Friday, January 30, 2015

Future of FutureFuel

Last week the president of renewable chemicals producer FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) turned in his resignation.  Lee Mikles is around sixty and seems a bit young for retirement.  He had been with the company from day one and served as the chief executive officer through the end of 2012.  He owns 2.3 million shares of FutureFuel stock or about 5% of the outstanding shares. 

Maybe Mikles is just looking for a better paycheck.  The last time the company disclosed compensation, Mikles was down for $36,000 in compensation as a director.  Along with the CEO and COO, Mikles has not been drawing a salary and receive no cash or stock bonus from FutureFuel. However, looking closer in the fine print of the footnotes, the company discloses that an affiliate of Mikles was paid $132,491 in 2013 related to his services to the company, an arrangement that was followed in all the years he worked for FutureFuel.  Similar arrangements were made for the company’s other officers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The last time renewable chemicals developer Gevo (GEVO:  Nasdaq) was featured in this forum in August 2014, the stock was looking quite oversold around $0.50 per share. The stock had recently taken a tumble after management sold 30 million shares of the company’s common stock at $0.60 a share at the end of July 2014.  The plan was to use the $19 million in new capital to upgrade a production plant in Minnesota to better produce renewable isobutanol along with ethanol fuel. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hydrogen Make Over

Cars powered by fuel cells or batteries are only as clean as the electricity used to produce the power source.  Proponents of hydrogen fuel cells argue that fuel cells have an edge over batteries, because hydrogen can ultimately be made cleaner with innovations in hydrogen production. 

Steam reforming of natural gas is the most common source of hydrogen and for the most part it is still the most cost-effective process for large-scale production of hydrogen.  Since ethanol is a renewable resource, the steam reforming of ethanol has been proposed by some as a promising alternative to reforming a fossil fuel like natural gas.  Until recently steam reforming ethanol for hydrogen was a topic discussed only in scientific papers.  Most have dismissed this alternative for renewable hydrogen as not commercially viable.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cleaning Up Hydrogen

Electric vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla Model S are powered with energy stored batteries usually sitting on the car floor.   The energy is sourced from power plants that deliver electricity to outlets at homes, business or charging stations.  Since most electricity generated in the U.S. is produced by burning coal, there is more likely than not a lump of coal in the ‘well-to-wheel’ analysis of the total environmental impact for the Tesla Model S.