US biomass-based diesel imports break new record in 2016, EIA states

March 22, 2017 - US imports of biomass-based diesel, which include biodiesel and renewable diesel, increased by 65% in 2016 to reach a record level of 916 million gallons, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Increasing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets and the recently expired biodiesel blender’s tax credit were strong drivers of biomass-based diesel demand in 2016, incentivising increased levels of imports of both biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Diamond Green Diesel to expand renewable fuel capacity using Ecofining technology from Honeywell

March 20, 2017 - Petrochemical specialist Honeywell UOP announced that the Diamond Green Diesel facility in Norco, Louisiana, US, will expand its annual production capacity of renewable diesel from 10,000 barrels per day to 18,000 bpd, using Honeywell UOP’s Ecofining process technology.

Diamond Green Diesel, which is owned by Valero Energy Corp. and Darling Ingredients., is the largest commercial advanced biofuel facility in the US, according to Honeywell. The company plans to complete the expansion in the second quarter of 2018.

“The expansion of the Diamond Green Diesel facility is a testament to the viability and growth potential of renewable fuels,” said Dave Cepla, senior director of Honeywell UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business.

Big Bird, You’re Fired! And all of you enviros, too! Trump thumps, dumps in new budget

Good-bye ARPA-E, DOE, Loan Guarantee program, Energy Star, OPIC, USTDA, NEA, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Even Big Bird gets the guillotine.

In Washington, the White House released its budget requests for 2018, a high-level, 62-page overview of President Trump’s strategy for “Making America Great Again”.

Branstad shoots down rumored anti-ethanol backroom deal

March 6, 2017 - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said Monday he is aware of reports of a backroom deal in the Washington, D.C., that would hurt Iowa's renewable fuels industry, but has been assured President Donald Trump's administration will support producers of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Hedge funds wrong-footed in ags by Trump biofuels shake-up talk

...the selling came ahead of a firm finish to the week for agricultural commodities, spurred largely by talk that Mr Trump was to introduce US biofuels reforms likely to spur demand for both ethanol, processed largely from corn, and biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oils such as soyoil.

Beating Nature at Its Own Game

The sun was out in full force the fall morning I arrived at Caltech to visit Professor Nate Lewis’s research laboratory. Temperatures in southern California had soared to 20 degrees above normal, prompting the National Weather Service to issue warnings for extreme fire danger and heat-related illnesses.

The weather was a fitting introduction to what I had come to see inside Nate’s lab—how we might be able to tap the sun’s tremendous energy to make fuels to power cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes.

California Is Smiling On Renewable Diesel HPR Fuel

California, the world’s seventh-largest economy, de facto air quality rulemaking body inciting automakers to make electric cars just for it is smiling on a fuel called Diesel HPR.

Not to be confused with biodiesel which Propel also sells, Diesel HPR is the first highly concentrated North American offering of a Finnish-originated product called NExBTL.

The non-petroleum-derived fuel works in all modern diesel engines, works better in fact, and is cost competitive within the span of higher-priced biodiesel and lower-priced regular ultra low sulfur diesel.

SynSel Energy, Inc. Executes Advisor Agreement with the Peakstone Group to Fund Good Faith Accounts

March 1, 2017 - SynSel Energy, Inc. has announced that they have executed an Advisor Agreement with the Peakstone Group to source Good Faith Account (GFA) funding.  The Advisor Agreement matches the scope of the executed Term Sheet and Commitment Letter that SynSel received from a private lender on February 1, 2017 to fund SynSel’s 2 initial US biorefineries.  One plant will be in Ontonagon, Michigan and one plant in Lumberton, Mississippi. A $75M GFA is required for each $300M plant. The $300M loans close 60 days after the GFA is established. SynSel CEO Tim Tawoda stated “Peakstone understands that the private lender has voiced an interest in funding multiple SynSel plants across the US, and they intend to ride the wave of this historic and transformational syn-fuel initiative." 

The GFA is brilliant in that a funded GFA validates SynSel’s business proposition to the private lender and isolates the GFA owner from all developer, technology, commodity and incentive risk. It is extremely challenging to fund a first-of-kind biofuels plant since the $300M private lender is taking on all the risk. In the end, SynSel’s private lender reconciled the upside as a partner splitting profits. The private lender weighed the SynSel’s business model, world-class stakeholder team and, Impact Investing benefits with the perceived risks – and they are totally committed. They have the financial capabilities to fund all 100 plants – SynSel’s target in the USA over 8 years.

SynSel's CEO, Tim Tawoda further stated, "SynSel is excited to have a financial advisor as prestigious as the Peakstone Group out in the market place to establish GFA sponsors. I know of no other tool than the GFA that has the ability to open up Impact Investing on scale to pension funds, endowments, debt lenders and private equity while isolating the GFA owner from all risks."

Waste to fuels viability: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Velocys economics

February 7, 2017 - Velocys enables modular gas-to-liquids and biomass-to-liquids plants to convert unconventional, remote and problem gas and waste biomass into valuable, drop-in liquid fuels.

After 15 years and some $300 million in investment, Velocys technology is headed for scale.The ENVIA project is now producing fuels in Oklahoma, and the Red Rock project in Oregon will be up next.

This presentation from Neville Hargreaves is fascinating — it’s got the low-down on the numbers.

NOTE: Velocys CAPEX is $250M to produce 45,000 gallons per day.  This is basically the same CAPEX as SynSel with 50% less production.

EPA denies oil industry request to waive cellulosic biofuel blending for 2016

January 19, 2017 - In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency has written a letter to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers denying the group’s request for a waiver on the cellulosic biofuel-blending mandate for 2016 of 230 million gallons. Though data through November shows that less fuel was produced than mandated in 2016 as the AFPM argues, the EPA said that there was enough roll over stocks of RINs from previous years in addition to the 2016 production to achieve compliance.

UMass Amherst and Genoverde Biosciences Research Could Increase Wood Density by 20%

In Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts Amherst plant geneticist Sam Hazen partnered with Genoverde Biosciences, Inc. to test the commercial viability of Hazen’s gene trait approach to bioengineering loblolly pine for high wood density by modifying secondary cell wall gene regulation.

World Energy Outlook 2016 sees broad transformations in the global energy landscape

As a result of major transformations in the global energy system that take place over the next decades, renewables and natural gas are the big winners in the race to meet energy demand growth until 2040, according to the latest edition of the World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication.

Energy companies lead indexes higher as oil price soars

U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday as the price of oil made its biggest jump in seven months and energy companies rose with it. Technology stocks like Microsoft and Google's parent Alphabet traded higher and bond yields slipped, a break with the pattern since last week's election.

Some of America’s best fighter jets soar without oil

Some of America’s best fighter jets can soar without using a drop of oil for fuel. The Navy’s EA-18 Growler fighter jet can fly more than 1,100 miles per hour. It costs $68 million to build, and it’s flying on 100 percent bio-fuel, made from things like kitchen grease and plant seeds.

US elections: what Trump’s victory means for the bioeconomy

In Washington, Donald Trump captured the US Presidency in an upset victory that confounded pollsters and political pundits even as it delighted supporters of his maverick candidacy based on themes of immigration and trade reform, coupled with a message that government policies of the past generation had failed for too many Americans.