News and information about Biodiesel & alternative fuels.


Diesel Vehicles

From a San Francisco/biodiesel mailing list comes a few interesting articles

More FUD

A friend recently sent a link to this AlterNet piece about biofuels, "Biofuels are an Environmental Dead End"


New Biodiesel Blog

My friend Rob just launched a new weblog about biodiesel, Awake at the Wheel, and it appears to be getting a lot more attention than this one. ;)

In other news, my friends Ryanne and Jay recently interviewed me about biodiesel on their videoblog:

(.mov link)


Nevada Biodiesel Plant

The folks at Infinifuel just announced their Nevada biodiesel plant, which is unique in that it incorporates geothermal energy into the production process:
"The facility is home to the first geothermal power plant in Nevada. There are two production geothermal wells and seven power production units providing over 5 MW of electrical energy. In addition, the 220 degree steam will be used in the production of biodiesel on site."
Here's the location on Google Maps.

Radio piece: Biodiesel for truckers

Here's a Living on Earth audio spot (including a transcript) about truckers and biodiesel; snippet:
"I didn't know a whole lot about it as far as biodiesel but the truckers say you get better mileage, the exhaust is not hurting your eyes or anything else. It's beautiful stuff. And so the truckers convinced me and, you know, that's who's gonna put it on the map anyway."

"Many truckers feel a tie to farmers because they transport agricultural products. And so far, biodiesel is not allowed to travel by pipeline. Instead, it's hauled by rail or tanker truck, so it's a source of work for truckers, too. The National Biodiesel Board ranks trucker outreach as one of its top priorities."
[via the SF Biofuel Y! Group]

NPR on Biodiesel

There's a great NPR/Kitchen Sisters piece from a few months back about biodiesel - they chat with the folks behind BioWillie, and about Carl's Corner TX, where it was first sold:
"Carl's Corner, Texas, is a truck stop between Dallas and Waco, Texas, where a little revolution has begun. Where truckers fill up on American fuel made from farm crops. BioWillie, they call it, because Willie Nelson is the driving force behind this biodiesel vision. His tour bus runs on it, (so do Bonnie Raitt's and Neil Young's) and a brigade of 18-wheelers barreling down the nation's highways; a growing fleet of semis whose exhaust smells like French fries."

With its dancing frogs on top of the truck-stop sign, Carl's is a well-known landmark for motorists who travel Interstate 35 outside of Dallas. Owner Carl Cornelius bought the land in 1979 and incorporated the town in 1986 so he could sell alcohol in an otherwise dry part of Hill County. He's been mayor ever since."


Philippines: BioActiv

Bioactiv appears to be a biodiesel-related fuel additive sold in the Philippines, interestingly promoted as a 1-5% blending agent:
  • First time Engine System Clean-up (20% blend or 4:1 ratio): A higher blend ratio will quickly dissolve gum and carbon deposits in the combustion chamber and in declogging fuel injection nozzles. A 20% blend will act like a liquid overhaul.
  • Quarterly Engine Maintenance (5% blend or 20:1 ratio): Quarterly treatment of the engine with a 5% blend to declog and lubricate the fuel system for proper engine care and maintenance.
  • Regular Operational Use (1%-2% Blend or 100:1/50:1 ratio): A 1%-2% blend in diesel fuel will minimize smoke emission, generate more mileage, and reduce maintenance cost.


Ohio Biodiesel

Looks like there's finally some consumer/commercially-available biodiesel for sale in Ohio (my home state)!
"The proximity to Interstate 71 at exit 151 just east of Mount Gilead Ohio makes it an ideal stop for many who find the other renewable fuel filling stations inconvenient. I personally appreciated the pay at the pump credit card option as it makes the stop quick … besides, it is just a few yards west of the interstate exit — truly a no-hassle ‘pit stop.’ If you have a flex-fuel vehicle, or drive a diesel, be sure to support Ohio farmers growing clean fuel made in America."

Gaiam Biodiesel Processors

This weekend I've been getting caught up on some biodieselblog-related emails, and came across one mentioning Gaiam's Biofuel section:


Business 2.0 on biodiesel

Saw an article in a recent issue of Business 2.0 about soy-based biodiesel in Argentina, here's a snippet:

"The first significant player in this market just emerged: Imperium Renewables, a Seattle startup, will soon begin building a biodiesel refinery in Argentina that CEO Martin Tobias says will produce 100 million gallons of fuel per year. That, for comparison's sake, is more than the entire U.S. output in 2005."

"While the VC-backed plant will cost about $50 million to build and takes 50 people to operate, clean-tech experts consider the Argentine biodiesel market wide open to smaller players. In fact, newer off-the-shelf technology that's currently being commercialized will lower plant construction costs to about $3 million, a far more digestible sum for angel investors."


There *is* a diesel/electric hybrid

Just saw a Tech Talk at work about diesels and plugin-hybrids by UC Davis' Reed Benet. One factoid I learned is that there is, apparently, a diesel/electric hybrid in the works after all:
I'd rather buy a VW TDI/hybrid though...


SeQuential Biofuel Station, Eugene, Oregon

David Metz kindly sent a link to his blog post (including photos!) about the SeQuential Biofuel Station in Eugene, Oregon.

TreeHugger has more info: E10, E85, B5, B20 and B100 blends at the pump, plus:
"The fuel station also includes a convenience store that carries top-shelf natural foods and beverages, many of which are produced by regional companies. The store also houses an annex of Sweet Life Patisserie, an established local coffee and pastry shop renowned for its premium coffees, baked goods and savories, complete with wireless internet and an inviting seating area. Local farmers will stock a seasonal fresh produce stand also located at the station."


NYTimes: Biofuels Comes of Age

Great New York Times piece on biofuels, I loved seeing this part:

About 76 commercial biodiesel plants are in production today, up from 22 in 2004. The average business operates one plant that yields 30 million gallons a year of fuel and costs up to $20 million to build. Some companies are planning refineries capable of brewing up to 100 million gallons a year.

Nationwide production of the fuel tripled last year over 2004 to 75 million gallons. The board estimates that production will double this year, but Mr. Jobe estimates that the number could reach as much as, if not more, than 250 million gallons by year’s end.


Italian Grapes and Ethanol

This month's Wired has an interesting article about how they're starting to make wine-based ethanol in Italy:
"...grape skins, like all plant matter, contain carbohydrates that can be broken down into sugar and fermented. And enough ethyl alcohol can be distilled from the skins to make a decent source of biofuel or gas additive. After the annual pressing, Caviro alone procures 100,000 tons of marc from vineyards and farms across Italy."


Santa Cruz - Biodiesel at the Pump

Residents of Santa Cruz looking for an alternative vehicle fuel now have a local source. A USA gas station is the first in the city to offer biodiesel to its customers.

The station is selling the fuel for $3.15 a gallon.

I just filled up there yesterday for $3.21/gallon, will post a photo soon. This is such excellent news!


New Biodiesel Rebate Program

Press release from CaseStack about their new Biodiesel Rebate program:
"The Green Rebate Program, which begins July 1 and ends September 1, 2006, offers a rebate of 10 cents per gallon, up to $50.00 for the truck drivers... Companies can also participate by taking part in the Green Consolidation Program where they can contribute seamlessly to the environment without making drastic changes to their operations. CaseStack will identify all participating companies as Green Partners and include them in all recognition marketing such as national and regional targeted advertising campaigns, PR announcements and viral marketing. The Green Consolidation Program is the first of many goodwill programs CaseStack plans on implementing over the years."

San Francisco Biodiesel Progress

Check out the meeting notes from a recent SF Department of the Environment meeting about biodiesel - they're hoping to eventually get a few biodiesel filling stations going in the City!


Pretty Graphs (and lots more)

TreeHugger links to a massive report on biofuels from the Worldwatch Institute, check it out.


Reality Check?

Just came across on a mailing list, sigh - lots of FUD there.



Ev just linked to a new Green blog, which had two diesel-related tidbits on its front page when I skimmed it yesterday:
Honda to sell Diesels in US: "By 2009, Honda plans on selling diesels in the U.S. along with it’s hybrids as part of it’s core environmental strategy. The first diesel will most likely be the CR-V sport utility vehicle."

Chrysler to offer Diesel SUV next year: "Look for a diesel version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee early next year at a Chrysler dealer near you. The new Jeep will be powered by a turbo diesel engine supplied by Mercedes-Benz. The 3.0-liter diesel engine will be up to 30% more fuel efficient then the current gasoline models (that equates to about 5 mpg better)."


Wired on Biodiesel

The latest issue of Wired briefly mentions biodiesel:
"Saving the planet can be a real pain in the butt. Just ask Peter Bethune, who's powering his speedboat with biodiesel made of fat from his backside. In May, the 41-year-old New Zealander embarks on a voyage to promote the use of renewable fuels and to break the record for circumnavigating the globe. (Bethune hopes to finish in 65 days - 10 days faster than the current speedboat record.) His eco-friendly vessel, Earthrace, is a wave-piercing 78-foot trimaran capable of hitting 45 knots (58 mph). Of course, nobody's butt is big enough to sustain a 27,600-mile journey. Bethune's contribution amounts to only a liter of fuel; the rest comes from vegetable oils and other animal fats. Besides, liposuction hurts. 'I was bruised all over,' he says. 'It was a personal sacrifice.'
The numbers at the end of the piece are a bit FUD-y though:
Fuel by the numbers
  • Gallons of biodiesel that can be made from one acre of soybeans: 50
  • Arable acres in the US: 427 million
  • Gallons of gasoline used by the average American driver in a year: 464
  • Drivers in the US: 198 million
  • Arable acres needed to make enough biodiesel for all of them: 1.8 billion
Only a small percentage (3% according to the San Diego Union Tribune) of cars on the road in the US are diesel-powered...


Clean Car Maps

Clean Car Maps provides fueling station info for all sorts of alt fuels - electric inductive and conductive, CNG, LNG, Ethanol, Methanol and Hydrogen - but for some reason biodiesel isn't there...

New Biodiesel Reactor

Just saw this on Slashdot:
"A professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University developed a small reactor to directly convert vegetable oil to biodiesel. Goran Jovanovic reports his invention is approximately the size of a credit card. It pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through parallel channels to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly. Current mainstream methods to produce biodiesel take more than a day and also produces other byproducts which must be neutralized before disposal or use in other manufacturing processes."
The Forbes piece says this new process doesn't even require a catalyst...


Faster Biodiesel

TreeHugger reports on a new process for speeing up the biodiesel-making process:
Goran Jovanovic, professor of chemical engineering at OSU, serves as lead investigator in the research. Jovanovic keeps a design prototype in a sandwich bag in his office. It's a plastic plate with 30 microreactor channels running parallel to each other, each about the width of a human hair. The entire plate can easily fit in the palm of a hand.

At one end of the plate are two indents. Jovanovic fills one with alcohol and the other with oil. They flow down the channels, reacting and producing glycerol — a common ingredient in soap and biodiesel.

He noted that microtechnology produces biodiesel about 100 times faster than the classical method. Another benefit is the small size of the plates, which makes the microreactors discrete and deployable.

Via: Corvallis Gazette-Times


New Propel Fuels site

Rob from Propel Biofuels just wrote to let me know they've relaunched their site, check it out:


Cold Weather Tips

A member of the SF Biofuel Co-op recently posted this to our mailing list, I'm re-printing it with his permission:
"The fuel we are currently using should not gel until it reaches about 15 degrees, plug filters at 20 and it should start clouding around 35 to 40. Cloudy fuel should pass normally through filters & into the injectors. That being said, I have a sample here that is not cloudy yet. You should notice a slightly rougher start if you get the engine when cold. Diesels are certainly cranky when cold. Just be sure to let it idle briefly (1-2 min) before reving it and getting on the freeway. This will make sure there is a chance for the oil to thin and get pumped around the valves. If the cold starting is significantly harder than normal, then splash some diesel in it. Diesel has the same properties as biodiesel just about twenty degrees colder. Also don't forget the glow plugs, perhaps even run them twice and happy driving."


Diesel/Hybrid Buses in London

TreeHugger has the lowdown:
"Only time will tell if London commuters will share my enthusiasm as Transport for London unleashes 6 diesel/electric hybrid busses as an experiment in clean people-moving. The 6 Wrightbus Electrocity series busses will run the loop between Elephant/Castle and Royal Albert Hall."


MSNBC: BioWillie

California gets a whiff of BioWillie - Celebrity News - "BioWillie went on sale Wednesday at an alternative fuel station in San Diego where the 72-year-old singer filled his tour bus from a pump emblazoned with a picture of himself strumming a guitar."


More on San Francisco Biodiesel

The SF Biofuels Coop "MUNI Commitee" launched their web site:

They're campaigning to get MUNI to run all its diesel buses on b20 biodiesel.


Treehugger: This Week in Biodiesel

Treehugger has a nice roundup on some recent biodiesel appearances in the mainstream media, including this factoid:
"The National Biodiesel Board estimates that 2005 saw the production of 75 million gallons in the US, triple the amount of the year before, and factories continue to spring up around the country and the world."