Louisiana adopts advanced biofuels initiative

By Susanne Retka Schill | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 30, 2008 at 12:16 p.m. CST

Louisiana's Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, which was signed into law June 23 by Gov. Bobby Jindal, allows the state to develop pilot programs on hydrous ethanol and variable blending pumps. Both pilot programs allow a four year trial period through Jan. 1, 2012.

During the pilot period, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights and Measures will monitor the accuracy of blender pumps. The legislation also authorizes demonstration grants for people wanting to test variable blending pumps and develop guidelines for their installation and use.

Weights and Measures will also monitor the performance of motor vehicles chosen to test hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85. Hydrous ethanol is defined as an ethyl alcohol that is approximately 96 percent ethanol and 4 percent water. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. As explained in the language of the legislation, "preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between 10 percent and 45 percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior and a reduction in greenhouse gas emission."

The Louisiana initiative, which calls for a comprehensive "field-to-pump" strategy to develop an advanced biofuels industry in the state, includes targeting feedstocks other than corn that are:
  • Derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops

  • Capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons of ethanol per acre

  • Requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn

  • Tolerant to high temperature and water logging

  • Resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils

  • 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

  • Require no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol

The "field-to-pump" strategy also calls for a decentralized network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities to reduce feedstock supply risk, avoid burdening local water supplies, and provide a broader base for economic development. The act defines "small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility" as producing between 5 MMgy and 15 MMgy advanced biofuels from feedstocks other than corn. An income tax credit of 10 cents per gallon of advanced biofuel applies to the first 10 million gallons produce in a tax year, expiring on Dec. 31, 2012.

With roots in Louisiana, Florida-based Renergie Inc. chief executive officer Brian Donovan helped draft the legislation. "We got involved after the hurricanes wanting to help with economic development," he explained. The development of an advanced biofuel industry is aimed at helping the local and regional economies rebuild by increasing the value of feedstock crops, providing jobs during the construction phases and permanent jobs when the plants are running as well stimulating employment in associated industries. "I am pleased that the legislature and governor of the great State of Louisiana have chosen to lead the nation in moving ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline," Donovan said. "The two pilot programs, providing for an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial, established by the State of Louisiana should be adopted by each and every state in our country."