Biofuels Update

October 30, 2009 10:59 AM
Ford Develops Biodiesel Compatible Engine
Ford Motor Company has developed a V-8 turbocharged diesel
engine that is compatible with biodiesel up to a B20 blend for its 2011 F-Series Super Duty diesel pickups.
The 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine is expected to deliver significant improvement in torque, horsepower and fuel economy, according to Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development. The diesel engine team made changes throughout the engine. The all-new turbocharger combines the benefits of a small and large unit for faster response and more power. The engine uses "inboard exhaust” architecture, an automotive-industry first for a modern production diesel engine.
Biodiesel Yields Returns to Soybean Growers
Demand for biodiesel pushed the U.S. to produce 600 million gallons of biodiesel in 2008, a significant jump compared with the past several years. This demand also brought U.S. soybean farmers an additional $2.5 billion in net returns, according to a new study released by the United Soybean Board.
Biodiesel has helped offset soybean demand, which took a hit in 2006 when trans fats were eliminated from many food products because of U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements, says Jimmy Sneed, a regional director for the United Soybean Board.
However, soybean growers wanting to take advantage of the biodiesel market still face challenges. Critics say the use of agricultural commodities for alternative fuel is partly to blame for increased food prices.
When processed, soybeans produce 80% soybean meal and 18% crude soybean oil, Sneed counters. "Only the oil is used for biodiesel production,” he says. "This is a win-win situation because as the demand for soy biodiesel increases, the amount of available soy protein also increases and reduces the price of meal used for feed.”
Solving Nutrient Variance in DDGS
Ever since the ethanol industry began marketing distillers' dried grains with solubles (DDGS), it has struggled with variance in the byproduct's nutrient content. DDGS are the portions of grains that can't be broken down into sugars used for ethanol, and they are often sold as a feedstock for livestock. However, DDGS often consist of varying levels of fiber, protein, sugar and amino acids.
"If every time you get a batch [of DDGS] it's different from the last, you are uncertain of the nutrient value you're giving your animals,” says Klein Ileleji, Purdue University assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering. "What you want is a consistent product.”
Ileleji may have found a way to predict the nutrient content of DDGS. The solution lies in the balance of the liquid and solids, he says. The ethanol production process leaves behind solids that can't be converted into sugars, and the liquid is centrifuged to remove excess water and create a syrup. The solids and liquid are mixed to create DDGS.
A difference in the ratio of grains and syrup will change the nutrient profile, Ileleji says. For instance, increasing the syrup in the mix leads to a decrease in fiber and protein but an increase in the amount of residual sugars.
"Ethanol plants don't blend these streams of solids and syrup in a uniform manner,” explains Ileleji, whose research results are published in the early online version of the journal
Bioresource Technology. "The jumping around of these different properties comes from different blending processes.”
Ileleji is creating a model based on this study's data that will allow ethanol producers to blend DDGS to give specific nutrient profiles.

You can email Jeanne Bernick at

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