Louisiana Enacts Law to Create Non-Corn Biofuel Industry; Pilot Programs for Mid-Range Ethanol Blends and Hydrous Ethanol
24 June 2008
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative (HB 1270), an act intended to support the development of a statewide advanced biofuel industry.
Louisiana is now the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program with mid-range blends (blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85) and a pilot program for the use of hydrous ethanol.
Supported feedstock in the program is to be other than corn, derived from Louisiana-harvested crops, and be capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons per acre. The biofuel crop must:
Require no more than one-half of the water required by corn;
Be tolerant to high temperature and waterlogging;
Be resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils;
Be capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand;
Require 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
Require no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.
The law supports a decentralized network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities of between 5-15 million gallons per year.
In a trial program that runs until 1 January 2012, variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, will offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30 and E85 blends of conventional fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol.
The state is also testing the use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected for test purposes until 1 January 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 Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative was drafted by Renergie, Inc. and was co-authored by 27 members of the Legislature. Renergie was formed in March 2006 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.
In February, 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. (Earlier post.) 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.
This is a very good first step. A meaningful second step is for Louisiana to pass a law to phase out corn Ethanol produced within Louisiana.
My argument is that if we do not plan for this transition away from corn Ethanol, then we will be stuck with it. Louisiana is in a good position to be the first state to take this necessary step.
Posted by: Lulu | 24 June 2008 at 01:10 PM
If this was 1980 Jerusalem artichoke would be a candidate.
Posted by: john schreiber | 24 June 2008 at 04:06 PM
It is 2008, and I am in no mood to find out what you mean by that comment, John, so please... tell me in plain English what you think of all of this.
Posted by: The Scoot | 24 June 2008 at 04:16 PM
There are a few crops that will meet these requirements, namely sweet sorghum other C4 grasses. I wonder if there is any work on turning sweet potatoes into biofuel. I've seen some studies done in the 90's that have it beating sugar cane in ethanol production hands down.
Posted by: allen_xl_z | 24 June 2008 at 05:20 PM
This is good news. I hope Bobby Jindal can do great things for Louisiana - they need good progressive leadership in renewable energy. That poor state has had enough problems with crooked government in past years.
Posted by: ejj | 24 June 2008 at 06:52 PM
The problem with biofuels, as I see it, is the same as the problem of solar energy generally. Theoretically we could meet all our electric power needs with solar cells, but practically you have to deploy an awful lot of solar cells all over the place, and this is not easy.
Any green plant, if grown for biofuels, may be looked upon as a solar-energized, naturally occurring, self-reproducing bioreactor. There are trees everywhere in my community, but the problem is: How do you trim branches from all those trees, and then transport said material to processing plants? As with solar cells, you have the problem of solar energy being very diffuse and therefore hard to collect on a large scale.
Nonetheless, although I have never opposed nuclear power and never will, I wish all who are working in the fields of solar cells and biofuels all the best in coming up with solutions to the problems I've touched upon. We need less expensive solar cells so we can afford to deploy them on rooftops, and we need systems to collect weeds and tree branches from here, there and everywhere and transport them to cellulosic ethanol plants.
Posted by: Alex Kovnat | 25 June 2008 at 04:28 AM
Finally, ethanol done right in this country! I like the idea of having the decentralized plants. It solves several problems. There's no need to build ethanol pipelines to connect distant markets. The ethanol could ship to the gas station straight from the distillery. The feedstock wouldn't have to be transported as far to reach a major processing plant. The industry as a whole would be less vulnerable to a hurricane because it would be spread out. And the problem of splash blending and getting the ethanol blends to market is made easier. Very Cool! Maybe we'll see butanol down the road someday. It would be cool to just dial in a custom blend at the pump.
Posted by: troy | 25 June 2008 at 08:06 AM
"The problem with biofuels, as I see it, is the same as the problem of solar energy generally. Theoretically we could meet all our electric power needs with solar cells, but practically you have to deploy an awful lot of solar cells all over the place, and this is not easy."
You'd only need 10,000 square miles of land to get all your electricity from solar. Not that much out of the total avalible. This could be done with a square area of land 100 miles per side in the Nevada desert or just from the area inside your cities because roofs ready cover more area than this.
The amount of land needed should be seen in comparison; All of California's electricity can be produced from 200 square miles of sunshine; 128,000 acres of desert land but Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, covers more than 200 square miles. The dam itself only products 1/10 the power. Solar plants seem to use a lot of land, but in reality, they use less land than hydroelectric dams for generating an equivalent electricity output, if the size of the lake behind the dam is considered. The same is true for coal plants. A solar plant will not use any more land than a coal power plant - if the amount of land required for mining and excavation of the coal is taken into consideration. http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/solarenergy.html
"Any green plant, if grown for biofuels, may be looked upon as a solar-energized, naturally occurring, self-reproducing bioreactor."
But the difference is in efficiency; a green plant converts only 3% of the light it gets into stored energy, and then we have to use even more energy to turn this into a form we can use. Solar cells OTOH, the most efficient silicon solar cells capture about 25 percent of the sun's energy. Multijunction solar cells combine several materials to capture multiple bands of photonic energy. Today's most efficient combination -- germanium, gallium arsenide and gallium indium phosphide -- boosts efficiency to 36 percent and that's just the begining. Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have engineered a single material that contains three bandgaps. The material is capable of capturing more than 50 percent of the sun's energy.
"There are trees everywhere in my community, but the problem is: How do you trim branches from all those trees, and then transport said material to processing plants? As with solar cells, you have the problem of solar energy being very diffuse and therefore hard to collect on a large scale."
But with solar cells once you've wired them up the energy collects itself.
Posted by: ai_vin | 25 June 2008 at 08:53 AM
Read David Blume's Alcohol can be a gas.
There are plenty of alternatives to corn, the main reason we use it is because we grow so much.
Good for you Louisiana bold move.
Posted by: Mark M | 25 June 2008 at 09:41 AM
"There are trees everywhere in my community, but the problem is: How do you trim branches from all those trees, and then transport said material to processing plants?"
After thinking about this question a little more it occurs to me we already have an answer. Isn't this stuff already being collected?
Don't you collect biomass when you cut your lawn? And you put it into a compost, right? Do you ever use it? Any good city has tree lined streets but you don't see the streets clogged with leaf litter, they have lots of grassy parks/sport fields/etc. but the grass is always trim and neat. Somebody is collecting this stuff the same as the city collects garbage.
Someone calculated that Canada could fuel 3 million cars a year just from the stuff that goes into our landfills. (of course we're a country of 33 million so its only part of the solution)
Posted by: ai_vin | 25 June 2008 at 10:56 AM
I wonder what the Louisiana ethanol plants will be doing for 9 months out of the year after the sweet sorghum silage runs out? Can't write a law that changes corn's inherent values.
Posted by: Mark S | 25 June 2008 at 10:58 PM
Yes ai_vin I do collect and bag up my trimmed tree branches and weeds, and so do my neighbors. I'm sure my lawn mowing service knows what they're doing with regard to grass clippings.
What we need to do to harness all this biomass, is to have cellulose-to-ethanol plants in every community to reduce the logistics problem inherent in getting widely dispersed biomass to processing facilities.
Not only will we have to invest the money to build all these ethanol plants, but here's another problem: We are likely to have one BIG alcohol abuse problem, since policing all these facilities is going to be problematical at best.
But then, we have to do something to meet our energy and mobility needs.
Posted by: Alex Kovnat | 26 June 2008 at 04:22 AM
there's a waste product generated in every state, including la, and that's grass clippigs. this stuff is already finely chopped and wet...i'd about bet it has a place in the biofuel feedstock line-up...
Posted by: jdawg | 26 June 2008 at 06:09 AM
there's a waste product generated in every state, including la, and that's grass clippings. this stuff is already finely chopped and wet...i'd about bet it has a place in the biofuel feedstock line-up...
Posted by: jdawg | 26 June 2008 at 06:10 AM
When Sorghum runs out, use something else, most plants can use multiple feed stocks not usually together but one after the other yes. The plant can run most of the year. In addition you can store and batch process.
Posted by: Mark M | 26 June 2008 at 01:17 PM
Any and all biofuels, except from materials now going to landfills, are false economy and fraudulent propositions of local and federal politicians and others who do not spend the time to get to the actual facts of energy use and production and costs. The price of crude oil is being kept artifically high by Congress and the President who refuse to recognize that crude oil is not a free market and that there can be no allowing of speculation of any type on crude oil natural gas or related financial derivatives. Renewable energy proponents have no idea of the enormous actual costs of solar power, wind power, or biofuels compared to the present costs of mining coal or drilling for and pumping oil or gas. There is almost no city in the US where it would be financially practical to install any number of solar cells, and it would be far cheaper and more efficient to install home and business cogeneration units rather than ordinary gas fired furnaces.
Less than ten years ago, China ordered and had built and delivered two CANDU power plants from Canada on time and under budget, and they have been in operation for a few years now producing electricity at far less than the cost of imported coal even. It will only take a few years to pay off the capital and interest costs.. Your car never pays off its capital and interest costs. ...HG....
Posted by: Henry Gibson | 27 June 2008 at 04:08 PM
I was being sarcastic. Ofcourse they should use whatever else they can. But the law is written otherwise.
Biofuels are just fine. As Mark M suggests, read David Blume's book "Alcohol Can Be A Gas".
Posted by: Mark S | 28 June 2008 at 11:57 AM
Louisiana's senator in D.C. seems to be for drilling anywhere and everywhere for oil. When an oil and gas state starts talking renewable, I begin to wonder about their real objectives.
Posted by: sjc | 10 July 2008 at 10:02 PM
-----"You'd only need 10,000 square miles of land to get all your electricity from solar. Not that much out of the total avalible. This could be done with a square area of land 100 miles per side in the Nevada desert or just from the area inside your cities because roofs ready cover more area than this"------------
Without going into the numbers----more than that amount of space is available on rooftops in Los Angeles area I'd say. Grid tie solar panels could provide a large percentage of electrical demand, income from power generation would be diffused amoung the consumers which would be a significant social benefit, and there would be little change need in the current electrical grid arrangement.
Grid tie solar would eliminate the need for expensive battery storage by consumers, and make power available to utilities to store during periods of peak generation. Power conversion would be easier,cheaper and more feasible on a large utility scale and is already being done in various ways---primarily pumping water back upstream for reuse in hydro facillities---water electrolysis to produce hydrogen as fuel would be another possibility.
Posted by: Wetdog | 11 August 2008 at 11:01 AM
----"Renewable energy proponents have no idea of the enormous actual costs of solar power, wind power, or biofuels compared to the present costs of mining coal or drilling for and pumping oil or gas."------
Take away the estimated $350-400 in subsidies, tax breaks, give aways, special favors and outright girts to the fossil fuel industries at taxpayer expense.
Then let's see which is more expensive. Mining coal for instance---it takes a LOT of work and expense to mine coal, just to burn it once and leave the land destroyed, watersheds polluted, and the air polluted. Just for something that you can only burn once. What is the cost of that?
Coal is not cheap. The price is just very cleverly hidden.
Posted by: Wetdog | 11 August 2008 at 11:23 AM