Fortistar, NRSWA Partner on Methane-Converting RNG Facility

Fortistar, a privately-owned investment firm that acquires companies and projects that address global environmental challenges, and the New River Solid Waste Association (NRSWA) in Raiford, Fla., have partnered to construct a facility that will capture and convert approximately 1,900 dekatherms per day of landfill methane to renewable natural gas (RNG).

“As an investment firm that’s focused on implementing more decarbonization solutions across the country, funding and supporting this renewable energy project in Florida was an easy decision,” says Mark Comora, president of Fortistar. “Creating fuel for transportation is a solution available today to significantly decrease human-related greenhouse gas emissions. NRSWA maintains an excellent reputation in waste management in Florida and we’re looking forward to working with them to capture greenhouse gases, displace diesel trucks and produce cleaner fuel for a more sustainable future.”

Hyundai, Daimler, Toyota Announce Hydrogen Fuel Cell Initiatives

Hydrogen fuel cells have long been considered a dark horse zero-emissions fuel – one that held great potential, but with technical hurdles in its path toward implementation that would take decades to resolve.

But now, it appears that dark horse is coming up from behind as a viable fuel alternative for long-haul trucking applications. Just take as an example the headlines from Dec. 10 that three of the leading global car, truck and bus manufacturers are making major moves now to help set the stage for hydrogen-powered transportation.

WASDE maintains outlook for soybean oil use in biodiesel

The USDA maintained its 2020-’21 forecast for soybean oil use in biodiesel in its latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report, released Dec. 10. The forecast for soybean crush was increased, with the outlook for ending stocks lowered.

The forecast for soybean area harvested is unchanged at 82.3 million acres. The outlook for yield per harvested acre is also maintained at 50.7 bushels, while production is expected at 4.17 billion bushels. Soybean crush for 2020-’21 is increased 15 million bushels to 2.195 billion on strong crush margins and record early-season crush. With exports unchanged, soybean ending stocks for 2020-’21 are projected at 175 million bushels. If realized, ending stocks would be the lowest since 2013-’14.

WASDE: Forecast for 2020-’21 corn use in ethanol maintained

The USDA maintained its forecast for 2020-’21 corn use in ethanol production in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, released Dec. 10. The forecasts for U.S. corn supply, use and season-average farm price were also unchanged.

The forecast for corn area harvested held steady at 82.5 million acres. Expected yields were also unchanged at 175.8 bushels per acre. Corn production for 2020-’21 is expected at 14.507 billion bushels, up from 13.62 billion bushels in 2019-’20. An estimated 5.05 billion bushels of corn is expected to go to ethanol production in 2020-’21, up from 4.852 billion bushels in 2019-’20, but down from 5.378 billion bushels in 2018-’19. The season-average farm price for 2021-’20 was maintained at $4 per bushel. Beginning stocks are expected at 1.995 billion bushels, with ending stocks at 1.702 billion bushels.

Propane retailers adjust to change in 2020

The state of the U.S. propane industry in 2020 can be measured in part by the strength of COVID-19’s grip on the nation and the world.

As the year drew to a close, the global pandemic had yet to loosen its grip, as health officials warned of a challenging winter ahead despite positive reports from the medical community about progress on a vaccine.

For the most part, positivity has permeated the propane industry since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in March. The federal government deemed the delivery of propane and other fuels an essential service, and the industry went to work for its customers.

A new EV battery shows big promise

For decades, battery researchers have toiled away trying to crack the code for a new battery that could trump lithium-ion batteries — the technology that brought the electric vehicle industry to where it is today.

Now a decade-old startup backed by members of the tech investing elite and global auto giants says it has created working batteries that could lead to electric vehicles with significantly longer ranges, that can be produced at a lower cost, are safer to operate, boast longer lifespans and support faster charging.

Meet QuantumScape, a battery company that’s been in stealth for a decade while its team has worked on developing what the industry calls a solid-state, lithium-metal battery. The solid-state moniker refers to the elimination of the liquid electrolyte, which in traditional batteries fills the cell and is used for charging and discharging.

 

A tale of hand sanitizer: How the ethanol supply chain pivoted for COVID-19

As Red River Biorefinery plotted its April opening, it planned to produce 16.5 million gallons of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) annually to sell as a fuel additive. Some might say the timing couldn’t have been worse, with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders spreading across the country.

“We weren’t driving, so our industry went down to about 50% production capacity,” said Kelly Davis, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Renewable Fuels Association.

If less ethanol is needed for fuel, theoretically plenty should be available for other essential goods, like disinfecting agents and hand sanitizer. After all, manufacturing capacity was idle, and the raw materials were plentiful, with about 40% of corn grown in the U.S. used for biofuel production. Red River’s raw materials, aggregated food byproducts like potatoes, pasta and sugar beet waste, were available as well.

Why the environment cannot wait for an electric future

Climate experts agree that time is of the essence. We must make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” to limit global warming by 2030 or the results could be irreversible, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In the transportation sector, however, much of the current focus is on electric vehicles. EVs do hold a lot of promise, but in many applications, such as commercial trucking, the technology cannot meet current performance and financial requirements. The result is that fleets are continuing to run on petroleum diesel and delaying carbon reduction strategies.

They don’t need to. There are clean fuels that work in existing diesel vehicles with no modifications required, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel. Not only do they work, but they also offer significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum diesel.

Waymo Expands Autonomous Tech R&D

Waymo announced two new research and development facilities to help it advance its Waymo Driver autonomous driving system across multiple vehicle platforms and environments.

Waymo is working with the Transportation Research Center to co-develop what it says is a first-of-its-kind testing environment that will model a dense urban environment, including heavy-duty vehicles, and it’s opening a research and development facility in Menlo Park, California, to focus on advancing its fifth-generation Waymo Driver on Class 8 trucks.

The company said that together, these new facilities will enable it to further advance the latest generation of the fully autonomous Waymo Driver across multiple vehicle platforms, including the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace and Class 8 trucks, while scaling up testing programs and operations across a diverse set of geographies and driving environments.

The race to mainstream electric vehicles by 2030

The world’s leading companies and policymakers are coalescing around setting targets for adopting zero-emission vehicles around a 2030 time frame.

The latest — and one of the most aggressive to come from a country leader — was issued a few weeks ago by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who revealed a climate plan that includes banning the sales of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2030 (some hybrids will be allowed until 2035). The U.K. accelerated its commitment to zero-emission vehicles from 2040 to 2035, and finally to just a decade away.

The U.K. isn’t the only one. Denmark set the same goal — phase out new fossil fuel vehicle sales in 2030 — and world-leader Norway plans to make the switch in 2025. A couple months ago, in response to the California wildfires, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that similarly called for a ban of new gas car sales, but starting in 2035.