Business Briefs

By Staff | August 16, 2011

A federal judge has granted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a summary judgment against John H. Rivera, chairman and CEO of Texas-based U.S. Sustainable Energy Corp. The SEC claimed in its complaint that Rivera used false press release and public statements to drive interest in his company’s stock in order to dump insider shares into a public market that was fraudulently influenced by his false statements. The complaint also alleged that Rivera falsely claimed that his company could employ the Rivera Process, a pyrolysis process, to produce products. According to court documents, the SEC asserts that the case is not about whether a pyrolysis process could be successful, but whether Rivera’s claims that he had perfected such a process were false. The filing further elaborates that the Rivera fraudulently claimed that his company had a fully operational plant, that the process could create 5 gallons of fuel from a single bushel of soybeans, and that his company could produce 6,000 gallons of fuels per day at a cost of 50 cents per gallon. In addition, the complaint alleged that Rivera made misrepresentations regarding a prominent investment banker and prominent industry figure’s involvement in his company. He also misrepresented a property purchase, fertilizer sale and the development of ASTM-certified biodiesel.

After sitting idle for a year, Inland Empire Oilseeds LLC managed to restart production at its 8 MMgy canola-based biodiesel facility, including an adjacent canola crushing plant, in Odessa, Wash. Under new management, the plant resumed production in June and held an open house for industry and community members in July to commemorate the opening. The facility will operate with staff that had worked there prior to its closure last year. The canola crush facility can crush about 90 to 100 tons of canola per day. The Inland Empire Oilseeds plant first came online in November 2008. The company is vertically integrated and sources its feedstock within Washington and neighboring states of Oregon and Idaho, and crushes seed to produce its biodiesel.

Bing’s Creek Biofuels Facility at CVRD Solid Waste Management Facility in Duncan, Vancouver Island, Canada, owned by the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-operative, which has been supplying biodiesel from waste vegetable oil to its members for six years, recently held a grand opening ceremony to celebrate local, sustainable biodiesel production. The locally produced fuel will be available for sale to co-op members at the 2999 Allenby Road card lock. Also, in Catawba County, N.C., a partnership between the county and Appalachian State University plans to commemorate completion of the Catawba County-Appalachian State University Biodiesel Research, Development and Production Facility mid-August. The complex includes crush abilities and a biodiesel production capacity of 100,000 gallons per year. Research will include growing crops around the Blackburn Landfill at the EcoComplex to test which feedstocks grow best in the local climate and produce the best oil for biodiesel; dynamometer emissions and energy value testing, and algae development.

Chevrolet has plans to offer a new diesel engine option in the Cruze for improved fuel efficiency and use. Already the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered, nonhybrid vehicle in America at 42 miles per gallon during highway driving, the Cruze was the best-selling car in America for the month of June, according to the Diesel Technology Forum. Since February, more than 20,000 vehicles in the Cruze lineup, which features a standard six-speed transmission, have been sold. Volkswagen will begin producing a Passat featuring the TDI diesel at a new Chattanooga, Tenn., plant soon, and Mazda has also signaled that it will be the first of the Asian car makers to offer a diesel passenger vehicle in the U.S., called the Skyactiv-D. While diesel autos account for roughly 50 percent of all new auto sales in Europe, the number is drastically less in the U.S. at just 3 percent.

Through a public/private partnership with Darling International, the Chicago Park District officially launched a biodiesel production program that will provide its fleet of light-duty diesel vehicles and several of its lawnmowers with ASTM-certified biodiesel. Last year, CPD repurposed an underutilized fleet fueling site that’s capable of dispensing B5, B20 and B100. Nearly 300 of the district’s vehicles will be able to fuel up at the site, which will produce 20,000 gallons this year and eventually 50,000 gallons in subsequent years. K-plus Mechanical Services Inc. was responsible for design and build-out of the biodiesel production facility while Oak Park, Ill.-based Indigenous Energy is operator and manager. Total cost for the biodiesel processing equipment ran up to about $650,000, but most of that was offset thanks to a $250,000 grant from the U.S. DOE. The projected fuel cost savings is about 50 cents per gallon at a B20 level and $2.50 per gallon at a B100 level, according to Powers. Indigenous Energy accessed technical and lab expertise from BioVantage Fuels LLC, which owns and operates a 5 MMgy biodiesel plant in Belvidere, Ill., on the implementation of the CDP biodiesel program.
The ASTM D6751 biodiesel specification will soon feature three additional test methods for B100, including a BASF patented infrared spectroscopy process for the rapid analysis of total glycerin, free glycerin and cloud point. “Total and free glycerin analyses are some of the more challenging analyses when monitoring biodiesel quality,” says Kyle Anderson, technical project manager for the National Biodiesel Board, “yet arguably two of the most important properties to ensure high-quality fuel.” The new method of testing, Ck 2-09, will allow BQ-9000 testing facilities to test biodiesel samples using only a drop of fuel in roughly two minutes without sample preparation or the use of chemical reagents, according to Quality Trait Analysis, a BASF company based in Ohio. The Ck 2-09 method combines attenuated total reflectance (ATR) with the infrared spectrometer. An infrared beam of light is reflected off an ATR crystal that shows or reflects off the internal surface that is touching the sample. That reflected beam is then collected by a detection device and can be analyzed for traits such as total glycerin, free glycerin or cloud point.

A new biocatalyst developed in a chromatography tube at the Centre de Recherches Paul Pascal (CRPP), could greatly improve continuous biodiesel production processes. There are two main features of the enzymatic catalyst that will help improve the process. For one, the enzymes are used without being purified, which enhanced stability while minimizing the whole catalyst price. The second feature of the catalyst relates to the size, using macroporous (pore diameters of micrometers) hosts and not mesoporous (pore diameters of nanometers). This optimizes the enzyme’s accessibility and minimizes pressure loss between the column’s entry and end. The enzymes are from silica macrocellular foam with lipases appearing at the macropore internal surface. To optimize the enzymes, the team generates the foams within the chromatography column using a direct emulsion. The silica foams are then hybridized with a linker, which traps the enzymes and embeds the enzymes into the porous surface. The enzymes are essentially embedded into a reactor with a unidirectional continuous flow, and rely on the larger size of the pores on the surface of the reactor and the properties of the silica framework within the reactor for a greater reaction area.

The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Qualitätsmanagement Biodiesel e.V. (AGQM) recently presented results of a jointly initiated project at the 5th annual expert discussion dealing with the issue of biodiesel filterability. Petroleum and biodiesel experts were on hand.It was shown that the contents of alkaline and alkaline earth metals, phosphor and sulphur were significantly below the levels set out in the biodiesel norm EN 14214. Furthermore, the contents of sterol glycosides (SG) and acylated sterol glycosides (ASG) in biodiesel, which are suspected of causing filter blockages, were very low. A correlation between the ASG and SG contents and filterability could not be shown as a result of these studies. A topic increasingly discussed on an international level, the phenomenon of microbial growth, can be controlled using preventive measures ("good housekeeping"). Nonetheless, according to the comments by the mineral oil industry on the present results, the biodiesel industry must reduce the water content in biodiesel if this is possible in terms of processes. Against this background, the participants discussed the current level of norms for biodiesel as well as the implementation of the AGQM recommendation “FAME for blends,” which contains voluntary specifications exceeding the biodiesel norm EN 14214.

Independent fuel distributor Pacific Pride Services LLC, a subsidiary of Wright Express Corp., and Quality Petroleum of Alabama, jointly opened the first Commercial Fuel Center in Tarrant, Ala., where various blends of biodiesel (from B5 to B20), in addition to ethanol, will be offered for commercial fleet fueling. The new location marks the eighth Pacific Pride Commercial Fuel Center in Alabama. Networked with 1,000 other Pacific Pride commercial fuel centers across the U.S. and Canada, the site will accept most major fuel cards, including Pacific Pride and Wright Express commercial fuel cards, Comdata, Voyager, TCH, Fleet One, T-Check, ComCheck and EFS. The new fueling center will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will also feature transaction monitoring equipment to provide transaction security for its private and public fleet customers. In addition to its eight fueling stations in Alabama, Quality Petroleum also boasts five fueling centers at various locations in Florida.

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