Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...
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E-10 Unleaded Sales Reach New High
E-10 UnleadedIn June, the Nebraska Ethanol Board announced E-10, a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol, broke monthly sales records again in March 2005. Sales of locally produced ethanol reached 60 percent — meaning six of every ten gallons of gas sold in Nebraska contains ethanol. Since 1978, Nebraska motorists have purchased more than 6 billion gallons of the fuel blend.

According to Steve Sorum of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, “Virtually all E-10 sold in the state contains ethanol produced from locally grown crops at one of eleven operating plants. In 2005, Nebraska’s ethanol will replace more than five hundred million gallons of imported petroleum products.”

Recent reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate ethanol will pass exports as the number two use of corn within the next three years. The 200 million bushels of corn processed in Nebraska plants each year accounts for 20 percent of the state’s corn crop.

Cutting the Cost of Converting Biomass to Ethanol
bio energy plant
Novozymes’ new enzymes will be tested at the Abengoa Bioenergy pilot plant in 2006.
Credit: Abengoa Bioenergy
In April 2005, Novozymes announced it has successfully achieved a 30-fold reduction in the cost of enzymes needed to convert biomass to ethanol. Since early in 2001, Novozymes has been working with the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory to reduce the cost of producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass, specifically the cobs, stalks and leaves of corn plants, which are collectively referred to as corn stover. As opposed to starchy biomass sources such as corn kernels, such "woody" sources require special pretreatments and enzymes to release their carbohydrates and convert them into ethanol.

Abengoa Bioenergy — an ethanol producer operating in both Europe and the United States — plans to test the improved process at its pilot plant in York, Nebraska, in 2006.

Nebraska Ag and Energy Statistics
Nebraska had more acres irrigated by center pivots than any other state in the country in 2003, and ranked second combine and truckfor total irrigated acres according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. Specifically, there were 16,278 irrigated farms and 7.52 million total acres irrigated — 5.61 million acres by pivots and 1.96 million acres by gravity flow.

In 2003, the cost for energy to operate the irrigation systems totaled $213 million.

Abengoa Garners $2.25 Million from Energy Department for Ethanol Researchethanol pump
The U.S. Department of Energy announced in May 2005, that Abengoa Bioenergy will receive a 3-year, $2.25 million grant for the development of new catalysts to convert biomass-derived synthesis gas into ethanol. The goal of the project is to lower the temperature and pressure necessary for the conversion.

A company spokesman said, “The use of low-value biomass and a simple process should lower the capital investment and total energy consumption.”

Lincoln Buses the First to Switch to Ethanol-Diesel Blend
In March 2005, Lincoln’s Startran bus system became the first in the nation to switch to an ethanol-diesel fuel blend called O2Diesel. According to the fuel’s manufacturer, black smoke is reduced by 70 percent, particulate matter by 40 percent and carbon monoxide by 26 percent.

The city first began using ethanol blended fuel as part of a four bus pilot effort in 1994. In 2000, O2Diesel was tested in four buses. In February 2005, 56 of the 67 buses began using the ethanol diesel blend. By March, all of the buses were operating on the fuel, except two which run on biodiesel.

O2Diesel generally costs 10 to 20 cents a gallon more than regular diesel, but the increased cost is being paid for by several sponsors: the Nebraska Corn Board, Lincoln StarTran BusNebraska Corn Growers and the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

Public Power Association Honors Nebraska Utilities
In April 2005, the American Public Power Association presented a number of awards to utilities across the nation. Among the winners were several in Nebraska.award trophy

Electric Utility Safety Awards
These awards are presented based on safe operating practices in 2004, and awarded based on the size of the utility and most incident free records.
  • City of Curtis — First Place; Less than 15,000 worker hours
  • Auburn Board of Public Works — First Place; 30,000-59,999 worker hours
  • Nebraska Public Power District — Honorable Mention; More than 4 million worker hours
Public Power Lineworkers’ Rodeo
Teams and individuals in two categories — apprentice and journeyman — compete in areas of safety, work practices, neatness, ability, equipment handling and event completion.
Apprentice — Sidewalk Guy
  • Tom Goeden, Lincoln Electric System — Third Place
  • Journeyman — Hurt Man Rescue
  • Lincoln Electric System — First Place (Team of Eric Schultz, Rick Hasenpflug and Jeff Cosgrove)
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