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Bio-fuel Efforts Are Creeping Ahead in 1st Gear

Posted August 7, 2007

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— The alternative fuel movement is in its infancy in North Carolina, and few service stations offer ethanol or bio-diesel.

University research in the field is picking up, though, and there is some degree of research and development in private-sector laboratories. What's more the 2007 North Carolina legislative session pushed the effort a little farther along, pleasing alternative-fuel advocates.

“We got $5 million for a new bio-fuels center for North Carolina. We got a fund administered by the Department of Commerce to encourage green business development, which focuses on the bio-fuels industry,” said Anne Tazwell, alternative fuels program manager of the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University.

The little guy also got a break.

People who make their own bio-diesel are now exempt from the state motor fuels tax. That saves the home alternative-fuel brewer about $2,500.

Supporters like Tazwell say North Carolina should do more because there are so many opportunities here.

“Bio-fuel can be made out of waste vegetable oil from your local McDonald's. It can also be made out of animal renderings, so all the hog leftovers we have in this state can be used -- and the chicken renderings, too,” she said.

In Durham, at the Triangle's only gas station that carries ethanol-based E-85, alternative fuel still has a ways to go before it's a hot seller. The manager says the station sells about 2,000 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline every day. They sell about 200 gallons of E-85.

Retailers say they're not hearing from customers who want alternative fuel.

The alternative-fuel movement isn't racing down the highway, but some say it's at least headed in the right direction.

After the service station on Highway 55 in Durham, the nearest stations to the Triangle selling a full line of alternative fuels are in Southern Pines.

12 Comments

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  • shine Aug 9, 2007

    "Bio fuels creeping ahead in 1st gear" - It is going to because the grain industry in the south has lost the crop from GA to NC.

  • Travised Aug 8, 2007

    Oldschool, the "season changes" for fuel makes me think of when I drove diesel. Summer I used #2. Come winter I used the 60/40 blend. That was the only thing that really mattered in my diesels; except they liked a thicker oil in the summer such as 20/50 and she'd hum. Winter 15/40 is what was needed for the cold temp.

    If some company would run the refining AND growing and or make agreements to buy bulk from growers for the corn it could work better. However they (government) kicks in funds to pay for the refining plants rather than having it be private. The crops are often backed by government money. Quit throwing taxpayer money in the wind. By making it a private operation they would be forced to run in the black and not at a loss.

  • oldschool Aug 7, 2007

    And every spring and fall, those formultions change. The oil companies have to drain the tanks, wipe them clean and refill them with the forumlations for the season. Every spring and fall, the gas prices spike because the supply suddenly dries up and everyone blames it on either "the travel season" or "the oil companies".

  • Sonet-transport Aug 7, 2007

    Travised

    "When it reaches the pumps there is NO SET PRICE in a lot of states. Compared to Gasoline where the government has strict regulations on price/profit this does not exist for E85."

    There is only regulation in the taxes on the product and emissions are covered as well, but profits are NOT regulated. This is still a free-market economy...till next time Congress is back in session.

  • Travised Aug 7, 2007

    Exactly. The states that have mandated use of E85 are out of their gords. They have paid for the refineries, they BUY the corn, sometimes even help pay the farmers to grow it. When it reaches the pumps there is NO SET PRICE in a lot of states. Compared to Gasoline where the government has strict regulations on price/profit this does not exist for E85.

    However look at the negative costs in the picture. We the taxpayers are footing the bill for the majority of it, and recieve nothing in return. MPG in most cases tends to drop using E85 compared to "real" gas.

    Good points. Due to less corn (feed) for animals, and fuel costs being higher, it is a domino effect. Milk in turn milk is higher due to feed costs and fuel costs.

    A LOT of states will be pushing E85, and I do mean PUSHING. Remember when we had TWO formulations of Gasoline? Now there's about 20 to meet "state regulations" for emissions. No more one across the board.

  • oldschool Aug 7, 2007

    Next, why don't we just figure out how we can fuel a car by burning $100 bills? As long as it will save our planet, and it's for the children, who can disagree with it?

  • oldschool Aug 7, 2007

    Sorry - I said "riots", should have been "protests".

  • oldschool Aug 7, 2007

    Come on guys, that stuff doesn't matter any more than the food riots in Mexico because the price of corn tortillas has tripled. (Not making that up, by the way.)

    What matters is - who will win the Iowa caucus. That's it, pure and simple. (And I'm afraid the Republicans are every bit as bad as the Dems on this one.)

  • hi_i_am_wade Aug 7, 2007

    Well, I wish it would go in the REVERSE gear. Have you noticed how much milk costs now. Who do you have to think for that? Corn-based ethanol. This also means beef prices will go up too. The last thing we need to do is convert food to an inefficient fuel; putting E15 or E85 in your tank will severally lower fuel economy. Ethanol is all well and good if and only if we don't use food crops.

  • colliedave Aug 7, 2007

    How much energy does it take to produce/ship the stuff? Will is be like corn-based stuff the OVERALL impact is worse. Just open up ANWAR, allow drilling off the coast AND explore alternative that don't have a negative impact on the economy.

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