Students Interested in Ethanol

Original article from Domestic Fuel.

The 2014 National Ethanol Conference scholarship winners are three totally different young men who all share the common interest of ethanol.

Gavin Kenney is a farm boy from Nebraska who is about to graduate from the University of Nebraska with a major in agricultural economics and minors in agronomy and entrepreneurship. He grew up around the ethanol industry and is the brother of a previous scholarship recipient. Tyler will be going to work for Producers Hybrids when he graduates in May. “A conference like this gives me a good opportunity to network and talk to people,” he said.

Aaron Walsh gained industry attention when he drove all the way from Michigan on his own dime to testify at the EPA hearing in December on the RFS proposal. A self-described “activist” who is devoted to using E85 in his flex fuel vehicle, even when it is inconvenient, Aaron got a job at a local ethanol plant as a result of that testimony. “Both my fuel and my car are made less than an hour from where I live,” he says proudly.

Tyler Machado was born in Mexico, grew up in North Carolina and is currently attending San Francisco State University studying Environmental Studies and Spanish. His interest in renewable fuels began when he converted a 1981 Mercedes 300D to run on vegetable oil and he plans to travel to South America this summer to learn about renewable fuel projects and sustainable energy methods.

This is the fifth consecutive year Renewable Fuels Foundation has funded the scholarship to attend the NEC has been available to students in higher education with a focus on renewable fuels and intending to pursue a career in the industry.

Soapbox: Ethanol Reduces Emissions, Reduces Costs

Original article published in the Coloradoan.

A recent letter about ethanol included a variety of factual errors. In an effort to present readers with factual information, I offer the following:

First and foremost, ethanol does not receive federal subsidies. The oil and gas industry receives nearly $17 billion per year in subsidies, which flow from direct and indirect tax preferences embedded in the federal tax code.

Second, the ethanol production process is energy efficient. Each year, the technology used to process ethanol and the various feed stocks from which it is produced becomes more efficient through ongoing investment in technology. Innovative processes continue to yield ethanol and other biofuels that are increasingly lower in terms of greenhouse gas production and energy efficiency. Peer-reviewed studies by Argonne National Laboratories and the U.S. Department of Agriculture document that 1 unit of fossil energy invested in ethanol production yields 1.67 units or more of energy. Oil refining and the use of components from refined oil continue to have an adverse impact on human health and the environment including greenhouse gas impacts.

One area, not mentioned by the author of the letter, but should be of high interest and great concern to citizens living at the base of the Front Range is the impacts on air pollution of gasoline vs. gasoline blended with ethanol. In 1990, many areas of the Front Range were among the most polluted area of the U.S. in terms of carbon monoxide pollution. Emissions from vehicles fueled with petroleum were the primary source of this pollution, which caused enormous ill health among children and others suffering from respiratory ailments, according to local medical professionals. Ethanol was the oxygenated fuel additive that efficiently and effectively helped reduce CO levels throughout the Front Range.

Using ethanol as a component of gasoline helps to reduce direct CO2 emissions by 34 percent to 59 percent, given today’s technology. Peer-reviewed, published research shows corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 48 percent to 59 percent when compared directly to gasoline. Ethanol continues to play an important role in assisting Front Range cities in pollution abatement efforts.

Ethanol is one of the most efficient and cost-effective blend stocks used in gasoline. Ethanol helps to reduce the greenhouse gas impact of gasoline. Ethanol is the additive of choice in areas of the world where low carbon fuel standards dictate gasoline composition. Ethanol does more than lower GHG emissions. Ethanol provides consumers with more fuel choices and reduces the cost of fuels into which it is blended.

Jim Hendrix is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nebraska’s Responds with more than 5,000 Letters to EPA

Original story produced by 10/11 News.

Thousands of Nebraska farmers are trying to prevent a $1.2 billion economic loss in the state.

More than 5,000 farmers sent letters to the Nebraska Corn Board opposing a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA wants to significantly reduce corn ethanol production which the Corn Board said would increase gas prices and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Board’s Executive Director said this is the largest response from farmers he’s ever seen. “It’s a tremendous response. It tells us that farmers are very aware of this issue, it’s very personal to them, and it comes at a time when corn prices are at or below the cost of production,” said Don Hutchens.

The letters will go directly to the EPA. The Corn Board also said reducing corn ethanol could put thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

State Fair Board Gets Update on Nebraska Agriculture Experience

Original story produced by 10/11 News.

Members of the Nebraska State Fair Board got a glimpse of an exciting new agricultural literacy experience that will debut at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair.

During its meeting today in Grand Island, the board saw preliminary concept drawings for a 25,000 square foot exhibit called “The Nebraska Agriculture Experience” that will be housed in the new Nebraska Building currently under construction on the fairgrounds.

The Nebraska Agriculture Experience is a collaborative effort between the Nebraska State Fair, which is providing the building; the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the state’s commodity groups; and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), which is developing and managing the 25,000 square foot educational display area.

“The focus of this experience is providing visitors with an innovative, interactive view of where Nebraska agriculture is today and where it’s headed,” said Dr. Chuck Hibberd, dean of extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “This will be a comprehensive look at food production in the state—and how Nebraska is positioned for global leadership in feeding the world.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension is taking a lead role on the project in terms of content development, educational delivery and overall concept and design.

While the experience opens during the 2014 State Fair, it will be open year-round. IANR has committed to funding a full-time extension educator to manage the area and coordinate visits from school groups, trade teams, and other visitors throughout the year. Through the use of technology, several components of the experience will be available worldwide—allowing Nebraska agriculture to tell its story outside the walls of the building, Hibberd added.

Key areas of focus will include water management, technology and innovation, animal agriculture, the new bioeconomy, crop production, environmental stewardship, the economic impact of agriculture in Nebraska and consumer-focused information about food production and food safety.

“The emphasis will be on interactive experiences that focus on helping consumers better understand and appreciate the scope and impact of Nebraska agriculture—and how farmers and ranchers are responsibly producing the food, feed, fuel and fiber for a growing global population,” Hibberd said. “We intend for this experience to talk about what consumers what to know about farming, ranching and food production.”

A fundraising goal of $5 million has been set for the project, with just over $1 million of that total targeted to an endowment to cover ongoing maintenance, utilities and other costs. Several contributions or pledges have been received from a number of groups including the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Wheat Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, and the Nebraska Soybean Board.

In addition to the Nebraska Agriculture Experience, the new Nebraska Building will also house the Nebraska State Fair offices and educational displays and exhibits from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

Patriot’s Dave Gerhart Offers Tips to Improve Efficiency

By: Joanna Schroeder

When you want to learn about ethanol, you go to an industry veteran and I did just that when I spoke with Patriot Renewable Fuels Plant Manager Dave Gerhart who began his career in the early 1980s at what is now known as Nebraska-based Chief Ethanol Fuels. At the time, they were the largest dry mill ethanol plant in the United States. Back then corn was less than $2 a bushel so the ethanol plant was something the local community supported to help the local farmer.

From there, Gerhart changed gears slightly and joined the ICM team where he worked on their first 5 design and build ethanol plants. This was in the early 2000s before the major industry boom. Next, he was a plant manager at Kaapa Ethanol and today he has brought his 30 years of experience to Patriot to help them grow.

One of Gerhart’s areas of expertise is his ability to identify things in the plant that can be modified to help improve efficiency – a key factor in increasing profitability. I asked him for those that are newbies to the industry, some areas plant managers can’t look at to increase efficiency.

“One you would look at your energy balance and see where you could actually put variable frequency drives rather than an automatic control valve. So that would reduce electricity,” explained Gerhart. “If you can reduce water usage, this helps you out in the energy balance as well. There is different trains of thoughts on fermentation and what you can do there. Sometimes people take the path of least resistance and in doing so they short circuit the energy efficiency they can actually get out of there plant.”

I asked Gerhart what he would really like consumers to know about biofuels. “Hopefully they all realize that ethanol is probably the cleanest thing they can put into your gas tank,” said Gerhart. “Gasoline is not. Alcohol is very safe. It’s homegrown. It’s renewable. It’s not something that we have to go foreign to get.”

I also asked him why consumers needed to care about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). They need to care because ethanol has such an impact on middle America,” said Gerhart. “We’ve done so much to build up the farm incomes and the trucking industry and the fuel distribution. So every plant no matter where it’s at has an economic impact, at a minimum of 70 miles around it.”

Gerhart added, “This needs to stay.”

Read the original article here.

The Advancement of Ethanol in Nebraska