Page 1



SHINE Interest Grows in Membrane Dehydration Page 18


Oil and Ethanol Support Octane Standard Page 26

2018 FEW Highlights Page 34

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EDITORIAL President & Editor in Chief Tom Bryan Editor Lisa Gibson Associate Editor Tim Albrecht Copy Editor Jan Tellmann


2018 Ethanol Producer Magazine's Fall Map 2019 Advanced Biofuels Conference

2019 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo ACE American Coalition for Ethanol Badger Meter D3MAX LLC

Art Director Jaci Satterlund Graphic Designer Raquel Boushee


DSM Bio-based Products & Services DuPont Industrial Biosciences

Ethanol Producer Magazine's Top News Fagen Inc.

CEO Joe Bryan Sales & Marketing Director John Nelson Business Development Director Howard Brockhouse Senior Account Manager/Bioenergy Team Leader Chip Shereck Account Manager Dave Austin Circulation Manager Jessica Tiller Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe


Ringneck Energy Walter Wendland Little Sioux Corn Processors Steve Roe Commonwealth Agri-Energy Mick Henderson Pinal Energy Keith Kor Aemetis Advanced Fuels Eric McAfee Western Plains Energy Derek Peine Corn Plus Mike Jerke Front Range Energy Dan Sanders Jr.

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Customer Service Please call 1-866-746-8385 or email us at Subscriptions to Ethanol Producer Magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: Ethanol Producer Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Back Issues, Reprints and Permissions Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 866-746-8385 or Advertising Ethanol Producer Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and highquality print production. To find out more about Ethanol Producer Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866-746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Ethanol Producer Magazine Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

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20-21 9















‘The Way Forward’

More plants install membrane systems, as more companies offer them By Tim Albrecht

Everything Comes Back to the FEW By Lisa Gibson

Fuel Your Knowledge By Bob Dinneen

With Friends Like This… By Doug Sombke








95 26

United Front

Octane standard would benefit industries and consumers By Tim Albrecht





Policy, Production, Potential FEW draws thousands to Omaha By Lisa Gibson

ON THE COVER Whitefox Technologies Ltd.’s membrane dehydration system at Fox River Valley Ethanol in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.




Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) August 2018, Vol. 24, Issue 8. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ethanol Producer Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.



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Everything Comes Back to the FEW In June, I attended my second International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, signifying I’ve already been in this industry one year. My first FEW, in

Lisa Gibson


2017, came just a month into my employment at Ethanol Producer Magazine. Baptism by fire, as they say. At my first FEW, I likely crammed more knowledge, names and faces into my head than it could hold, but left with helpful contacts, story ideas and a grasp on basic, as well as specified, aspects of the ethanol production process. In the past year, I’ve attended several other industry conferences, toured more ethanol plants and lengthened my list of contacts. But this year’s FEW seemed to bring my experience full circle—I came back with a better understanding of the process, the product and the intricacies that fuel the ethanol industry, from field to tank. At the close of the show, I again had learned even more about ethanol. It’s a complex industry and I expect to keep learning about it for years to come. The 2018 FEW drew more than 2,200 attendees and 350 exhibitors to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, June 11 to 13. Feedback from attendees tells us it might have been one of the best in the event’s history, with more people both listening to discussions in the breakout sessions and milling around the trade show floor. We’ve put together a photo collage of some of the highlights. It starts on page 34. Shifting our focus a bit, our cover story, “The Way Forward,” page 18, explores the increased use of membrane dehydration technologies. Whitefox Technologies Ltd. is working on up to five installations this year alone. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. wants to bring its membrane system to the U.S., having already installed it in seven ethanol plants in Europe and Japan. Both companies exhibited at the FEW, sharing their expertise on the new technology and its benefits, including replacing or complementing mole sieves. Find out how they work, who’s using them and where the technology might be headed. A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing in April that addressed the potential of a high-octane fuel standard. It seems like a win for ethanol, oil, automakers, convenience stores and almost all parties involved, but it’s not so straightforward. Some high-octane supporters want such a standard to completely replace the RFS (Can you guess who?). And, without the assurance of the RFS, there’s no guarantee that the octane used to satisfy an octane standard would be ethanol, or anything more than a 10 percent blend. Any legislation is early in development and has a long road ahead, but it’s on the minds of multiple industries. In fact, speakers on the policy-focused general session panel at the FEW discussed the topic extensively. Coverage of the high-octane fuel standard starts on page 26. Nope, this issue isn’t exclusively about the FEW, but it seems all topics are covered there. All the important contacts and technology leaders are present there. It’s easy to tie anything ethanol to that conference. Everything comes back to the FEW. And I’ll keep going back, too.




2019 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 10-12, 2019 Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana

From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production—from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and fiscal management. The FEW is the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program covers cellulosic ethanol while remaining committed to optimizing existing grain ethanol operations. 866-746-8385

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Colocated with the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop, the Advanced Biofuels Conference is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385

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Fuel Your Knowledge By Bob Dinneen

For the 10th consecutive year, the Renewable Fuels Association will be partnering with the Buffalo Chip Campground to host this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, scheduled for Aug. 3 to 12 in Sturgis, South Dakota. The motorcycle event always

offers a unique opportunity to educate consumers and promote the benefits of homegrown, low-carbon, high-octane ethanol. This year, RFA plans to not only continue its educational outreach, but will have a custom bike on display to help dispel misinformation about ethanol. In mid-June, the custom ethanol motorcycle by Paul Jr. Designs and commissioned by RFA was featured on the hit reality TV show “American Chopper,” which aired on The Discovery Channel. The episode showed the design and build of the E85 bike, with the big reveal filmed at East Kansas Agri-Energy, an RFA member company in Garnett, Kansas. See a photo of the bike on page 39. The episode not only showed viewers how the custom bike was built, but also helped address misinformation in the motorcycle community about ethanol. During the show, Paul Teutul Jr. said he initially thought using ethanol would cause problems to the motorcycle. “That’s simply because I was uneducated about the process,” he told viewers. “This was really about educating people the same way I got educated about ethanol through the process of building a bike for RFA. … It’s about public awareness and letting them know it’s a good product. Actually, it’s a very good product and it works very well in motorcycles.” Paul Jr. was the perfect partner for this project because he understands engines and now sees the numerous benefits of using


ethanol. He also has an implicit understanding of farmers and ethanol, designing a bike that reflects the work ethic, patriotism and rebel spirit of rural America. The TV show, which is broadcast to 230 countries in 90 different languages, will be a great educational tool to reach a broader audience. That’s exactly what the Fuel Your Knowledge education campaign is about: correcting the record on the use of ethanol blends in small and off-road engines, educating the owners of these engines on what fuels they can legally and safely use, and highlighting the benefits of choosing ethanol blends. Specifically, on motorcycles, E10 has been used as a safe and cost-saving alternative to straight gasoline for decades. In fact, every motorcycle manufacturer endorses the use of E10, while some approve the use of even higher blends. Motorcycle advocacy groups have declared opposition to E15 a top policy priority and falsely argue that EPA is not taking proper steps to educate consumers or prevent purported misfuelling. With efforts such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the “American Chopper” episode, and the Fuel Your Knowledge campaign, RFA will continue to demonstrate our industry’s commitment to consumer education about ethanol’s numerous benefits. Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association 202.289.3835


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With Friends Like This... By Doug Sombke

The news we get out of Washington these days lies somewhere between incredible and laughable, particularly with our Environmental Protection Agency. There is no precedent for the anti-ethanol, pro-oil actions

of a federal agency like we are seeing from EPA. And this is from an administration and an agency that professes to be a friend to ethanol. It reminds us of the old saying: “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” But let’s be clear: They are not friends to ethanol or, for that matter, agriculture. In this last display of "support,” led by technocrats in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the agency has proposed to make the use of ethanol blends above 15 percent volume illegal and restrict such blends to flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). This comes on the heels of recent waivers granted by EPA to refiners who have failed to comply with the law of the land— the Renewable Fuel Standard—requiring the petroleum industry to include a modest percentage of fuels derived from renewable resources. A previously established market of at least 15 billion gallons has been whittled down by 2 billion gallons, effectively reducing corn demand by nearly 700 million bushels. With many of our farmers already operating below the cost of production, this is another blow. It also comes at a time when EPA is grappling with federal fuel economy standards and the need for high-octane, low-carbon fuels—a job description ethanol fills perfectly when used in higher blends. The Department of Energy has long endorsed the use of blends between 25 and 40 percent as the sweet spot for ethanol in terms of price, octane and emissions. Here in South Dakota, a joint effort by corn growers and ethanol producers continues to demonstrate E30 blends in conventional vehicles with tremendous success and no problems whatsoever. And that is important because, in another ironic twist to this story, FFVs have been put out to pasture thanks to EPA. Automaker incentives to produce such vehicles have been all but eliminated and the fact is, the higher blends are more efficient in conventional vehicles. EPA has all the legal authority it needs to extend the vapor pressure rules to allow year-round use of E15 and higher blends, but has not included such a rule or even proposed to do so. Nor has it approved


an E30 certified fuel by which auto manufacturers can vigorously test new models to enable them to optimize and provide warrantees. Yet, EPA has the time and resources to pull out an Obama Administration proposed rule that the Trump Administration should throw away. The rule proposed by EPA is called Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support and is the answer to a question no one in the ethanol industry asked. But one does not need to be a master detective to conclude who would ask for such an action: the petroleum industry. Is there any precedent for an industry to have a federal agency cap its competition? It is so outrageous it is hard to really grasp. Not only does such an action cap the volume of ethanol but it relegates it to its lowest value. Its highest value is to provide octane and reduce the toxic carcinogens in gasoline while offering consumers a significant cost savings at the pump. Left unchallenged, the oil industry would have a guaranteed 85 percent of the motor fuel market for lightduty vehicles. The 15 percent share left for ethanol would be used for octane but the oil industry would continue to make a huge profit off the lower price it pays for that ethanol, all the while continuing to unnecessarily poison the air all Americans breathe. The ethanol industry, farmers everywhere, environmentalists and health advocates should share a common goal of having this rule scrapped. Proponents of a free market should be appalled at the intervention of a federal agency in the market. Consumers should be outraged that a lower-cost, healthier fuel is intentionally being denied to them by the very government agency charged to protect them. In fact, anyone other than someone who makes a profit off gasoline should make defeating this rule a high priority. Author: Doug Sombke President, South Dakota Farmers Union

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People, Partnerships & Projects

Moore, Walker recognized at FEW for contributions to ethanol industry Moore

Two industry leaders were recognized in June at the 2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Omaha for their contributions to the ethanol industry. Kristy Moore, principal of KMoore Consulting, was presented with the High-Octane Award and Graeme Walker, professor of zymology at Abertay University in Scotland and director of Abertay Yeast Research Group, received the Award of Excellence. The High-Octane Award recognizes a person whose commitment and passion have benefited the ethanol industry, fitting for Moore’s two decades of service. During the FEW awards ceremony, Moore thanked the many mentors and colleagues she has encountered during her career in the ethanol industry. “Thank you for this distinguished honor. I am humbled to join the ranks of Tom Buis and Geoff Cooper by receiving this award,” she said. “My career in the ethanol industry includes a who’s who in this industry that have crossed my path and influenced my passion for global fuels.” The Award of Excellence recognizes



the significant contributions an individual has made to the fuel ethanol industry through research, technical advisory or development activities. Walker was presented the award in recognition of his more than 40 years of work in the areas of yeast and fermentation. Accepting his award, Walker expressed appreciation and discussed Scotland’s history in alcohol production. “It’s a fantastic award and I’m extremely honored to accept this accolade,” he said. “You might be asking yourself why is a Scotsman up here accepting this award? In fact, Scotland doesn’t have a particularly active ethanol industry but we have been making ethanol for over 500 years. The problem is we bottle it,” Graeme said, prompting a laugh from the crowd. “I’d like to dedicate this to a lifelong friend and mentor,” he continued. “In fact, you guys wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this particular individual. His name is saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast used in brewing).”

Nebraska Corn Growers Association joins USGC The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is a new member of the U.S. Grains Council. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is committed to enhance and expand the use, marketing and efficient production of corn. The association works to create and increase opportunities for Nebraska corn farmers through advocacy, education, partnerships and leadership development. The vision of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association is: “Enhancing demand. Adding value. Ensuring sustainability.”

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Nepveux joins USGC as manager of trade policy

Kuper, Evans receive Kathy Bryan Memorial Scholarship Kuper


Patrick Kuper and Lee Evans were the recipients of the Kathy Bryan Memorial Scholarship in June at the 2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Omaha. Kuper and Evans each will receive $2,000 to further their education in the ethanol field. The scholarships are offered to applicants planning a course of study that might lead to a career in the ethanol industry and broader sectors, such as environmental science, sustainability, renewable energy, energy efficiency and reduced global carbon emissions. The scholarship program honors Kathy Bryan, cofounder of the FEW and former president of BBI International. Kathy was a known champion for ethanol since the 1980s and held a positive vision for stronger rural communities, a prosperous agriculture and environmental stewardship. Kuper will use his scholarship to attend Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. His father is employed at Flint Hills Resources in Ames, Iowa. Evans is a shift supervisor at Central Indiana Ethanol in Marion, Indiana, and will use his scholarship to advance his education at Ivy Tech Community College in Marion, Indiana. In the early 2000s, BBI International began an effort to direct attention to the ethanol industry and rural community development by providing scholarships to individuals interested in possibly working in the ethanol industry. By 2005, the FEW was awarding $500 scholarships to as many as five students. The FEW scholarship program has taken different shapes since, but the goal is always to provide funding to students heading to college or a technical school.


Allison Nepveux joined the U.S. Grains Council as the manager of trade policy in the organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. In this role, Nepveux will support USGC’s trade policy work by implementing creative and effective initiatives to advance trade policy and market access goals, and reduce barriers that affect the export of coarse grains and coproducts. “I am pleased and excited to add Allison’s great enthusiasm to our work advancing international trade,” says Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade policy and biotechnology. “Her experience and perspective on the importance of developing markets for U.S. farmers will further strengthen the council’s trade policy work.” Before USGC, Nepveux worked for the United Fresh Produce Association as the manager of technology and equipment. In this capacity, she was responsible for executing the United FreshTEC Expo, managing a board of directors in the fresh-cut and value-added segment, and driving membership value for emerging, established technology and equipment brands. Nepveux has a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness with a certificate in international trade and a minor in Spanish from Texas A&M University.

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BIRDS-EYE VIEW: The use of Whitefox Technologies Ltd.’s membrane system is growing. Pictured is the installation at Pacific Ethanol in Madera, California. The system is installed at three ethanol plants, with five more in the works. PHOTO: WHITEFOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD



‘THE WAY FORWARD’ Membrane dehydration technologies save energy, reduce carbon emissions and provide flexibility in ethanol purity. More plants are installing them and more technology developers are offering them. By Tim Albrecht

Membrane dehydration tec- in the works. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi ChemiCorp. is bringing its technology to the hnology is another cog in eth- cal U.S. ethanol sector. anol producers’ push toward higher efficiency in their plants. Same Goal, Different The technology brings a bevy of benefits to a facility, including steam and water savings, Technology flexibility and less fusel oils in the distillation process. As the ethanol industry continues to grow and mature, it’s important that it invest in reducing costs and improving sustainability, particularly in terms of energy and water use, says Gillian Harrison, CEO of Whitefox Technologies Ltd. “This ensures it remains competitive, survives when margins are stretched and can fend off attacks from critics on its sustainability credentials. “Energy and water costs become an even bigger issue when considering cellulosic renewable fuels, when the front-end energy and water usage is higher than with corn ethanol,” she says. “In cellulosic production, the solvent content coming out of fermentation can be as low as 2 percent with, say, isobutanol, so efficient water removal is essential to commercial success.” Whitefox’s membrane technology is installed in three ethanol plants, with five more

Each membrane option has its own specific process. Generally, membrane dehydration involves passing a fuel stream through a membrane to remove water from the ethanol, but each technology is a little different. Common mole sieve processes in ethanol plants require a periodical regeneration. Zeolite beads used for dehydration collect water as ethanol passes through the process, leaving nearly pure ethanol, and collected water that needs to be purged. So, the process is reversed and ethanol is pushed back through the beads. The water and ethanol mix resulting from that step is reintroduced to the plant’s distillation column and the dehydration process begins again, Harrison says. Whitefox’s integrated cartridge efficiency (ICE) membrane technology cuts that regeneration cycle out. The technology uses polymeric hollow fiber membranes. As the mix of ethanol and water passes through the membrane, water is absorbed by the layer on

the membrane, essentially dissolving on the layer. A vacuum pulls the water through the layer. Ethanol is resistant to the membrane and exits the system dry, Harrison says. “The membrane technology itself is a continuous dehydration technology that separates the water from the ethanol. It does that a little bit like a filter, but it’s not by particle size, rather by chemical affinity. “It’s a continuous separation process,” she adds. “So, unlike a molecular sieve, we don’t have a stop-start batch process, because there’s no regeneration. You don’t have to regenerate or repurify or clean the membrane. It’s just continuously separating the water from the ethanol.” Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., a new entrant in the U.S. corn ethanol industry, offers its Zebrex membrane dehydration technology, also a continuous process. The Zebrex system is already used in more than 70 plants across the world, seven of which are ethanol plants in Europe and Japan. Mitsubishi is currently working in partnership with ICM Inc. to bring its technology to the U.S. Mitsubishi will manufacture the membranes and work with ICM on engineering. ICM will manufacture the overall modules in the U.S. and then provide full engineerETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 19


UP CLOSE: Operators at Pacific Ethanol in Madera, California, say plant stability and cooling water consumption improved after the Whitefox ICE technology was installed. PHOTO: WHITEFOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD

ing, procurement and construction services to plants, along with startup support and process guarantees, says Mayumi Kiyono-Shimobe, business development manager for Mitsubishi Chemical America Inc. “We see a key to success for Zebrex is having not just the membrane, but also the ability to properly integrate it into the ethanol plant and provide a turnkey construction and startup solution.” The replacement of the modules created by ICM will be a simple process, Steve Hartig, vice president of technology development for ICM, said in June at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Omaha. “One of the nice parts of modules is each element is a separate unit. So, if there are issues with maintenance or failure, a single element can be taken out and replaced at very low cost. You’re looking at an average of about five to six years of replacement cycle for the elements.” Both Whitefox and Mitsubishi’s membrane systems can run in vapor phase, while Mitsubishi’s Zebrex system can run in liquid phase, as well. Each system can be implement-

ed alongside existing pressure swing adsorption processes (PSA)— such as mole sieves—or as a replacement. Operating in vapor phase enables Whitefox’s system to get better process conditions and performance in a large biofuels plant, Harrison says. “We’re less likely to deal with some of the impurities in the production process that you might see in a liquid-based process.”

Staying Flexible

Energy reduction, purity flexibility and debottlenecking distillation capacity and dehydration are the main benefits of membranes Hartig shared with his audience at the FEW. Whitefox and Mitsubishi say their membrane systems are all about customization, able to be shaped to each specific facility. Mitsubishi’s Zebrex system is a “Swiss army knife-type technology” depending on what the plant needs and how it’s used, Hartig said. “It can be modified to each specific plant. It doesn’t do just one thing, it depends on the needs of the plant.” Both membrane systems are easy to install. “If producing European ethanol or industrial alcohol, the Zebrex system can be put in a drop-in skid to create a separate stream,” Hartig said. “If you had a 100 MMgy plant and wanted to make 10 million gallons of European-grade ethanol, you could put in a small skid and just do that as a separate stream, or turn it on and off. It gives a lot of flexibility Continued on page 24

AT PACIFIC ETHANOL: Whitefox’s ICE modular membrane installation treats the molecular sieve regenerate stream at Pacific Ethanol in Madera, California. The small footprint simplifies installation and tie-in points for integration with existing processes. PHOTO: WHITEFOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD

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DEHYDRATION Continued from page 21

if a plant wants the diversification potential but not necessarily spend the money to have 100 percent of the capacity going up to the higher purity.â&#x20AC;? With Whitefoxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s technology, vapor can be pushed through the membrane at 50 to 70 percent water to ethanol, Harrison says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We can start that dehydration step much earlier in the process and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a single step dehydration to whatever purity you want. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With our membrane, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to create whatever you want in and whatever

you want out in a single step. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a function of vacuum, pressure and the flow, which is regulated by the operator.â&#x20AC;? The combination of Whitefoxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s membrane system with its design and process engineering provides a handful of energy benefits. The ICE solution provides the ability to increase capacity by up to 20 percent by taking out the recycle stream, while reducing energy use by 1,000 to 2,000 Btu per gallon, which provides steam savings. Linked to steam are carbon-emission reduc-

Boost your Bottom Line with Enhanced Corn Oil Yield

STANDING ON-SITE: From left: Sean Lorimor, Whitefox field engineer; Ben Potratz, Fox River Valley Ethanol facilities engineering manager; and James Zhou, Whitefox senior process engineer, stand on site after startup of the ICE technology at Fox River Valley Ethanol in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. PHOTO: WHITEFOX TECHNOLOGIES LTD

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tions of about one to two carbon intensity points, Harrison says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also the overall improvement of operations where producers have seen their plants become more stable with no stop-start in the production process.â&#x20AC;? Whitefoxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s technology is also resistant to fusel oils, which can cause upsets in the distillation section of production. Occasionally, fusel oils can end up back in the system because of the typical recycle loops and can cause contamination of fermentation, Harrison says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our membranes are fusel oil-resistant, so weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to feed the fusel streams through the membranes, as well, to help take the fusel oils out of the recycling of the system.â&#x20AC;? The Zebrex system allows for an increase of production capacity by about 20

DEHYDRATION percent compared with current PSA processes, energy savings of 10 to 20 percent and improved plant operating stability, Kiyono-Shimobe says, adding that a complete replacement of a plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current PSA with Zebrex can achieve energy savings of up to 30 percent.

The Vision

Harrison says membrane technology is â&#x20AC;&#x153;the way forwardâ&#x20AC;? and will become more popular as ethanol production continues to grow. Biorefineries will need all sorts of separations involving membranes, she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to stand alongside the existing ethanol producers to be a part of that future development.â&#x20AC;? Mitsubishi sees a â&#x20AC;&#x153;significant opportunityâ&#x20AC;? to help U.S. producers take advantage of plant debottlenecking solutions and energy savings with the Zebrex system, KiyonoShimobe says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is clear there is a trend in the U.S. ethanol market for energy reduction driven both by cost and by low-carbon fuel standards.â&#x20AC;? Mitsubishiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Zebrex system is slated to be installed at Aemetis Inc.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s facility in Keyes, California, by 2019. The 60 MMgy facility would be the first corn ethanol plant in the U.S. to use the system, with a goal of lowering carbon score, says Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our goals are reducing our natural gas use and thereby the amount of carbon used in our ethanol production by about 25 percent, eliminating regen from the PSA and thereby increasing production capacity at the plant. The overall goal, though, is the increased value of our ethanol product by decreasing the carbon intensity of each gallon.â&#x20AC;? While Mitsubishi is looking to get its foot in the door of the ethanol industry, Whitefoxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ICE technology is currently operating in three plants across the U.S.: Pine Lake Corn Processors in Iowa, Fox River Valley Ethanol in Wisconsin and Pacific Ethanol in California. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have four additional plants that are currently in engineering and installation,â&#x20AC;? Harrison says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;By the end of this year, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll definitely have seven with a possible eighth, which weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the final stages of discussions on.â&#x20AC;? Whitefox is hoping to bring membranes to more parts of the ethanol production

process, as well as other industries, Harrison says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We draw a lot of inspiration from nature and nature uses membranes for all of its separations. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see little Bunsen burners, distillation columns and separation of molecules by boiling point in nature. So, ultimately thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our great ambition. Membrane technology installed in many different industrial processesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;such as jet fuel, isobutanolâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;involve separation and that water removal step is often the most energy intensive

of the whole process. Our vision is to develop membranes to help improve that separation process in products that we all use.â&#x20AC;? Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922








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FRONT Experts in multiple industries support the idea of a high-octane fuel standard, but some prefer it as a replacement to the RFS. By Tim Albrecht

Octane is important. The ethanol industry knows this, the automakers know it and even the oil industry understands it. But when it comes to implementing a high-octane fuel standard, the parties are split on how to go about it. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing April 13 titled “High Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities” to discuss the proposal for a high-octane fuel standard. The meeting was attended by several prominent figures across the ethanol, auto, fuel marketing and agriculture sectors, including Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. 26 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2018

According to Skor, two main groups are “coalescing” around a nationwide highoctane fuel standard of 95 research octane number (RON), which is about 91 octane fuel at the pump. Those two groups are U.S. auto manufacturers and fuel petroleum marketers, two of the voices that spoke alongside Skor at the House Committee hearing in April. “From the auto perspective, what they’re saying is if we have a 95 RON, we will get an added lift in terms of the octane performance and that will help us meet some of our fuel economy standards,” Skor says. “So, there are benefits to the automakers, which I don’t challenge or doubt. The

fuel petroleum marketers are also saying they like this (the high-octane fuel standard) as a national standard and that’s something we can get behind.” For the ethanol industry, a high-octane fuel would be a mid-level blend of E20 or E30. Growth Energy has been a part of a working group of over 60 organizations— including ethanol manufacturers, auto manufacturers and corn growers—coordinating for several years on that very thing, Skor says. “A lot of our research and analysis has been on that E20 to E30 sweet spot. “There has been a lot of research done recognizing that’s the point where you’re maximizing the greenhouse gas reduction

FACING THE OPPOSITION: Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, testifies during an April 13 House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Environment hearing titled “High Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities.” PHOTO: GROWTH ENERGY

emission benefits, the consumer savings and for new vehicles will be a win for all industhe performance benefits for the automak- tries and, most importantly, consumers.” ers.” Nicholson testified at the hearing to the capabilities of the auto industry and the technological improvements it has made, Broad Support Each organization that testified at the but insisted on the need for a higher-octane hearing was in support of a higher-octane fuel standard to complement those advancfuel standard and Dan Nicholson, vice pres- es. “The global automotive market is growident of global propulsion systems at Gen- ing, and multiple technologies and solutions eral Motors, said the standard would be ben- will be needed to match demand. Octane is eficial for everyone involved from ethanol one of those solutions. We have an opporto the oil industry. “We believe increasing tunity to play a large role in offering conthe minimum octane level in U.S. gasoline sumers the most affordable option for fuel

economy improvement and greenhouse gas reduction. We believe a higher efficiency gasoline solution with a higher RON is very important to achieving this.” The auto industry has taken steps to “improve engine efficiency via downsized turbocharged engines, improved multispeed transmissions and a handful of eco-friendly improvements,” Nicholson said at the hearing. The auto industry is focused now on the next regulatory action in engine efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction, says Kristy ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 27

HEARING AND LISTENING: The House Energy and Commerce Committeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Subcommittee on Environment hosts an April 13 hearing to listen to testimony on the possibility of a high-octane fuel standard. PHOTO: GROWTH ENERGY


POLICY Moore, principal at KMoore Consulting LLC. For example, the industry is expected to reach a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard of close to 50 miles per gallon in the next 10 years, she says. “Those two pressures being put on the automakers has them saying they can do it, but they need better fuels to put in the cars,” Moore says. “And, octane is a parameter of gasoline that can bring that technology to consumers while automakers can meet the regulatory requirements at the same time.” Also pledging support for a high-octane fuel standard at the hearing was Timothy Columbus, general counsel to the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. It would provide fuel blend flexibility for retailers and refineries, while still allowing a way for automakers to meet fuel economy standards and market opportunity for renewable fuel producers, he said. The octane standard also would align the U.S. with standards common in other parts of the world and incentivize higher efficiency engines, Columbus added.

As part of fuel blend flexibility, Columbus petitioned for the market to dictate which fuel blends were available at the pump. “In considering any change to the fuels market, it is relevant to consider how the market will adjust to meet new requirements. In the case of the octane solution, the key to successful retailer integration is the flexibility of the RON regime … If a fuel meets RON and RVP (Reid vapor pressure) specifications, it is up to the market to determine which fuel blends are desired by customers.”

The Catch

But a high-octane fuel standard comes with one major hitch for the biofuels industry—the argument for replacing the Renewable Fuel Standard. During the April hearing Chet Thompson, president and CEO of American Fuel Petrochemicals Manufacturers, advocated for the implementation of a 95 RON standard as a replacement for the RFS. “If done correctly—through free market principles, the sunsetting of the RFS

and implemented over a reasonable phasein period—higher octane fuels have the potential to benefit all stakeholders,” Thompson said during the hearing. “Higher octane fuels, specifically 95 RON, would help auto companies improve the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and comply with fuel efficiency standards. It would provide the biofuel industry with the opportunity to expand its market share. It would end the RFS for refiners and provide product flexibility for the marketers. And it could benefit consumers by creating a transparent and competitive market for all liquid fuels to compete.” AFPM supports a legislative process to reform and eventually sunset the RFS program. The RFS is full of “uncertainties, inefficiencies and fraud,” Thompson alleged at the hearing, adding the uncertainties will continue to grow as the RFS gets closer to a transition to the full discretion of the EPA after 2022. Given the level of investment needed for a high-octane fuel standard, there isn’t a scenario where AFPM would consider

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ON THE SPOT: Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy (second from left), testifies during an April hearing to discuss a high-octane fuel standard. She's accompanied at the table by Timothy Columbus, general counsel to the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (far left); Dan Nicholson, vice president of global propulsion systems at General Motors (second from right); and Paul Jeschke, member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association (far right). PHOTO: GROWTH ENERGY

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an octane standard in addition to the RFS, Thompson said. “Not only is the investment uncertainty associated with the RFS incompatible with a higher-octane standard, but the effect would further distort the fuel and vehicles market, undermining any consumer benefit that might otherwise occur.” Columbus called for reform of the RFS, saying a phase-down of mandates for corn ethanol would coincide with a phase-in of vehicles that must run on higher-octane fuels. A standard for newly manufactured vehicles (after a specific model year) that requires them to run on a minimum 95 RON may be a new option as 2022 approaches, he said. “In looking for a way to handle the RFS post-2022, Congress must take into account both the program’s successes as well as its shortfalls to ensure that any solution successfully shapes the future of the liquid transportation fuels market in the U.S.,” Columbus said during the hearing. “If you’re only talking about highoctane fuels and moving to a national standard with 91 octane as a new baseline, that’s great,” Skor tells Ethanol Producer Magazine. “Where things get complicated is they’re coupling this conversation with sunsetting the RFS and making some amendments to the RFS.”

POLICY Skor says the octane standard and RFS conversations should be separate, as the two can co-exist. Without the certainty of the RFS, there is no guarantee that the “modest increase” of octane under a highoctane fuel standard will result in market growth for American-made biofuels, she says. “That’s really the rub right now. … That’s where we get concerned. Ninety-one premium fuel is already on the market today and it’s made with E10. It can be made with a 10 percent blend of ethanol and it can be made with no ethanol, but there’s no guarantees or assurances in this conversation that the octane used for 91 will be ethanol or anything above a 10 percent blend of ethanol.”

don’t want to commit to new engines unless the new fuel is widely available. “And there are a lot of details yet to be decided, including exactly what the highoctane standard should be, how many years refiners and automakers need in order to make the transition, and what gas stations must do in order to provide this new fuel for new vehicles while still carrying the old fuels for existing vehicles,” Shimkus said at the hearing. “We also must figure out what other legal and regulatory provisions need

to be revised or repealed in order for a highoctane transition to work. And most important of all, we need to make sure that what we do is of net benefit to consumers.” Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922

What’s Next?

A high-octane fuel standard is still in the early planning stages and any bill developed would have to go through the long legislative process. During the opening statements of the hearing, John Shimkus, chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, called it a “major undertaking.” Skor says, “The challenge right now is they’re tying this to sunsetting the RFS and I don’t think there is any individual throughout the biofuels supply chain that would support that. So, politically this is going to be really tough for Mr. Shimkus to move through Congress.” The implementation of a high-octane fuel standard can’t come soon enough, Moore says. Congress can do it, but it’s going to take plenty of collaboration and would be brand new for many parts of the country, as only a handful of states regulate octane, she says. “It’s kind of self-policed by the oil industry currently,” Moore says. “Consumers in the mountain states get shortchanged. They only get 85 or 86 octane. There hasn’t been a car manufactured to take less than 87 octane since 1984. That proves to me that if it’s self-policed, the oil industry won’t do it, they’ll follow their pocketbooks. That’s why it needs to be a standard.” Shimkus said at the hearing the committee faces a “proverbial chicken and egg conundrum,” in that it can’t expect refiners and gas stations to invest in a new fuel unless there is a guarantee vehicles will be produced that will run on it, while automakers ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 31


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The 34th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo drew 2,250 attendees and 350 exhibitors to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, June 11 to 13. By Lisa Gibson


Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor opened the 34th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 12 in Omaha, Nebraska, with a keynote address that discussed the ethanol industry’s battles ahead and the scars from its past victories.

“With your help, we can tear down the roadblocks in our way and propel this industry forward on a scale our opponents will never


see coming. … Winning yesterday’s victories has not been easy. And we’ve got the scars to show it. “The battles ahead are tougher,” Skor told her audience. “They’re higher-stakes and we need to remind ourselves that we can win.” Skor touched on Reid vapor pressure relief, battles involving the Renewable Fuel Standard and opening more global markets. “RVP relief could put us on course for an additional 1.3 billion (gallons of) ethanol demand in the next five years.” That figure is


This year's FEW attracted 2,250 attendees, many of whom listened to the keynote address by Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, as well as the general session panel discussion immediately following it June 12.

not “pie in the sky,” she noted. “It’s a reflection of the E15 market that we’ve created.” Ethanol’s critics are more active than ever, Skor said. “Not because we are weak, but because we are strong.” This year’s FEW attracted 2,250 attendees and 350 exhibitors. It featured the first Efficient Ethanol Production Seminar preconference June 11, alongside the traditional Ethanol 101 preconference. Together, the two drew about 130 attendees. The event was again colocated with the Advanced Biofuels Confer-

ence. Panels during the breakout sessions focused on all things ethanol, including efficiency, compliance, coproducts, finance and more. It was the first year the event has been held in Omaha, a city BBI International President Tom Bryan noted in his welcome address is in the heart of the ethanol industry. A tour of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy capped the show, featuring the Council Bluffs plant’s production process and innovations. Here are some highlights from the event. ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 35


BBI International President Tom Bryan opens the 34th Annual FEW in Omaha June 12.

This year's keynote speaker was Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.

Ethanol Producer Magazine Editor Lisa Gibson (left) and BBI International President Tom Bryan pose with 2018 High-Octane Award winner Kristy Moore. Moore is the principal of KMoore Consulting LLC.

Gibson and Bryan pose with 2018 Award of Excellence winner Graeme Walker. Walker is a professor of zymology at Abertay University in Scotland and director of the Abertay Yeast Research Group.



Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (second from right), discusses policy during the FEW general session June 12. From left: moderator Tim Portz, BBI International program director; Geoff Cooper, executive vice president of the Renewable Fuels Association; Jennings; and John Fuher, vice president of government affairs for Growth Energy.

Attendees line up to register for the 34th Annual FEW in Omaha, Nebraska, June 12.



Tim Portz, BBI International's program director; Craig Pilgrim, vice president of marketing and product development for Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits; and Tom Bryan, BBI International president, cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the trade show the evening of June 11.

FEW attendees take advantage of a broad breakfast spread the morning of June 12.



Brandon Shearer, technical service account manager for DuPont Industrial Biosciences, and Patrick Heinemann, lab manager at Dakota Ethanol LLC in Wentworth, South Dakota, talk ethanol on the trade show floor.

Booth designs were innovative this year, including Bion Cos.' cornfilled coffee table cubes on a grass rug.

Attendees mill around the expo hall, among the 350 exhibitors filling the space.

From left: Robert White, vice president of industry relations for the Renewable Fuels Association; Paul Teutel Jr., of the reality TV series American Chopper; and Angus Ballard, president of Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits, stand near the E85 motorcycle designed by Teutel and commissioned by the RFA.

The 2018 FEW included an evening trip to the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, where attendees took in the architecture of Union Station.

Dinner the evening of June 13 was served at the Durham Museum.











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MontrĂŠal InterContinental MontrĂŠal

September 9â&#x20AC;&#x201C;14, 2018 38 Years of Industry Education Now in its 38th year, The Alcohol School has been educating fuel ethanol and distilled beverage producers in the science of alcohol production. The weeklong program is designed for lab, plant, and management personnel and is organized around lectures, laboratory demonstrations, seminars, and plant visits. The program will cover the process of ethanol and beverage alcohol production from milling and mash preparation through fermentation and distillation. Enzyme usage, yeast biology, bacterial contamination and control will also be discussed, along with other issues currently affecting both industries.

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2018 August Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The E15 Issue Plus: Dehydration Technology

2018 August Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The E15 Issue Plus: Dehydration Technology