 1 per year with feedstock other than corn derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops.

§3762. Pilot programs

A. The blending of fuels with advanced biofuel percentages between ten percent and eighty-five percent will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will monitor the equipment used by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement. Since there are no ASTM standards for evaluating the quality of the product, the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will take fuel samples to ascertain that the correct blend ratios are being dispensed and follow the development of standards. Provided that no negative trends are observed during the trial period and fuel standards have been developed or work continues on developing them, the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will consider extending the evaluation period.

B. The use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30, and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

§3763. State incentives

A. The Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, conditioned upon the availability of funds, is authorized to award demonstration grants to persons who purchase advanced biofuel variable blending pumps which dispense E10, E20, E30, and E85. The demonstration grant shall be for the purpose of conducting research connected with the monitoring of the equipment used to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement. The grantee shall also develop guidelines for the installation and use of advanced biofuel variable blending pumps by complying with applicable National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements and ASTM standards.

B. The Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, conditioned upon the availability of funds, is authorized to award demonstration grants to persons who purchase vehicles which operate on advanced biofuels. A grant shall be for the purpose of conducting research connected with the fuel or the vehicle and not for the purchase of the vehicle itself, except that the money may be used for the purchase of the vehicle if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The Department of Agriculture and Forestry retains the title to the vehicle.

(2) The vehicle is used for continuing research.

(3) If the vehicle is sold or when the research related to the vehicle is completed, the proceeds of the sale of the vehicle shall be used for additional research.

C. An income tax credit of ten cents per gallon of advanced biofuel is available to qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities as defined in R.S. 3761(C)(4). The credit applies only to the first ten million gallons of advanced biofuel produced in a tax year and expires on December 31, 2012.

Section 2.   R.S. 39:364(A)(1) is hereby amended and reenacted and R.S. 39:364(A)(4) is hereby enacted to read as follows:

§364. Purchase or lease of fleet vehicles; use of alternative fuels; exceptions

A.(1) The commissioner of administration shall not purchase or lease any motor vehicle for use by any state agency unless that vehicle is capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel which results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, or particulates or any combination thereof which meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards, including but not limited to hybrid vehicles. Alternative fuels shall include compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, reformulated gasoline, methanol, ethanol, advanced biofuel, electricity, and any other fuels which meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards.

* * *

(4) A governmental body, state educational institution, or instrumentality of the state that performs essential governmental functions on a statewide or local basis is entitled to purchase E20, E30, or E85 advanced biofuel directly from a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility at a price equal to fifteen percent less per gallon than the price of unleaded gasoline for use in any motor vehicle. The price of unleaded gasoline will be the prevailing average price for the locality on the date of purchase.

* * *

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Getting Ethanol Right

Posted on May 24, 2009. Filed under: Blender's Tax Credit, Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , |

Getting Ethanol Right

The New York Times

Editorial

May 24, 2009

Representative Collin Peterson is furious that the Environmental Protection Agency is doing its job. The Minnesota Democrat says the agency is trying to kill off the biofuels industry — to the dismay of the corn farmers and ethanol producers he represents. He has vowed to vote against any bill, including climate change legislation, that might require the involvement of the E.P.A.

What inspired this tirade was an E.P.A. draft proposal showing how it intended to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol and other renewable fuels. The agency said it will not make any final rules until it completes further research, but its preliminary findings were not flattering to corn ethanol.

The E.P.A. was only doing what Congress ordered in the 2007 energy bill, which required a quadrupling of annual ethanol production to 36 billion gallons by 2022. In practical terms, this meant more traditional corn ethanol, until other more advanced forms of ethanol could make their way out of the labs. Scientists believe that various grasses and scrub trees that do not compete with food crops can someday be turned into fuel.

Congress hoped the ethanol mandate would produce a more climate-friendly fuel that could help reduce oil imports. But just to make sure, it stipulated that ethanol from any source be cleaner than conventional gasoline. It handed the job of measuring emissions to the E.P.A., and told it to consider the fuel’s entire life cycle.

This included counting the greenhouse gases released when forests or grasslands are plowed under and planted to make up for the crops used to make ethanol. When the E.P.A.’s scientists counted these indirect effects, corn ethanol emitted more greenhouse gases than gasoline over a 30-year period.

The E.P.A. says its analysis needs refinement, and in any case the 2007 bill grandfathers in existing corn ethanol plants or those under construction. That means there will not be any reduction in corn ethanol production; indeed, there could be more. Mr. Peterson and his farm bill colleagues are still steamed, because any adverse finding diminishes corn ethanol’s appeal.

Lisa Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, can expect heavy pressure in the months ahead. The ethanol industry and its Congressional champions will argue that the science is unclear, that indirect effects cannot be measured accurately, and so on.

Ms. Jackson should stand her ground. Biofuels have an important role to play, and some will eventually be produced without pushing up food prices or increasing emissions. It is the E.P.A.’s duty to give the most unbiased accounting it can of their strengths and defects.

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan and Mr. Michael J. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

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Why the Ethanol Import Tariff Should be Repealed

Posted on March 24, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , , , |

Why the Ethanol Import Tariff Should be Repealed

__________________

 

Repeal Would Enable Ethanol Demand to Move Beyond Being Just a Blending Component

in Gasoline to a Truer Transportation Fuel Alternative

 

 

Gainesville, FL (August 3, 2008) – The question is whether the 54 cents per gallon tariff the United States places on imported ethanol should be eliminated when:

(a) U.S. farm acreage is being diverted from the production of food crops to energy crops and record high corn prices are impacting the agriculture, food and beverage industries;

(b) American families and businesses are paying record high prices for fuel;

(c) U.S. oil companies are using ethanol merely as a blending component in gasoline rather than a true alternative transportation fuel;

(d) The renewable fuels standard (“RFS”) requires that gasoline sold in the United States contains a renewable fuel, such as ethanol, and the expanded RFS specifically requires the use of an increasing amount of “advanced biofuels” – biofuels produced from feedstocks other than corn; and

(e) U.S. oil companies, due to a loophole in the Caribbean Basin Initiative, are currently allowed to import thousands of barrels of ethanol every month without having to pay the 54 cents per gallon tariff.

 

The Ethanol Import Tariff of 1980
Since 1978, in order to stimulate an increase in U.S. ethanol production and consumption, producers of ethanol-blended gasoline have received a subsidy, or tax credit. This incentive, known as the Blender’s Tax Credit, is currently valued at 51 cents per gallon of pure ethanol used in blending.

 

Ethanol imported into the United States is subject to two customs duties: an ad valorem tariff rate of 2.5 percent and a secondary tariff of 54 cents per gallon. The Ethanol Import Tariff of 1980 imposed the 54 cents per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. A key motivation for the establishment of the tariff on imported ethanol was to offset the Blender’s Tax Credit incentive for ethanol-blended gasoline. Unless imports enter the United States duty-free, the tariff effectively negates the incentive for those imports.

 

Food Prices

Corn is used as the feedstock for approximately 98% of the ethanol produced in the United States. Brazil uses sugarcane as a feedstock, while China is focusing on using cassava and sweet potatoes as feedstocks for ethanol production. USDA estimates that 3.2 billion bushels of corn (or 24% of the 2007 corn crop) will be used to produce ethanol during the September 2007 to August 2008 corn marketing year.  In January, 2002, the price for a bushel of corn was $1.98. In July, 2008, the price for a bushel of corn was $5.61.

                                                                      

Corn is a significant ingredient for meat, dairy, and egg production. However, while increased ethanol production is partially responsible for the increase in corn prices, the real factors driving up retail food prices are: rising demand for processed foods and meat in emerging markets such as China and India; droughts and adverse weather around the world; commodity market speculation; export restrictions by many exporting countries to reduce domestic food price inflation; the declining value of the dollar; and skyrocketing oil prices.

Record high prices for diesel fuel, gasoline, natural gas, and other forms of energy affect costs throughout the food production and marketing chain. Higher energy prices increase producers’ expenditures for fertilizer and fuel, driving up farm production costs and reducing the incentive for farmers to expand production in the face of record high prices. Higher energy prices also increase food processing, marketing, and retailing costs. In 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, direct energy costs and transportation costs accounted for roughly 8 percent of retail food costs. These higher costs, especially if maintained over a long period, tend to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher retail prices.

 

Increased demand for farm commodities could outstrip existing production capabilities, straining food supplies and boosting prices. Moreover, population growth and rising incomes are altering global food consumption patterns and boosting the demand for food, further supporting higher prices. Demand for bio-fuels, especially in the United States, has led to a decline in corn inventories, despite a record corn crop. This increase in U.S. corn acres limited the production of other crops.

 

Historically, food prices have surged during times of higher crude oil prices. Moreover, research shows that energy prices are quickly passed through to higher retail food prices, with retail prices rising 0.52 percent in the short-term for every 1 percent rise in energy prices. As a result, a 10 percent gain in energy prices could contribute 5.2 percent to retail food prices.

 

 

Fuel Prices

Gasoline is one of the major fuels consumed in the United States and the main product refined from crude oil. Consumption in 2007 was about 142 billion gallons, an average of about 390 million gallons per day and the equivalent of about 61% of all the energy used for transportation, 44% of all petroleum consumption, and 17% of total U.S. energy consumption.

 

In January, 2002, the price of oil was US$18.68 per barrel. As of the date of this article, the price of oil is US$125.10 per barrel. In January, 2002, the average U.S. retail price for a gallon of regular grade gasoline was US$1.11. As of the date of this article, the price for a gallon of regular grade gasoline is US$3.96.

 

The price of crude oil is set through the interaction of world demand and supply. The following factors are driving up crude oil and gasoline prices: (a) increased world demand for crude oil as witnessed by the sharp increase in imported crude oil by China and India; (b) instability in oil-producing regions, including Iraq and Nigeria’s delta region; (c) limited U.S. refinery capacity to supply gasoline; (d) a decline in the value of the dollar compared to other currencies has increased the dollar price of oil on futures markets; (e) the continuing possibility of a supply disruption from natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005; (f) speculators, who have entered the commodity markets in large numbers looking for ways to increase their monetary investments rather than to trade in oil and oil products, are causing an unacceptable upward pressure on prices; and (g) governments in developing countries are subsidizing energy, blunting the incentive to conserve by keeping prices low. China is expected to spend about $40 billion this year in subsidies. Venezuela and Egypt are forecast to spend more than 5 percent of their total economic output on subsidies this year.  As a result, while demand for oil in the developed world is expected to fall about 1 percent this year, consumption in emerging and developing countries is forecast to rise 3 percent, according to estimates by I.M.F. economists.

 

World demand for crude oil grew by 1.3% in 2007 to 86.0 mbd.  It is forecast to grow by 1.5% to 87.3 mbd in 2008. World supply was 87.3 mbd in March 2008, leaving relatively little excess supply to draw on if the market were disrupted by natural or political disasters. When excess supply on the market is low, prices tend to rise and become more volatile.

 

Higher prices for crude oil tend to translate directly into higher prices for gasoline. Currently, crude oil accounts for about 72% of the cost of gasoline. Refining, distributing, and marketing account for about 16% of the cost of gasoline, and taxes account for about 13%. However, until recently crude oil’s share of the cost of gasoline has been more typically in the range of 45% to 55%. In May 2007, for example, with gasoline at $3.15 per gallon, crude oil contributed 46% of the cost; refining, distributing and marketing 41%; and taxes 13%.

 

On July 31, 2008, Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation.On August 1, 2008, Chevron reported record oil prices drove second-quarter earnings up 11 percent to $5.98 billion, its highest-ever profit.

 

Imported petroleum does not pay a tariff, yet clean, renewable ethanol from our own hemisphere is assessed a 54 cent-per-gallon tariff.

 

Lack of Ethanol Infrastructure

RU.S. oil companies are using ethanol merely as a blending component in gasoline (in the form of E10) rather than a true alternative transportation fuel. There is not an oversupply of ethanol. The major obstacle to widespread ethanol usage continues to be the lack of fueling infrastructure. Only 1,528 of the nearly 180,000 (or 8/10 of 1%) retail gasoline stations in the United States offer E85. These E85 fueling stations are located primarily in the Midwest.

 

While alleging an oversupply of corn ethanol, U.S. oil companies still import thousands of barrels of ethanol from foreign sources every month without having to pay the 54 cents per gallon import tariff. Can ethanol provide any relief at the pump to the U.S. driving public?  Renergie, Inc. believes that ethanol can significantly lower the pump price if it is produced from a non-corn feedstock and marketed directly by the producer as E85.  Ethanol must compete against, rather than be an inexpensive blending component in, gasoline.

 

Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce ethanol locally and market ethanol locally. The day of building 100 MGY corn-to-ethanol plants in the Midwest corn belt, for the sale of E10 to consumers on the U.S. East Coast and West Coast, is over!  Renergie is focusing its efforts on locally growing ethanol demand beyond the 10% blend market.  Initially, Renergie will directly market E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline for use in FFVs, to local fuel retailers under the brand Renergie E85.  Renergie’s unique strategy is to blend fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump.  Currently, ethanol providers blend E10 and E85 at their blending terminal and transport the already blended product to retail gas stations.  Once state approval is received, Renergie’s variable blending pumps will be able to offer the consumer a choice of E10, E20, E30 and E85.  A recent study, cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol, found E20 and E30 ethanol blends outperform unleaded gasoline in fuel economy tests for certain autos. Via capturing the Blender’s Tax Credit, Renergie will be able to ensure that gas station owners are adequately compensated for each gallon of fuel-grade ethanol that is sold via Renergie’s variable blending pumps at their gas stations.

 

Renergie will further grow ethanol demand beyond the 10% blend market by being the first company to test hydrous ethanol blends in the U.S. As provided for in Act No. 382, the use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30, and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected by Renergie for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis in Louisiana until January 1, 2012.  The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Imported ethanol is especially important for coastal states since almost all domestic ethanol is produced in the Midwest and is costly to transport because it cannot be moved through a pipeline. Elimination of the ethanol import tariff would provide the U.S. with sufficient ethanol to: (a) move ethanol demand beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a truer transportation fuel alternative; and (b) create the required fueling infrastructure. 

 

Renewable Fuels Standard (“RFS”)

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Renewable Fuels Standard (“RFS”) which directs that gasoline sold in the U.S. contain specified minimum volumes of renewable fuel.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“H.R. 6”), which became law on December 19, 2007, sets a new RFS that starts at 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008 and rises to 36 billion gallons by 2022.  Of the latter total, 21 billion gallons of renewable fuel in U.S. transportation fuel is required to be obtained from advanced biofuels. The term “advanced biofuel” means renewable fuel, other than ethanol derived from corn.  Brazil uses sugarcane as a feedstock for its ethanol production.

 

The CBI Loophole

U.S. oil companies, due to a loophole in the Caribbean Basin Initiative (“CBI”), are currently allowed to import thousands of barrels of ethanol every month without having to pay the 54 cents per gallon tariff.

 

The CBI was established in 1983 to promote a stable political and economic climate in the Caribbean region. The CBI allows the imports of most products, including ethanol, duty-free. While many of these products are produced in CBI countries, ethanol entering the United States under the CBI is generally produced elsewhere and reprocessed in CBI countries for export to the United States. The U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) would maintain this duty-free treatment and set specific allocations for imports from Costa Rica and El Salvador.

 

Duty-free treatment of CBI ethanol has raised concerns, especially as the market for ethanol has the potential for dramatic expansion under P.L. 109-58 and P.L. 110-140. In the United States, fuel ethanol is largely domestically produced. A value-added product of agricultural commodities, mainly corn, it is used primarily as a gasoline additive. To promote its use, ethanol-blended gasoline is granted a significant tax incentive. However, this incentive does not recognize point of origin, and there is a duty on most imported fuel ethanol to offset the exemption. But a limited amount of ethanol may be imported under the CBI duty-free, even if most of the steps in the production process were completed in other countries. This duty-free import of ethanol has raised concerns, especially as U.S. demand for ethanol has been growing. Further, duty-free imports from these countries, especially Costa Rica and El Salvador, have played a role in the development of the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

 

The main steps to ethanol production in the U.S. are as follows:

a. The feedstock (e.g., corn) is processed to separate fermentable sugars.

b. Yeast is added to ferment the sugars.

c. The resulting alcohol is distilled.

d. Finally, the distilled alcohol is dehydrated to remove any remaining water.

 

This final step – dehydration – is at the heart of the issue over ethanol imports from the CBI, as discussed below.

 

According to the United States International Trade Commission, the majority of all fuel ethanol imports to the United States came through CBI countries between 1999 and 2003.  In 2004, imports from Brazil to the United States grew dramatically, but in 2005, CBI imports again represented more than half of all U.S. ethanol imports. With an increase in ethanol demand in 2006 due to voluntary elimination of MTBE – a competitor for ethanol in gasoline blending –  imports grew dramatically, roughly quadrupling imports in any previous year. Most of this increase was in direct imports from Brazil. Historically, imports have played a relatively small role in the U.S. ethanol market. Total ethanol consumption in 2005 was approximately 3.9 billion gallons, whereas imports totaled 135 million gallons, or about 4%. Imports from the CBI totaled approximately 2.6%. In 2006, total imports represented roughly 13% of the 5.0 billion gallons consumed in 2006; ethanol from CBI countries represented roughly 3.4%. In 2007, total imports represented roughly 6% of U.S. consumption (6.8 billion gallons); ethanol from CBI countries represented roughly 3.6%.

 

As part of the initiative, duty-free status is granted to a large array of products from beneficiary countries, including fuel ethanol under certain conditions. If produced from at least 50% local feedstocks (e.g., ethanol produced from sugarcane grown in the CBI beneficiary countries), ethanol may be imported duty-free. If the local feedstock content is lower, limitations apply on the quantity of duty-free ethanol. Nevertheless, up to 7% of the U.S. market may be supplied duty-free by CBI ethanol containing no local feedstock. In this case, hydrous (“wet”) ethanol produced in other countries, historically Brazil or European countries, can be shipped to a dehydration plant in a CBI country for reprocessing. After the ethanol is dehydrated, it is imported duty-free into the United States. Currently, imports of dehydrated ethanol under the CBI are far below the 7% cap (approximately 3% in 2006). For 2006, the cap was about 270 million gallons, whereas about 170 million gallons were imported under the CBI in that year.

 

Dehydration plants are currently operating in Jamaica, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Jamaica and Costa Rica were the two largest exporters of fuel ethanol to the United States from 1999 to 2003. Despite criticisms in the U.S., new dehydration facilities began production in Trinidad and Tobago in 2005 and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2007.

 

If there is such an over-abundant domestic supply of ethanol in the U.S., why are U.S. oil companies purchasing ethanol from foreign sources? As domestic ethanol consumption continues to grow, so will the volume of imported duty-free ethanol under this CBI loophole.

 

Conclusion

As discussed above, the Ethanol Import Tariff should be repealed for the following reasons:

(a) Record prices for gasoline are increasing the costs of producing, transporting, and processing food products.  Research shows that energy prices are quickly passed through to higher retail food prices, with retail prices rising 0.52 percent in the short-term for every 1 percent rise in energy prices. As a result, a 10 percent gain in energy prices could contribute 5.2 percent to retail food prices.

 

(b) Imported petroleum does not pay a tariff, yet clean, renewable ethanol from our own hemisphere is assessed a 54 cent-per-gallon tariff.

 

(c) Elimination of the ethanol import tariff would provide the U.S. with sufficient ethanol to move ethanol demand beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a truer fuel alternative and create the required fueling infrastructure. 

 

(d) The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 sets a new RFS that starts at 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008 and rises to 36 billion gallons by 2022.  Of the latter total, 21 billion gallons of renewable fuel in U.S. transportation fuel is required to be obtained from renewable fuel, other than ethanol derived from corn.

 

(e) U.S. oil companies, due to a loophole in the CBI, are currently allowed to import thousands of barrels of ethanol every month without having to pay the 54 cents per gallon tariff.

 

At a time of record high gas prices, repeal of the 54 cents per gallon import tariff on foreign ethanol would create market competition by allowing U.S. blenders to purchase cheaper ethanol from foreign sources, which could help lower gas prices, increase the supply of ethanol to coastal markets, and ease the economic strain that is impacting the agriculture, food and beverage industries.

 

U.S. oil companies, corn farmers and fertilizer producers are benefiting from the 54 cents per gallon import tariff on foreign ethanol at the expense of the average American consumer.At a time when our own government’s Federal Reserve Chairman is saying food inflation and fuel costs are contributing to our dangerous economic condition, working toward eliminating this barrier to free market competition is more needed than ever.

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan and Mr. Michael J. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

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Act 382 Creates the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative

Posted on November 19, 2008. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , , |

Regular Session, 2008                                                              ACT No. 382

 

HOUSE BILL NO. 1270

BY REPRESENTATIVES PERRY, BOBBY BADON, BALDONE, BILLIOT, HENRY

BURNS, CHAMPAGNE, CHANEY, ELLINGTON, GISCLAIR, ELBERT

GUILLORY, HARDY, HAZEL, HOFFMANN, HOWARD, JOHNSON, LEBAS,

LITTLE, RICHARD, RICHMOND, GARY SMITH, JANE SMITH, AND ST.

GERMAIN AND SENATORS N. GAUTREAUX, LONG, RISER, THOMPSON,

AND WALSWORTH

 

 

FUELS: Creates the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative

 

AN ACT

 

To amend and reenact R.S. 39:364(A)(1) and to enact R.S. 39:364(A)(4) and Chapter 23-B of Title 3 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, to be comprised of R.S. 3:3761 through 3763, relative to the development of a biofuel industry development initiative; to provide for pilot programs; to provide for state incentives; to provide for the purchase or lease of fleet vehicles; to provide for the purchase of biofuels; and to provide for related matters.

 

Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:

 

Section 1. Chapter 23-B of Title 3 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, comprised of R.S. 3:3761 through 3763, is hereby enacted to read as follows:

 

CHAPTER 23-B. THE ADVANCED BIOFUEL INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT

INITIATIVE

 

§3761. Legislative findings and definitions

 

A. The legislature hereby finds and declares that the development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana is a matter of grave public necessity and is vital to the economy of Louisiana. The use of advanced biofuel will expand United States and Louisiana fuel supplies without increasing dependency on foreign oil. The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing: (1) increased value added to the feed stock crops which will benefit the producers and provide more revenue to the local community; (2) increased investments in plants and equipment which would stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed; (3) secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant co-products becoming available at a competitive price; and (4) increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations would stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region. Blending fuelgrade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump will offer the Louisiana consumer a fuel that is less expensive, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-toanhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana is vital to ensuring the broad-based rural economic development of Louisiana and is a matter of public policy.

 

B. The legislature finds and declares that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires the following comprehensive “fieldto-pump” strategy:

(1) Feedstock other than corn:

(a) Derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops.

(b) Capable of an annual yield of at least six hundred gallons of ethanol per acre.

(c) Requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn.

(d) Tolerant to high temperature and water logging.

(e) Resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils.

(f) Capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand.

(g) Requiring no more than one-third of the nitrogen required to grow corn thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the waters of the state.

(h) Requiring no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.

(2) The distributed nature of a small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility network reduces feed stock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies, and provides for a more broad-based economic development. Each small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility shall operate in Louisiana.

(3) Advanced biofuel supply and demand shall be expanded beyond the ten percent blend market by blending fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump. Variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, shall offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30, and E85.

 

C. As used in this Section, the following terms shall have the meanings hereinafter ascribed to them:

(1) “Advanced biofuel” means hydrous ethanol derived from sugar or starch (other than corn starch) or anhydrous ethanol derived from sugar or starch (other than corn starch).

(2) “Anhydrous ethanol” means an ethyl alcohol that has a purity of at least ninety-nine percent, exclusive of added denaturants, that meets all the requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) D4806, the standard specification for ethanol used as motor fuel.

(3) “Hydrous ethanol” means an ethyl alcohol that is approximately ninetysix percent ethanol and four percent water.

 

(4) “Small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility” means an advanced biofuel manufacturing facility operating in Louisiana that produces no less than five million gallons of advanced biofuel per year and no more than fifteen million gallons of advanced biofuel 1 per year with feedstock other than corn derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops.

 

§3762. Pilot programs

 

A. The blending of fuels with advanced biofuel percentages between ten percent and eighty-five percent will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will monitor the equipment used by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement. Since there are no ASTM standards for evaluating the quality of the product, the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will take fuel samples to ascertain that the correct blend ratios are being dispensed and follow the development of standards. Provided that no negative trends are observed during the trial period and fuel standards have been developed or work continues on developing them, the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will consider extending the evaluation period.

 

B. The use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30, and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the LDAF, office of agro-consumer services, division of weights and measures, will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

§3763. State incentives

 

A. The Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, conditioned upon the availability of funds, is authorized to award demonstration grants to persons who purchase advanced biofuel variable blending pumps which dispense E10, E20, E30, and E85. The demonstration grant shall be for the purpose of conducting research connected with the monitoring of the equipment used to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement. The grantee shall also develop guidelines for the installation and use of advanced biofuel variable blending pumps by complying with applicable National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements and ASTM standards.

 

B. The Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, conditioned upon the availability of funds, is authorized to award demonstration grants to persons who purchase vehicles which operate on advanced biofuels. A grant shall be for the purpose of conducting research connected with the fuel or the vehicle and not for the purchase of the vehicle itself, except that the money may be used for the purchase of the vehicle if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The Department of Agriculture and Forestry retains the title to the vehicle.

(2) The vehicle is used for continuing research.

(3) If the vehicle is sold or when the research related to the vehicle is completed, the proceeds of the sale of the vehicle shall be used for additional research.

 

C. An income tax credit of ten cents per gallon of advanced biofuel is available to qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities as defined in R.S. 3761(C)(4). The credit applies only to the first ten million gallons of advanced biofuel produced in a tax year and expires on December 31, 2012.

 

Section 2.   R.S. 39:364(A)(1) is hereby amended and reenacted and R.S. 39:364(A)(4) is hereby enacted to read as follows:

 

§364. Purchase or lease of fleet vehicles; use of alternative fuels; exceptions

 

A.(1) The commissioner of administration shall not purchase or lease any motor vehicle for use by any state agency unless that vehicle is capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel which results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, or particulates or any combination thereof which meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards, including but not limited to hybrid vehicles. Alternative fuels shall include compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, reformulated gasoline, methanol, ethanol, advanced biofuel, electricity, and any other fuels which meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards.

 

* * *

 

(4) A governmental body, state educational institution, or instrumentality of the state that performs essential governmental functions on a statewide or local basis is entitled to purchase E20, E30, or E85 advanced biofuel directly from a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility at a price equal to fifteen percent less per gallon than the price of unleaded gasoline for use in any motor vehicle. The price of unleaded gasoline will be the prevailing average price for the locality on the date of purchase.

 

* * *

 

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan and Mr. Michael J. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally.  On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice.  On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops. 

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Florida Companies Follow Renergie’s Lead in Producing Ethanol from Sweet Sorghum

Posted on October 15, 2008. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , |

Sweet on Sorghum

By SUSAN SALISBURY

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 12, 2008

 

Sweet sorghum is best known as a syrup poured over hot biscuits.

 

But now a half-dozen Florida companies want to serve up the crop as a biofuel for creating ethanol.

 

Its future as a biofuel looks sweet: The crop is more environmentally friendly than sugar cane or corn, and has a higher energy yield.

 

Biofuels are plant-derived sources of energy. Refined, they can be added to gas or used alone as a fuel.

 

Even the credit crunch isn’t stopping companies from moving forward, although they say the lack of loan money could slow the industry overall.

 

“The syrup has been around forever. The idea for ethanol hasn’t,” said Morris Bitzer, a University of Kentucky professor emeritus who fields as many as 50 inquiries a month from around the world about sweet sorghum as an ethanol feedstock.

 

“It’s so hot that I have shipped seeds to 30 countries and to five places in Florida.”

 

While the United States has no commercial production of ethanol from sweet sorghum, last year China and India produced 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol from the crop, Bitzer said.

 

Although sweet sorghum is being promoted as a “new energy crop,” it has been grown in the mid-South for more than 80 years, said Zane Helsel, a visiting Rutgers University professor who is field-testing sorghum varieties at the University of Florida Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade.

 

The technology to make sweet sorghum into ethanol is readily available, unlike the technology needed to make cellulosic ethanol, which is derived from plant wastes or waste from processing, such as sawdust, or crops grown specifically for fuel production, such as switchgrass.

 

Sweet sorghum “is much like sugar cane,” Helsel said. “You can squeeze the juice out and straight up ferment it to ethanol, like grapes and winemaking.”

 

Helsel said the numbers from his test plots show sweet sorghum yields ranging from 100 to 600 gallons of ethanol per acre.

 

When it comes to use as a biofuel, sweet sorghum is one-upping sugar cane on its own turf. Many Florida companies hoping to produce ethanol considered sugar cane or corn as feedstocks before settling on sweet sorghum.

 

“After 18 months of research on sugar cane, we said, ‘What else is available?'” said Brian Donovan, CEO of Renergie Inc. in Gainesville. “A friend started growing sweet sorghum in China. Now everybody is a sweet sorghum fanatic.”

 

With the right variety and harvesting equipment, sweet sorghum can yield up to 800 gallons of ethanol per acre, Donovan said.

 

Donovan’s company plans to start construction this month on a plant in Kaplan, La., and eventually hopes to build as many as 10 biorefineries in Florida. For now, infrastructure is lacking here, he said.

 

Some sour sentiment

Not everyone is sold on sweet sorghum.

 

While some say it grows year-round in South Florida, except perhaps in January, Callery-Judge Grove production manager Mark DuBois said he found the crop did not grow well in the summer. Also, there’s no market for it now, except for cattle feed, and it’s too expensive to haul it from the grove near Loxahatchee to the nearest cattle in Okeechobee County, DuBois said. He doesn’t plan to plant it again.

 

“Where do you take it while you are waiting three to four years to grow a sorghum crop for biofuel?” DuBois said. “I have taken a real hard look at the sorghum thing. I can’t make it come out on paper.”

 

More work needs to be done with the crop, said George Philippidis, associate director of Florida International University’s Applied Research Center in Miami.

 

“There is all this hoopla about sweet sorghum,” he said. “A lot of people are jumping to conclusions and making statements with very little information in hand. It has not been done here. We need to see how the soil and the climate and everything else works with sweet sorghum.”

 

The crop is “promising,” Philippidis said, but “big plans for a plant here and a plant there are premature.”

 

Bradley Krohn, president of Tampa-based United States EnviroFuels LLC, said: “These projects are difficult. You have to have a grower base. It’s not like corn where you can buy it off the open market.”

 

Even so, Krohn is forging ahead with plans for a $70 million sweet sorghum-to-ethanol plant with a 20 million-gallon capacity in Venus.

 

As for financing, the credit crunch could actually help ethanol plants attract dollars from investors looking for a place to put their money where they can expect an upside, Donovan said.

 

Krohn is more pessimistic. He believes tight credit markets will hurt the renewable fuel industry, as most companies need to obtain a certain level of debt financing. “It could either eliminate projects or slow projects down significantly,” Krohn said.

 

Ray Coniglio, president of Global Renewable Energy in Sebastian, which has grown three different sorghum crops, said the company is applying for a federal grant while lining up investors and farmers.

 

“It may be difficult finding all the investors we need, but we are prepared for that,” Coniglio said. “Florida has a mandate of 10 percent ethanol by 2010. If we don’t produce it here, we will have to import it. It is a very good opportunity.”

 

Other companies looking to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum include Southeast Renewable Fuels LLC in Fort Lauderdale and DeGrande Biofuels Corp. in Altamonte Springs.

 

Los Angeles-based New Planet Energy LLC, which has an office in Vero Beach, plans to use it as part of the feedstock mix for a plant planned there.

 

And at Destiny, the futuristic city to be developed near Yeehaw Junction, sweet sorghum is being planted in test plots.

 

“We have enough information to suggest that with fuel prices what they are now, it should be economical,” Helsel said. “It’s something we can do right now until we get other technologies like hydrogen and fuel cells.”

 

Why sweet sorghum?

Sweet sorghum is being pursued as a feedstock for half of the dozen or so ethanol plants planned by Florida companies. The crop, a cousin of sugar cane, is favored for its high sugar content. No ethanol is produced from sweet sorghum in the U.S., but almost 2 million gallons of sweet sorghum syrup are produced each year.

 

Pluses:

·                     Sweet sorghum takes less water and fertilizer to grow than corn or sugar cane.

·                     It can be planted in rotation with vegetables.

·                     It can be grown on marginal soils not suited for food crops.

·                     It can be grown in three to four months, compared with 13 to 14 months for sugar cane.

·                     It isn’t publicly traded.

·                     It produces eight energy units for every energy unit invested in its cultivation and production, about the same as sugar cane. Corn produces 1.25 energy units for each energy unit invested.

·                     Its sugar can be converted to ethanol using existing technology.

 

Minuses:

·                     It can’t be stored and must be used within 24 hours after harvest or half its sugar content is lost.

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan and Mr. Michael J. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

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Field-to-Pump

Posted on September 17, 2008. Filed under: Blender's Tax Credit, Field-to-Pump | Tags: , , , , , , |

Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation

__________________

 

Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative Benefits Consumers,

Farmers and Gas Station Owners with Localized “Field-to-Pump” Strategy

 

 

 

Baton Rouge, LA (September 17, 2008) – Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry.  Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

 

Field-to-Pump Strategy

The legislature found that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires implementation of the following comprehensive “field-to-pump” strategy developed by Renergie, Inc.:

 

(1) Feedstock Other Than Corn

(a) derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops;

(b) capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons of ethanol per acre;

(c) requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn;

(d) tolerant to high temperature and waterlogging;

(e) resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils;

(f) capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand;

(g) requiring no more than one-third of the nitrogen required to grow corn, thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the waters of the state; and

(h) requiring no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.

 

(2) Decentralized Network of Small Advanced Biofuel Manufacturing Facilities

Smaller is better.  The distributed nature of a small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility network reduces feedstock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies and provides for broader based economic development.  Each advanced biofuel manufacturing facility operating in Louisiana will produce no less than 5 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year and no more than 15 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year.

 

(3) Market Expansion

Advanced biofuel supply and demand shall be expanded beyond the 10% blend market by blending fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump.  Variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, shall offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30 and E85. 

 

Pilot Programs

(1) Advanced Biofuel Variable Blending Pumps – The blending of fuels with advanced biofuel percentages between 10 percent and 85 percent will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the equipment used to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement.

 

(2) Hydrous Ethanol – The use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012.  During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions.  Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Act No. 382, entitled “The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative,” was co-authored by 27 members of the Legislature.  The original bill was drafted by Renergie, Inc.   Representative Jonathan W. Perry (R – District 47), with the support of Senator Nick Gautreaux (D – District 26), was the primary author of the bill.  Reflecting on the signing of Act No. 382 into law, Brian J. Donovan, CEO of Renergie, Inc. said, “I am pleased that the legislature and governor of the great State of Louisiana have chosen to lead the nation in moving ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  The two pilot programs, providing for an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial, established by the State of Louisiana should be adopted by each and every state in our country.”

 

State Agencies Must Purchase or Lease Vehicles That Use Alternative Fuels

Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative further states, “The commissioner of administration shall not purchase or lease any motor vehicle for use by any state agency unless that vehicle is capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel that results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, or particulates or any combination thereof that meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards.”

 

Advanced Biofuel Price Preference for State Agencies

Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative provides that a governmental body, state educational institution, or instrumentality of the state that performs essential governmental functions on a statewide or local basis is entitled to purchase E20, E30 or E85 advanced biofuel at a price equal to fifteen percent (15%) less per gallon than the price of unleaded gasoline for use in any motor vehicle. 

 

Economic Benefits

The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing:

(1) increased value to the feedstock crops which will benefit local farmers and provide more revenue to the local community;

(2) increased investments in plants and equipment which will stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed;

(3) secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant co-products becoming available at a competitive price; and

(4) increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations will stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region.

 

“Representative Perry and Senator Gautreaux have worked tirelessly to craft comprehensive advanced biofuel legislation which will maximize rural development, benefit consumers, farmers and gas station owners while also protecting the environment and reducing the burden on local water supplies,” said Donovan.  “Representative Perry, Senator Gautreaux, and Dr. Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, should be praised for their leadership on this issue.”

 

About Renergie

Renergie was formed on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally.  On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice.  On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

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Renergie to Test Hydrous Ethanol Blends

Posted on July 28, 2008. Filed under: Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , , , |

As provided for in Act No. 382, the use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis in the State of Louisiana until January 1, 2012.  During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions.  Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The following is an excerpt from an article by Troels Johansen that appeared in the July, 2007 issue of the Technical University of Denmark’s IC Engine Group newsletter.

 

The water tolerance of bioethanol fuel blends is being studied as part of a Bachelor thesis concerning specifications of fuel blends with a high ethanol content.

 

This spring, the first flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) will be available for car buyers in Denmark – the Ford Focus Flexifuel. Together with the governments’ newfound enthusiasm for biofuels, this seems to mark the beginning of a more environmentally friendly transport sector in Denmark. For biofuels to be commercially viable outside a small “green” segment of the population they have to be competitive both with regard to price, availability and performance.

 

In the case of USA and Sweden, these three factors have been incorporated through a common concept for introducing biofuels in general and bioethanol in particular. This entails:

• a certain lowering of taxes on biofuels, thereby reducing prices.

• adding a lesser amount of gasoline (15-25%) to the bioethanol to alleviate cold start difficulties which can be a problem in northern climates. This is known as the ‘E85’ blend.

• the ‘Flex Fuel’ option. This means that cars that can run on E85 can also run on gasoline and any mixture of the two. This effectively solves the availability issue, since a ‘northern hemisphere’-FFV will be able to refuel almost anywhere in the world, also where biofuels are not available.

 

In Brazil (where the market for FFVs is huge) a FFV is something quite different.  A Brazilian FFV is not designed to run on straight gasoline, but on either E100 (‘hydrous’ ethanol consisting of 93% ethanol and 7% water), E22 (22% Ethanol, 78% gasoline, 0% water) or any mixture of these two.  In theory this restricts the ‘southern hemisphere’-FFVs to areas where fuels with less than 78% gasoline are available (still primarily South America). The up side is that the production cost of the E100-fuel is much lower than for northern hemisphere E85.  The reason for this (and many of the other commercial choices concerning bioethanol) is the water content.

 

The production of bioethanol is in the main a question of removing water from the 11% ethanol/89% water-blend that fermentation produces. This is achieved through distillation up to the point where the blend is about 95% ethanol, and a so-called dehydration from that point up. The energy cost of removing one unit of water from the blend is at a constant low value up until about 80% ethanol in the blend, where it starts to increase quite sharply. If an ethanol purity of more than 95.6% (the azeotrope concentration) is required, the producer not only has to field these larger energy expenses but also needs to invest in separate dehydration equipment.  Clearly there is an economic incentive for using less than pure ethanol as a fuel and in fuel blends, as has been done in Brazil since the seventies.  The Brazilian experience shows that the presence of small (<10%) amounts of water in the fuel does not in itself cause a greater tendency to misfire in SI-engines than a proportionate leaning of the fuel/air mixture would do, provided that the vapor pressure of the hydrated ethanol at the ambient temperature is high enough. Experiments have even shown that the evaporation of the water in the intake manifold acts as a charge air cooling, which improves the volumetric efficiency and thereby the overall efficiency of the engine.  One of the most obvious downsides is, of course, that the heating value of water is zero and as such water is simply dead weight in the fuel tank. This clearly means that a car running on water-free (anhydrous) ethanol will still (even with the better volumetric efficiency) have a higher mileage per liter than one running on hydrous ethanol.  If the cost of the hydrous ethanol is sufficiently lower, it may, however, still provide a lower cost per mile travelled, that is if the percentile monetary saving of one liter hydrous ethanol vs. anhydrous is greater than the percentile reduction in heating value of one liter.

 

As mentioned above, the current ‘northern hemisphere’-FFVs are not designed to use either hydrous or anhydrous ethanol by itself, but rely on a measure of gasoline to alleviate cold start problems.  The higher vapor pressure of the gasoline (60-90 kPa vs. about 17 for ethanol) ensures that enough fuel (primarily the gasoline) will be vaporized in the injection process for the engine to start on, even when cold. However, the presence of gasoline in the fuel blend puts severe limits on how much water can be in the blend without phase separation occurring, that is the blend separating into two distinct liquid phases: an upper gasoline/ethanol phase and a lower water/ethanol phase. Because of the molecular dissimilarity of water and gasoline, these two are immiscible above a very few ppm. When adding ethanol as a third component, however, significantly more gasoline and water can coexist in the same blend, the ethanol effectively acting as a mediator between the two.  When using ethanol in blends with more than 90% gasoline, such as the ‘Bio 95’ offered by Statoil in Denmark, the ethanol volume is too small to significantly improve the water tolerance, and the ethanol produced for this purpose is therefore almost anhydrous. In fuel blends with a high ethanol content, however, this requirement should in theory be less strict, though few experimental data are available to substantiate exactly what the tolerances are of E85-type blends.

 

From a Danish perspective, the best experimental results that are available (produced in Brazil in 1993) have two different shortcomings.  Firstly, it does not supply data for temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius.  Since the miscibility of liquids depends heavily on the ambient temperature, though not in a strictly linear way, it is unknown what the water tolerances would be at the lowest Danish winter temperatures (-20 degrees Celsius during the night not being rare). Secondly, the exact composition of the gasoline used in these experiments is sure to have been different from the gasoline available in Denmark today, gasoline specifications not being uniform across time and borders.  As an example the upper limit of content of aromatics in gasoline was in 2005 lowered from 42 vol% to 35 vol%, something which in itself could have a relevance for the subject at hand, since studies have concluded that the content of aromatics are proportional with the water tolerance of gasoline.

 

As a part of the Bachelor thesis project, experiments have been performed to evaluate the water tolerances of ethanol/gasoline/water blends with a high content of ethanol (60-90%) at 0 and – 23 degrees Celsius, these being estimates of the lowest temperatures during the summer and winter half-year, respectively.  

 

Even though the long term stability of the fuel blends have not been fully tested yet, the test data strongly indicates that the ethanol used in E85-type fuel blends could be significantly less pure, and therefore cheaper, than the ethanol used now for these purposes (the overall vol% of water currently not being above 0.5% in E85).

 

 

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan and Mr. Michael J. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

 

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    Renergie created “field-to-pump," a unique strategy to locally produce and market advanced biofuel (“non-corn fuel ethanol”) via a network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities. The purpose of “field-to-pump” is to maximize rural development and job creation while minimizing feedstock supply risk and the burden on local water supplies.

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