INSIDE: ONE PLANT, 1 BILLION GALLONS LATER AUGUST 2011
2011 FEW Review Photos and Reports from the 27th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo Page 50
ALSO The Promise of Sugar-based Feedstocks Page 78
Troubleshooting the Basics of Fermentation Page 86
Ethanol Producers, Farmers, Environmentalists Share Views Page 94
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August issue 2011 VOL. 19 ISSUE 8
2011 FEW Review
Reports from the conference keynote and panel presentations By Holly Jessen, Kris Bevill, Ron Kotrba and Susanne Retka Schill
Reflections on producing the one billionth gallon By Kris Bevill
Proposed projects feature sugar-based feedstocks By Holly Jessen
A Constant in Changing Times
Catching the Sugar Wave
Reviewing the basics of fermentation By Sabrina Trupia
Farmers, ethanol producers and environmentalists learn about each other on Brazil tour By Julia Olmstead
Troubleshootingâ€”How the Lab Can Help
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Seeking Common Ground
AUGUST issue 2011 VOL. 19 ISSUE 8
Helping Ethanol Producers Operate in the ‘Sweet Spot’
Better understanding of DP4+ peak informs new analytical method By Guillermo Coward-Kelly
Louisiana Biofuels Plan Would Decentralize Production
State vision for rural development through ethanol languishes By Michael K. Bullard
Sweet Sorghum Boosts the Efficiency of Ethanol Input/output ratios much higher for water-sipping crop By Benjamin Burroughs
Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) August 2011, Vol. 19, Issue 8. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly. 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.
6 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
A Satisfying Event By Susanne Retka Schill
The Way I See It
Plain Target Versus Imbedded Subsidies By Mike Bryan
Upcoming Conferences & Trade Shows
View From the Hill
The Work at Hand for E15 Market Expansion By bob dinneen
How Far We’ve Come in the Ethanol Industry By tom buis
E15. What Now? By ron lamberty
Entering the Endgame By robert vierhout
Growing Challenge of Glyphosate-Resistant Weeds By mark jeschke
Iowa Expands Renewable Fuels Incentives By andrew anderson & adam b. thimmesch
114 Marketplace 118 Ad Index
The 27th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo is history. For many, the FEW is about hear-
A Satisfying event Susanne Retka Schill, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
For industry news.
ing the latest from the experts and learning about new technologies. For exhibitors, it’s about the opportunity to meet customers face to face and make new contacts. For many others it’s all about the networking—seeing old friends, making new ones. Over a quarter of registrants were ethanol producers this year, a satisfying proportion for us at Ethanol Producer Magazine. One of our frustrations is that the event is so packed with important speakers and topics to cover that we barely have a chance to seek out and speak to our prime target audience—the men and women who work in ethanol plants in both North America, and around the world. The 2,000 registrants came from 45 states, six Canadian provinces and 24 countries. We must not forget the 300-some exhibitors. Without the expo, the FEW would never attract such a broad representation of the ethanol industry. In this issue, you’ll read reports on the keynote and breakout sessions from the editors of this magazine and our colleague, Ron Kotrba, editor of Biodiesel Magazine. Also in this issue, we have the first of what we hope will become a regular feature. Sabrina Trupia, an expert in fermentation and laboratory training at the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, writes about the basics of troubleshooting fermentation from the viewpoint of the laboratory analyst. The biological process of fermentation lies at the very heart of ethanol production and is a fitting start to a periodic article written by industry experts covering the basics of plant systems with a special focus on troubleshooting. Thanks to her article and the FEW presentations, I’m gaining a greater appreciation for the finely tuned ethanol plant—no small feat. We’re also pleased to share an article from Julia Olmstead who works with the Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The organization invited a small group of environmentalists, farmers and ethanol producers, along with IATP staff, to tour Brazil, where they learned more about indirect land use and each other. Olmstead asked three participants about their views following the trip. We think you will find their comments most thought-provoking.
Follow Us: twitter.com/EthanolMagazine
Associate Editors Associate Editor Holly Jessen covers a handful of proposed ethanol plants looking at sugarcane and sweet sorghum feedstocks, and even a sugar-producing microbe, in addition to her coverage of the FEW.
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Associate Editor Kris Bevill visits with Chief Ethanol on the occasion of producing its billionth gallon, and brings us several reports from the FEW.
Biodiesel Magazine Editor Ron Kotrba writes about coproducts in this issue, covering FEW sessions on corn oil, fractionation and DDGS.
EDITORIAL EDITOR Susanne Retka Schill email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITORS Holly Jessen firstname.lastname@example.org Kris Bevill email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Erica Marquis firstname.lastname@example.org Lindsey Noble email@example.com
PUBLISHING CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org CEO Joe Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT Tom Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org
SALES VICE PRESIDENT, SALES & MARKETING Matthew Spoor email@example.com EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT MANAGER Howard Brockhouse firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jeremy Hanson email@example.com ACCOUNT MANAGERS Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org Marty Steen email@example.com Bob Brown firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Anderson email@example.com Dave Austin firstname.lastname@example.org Nick Jensen email@example.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe email@example.com Senior Marketing Manager John Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL BOARD Mike Jerke Jeremy Wilhelm Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC Mick Henderson Corn Plus LLLP Keith Kor Golden Grain Energy LLC Walter Wendland Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP Cilion Inc.
Neal Jakel Illinois River Energy LLC Bert Farrish Lifeline Foods LLC Eric Mosebey Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC Steve Roe Little Sioux Corn Processors LP Bernie Punt Siouxland Energy & Livestock Co-op
Customer Service Please call 1-866-746-8385 or email us at email@example.com. Subscriptions to Ethanol Producer Magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit www.EthanolProducer.com 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 (701) 746-8385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising Ethanol Producer Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Ethanol Producer Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at (701) 746-8385 or email@example.com. 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 e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
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AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 9
10 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
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the way i see it
Plain Target Versus Imbedded Subsidies By Mike Bryan
To say I find it astonishing that the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit is likely to be cut by Congress while leaving the subsidies for the oil industry in place, would be a gross understatement. It’s unimaginable that Congress cut the provisions for a domestically produced, environmentally sustainable renewable fuel without touching Big Oil. In the final analysis, the ethanol industry will survive and perhaps will look back at this as a blessing. It will be one less tool in the arsenal of our opposition to use against us. It’s the principle of the thing that really is just wrong. At the risk of repeating the obvious, the oil industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world, making billions of dollars a year, and Congress cut ethanol subsidies. How could that possibly happen, one might ask? In my opinion, it’s from a Congress that has lost its direction, a Congress that appears to be more concerned about re-election and revenge than it is in doing what’s best
14 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
for the country. This is not the kind of representation that most of us expected when we went to the polls. I suppose it’s understandable, given the fact that the subsidies provided under VEETC were straightforward and easily identifiable on Congress’s radar screen. The subsidies provided to the oil industry, on the other hand, are much less obvious. From drilling subsidies, to oil depletion allowances and foreign tax credits, the subsidies for Big Oil are so deeply imbedded in the budget that it would actually take some work to ferret them out and eliminate them. Ethanol was right there in plain sight with a bullseye painted on its back. Ethanol now constitutes nearly 10 percent of America’s gasoline supply. It’s even been adopted by NASCAR as its fuel of choice. (Visit http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=hKSFqVN6EVofeature= related) Clint Bowyer, NASCAR sprint driver said, “If it (ethanol) can withstand what we put it through on race day, it can certainly withstand the highways.” Ethanol has become a vital part of our automotive liquid fuel requirements. So, the action of Congress to abandon this American-made renewable fuel is mystifying to say the least.
We all know that ethanol will survive and prosper without VEETC, but the sting of being singled out by Congress as a fuel that should be penalized over Big Oil, will remain in our memories for a long time to come. We all hope and anticipate that in the months ahead measures will be taken to put mechanisms in place that will help to not only sustain the ethanol industry, but to provide a platform for long-term growth. That’s the way I see it.
Author: Mike Bryan Chairman, BBI International email@example.com
International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show September 14-16, 2011 Hilton Americas – Houston | Houston, Texas The International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show brings together agricultural, forestry, waste, and petrochemical professionals to explore the value-added opportunities awaiting them and their organizations within the quickly maturing biorefining industry. (866) 746-8385 www.biorefiningconference.com
Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show October 11-13, 2011
Bioconversion, Biomass Experts Will Meet in Houston to Talk Biofuels, Biobased Chemicals
The inaugural International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show will take place Sept. 14 -16, 2011, at the Hilton Americas in Houston. This event will unite bioconversion technology providers and researchers from around the world with agriculture, forestry and refining professionals to discuss and examine the scale-up and commercial establishment of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals. The International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show brings together agricultural, forestry, waste and petrochemical professionals to explore the valueadded opportunities awaiting them and their organizations within the quickly maturing biorefining industry. The International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show will examine in great detail four critical questions facing the industry: • What sustainable inputs will feed the biorefineries of the future? • Which conversion approaches will find commercial success first? • What market opportunities are available to producers of biobased fuels and chemicals? • How will these capital intensive biorefineries be funded and built? These questions will be examined by researchers, venture capitalists, foresters, farmers, petroleum refiners, agri-business professionals and association representatives within four customized program tracks: Track 1: Pathways & Industrial Hosts Track 2: Inputs & Supply Chains Track 3: Products & Markets Track 4: Capital & Strategic Partners These tracks correspond with the critical questions facing the industry and will offer conference attendees an unparalleled opportunity to gain a broad understanding of where the industry is, what challenges it faces, and where it is headed. Professionals actively pursuing the biorefining industry as a growth opportunity can’t miss this event. Register today for the 2011 International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show. Visit www.biorefiningconference.com
Westin Place Hotel | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in the Northeast—from Maryland to Maine—the Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will connect current and future producers of biomassderived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels, with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utilities, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policymakers. Register by Aug. 30 and save $200 on conference registration. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/northeast
Algae Biomass Summit October 24-27, 2011 Hyatt Regency Minneapolis | Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by the Algae Biomass Organization and coproduced by BBI International, this event brings current and future producers of biobased products and energy together with algae crop growers, municipal leaders, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop—the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all algae industries. (866) 746-8385 www.algaebiomasssummit.org
Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show November 1-3, 2011 Hyatt Regency Atlanta | Atlanta, Georgia With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in the Southeast—from the Virginias to the Gulf Coast— the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will connect the area’s current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels, with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policy makers. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/southeast AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 15
view from the hill
The Work at Hand for E15 Market Expansion By Bob Dinneen
Back in October, I wrote on the RFA blog, “The E-Xchange,” about the steps that would be necessary to make E15 the standard fuel available in the United States, in much the same way E10 is today. With the issuing of the U.S. EPA’s label for E15 now final, the industry can move forward with more confidence to educate and assist gasoline marketers, retailers and consumers in making E15 widely available. First, working with Growth Energy, the RFA has submitted health effects testing and worked to fulfill the fuel registration process that must be conducted for any new fuel. That process is now nearly complete. Second, through our Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition, the RFA is researching the efficacy of current firefighting tools and techniques to address any E15-related incidents. Additionally, RFA is working with local fire marshals to ensure existing fueling infrastructure can operate with E15 blends and that they provide the go-ahead to sell E15 blends. Third, the RFA is working through ASTM, the standard-setting body for fuels, to certify E15’s octane rating as required by the Federal Trade Commission. Pure ethanol has an octane rating upwards of 109, compared to a standard gallon of unleaded gasoline octane possessing a rating of 87.
16 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Octane is an important component in fuel to ensure it ignites and burns properly in the engine. Additional federal regulations, such as
Blend Your Own ethanol campaign with the American Coalition for Ethanol and a larger group of state corn grower associations, the industry is actively and aggressively reach-
Reid vapor pressure standards, and statespecific fuel regulations must be addressed. In the case of the states, some are prepared to begin offering E15 immediately. In Iowa, for instance, the regulatory path is nearly cleared and some retailers have made clear their desire to offer E15 blends. Other states are not as far along in the process, and through the RFA’s technical committee, we are working with the appropriate state officials and other stakeholders to address these needs. It is important to remember the same challenges were presented to the widespread adoption of E10. With perseverance and a bit of elbow grease, the industry has been successful in removing those remaining barriers to E10 blends and the same will be done for E15—and it will not take the nearly 30 years it did for E10. Equally important to the regulatory work that is currently ongoing are RFA and industry efforts to educate fuel marketers, retailers and consumers alike. The final E15 label issued by EPA is an improvement from the agency’s original design and should not unintentionally frighten consumers away from using the fuel. But that doesn’t mean that our efforts to make stakeholders comfortable with E15 are not needed. To the contrary, they are more important today than they have ever been. Through the RFA market development team, and specifically through the
ing out to gasoline marketers and retailers to educate them about ethanol use, encourage them to install blender pumps and other ethanol-related infrastructure, and providing them all the tools they need to move forward. In the coming months and years, these efforts will be intensified until we are maximizing the amount of domestic ethanol this nation is consuming. On a separate note, but still related, the RFA is also working with fuel retailers to address the concerns created by EPA’s approach. Namely, the RFA is working with the Petroleum Marketers’ Association of America, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, the National Association of Convenience Stores and others to gain reintroduction of the Renewable Fuels Marketing Act. This bill is a commonsense approach to deal with liability concerns raised by retailers. This may seem a daunting task but the industry has no other choice than to do the hard work necessary to drive ethanol market expansion and accelerate this industry’s evolution. As we have clearly seen, no one is going to do it for us. The success of E15 and the future of this industry are firmly in our capable hands.
Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (202) 289-3835
MontrĂŠal InterContinental MontrĂŠal
September 18â€“23, 2011 A Tradition of Industry Education For 30 years, 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.
For More Information Registration is open to fuel ethanol, distilled beverage, and allied industries. Now is a good time to invest in education. Registration materials and additional information are available online at www.ethanoltech.com
6120 W Douglas Ave | Milwaukee WI 53218 USA +1 414 393-0410 | Fax +1 414 358-8012
How Far We’ve Come in the Ethanol Industry By Tom Buis
Last month, I attended the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Indianapolis and was once again impressed with the presentations, booth exhibits and new technologies on display. Every year, as I travel to these expos, I am reminded of how far the ethanol industry has come in only a few short decades, and how important it is that our industry succeeds in the future. Ethanol today is the most commercially viable alternative we have to foreign oil. It represents nearly 10 percent of our transportation fuel, reducing oil imports and harmful emissions. And now, with the U.S. EPA’s approval of a label for E15, we are one step closer in the process to adding E15 into the marketplace—a move that will create U.S. jobs, improve the environment and strengthen national security by displacing foreign oil. The label was announced by the EPA on the first day of the FEW—on the heels of a plenary panel about the American Ethanol partnership, an initiative by NASCAR to use Sunoco Green E15 in all of its Sprint Cup Series races. The new fuel has been used in every Sprint Cup
18 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Series race this season and, according to NASCAR, E15 hasn’t caused a single problem for their drivers. In fact, they have found that ethanol is a higher combustion fuel that provides their drivers increased horsepower. The American Ethanol’s partnership is helping NASCAR to go green and educating millions of consumers about the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol. The partnership is also a key validation of ethanol as a fuel for all Americans just as we are engaged in debate to open the market to even higher blends. As I write this column, negotiations are continuing between leaders in the House and Senate to reform ethanol tax policies to invest in ethanol infrastructure and next-generation feedstocks. Today we don’t have a production issue, we have a market-access issue. If we’re ever going to advance biofuels in this country, we need to open the market through expanded installation of flex-fuel pumps and other means, so that consumers do not have their fuel choice made for them. We know flex-fuel pumps work because in places such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, ethanol sales have skyrocketed—more than 200 or 300 percent since the flex-fuel pumps were put into the ground.
People make choices based on their pocketbook as well as on their values. Ethanol is the most affordable motor fuel on the planet and, as people in the Midwest know, it also creates jobs and helps our Midwestern economies. In the near term, E15 is a crucial step in giving consumers more choices at the pump. Long term, an investment in infrastructure will level the playing field and spur the private capital investment move into next generation cellulosic ethanol, a 50-state solution. There is no doubt that the ethanol industry has come a long way, but we still have much farther to go. Growth Energy is committed to working with producers and supporters of ethanol to ensure the future of this industry and continue to help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil, revitalize our rural communities and secure our energy future for generations to come.
Author: Tom Buis CEO, Growth Energy (202)545-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org
E15. What Now? By Ron Lamberty
While some in the ethanol industry may have imagined that EPA’s E15 label rollout would put an end to the foot-dragging that is keeping the approved ethanol blend out of gas stations, it instead appears to have just changed some of the footdraggers into heel-diggers and/ or kickers and screamers.
Yes, there are rules and regulations that need to be adjusted or rewritten, and there need to be specifications and official i’s that need to be dotted and t’s that need to be crossed. And there is the troublesome summer Reid vapor pressure rules that will probably keep E15 out of stations until at least fall, and will need to be dealt with before next summer. The fact that most regulators didn’t want to rewrite rule books until E15 is a reality was expected, and those changes are underway right now. But what most did not expect was the unbelievable level of misinformed rhetoric and vitriol being aimed at a fuel that has done exactly what ethanol was asked to do when the first renewable fuel standard was passed. Ethanol has helped improve
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air quality across the nation, has kept fuel prices from going even higher, and has helped bring the nation close to providing more than half of our own fuel—something we haven’t done in over 20 years. And yet the current opposition is as strong as support was only a few years ago. One attempt at an E15 “do-over” took the form of Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin asking companies that didn’t offer a shred of science during the E15 debate to come to, ironically, the House Science Committee to tell non-scientific, anti-ethanol ghost stories. Those stories were primarily automakers saying that they might void warranties of cars that use E15, as well as the continuing shrill whines from the small engine people, whose engines aren’t supposed to use the stuff anyway. The warranty discussion is interesting, because contrary to what most people believe, a car company can’t actually just “void a warranty.” Unfortunately, most people don’t question that statement, and can’t afford to fight an automaker in a court of law. If challenged, in the case of E15, a car company could only deny coverage if it could prove that ethanol was the only possible cause of a vehicle’s problem. Not only that, but since their warranties cover E10, they would have to prove that the extra five percent ethanol caused a problem that would never have happened with E10. It defies logic to assume that car makers could offer such proof and
that, for some reason, they simply chose not to provide that information while EPA spent two years doing their own, uneventful, E15 testing. But what does all of that mean for E15 availability? Where does all of this leave station owners? Frightened, mostly. That is the purpose of the ghost story, and the E15 spook stories have come from many angles, and have been very effective. But as happened a few years ago, when ethanol opponents tried to scare marketers out of selling E10, some marketer will step forward and offer E15 to his customers. And his customers, and some of his competitors’ customers, will buy it. When that happens, the marketers who originally joined in the protest against E15 will start to ask why more was not done to make it easier for them to sell E15—and why it wasn’t done sooner. Maybe then, some elected official will hold hearings to find out why that happened. Author: Ron Lamberty Vice President/Director of Market Development American Coalition for Ethanol (605) 334-3381 email@example.com
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Entering the Endgame By Robert Vierhout
The battle in Europe on how to address indirect land use change politically is heating up with the European Commission in the final stage of coming to a conclusion. To prepare the report, the
commission asked that a 2009 study be updated using a slightly updated version of the MIRAGE model (a multi-country, multi-sector dynamic model, developed initially in Paris) and a new scenario based on what EU members project the volume of biofuels will be in the near future. The results are shockingly bad, especially for biodiesel. From an average additional emission of 17 grams CO2 equivalent per megajoule in the previous study, it is now 38.4. The higher number is mainly caused by relatively high volume of biodiesel expected to be used to fulfil the target and that the raw material to supply that need is palm oil. There is where the problem lies—deforestation outside the EU. The researchers recognize the limit of their study when they say “many model parameters are based on weak estimates, and therefore systematic sensitivity analysis is required to measure the potential range of ILUC”. So much for science and so much for using “evidence” and “robust findings” as a basis for policy, in my humble opinion. If I were in the shoes of a regulator, I would want to think twice before putting a legal burden upon the shoulders of biofuel pro-
22 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
ducers based on this.Still, the enormous noise made by nongovernmental organizations, concerned politicians and scientists, leaves the commission no other option but to regulate land use change. The option of “doing nothing and keep monitoring the situation” would not address rebuilding the damaged image and reputation of the biofuel industry. Doing nothing is also not good for potential investors as the discussion on ILUC would become perpetual. So, if an ILUC factor (penalty) is difficult to justify, what measure could then be proposed to mitigate unwanted land use change? The most obvious would be to recognize that some of the present biofuel production does not lead to deforestation and/or unwanted ILUC effects. Animal feed as a coproduct of wheat/sugar beet ethanol production guarantees that. It has been demonstrated by a peer-reviewed study of E4tech in October 2010. Equally, certain cultivation techniques, avoidance of the use of certain land and improved productivity have positive effects. Another possibility is to increase the threshold of direct emissions savings that need to be achieved. Currently set at 35 percent reduction compared to the emission of fossil fuel emission, the threshold increases to 50 percent by 2018. There are plans, however, to increase that threshold to 65 percent and to have this enforced as of 2014 or even earlier. Whether such a measure would silence the critics is far from certain. Some critics want biofuels off the planet whatever the emission saving. The industry would not automatically accept this either. Such a
high threshold could put lots of capacity out of business, certainly in the biodiesel sector, and could well open the debate on whether having a biofuel target is useful at all. There will certainly be a grandfather clause, but crafting it will be a challenge. As the biodiesel sector already has enough production capacity in place to achieve the target still nine years away, a grandfather that would not reduce the biodiesel capacity in some way would be regarded by biofuel critics as greenwashing. Will it be possible to agree on a grandfather clause that safeguards present investments at least another nine years and even allows fuel ethanol production capacity to expand while at the same time limits the use of biodiesel that is linked to deforestation? The EC energy and climate departments are still at loggerheads as to what will be the best way forward. According to the grapevine, the higher threshold has the best chances to make it to the finish, combined with a measure to prevent deforestation in countries outside the EU. There are too many doubts that the “best available” science on ILUC is mature enough to use for a policy that justifies an ILUC penalty. Whatever the outcome of this process, it will not take very long. The president of the European Commission wants a political solution before the August recess. Once the proposal is out, we will move on to the next phase involving parliament and council where politics will prevail. The final outcome is very much undetermined. Author: Robert Vierhout Secretary-general, ePURE Vierhout@epure.org
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The Growing Challenge of Glyphosate-Resistance By Mark Jeschke
The expansion of the ethanol industry has accompanied tremendous growth in corn production that has been based on agricultural technology advances. One of the first genetic engineering advances, the development of herbicide-resistant corn varieties, is now entering a new phase. With glyphosate-resistant weeds already an issue in many Corn Belt states and throughout the South this growing season, we’re urging growers to scout regularly and carefully for resistant weeds that can seem to appear overnight. Resistant populations tend to grow on a logarithmic scale, growing at a low level and then exploding all at once. So it may seem like resistant weeds are a new problem, but they probably have been in the field for a few years as weeds uncontrolled by herbicide treatments. This makes it all the more important to keep an eye out for weeds that aren’t being controlled. Crop producers and advisors know that weed resistance to herbicides has been a management challenge for decades. In the past decade and a half, growers have widely embraced the use of herbicide tolerance technology not only because of its convenient, effective and economical weed control, but also because many weed species were no longer being controlled by other herbicides.
24 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Unfortunately, the long-term use of any single herbicide mode of action can lead to the development of weed resistance, and now glyphosate-resistant weeds have become an issue as well. The continued widespread use of glyphosate makes it likely the problem will only get worse. To date, glyphosate resistance has been confirmed in 21 weed species worldwide, including 12 in North America, with glyphosate-resistant weed populations identified in 25 states, according to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. To help combat this issue, agronomists recommend growers not only scout their fields, but also adopt integrated management practices that can help minimize risk while providing growers with a more consistent, effective weed control program. This includes rotating their herbicide modes of action, focusing on herbicide efficacy, persistence and frequency of application. In addition, agronomic practices such as crop rotation and tillage can decrease herbicide selection intensity by reducing weed populations, depending on the weed species. Another good practice, if growers know there are resistant populations in the area, is to clean tillage and harvest equipment when moving between fields. Weed seeds carried by machinery can spread resistance from field to field. Because weed management can be a localized issue, we at Pioneer also have equipped our local sales professionals
with information on managing resistant species within a specific geographic area, as well as training modules to help build knowledge. In cases where resistance already exists, the way to manage the problem really depends on the situation. Growers may need to look to a different herbicide. In corn, there are still some options available; however, soybeans can be more difficult, especially postemergence, as a lot of glyphosateresistant weed species are resistant to other herbicides as well. Development of new herbicideresistant technologies in crops may provide new options for dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds. That said, overreliance on any new technology in the absence of appropriate weed management practices is likely to create new sources of resistance in weeds. It’s often said that, given time, pests will eventually find their way around man’s ability to control them and that’s certainly the case here. However, the good news is that good scouting and the right management techniques should help growers maintain effective weed control to help them maximize yields on their acres.
Author: Mark Jeschke Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business (515) 535-3698 email@example.com
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Iowa Expands Renewable Fuels Incentives By Andrew Anderson and Adam B.Thimmesch
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed comprehensive renewable fuels legislation into law on May 26. The new law creates additional tax credits and extends and increases prior incentives to promote biofuel sales and production in Iowa. The bill enhances the ethanol promotion tax credit, replaces the current E85 credit, creates a new tax credit for certain ethanol blends, establishes a biodiesel production incentive, and liberalizes the biodiesel tax credit. Companies nationwide involved in the ethanol industry can learn from what Iowa is doing and can factor this into their economic plans. The Ethanol Promotion Tax Credit applies to the current Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard, which provides tax incentives for retailers selling renewable fuels as a certain percentage of their total gasoline sales. Retailers qualify for this credit based on their sales of biodiesel and ethanol. In claiming this credit, retailers may elect to compute their Iowa RFS threshold on a company-wide or siteby-site basis. The new law increases the EPTC at each level of compliance. Retailers that meet the RFS schedule are now eligible for a tax credit of 8 cents per gallon of ethanol sold (up from the prior rate of 6.5 cents per gallon). For retailers within 2 percent of the RFS schedule, the new law
26 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
increases the available tax credit from 4.5 cents to 6 cents per gallon of ethanol sold. For retailers beyond 2 percent, but within 4 percent of the RFS schedule, the new law increases the 2.5 cent tax credit to 4 cents for years beginning in 2011. The E85 Promotion Tax Credit allows a retailer to claim a tax credit based on the total gallons of E85 fuel sold in a given tax year. For 2011, the tax credit is 10 cents per gallon. Under the new law, the E85 credit has been raised to 16 cents per gallon for 2012 through 2017. With the 2011 bill, Iowa became
and higher in 2011. Under the new law, the tax credit for B2 to B4 blends will drop to 2 cents per gallon in 2012, while the tax credit will be 4.5 cents per gallon for B5 or higher blends. For 2013 through 2017, the biodiesel-blended fuel must be classified as B5 or higher to qualify for the credit and the credit will be 4.5 cents per gallon. The new law also provides some protection for retailers of biofuels by providing relief from liability for damages caused by the use of incompatible motor fuel dispensed at the retailerâ€™s motor-
the first state to incentivize E15-specific production. The E15 credit allows retailers to claim a tax credit for ethanol-blended gasoline classified as E15 or higher, excluding gasoline classified as E85, effective July 1. From that date through 2014, the tax credit is 3 cents per gallon. For 2015 through 2017, the tax credit will be 2 cents per gallon. With the addition of the E15 tax credit to Iowa law, the 2011 bill clarifies that a retailer may claim any or all of the EPTC, the E85 Promotion Tax Credit, and the E15 Tax Credit, if eligible. The Iowa Biodiesel Tax Credit is available for retail dealers of diesel fuel who operate motor fuel pumps at a retail motor fuel site in Iowa. The 2011 bill liberalizes the eligibility requirements for that tax credit by eliminating the requirement that a retailerâ€™s biodiesel sales represent at least 50 percent of total fuel sales. Current Iowa law provides for a tax credit of 3 cents per gallon for B2
fuel site. To be afforded that protection, three conditions must be met: 1) the incompatible motor fuel must comply with the fuel specifications as provided by Iowa code, 2) the incompatible motor fuel must be selected by a person other than the retailer, including an employee or agent of the retailer, and, 3) the motor fuel pump must be correctly labeled.
Authors: Andrew Anderson Partner, Faegre & Benson LLC firstname.lastname@example.org Adam B. Thimmesch Associate, Faegre & Benson email@example.com
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business briefs People, Partnerships & Deals
Ron Lamberty and Chuck Beck recently were promoted by the American Coalition for Ethanol. Lamberty, who previously served as ACE’s vice president Senior VP for market developRon Lamberty was ment, is now senior recently promoted at ACE. He owns two vice president. Beck fuel stations and has was promoted from more than 30 years experience in the communications and ethanol and petroleum membership assisindustries. tant to public affairs director. Lamberty will continue to manage ACE’s market development program, which has focused in recent years on midlevel ethanol blends and the installation of blender pumps, including the ongoing Blend Your Own Ethanol Campaign in partnership with the Renewable Fuels Association and several state corn grower organizations. The promotion will enable him to direct a planned expansion of ACE’s market development efforts and prioritize key markets and marketers poised to switch to midlevel blends and blender pumps. Beck, who has six years of experience working in television and radio media, takes on new duties developing and executing ACE communications and public affairs strategies to support ACE’s mission and goals. “Chuck is a passionate advocate for ethanol and the epitome of a team player. He will enable ACE to rapidly communicate our positions to the media and help pitch story ideas about the ethanol industry,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. Douglas Cameron joined the board of directors of Proterro Inc., developers of a sugar-producing microbe. Cameron is founder and managing director of Plymouth, Minn.-based Alberti Advisors LLC. Prior to establishing the venture advisory firm, he was managing director and chief science advisor 28 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
at Piper Jaffrey where he helped build the firm’s clean technology and renewable sector, including the ethanol biofuels subsector. He also previously served as chief scientific officer at Khosla Ventures. Proterro has developed a unique photobioreactor based on the structure of a leaf to grow sugar-excreting microbes that can be used as a fermentationready sugar feedstock. Founded in 2008, the company is backed by Battelle Ventures and Braemer Energy Ventures. Leah Hurtgen Ziemba and Mary Ann Christopher have joined Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, and will work with the firm’s energy and sustainabilEnergy Expertise ity team. Now a partAn avid member of the Energy Bar ner in Michael Best, Association, Mary Ann Christopher worked Christopher brings her broad experience in as a partner with the renewable energy to law firm Foley & Michael Best. Lardner LLP, where she chaired the Offshore Wind Energy Team and was vice chair of the project and infrascture team. Ziemba, now an associate in the firm’s Madison office, will Farm Roots focus her practice on Leah Hurtgen Ziemba brings a unique the siting and permitset of skills to the ting of new developagribusiness practice of Michael Best ment projects and having been raised counseling clients on on a Wisconsin dairy, earning a degree in environmental matanimal science and coters. She has experiowning and operating a dairy in upstate New ence in environmenYork. tal/natural resource law involving water, solid and hazardous waste. Prior to joining Michael Best, she was an associate at Nixon Peabody LLP in New York.
M a s c o m a Corp. named David Arkowitz its new chief financial officer (CFO), responsible for the company’s finance and investor relations. For the past New CFO seven years he served David Arkowitz brings as CFO of two pub- two decades of finance in the lic bio-pharmaceutical leadership healthcare and life companies, transition- sciences to Mascoma. ing both organizations from development state to commercial entities. He last worked at AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he served as executive vice president , CFO and chief business officer. Duane Parkinson has rejoined Ashland Hercules Water Technologies as corporate sales manager, food and beverage, North America. Parkinson’s responsibiliSpecialist ties will include cor- Grain Duane Parkinson porate accounts sales specializes in grain and ethanol to the food and bever- processing production. age markets, focusing on grain processing and ethanol production companies. Ashland Hercules Water Technologies is a global producer of papermaking and specialty chemicals for the commercial and institutional food and beverage, chemical, mining and municipal markets. Its process, utility and functional chemistries are used to improve operational efficiencies, enhance product quality, protect plant assets and ensure environmental compliance. David Nothmann, vice president of business and product development for ArborGen, has been named to the U.S. DOE and USDA Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The
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committee of 31 volunteers offers expertise on strategic planning and the technical aspects of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. The initiative is legislatively directed to address feedstock development; biofuels and biobased product development; and biofuels development analysis. The committee’s work will aid the DOE and USDA in building a sustainable biomass energy industry. ArborGen’s scientists are developing new feedstock sources through purpose-grown trees to meet the growing demand for wood, fiber and energy. Wes Bolsen, chief marketing officer of Coskata Inc., was recently named Chief Marketing Officer of the Year by Chief Marketing Officer Institute. He reRecognition for All ceived the award for A recent award given to small to midsize comWes Bolsen, Coskata, he says is for all of panies with revenue Coskata’s team and less than $250 million, demonstrates that those outside the while his counterpart industry are paying at Zurich Financial attention. won the award for large companies. “I am truly humbled by this recognition,” Bolsen said. ”At the same time, I must recognize the entire Coskata team for the success of our marketing programs in 2010. Everyone here understands the vision for what is possible and helps the company communicate that to our various stakeholders.” The award will help generate new interest in ethanol and advanced biofuels, he added. Florida-based Protec Fuel named Amber Thurlo Pearson its director of marketing and publications. Pearson’s background in alternative and renewable fuels lends itself to Protec’s mission of helping meet the renewable fuel standard through retail ethanol
blending and sales in the South, Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. She worked in public relations for the National Biodiesel Board as well as for the U.S. DOE Clean Cities program. Protec offeres turnkey ethanol programs for retailers, fleets and fuel distributors for E85, E15 and midlevel blends. It currently supplies, either directly, or through distribution partners, approximately 250 E85 stations. Craig Shealy has launched an investment banking advisory business to serve the biofuels and biomass marketplace in partnership with Cary Street Partners, a Richmond, Va.- based investment banking and wealth management firm. Shealy served as chairman and managing partner of BlackCreek Group, an energy-focused investment, development and advisory firm, and as president and CEO of Osage Bio Energy, where he led the development of a $200 million ethanol plant in Hopewell, Va. Prior to Osage Bio Energy, he managed a $1.5 billion revenue business unit for Nextel Partners and was a member of the senior management team that positioned the company for its sale to Sprint for just under $10 billion. Before joining Nextel Partners, Shealy worked in Microsoft’s corporate development and strategy group. S we d e n - b a s e d Perten Instruments has released its secondgeneration grain moisture meter, improving upon the AM 5100. The AM 5200 meets the speed and connectivity requirements of today’s grain industry, the company said. Flow-through analysis allows its use in automatic sampling systems, and the larger sample size improves repeatability. The moisture meter includes a color touch screen and RF-electronics.
Gamajet Cleaning Systems released the PowerFLEX tank cleaning machine, which offers 400 times the cleaning force of a standard sprayball at the same pressure and flow. The added power reduces cost in time, water and chemicals, often up to an 85 percent savings, according to the company. The average operating conditions are from 50 to 100 psi and 20 to 80 gallons per minute, under which the PowerFLEX will maintin 8 to 15 pounds of force at a 10-foot distance. The PowerFLEX uses Gamajet’s rotary impingement technology. The jets of the fluid-driven machines scour an entire tank interior in a reliable 360-degree pattern. Global supplier of fuel dispensers and technologies, Dresser Wayne will now operate under the brand name, Wayne—A GE Energy Business. GE acquired Dresser Inc., including its Dresser Wayne business segment, in February. GE and Dresser Wayne worked with an international brand research firm and concluded that maintaining the Wayne name was critical to preserving the strong brand. The company introduced the first oil pump in 1891, and been responsible since for many industry innovations such as the blending pump and pay-at-the-pump self-service. Duluth-based company, Save Our Steam, was awarded the Minnesota Governor’s Safety award for superior performance in workplace safety and health. SOS routinely works in hazardous conditions, fixing highpressure leaks in industrial steam, gas and acid lines, without interrupting production. AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 29
Customers include refineries, steam, ethanol, power and paper plants. In his 30-plus years, SOS has never had a reportable injury, said Jim Carter, president and owner. The company started doing business in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Nebraska, and now serves clients all over the continental U.S.
a Canadian ethanol plant with the aim of increasing operational efficiencies and quality control. The trademarked SonicGauge system simultaneously measures multiple properties of a substance, noninvasively through a pipeline, utilizing dispersive ultrasound, nonlinear measurement methods and proprietary algorithms, to determine precise product and process quality, online and realtime. It can be used for quality assurance or process control in multiple industries. The Prince Edward Island-based company is seeking further demonstration opportunities and investors as it readies the technology for commercialization.
Spraying Systems Co. announced two new TankJet models for use in cleaning applications that can be mounted permanently or moved from tank to tank. The new TankJet 75 fluid-driven tank cleaner from Spraying Systems Co. provides thorough impingement cleaning of small tanks without the expense of high impact tank cleaners. The unit uses external gears to reduce nozzle speed for better impact and cleaning efficiency. Ideal for medium-impact cleaning of tanks, totes and intermediate bulk containers, the unit cleans tanks up to 30 feet in diameter using rotating solid stream nozzles that complete a 360 degree indexing pattern. The TankJet 190D motor-driven tank cleaner provides powerful 180 degree downward coverage and outperforms other units especially when removing sticky residues/ skim lines and cleaning heavy sludge from the bottom and shadow areas of tanks, the company says. It operates at pressures up to 1000 psi and uses high-impact solid stream nozzles to clean tanks up to 34 feet in diameter.
Indianapolis-based Xylogenics won the TechPoint Mira Award for its clean energy innovations. The bioengineering firm won the 2011 award for its work in genetically modifiying yeast strains to improve the conversion of sugar to ethanol. The proprietary yeast strains can potentially boost fermentation yields by 30 to 50 percent in cellulosic ethanol production facilities, according to the company.
Canadian cleantech company, NIMTech Inc., (short for noninvasive measurement technologies), is currently demonstrating its SonicGauge technology at
Rockwell Automation Inc. acquired U.K.-based Letronix, an independent industrial automation repairs and service provider in Europe and Asia, accelerating the growth
30 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Industrial Scientific Corp. announced the availability of iNet InSite, a plug-andplay docking station solution for its portable gas detectors that provides critical functionality and information for safer work environments. Subscribers of iNet InSite receive unlimited user access to iNet Control—a Web-based application—along with docking stations. With iNet Control software users can manage the performance of their entire gas detector fleet, scheduling automated events such as calibrations, as well as set up alarm thresholds.
of Rockwell’s service business abroad. Lektronix provides automation repairs, spares and other maintenance services for most industrial automation products, including programmable logic controllers, electric motor drives, industrial computers, and computerized numerical control equipment. Lektronix’s management team will join the Rockwell Automation Control Products and Solutions operating segment. The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Co. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. received the Win-Win award from international energy reporting agency Argus, receiving the reward at the North American Rail Shippers Association conference earlier this summer. The award recognizes how both parties developed an innovative solution that allows the railroad to handle 35 percent more carloads from ADM while giving the shipper more control over its railcar maintenance processes. The nearly $1 million invested by both parties included improving two miles of rail line to handle unit trains of more than 100 railcars plus new mother-andslug locomotive combinations add force to the switching fleet. ADM is on pace to load 30,000 carloads through the facility this year after starting production in the middle of 2010 on an expanded dry mill ethanol facility next to its wet mill at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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commodities Natural Gas Report
Volatility ahead for late summer, early fall prices July 1—As fall approaches, the natural gas market starts to exhibit strange behavior, moving dramatically up or down from July. The accompanying table shows the actual pattern from July through September for 2005’10. In 2005, the September price rocketed up 56 percent from July and prices continued to move up after September. In 2008, prices dropped a whopping 36 percent from July to September. The price change has never been less than 16 percent over the six-year period. Late-summer volatility is driven by two factors—inventory and hurricanes. In the absence of hurricanes, storage fills up and excess production has nowhere to go. Producers discount product prices to move supply. This gas-on-gas competition can quickly erode prices, as has happened over the past few years. Hurricane activity, however, spurs
panic and prices go wild—remember Hurricanes Rita and Katrina? What will happen this year? Storage inventories are currently strong and production levels are robust. Barring hurricane activity, that gas-on-gas competition could again occur late this summer. On the other hand, forecasters expect an active hurricane season. Using history as a guide, we have developed a best case and worst price forecast. The July NYMEX contract settled at $4.36 per MMBtu. If prices move up at the same rate as 2005 due to hurricane activity, we could see $6.78 per MMBtu gas in September. On the flip side, prices could fall to $2.79 per MMBtu. Bottom line—be prepared for price volatility.
By Casey Whelan
Summer/Fall Pricing Patterns Jul.
Bearish reports reel in the corn market July 5—USDA’s larger-than-expected estimates of June 1 corn stocks and planted area have significantly loosened the fundamentals. Corn stocks in all positions June 1 totaled 3.67 billion bushels, down 15 percent from June 1, 2010. The stocks estimate was above expectations, the reverse of the March 1 estimate that was well below expectations. Off-farm stocks, at 1.99 billion bushels, are down 9 percent from a year ago. The March to May indicated disappearance is 2.85 billion bushels, compared to last year’s 3.38 billion. The variability makes it hard to tell if the estimates are a head fake or an indication of an ongoing trend. Another bearish surprise was USDA’s estimate of 92.3 million acres corn planted, up 5 percent from last year, and the second highest since 93.5 million acres in 2007. The es32 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
BY JASON SAGEBIEL
timate was slightly above the March report, but well above the June forecast of 90.7 million and the average trade estimate of 90.8 million. Protracted planting delays were expected to confound the strong economic incentive to plant corn and shift acreage to soybeans or prevented planting. While declines versus March occurred in states such as Ohio and the Dakotas, this was more than offset by an increase of 500,000 acres in Nebraska and smaller increases in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Growers expect to harvest 84.9 million acres for grain, up 4 percent from last year.
With the above information the corn market was able to reel values back the highs that came after the June supply/demand report.
Regional Ethanol Prices Front Month Futures (AC) $2.610 REGION
$3.02 SOURCE: DTN
Regional Gasoline Prices
Markets experience fireworks, shifting demand BY SEAN BRODERICK July 5—There was unprecedented volatility in the corn futures market prior to July 4th, and DDGS followed. Multiple moves created significant margin opportunities, as DDGS and ethanol moved slower than the futures on the way down. Reportedly, some plants booked their highest margins of the year—especially important considering near-negative margins less than two weeks earlier. Domestically, demand is still strong—from the East due to corn availability, from the Southwest due to drought, and from the West Coast because of dairy profitability and logistics issues. Rerouting rail cars around flooding is slowing turn times. Some plants whose cars are all “on the road” have had to move significantly discounted product locally. Plants and end users in the East
are using more wheat—imported from Canada and from a larger-than-normal local crop, particularly in North Carolina. It remains to be seen how much corn will be displaced, but it will be a significant difference from past years. Internationally, demand has been strong from Mexico and Canada. Cars to Canada are having a tough time shipping through a flooded North Dakota, and in Mexico cars are being rationed because of a slippage in turn times. Containers have been filling Asia’s demand as opposed to bulk shipments. China’s antidumping case should see some resolution by mid-August. The fireworks are everywhere this time of year, and they are not over for the summer.
Front Month Futures Price (RBOB) $2.9660 REGION
$3.08 SOURCE: DTN
DDGS Prices ($/ton) AUG 2011
AUG 2010 95
136 SOURCE: CHS Inc.
Corn Futures Prices Date
(Sept. Futures, $/bushel)
July 5, 2011
June 6, 2011
July 6, 2010
3.68 SOURCE: FCStone
Cash Sorghum Prices ($/bushel) LOCATION
Gasoline prices ease as summer progresses BY RICK KMENT July 5—Energy prices moved in a wide trading range over the last weeks of June, and anticipated commercial demand through July is expected to create additional pressure. Although there is evidence some economic improvement could be seen through the second half of the year, most consumers are not willing to take this information to the pumps, as driving habits have been curbed through early summer with retail prices holding between $3.50 and $4 per gallon. Although the market trended lower through June, much was regained due to a significant reversal based on light, noncommercial, outside market support. Continued volatility is expected in July with traders torn between potential support in the stock market and the softness in consumer demand.
Ethanol contracts, on the other hand, continued to follow in the footprints of the corn market as it eroded. The tipping point was seen June 30 as corn prices fell nearly 70 cents per bushel following the announcement of increased corn planted acres and higher than expected stocks. This pushed ethanol futures—already struggling to maintain support—into a tailspin. The potential political changes have had very little effect, as yet, on the market. It’s obvious, though, that Congress is not willing to follow the status quo with the blenders credit. Ethanol futures will continue to follow corn, although a late summer pullback in gasoline demand could significantly limit ethanol demand, and add another cog in the already complicated pricing process.
June 25, 2010
MAY 25, 2011
JULY 1, 2011
SOURCE: Sorghum Synergies
Natural Gas Prices LOCATION
JUL 1, 2011
JUN 1, 2011
JUL 1, 2010
SOURCE: U.S. Energy Services Inc.
U.S. Ethanol Production
SOURCE: U.S. Energy Information Administration
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 33
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Ethanol News & Trends
Who’s on the List?
The U.S. EPA pegs a handful of cellulosic producers to contribute to next year’s RFS goal In June, the U.S EPA issued its proposal to reduce the coming year’s cellulosic biofuels volume target for the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The RFS goals set by Congress in 2007 call for increasing amounts of cellulosic biofuels, beginning with 100 million gallons in 2010 and ramping up to 16 billion gallons in 2022. The EPA is authorized to reduce those targets if the industry does not have the capacity to reach them, which is what it has been doing every year since 2009. Cellulosic producers agree that the reductions have been necessary and say this year’s proposal to drastically reduce the 2012 volume requirements from 500 million gallons down to no more than 15.7 million ethanol-equivalent gallons is on par with the industry’s growth. While some critics cite the repeated reduction in cellulosic biofuels volumes as proof of the industry’s failure, cellulosic producers say it is merely an indicator of the enormously difficult financial climate and stress that the technology is ready for take-off as soon as facilities can be built. “Bioscience and process engineering solutions are being delivered across the nation, but the capital required to enable meaningful production, and the difficulty in sourcing such capital, has resulted in project delays,”
says Craig StuartPaul, CEO of Fiberight LLC. “The industry, however, is populated with creative entrepreneurs and strategic industries willing to shoulder this risk, and new financing options have been established which, with support from government loan funding, will ensure that projects come online in 2012.” Fiberight has been working for some time to transform a former corn-ethanol plant to produce 5.5 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid waste (MSW). The facility was one of a few plants expected to produce measurable volumes of cellulosic ethanol this year, but has yet to achieve that goal. Stuart-Paul says that while the plant produced several tanker loads in 2010, the delay in market value for cellulosic renewable identification numbers (RINs) prompted the company to focus its 2011 efforts on fundraising. He hopes to begin production by the end of the year, but says he can’t predict an anticipated volume until construction and commissioning activities are complete. The EPA expects Fiberight will contribute 3 million ethanol-equivalent gallons to the 2012 volume. The facility is expected to begin producing at capacity in 2013. DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC also made the EPA’s short list of expected producers for both 2011 and 2012. The company has been producing small
Potentially Available Cellulosic Biofuel Plant Volumes for 2012
amounts of ethanol at its demonstrationscale facility in Vonore, Tenn., and plans to continue. It recently announced Nevada, Iowa, as the location for a 25 MMgy cellulosic ethanol facility, expected to be ready in 2013. Jennifer Hutchins, communications director for DDCE, says it is critical that the long-term RFS goals remain in place to provide assurance to investors. “The most important thing is consistency in policy, which will be key to meeting U.S. goals for renewable fuel and energy independence,” she says. “From DDCE’s perspective, the technology is proven and now we are preparing the process for large-scale production and establishing a cost-efficient model for commercial biomass supply. The industry continues to advance.” Ineos Bio is a new addition to the EPA’s anticipated producer list for 2012. The company’s joint venture, Ineos New Planet BioEnergy LLC, is currently constructing an 8 MMgy vegetative waste and MSW-to-ethanol facility in Vero Beach, Fla., and is expected by the EPA to contribute up to 3 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of fuel next year. Dan Cummings, vice president of Ineos Bio, says the company is comfortable with the EPA’s target for the Vero Beach plant and believes the overall reduction proposal is accurate. “EPA conducts a thoughtful screening and interview process to determine the level to set for each year,” he says. “We don’t have any information or reason to second-
Company DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC Fiberight of Blairstown LLC Fulcrum Bioenergy Inc. Ineos Bio KiOR Inc. KiOR Inc. KL Energy Corp. Terrabon Inc.
Location Vonore, Tenn. Blairstown, Iowa McCarran, Nev. Vero Beach, Fla. Houston, Texas Columbus, Miss. Upton, Wyo. Port Arthur, Texas
Fuel Type Ethanol Ethanol Ethanol Ethanol Gasoline, Diesel Gasoline, Diesel Ethanol Gasoline
Million ethanol-equivalent gallons 0.25 0.25 0.5 3.0 0.3 6.4 1.0 1.0
ZeaChem Inc. Total
SOURCE: U.S. EPA
36 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
guess their work or process. While the target may have been lowered in 2012, we believe new technologies like ours are coming online, which will help the U.S. in its quest for energy security and help meet the RFS targets in the coming years.” Ineos expects the Vero Beach plant to come online mid2012 and will operate at capacity by the end of the year. The company is currently actively discussing licensing opportunities for its technology with companies around the world and believes its 8 MMgy model can be replicated at larger scale to help meet future RFS goals in coming years, Cummings says. Fulcrum Bioenergy Inc. is also new
this year to the EPA list. The company has struggled to obtain federal loan guarantee assurance for its project and has not yet begun building its 10.5 MMgy post-sorted MSW-to-ethanol plant in McCarran, Nev., but the EPA believes it could contribute 500,000 ethanol-equivalent gallons of cellulosic ethanol next year. Ted Kniesche, vice president of business development at Fulcrum, declined to comment on whether the EPA’s target for its facility is accurate, but says the continued waiver of the cellulosic biofuels category should not be perceived as an industry failure. “The industry is moving rapidly into construction with several commercial plants, which will begin contributing
materially to the RFS in the coming years,” he says. “It’s important to remember that the gallons ‘waived’ under the cellulosic category are still required to be blended under the overall advanced biofuel category. By holding firm to those volumetric requirements, EPA sends an important signal to obligated parties that the overall 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels will continue to be required by 2022.” Comments on the EPA’s proposal are being accepted until Aug. 11. The agency is required to finalize the 2012 volume requirements by Nov. 30. —Kris Bevill
Build it Yourself
Ethanol producers take blender pumps into their own hands Infrastructure expansion continues to be a major concern for the ethanol industry. Recent assistance in the form of grant and loan guarantee offerings from the USDA to assist retailers have been welcome, but there seems to also be a growing trend among industry members to offer their own financial incentives. In Marcus, Iowa, Little Sioux Corn Processors, a 108 MMgy farmer-owned facility, decided in June to pony up $150,000 to assist in the installation of 10 blender pumps in its area. “There is a strong need for E85 and midlevel blends in this area,” Ron Wetherell, LSCP chair, says. “Little Sioux’s board decided that in order to expand the availability of high-blend ethanol to northwest Iowa motorists, they needed to get involved by investing in future markets for ethanol.” Steve Roe, LSCP general manager, said in early July that money had not yet been dispersed to retailers because it was contingent upon USDA loan guarantee or grant approval. Retailers must also present proof that the equipment has been installed at their station, he said. Blender pump expansion efforts are not restricted to just ethanol plants. In northern Iowa, a group of ethanol supporters
and board members including Dave Sovereign, chairman of the board of directors at Golden Grain Energy LLC, decided to apply for grants on its own to install three blender pumps. Sovereign says the group first approached retailers in the area to install the pumps, but was unsuccessful in gaining their cooperation. He believes the biggest constraint holding retailers back from installing blender pumps is the cost of the system. “There isn’t very much of a margin to be made in selling fuel. Unless you can demonstrate it will bring in more sales inside to their profit centers, it’s very difficult to substantiate that type of a business investment,” he says. Sovereign admits there is a learning curve associated with the blender pump build-out, both for retailers and consumers, but says he’s aware of several other ethanol plant boards who are crafting plans to work with local retailers to install the pumps, and his own experience has shown ethanol plant stakeholders view the incentives as a worthy investment. “I’ve found quite a bit of support on several different boards from several different plants as well as from our share-
holders,” he says. “Everybody wants to have access to it and that’s what we’re after. Let’s get the access out here to be able to use these homegrown renewable products and showcase what we can do with them.” As of July, 142 retail outlets in Iowa offered E85 and only 30 blender pumps were located in the state, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. The state recently passed legislation that includes $50,000 grants for retailers to install biodiesel, E85 and blender pumps, an extension of a previous program which, according to Lucy Norton, managing director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, was quite popular. “In fact, the infrastructure funding was exhausted in March of this year so we were fortunate that the Iowa legislature renewed funding as of the first of July,” she says. As part of its retailer outreach program, an IRFA representative is responsible for contacting retailers to explain blender pumps and the infrastructure program. That person will also complete grant applications and submit them on behalf of the retailer, making the process as easy as possible for the retailer, she says. —Kris Bevill AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 37
Automated grass-grow system offered with modular ethanol refineries Previously, Allard Research and Development LLC sold its small- to medium-scale ethanol refineries to customers that had a ready source of a cellulose, starch or sugar feedstock. That might include waste items such as grass clippings, sawdust, newspapers, waste fruit or waste soda. Although those and other feedstocks are still options, Allard Research now has something for customers that don’t have a specific feedstock identified. Simply purchase the company’s cellulose grass-grow system, which includes four hydroponic shipping containers that will produce 15 tons of grass per day. The patent-pending system runs fully automated—drop the seeds in the hopper on one end and feedstock comes out the other end, where it is fed into the ethanol refinery, says Sharon Allard, CEO of the Farmersville, Texas-based company. On the way out the feedstock is ground and hydro-
lyzed with heat, pressure and a weak sulfuric acid solution. “The ability to grow the cellulose feedstock as part of the system is a game-changer,” says Adam Allard, founder and chairman. “Historically, the big limiting factor for people wanting to make their own ethanol fuel has been a lack of abundant feedstock. Now it comes with the system.” He adds that it also makes moot the food vs. fuel argument. The systems are designed to be small and movable. A 20-gallon per hour ethanol plant, including the grass-grow system, takes up about 3,600 square feet. The modular system can be scaled up by adding additional units. At 200 gallons per hour, the ethanol plant would produce 1.75 MMgy, cost $5 million and generate $3.5 million yearly in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization cash flow, the company says.
Self-contained Production A process diagram outlines the path cellulose takes from the container grow system to ethanol production. SOURCE: ALLARD RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
38 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Lab Assistant An Allard Research lab unit produces 2 gallons per hour of ethanol. The company also markets a 20 gallon-per-hour modular cellulose ethanol refinery module. SOURCE: ALLARD RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Although there’s no limit on the number of modules that can be networked, the company figures the optimal plant size for one location at 200 to 500 gallons per hour of ethanol output, Sharon Allard tells EPM. The refineries use waste heat from the engine for distillation, creating enough electricity to power the plant. The engine is fueled by gasified waste from the cellulose conversion process. Water is also recycled back into the system. By the end of the summer, Allard Research hopes to have systems installed with clients for beta testing. The company plans to sell the refineries to clients as well as operate the systems themselves. “What better way to demonstrate our products than operating our own commercial-scale refineries,” Sharon Allard says. “We can better serve the clients we sell ethanol systems to if we are also in the business. The demand is so high that there are no worries about competition with our customers.”—Holly Jessen
The (Not So) Little Things
The U.S. EPA’s recently finalized E15 label addresses color, wording influence on consumers.
Up to 15% ethanol
• 2001 and newer passenger vehicles • Flex-fuel vehicles Don’t use in other vehicles, boats, or gasoline-powered equipment. It may cause damage and is prohibited by federal law.
SOURCE: U.S. EPA
Use only in
Attention The final E15 label features less shocking coloring and wording than the original proposal.
When it comes to labeling fuels, does it really make a difference if the label is bright orange or peach? Well, yes, actually, it does. So does one single word placed across the top of a label. These and other details were the subject of several months of scrutiny by the U.S. EPA and stakeholders following the agency’s initial E15 label offering last fall. Their conclusion? Less is definitely more and orange is a color best used at Halloween. The EPA’s proposed E15 label featured a bright orange color to draw consumers’ attention to the label. The color and the word “CAUTION!” were meant to mitigate potential misfueling. But after reviewing more than 80 comments submitted in response to the proposal and consulting with Federal Trade Commission “label experts,” the agency issued a revised, final label on June 23. This muted label follows the color and wording scheme of other FTC labels and is meant to inform consumers. “We believe that the final E15 label provides consumers with the key information they need about the appropriate use of E15,” the agency stated in its final rule, adding that the prohibition against misfueling should further incentivize proper use of the fuel. According to the EPA, comments were split on whether the use of “CAUTION!”
was too harsh or not effective enough. The ethanol industry strongly opposed that portion of the proposed label. The EPA cited comments suggesting that any kind of warning would result in undue skepticism from consumers. Others suggested using stronger warning words, such as “STOP,” in order to provide adequate liability protection for retailers. The agency settled on the word “ATTENTION,” which the EPA said “strikes the right balance.” Other significant changes to the label included the wording of the text used to identify which vehicles are legally able to use the fuel and what risks are posed to those who do not follow the law. The text on the proposed label was found to be too wordy, based on FTC advice. Consumers are not likely to read detailed labels when performing routine activities such as filling their vehicle with gasoline, the FTC cautioned. Therefore, labels need to be as concise as possible in order to get the point across quickly. Based on this information and other submitted comments, the EPA streamlined the language used to identify approved vehicles, which left enough room to add explicit instructions warning consumers not to use E15 in boats or other unapproved equipment. Comments had suggested the use of icons to further simplify which motors are compatible with E15, a method that could also help to inform non-English speakers, but the EPA determined that there is simply not enough room on the label to include those items. The agency said it will allow retailers to submit alternative labels for approval, which could include icons, other languages and/or minor changes in shape and size as long as they adhere to the required components of the label. The move to E15 has arguably been the most hotly contested issue in ethanol’s recent history. The American Petroleum Institute and others filed multiple lawsuits in response to the EPA’s approval for the use of E15 in vehicle model years 2001 and newer, argu-
ing that testing conducted on E15 was not thorough enough. Meanwhile, the ethanol industry expressed disgruntlement over the partial approval, but for opposite reasons. Ethanol producers claim there is no evidence to suggest potential problems stemming from E15 use in any model year vehicle. The EPA briefly addressed the ethanol industry’s claims in its final label rule, explaining that it will uphold its misfueling prohibition because comments that said E15 would not have adverse consequences on older vehicles did not present information or analysis to support their claims.
CAUTION! This fuel contains 15% ethanol maximum
Use only in: 2007 and newer gasoline cars 2007 and newer light-duty trucks Flex-fuel vehicles This fuel might damage other vehicles. Federal law prohibits its use in other vehicles and engines. Rejected The U.S. EPA’s proposed E15 label included brighter coloring and a bold warning which some groups said would discourage use.
While the final E15 label is a muchanticipated step toward final approval of the fuel’s sale, multiple issues remain to be resolved before retailers can begin selling the fuel. In a presentation delivered to attendees of the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in June, Renewable Fuels Association Technical Director Kristy Moore highlighted the “to-do” list, which includes: fuel registration, state regulatory issues, octane certification, automaker warranties, and safety and emergency response procedures. —Kris Bevill
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 39
SOURCE: U.S. EPA
TION EN T AT
Federal patent program encourages commercialization Want to take advantage of the more than 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the 17 national laboratories? A new program makes that easier and more attractive than ever. In May, the U.S. DOE started offering a streamlined option agreement for a $1,000 fee through its “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge. When first announced, the DOE said that only about 10 percent of federal patents had been licensed to be commercialized. The department hopes the energy innovator challenge will double the amount of start-up companies coming out of national laboratory work. “America’s entrepreneurs and innovators are the best in the world,” said Secretary Steven Chu. “Today, we’re challenging them to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories. Because we’ve cut the upfront fees and reduced the paperwork, we’ll make it easier for start-up companies to succeed and create the new jobs our economy needs. Our goal is simple: unleash America’s innovation machine and win the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future.” First to the Table The first such option agreement Vice President Biden was awarded in late May to e-Chromic announced the first option agreement LLC, a Boulder, Colo.-based business, under the U.S. DOE’s which plans to create a thin film material “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator.” for windows that reflects sunlight. Vice President Joe Biden visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to make the announcement and highlight the energy innovation program. “Now, more than ever, America’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate and our capacity to live up to our rich history of technological advancement,” Biden said. “This kind of public-private partnership fosters extraordinary innovation, allows brilliant ideas to develop, and gives businesses the tools they need to bring technology to the market.” The patents available through the energy innovator challenge range from alternative fuels, vehicle technology and energy grid storage. Two examples of patents issued to NREL in 2011 include “Methods for degrading lignocellulosic materials” and “Genetically modified yeast species and fermentation processes using genetically modified yeast.” —Holly Jessen
on the web Check out the 446 technology marketing summaries, 11,860 patents, 3672 patent applications and 27 emerging technologies at: http://techportal.eere.energy.gov 40 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
No Import Tariff, No Worries?
production is expected to be imported over the next decade, the majority of its ethanol will still be used domestically. Brazil is wellto provide low-cost Brazilian ethanol not likely to positioned ethanol to meet the world’s growflood U.S. market soon ing demand, but its supply depends on a complex set of issues, including After years of protesting the 54-cent domestic demand, world sugar and oil prices, per gallon ethanol import tariff imposed currency rates and its domestic infrastructure by the U.S. government, it appears Brazilcapacity for moving ethanol to ports, the reian producers may soon get the equal marport’s author stated. Analysts at Bloomberg ket opportunity they’ve been yearning for. New Energy Finance said that while they Whether the tariff is allowed to expire as do not expect an influx of Brazilian ethanol scheduled at the end of the year or it is reinto the U.S. market in the next year, an exmoved earlier by legislation, support to uppired import tariff combined with increasing hold the tariff is waning and it is unlikely that a 54-cent tariff will be in place this time next blending requirements for advanced biofuels year. Should American ethanol producers be under the renewable fuel standard could proworried about an immediate influx of sug- vide enough economic incentive for Brazil arcane ethanol into their market? Probably to produce ethanol instead of sugar to meet not, according to market analysts. Two years U.S. demand in coming years. In response to growing domestic deof bad weather and high sugar prices have mand and export opportunities, Brazil has left Brazil struggling to meet its own debeen aggressively working to correct its supmands recently and many believe that even ply constraints. Petrobras, Brazil’s powerif Brazil’s low-carbon sugarcane ethanol can house integrated energy firm, has announced earn a premium price in the corn-dominated plans to ramp up its ethanol production, for U.S. market, there just simply isn’t enough example. According to data compiled by supply right now for an invasion of foreign the USDA-ARS, if the country’s expansion ethanol. The USDA Economic Research Ser- plans hold up, Brazil’s ethanol capacity could vice states in a report released in June that double by 2018. while a growing share of Brazil’s ethanol —Kris Bevill Brazil’s ethanol plants and anticipated expansion rate Plant location regions/states
Number of plants in 2009
Ethanol production in 2009 (million liters)
Southeast Sao Paulo Minas Gerais Rio de Janeiro Espiritu Santo Northeast Alagoas Pernambuco Other Center-West
314 259 41 8 6 71 20 21 30 63
17,676 15,041 2,284 113 238 2,211 791.2 469.2 950.1 4,263
55 28 26
Goias Mato Grosso Mato Grosso do Sul South Paraná Rio Grande do Sul North
33 10 20
2,122 810 1331
23 1 22
4 5 24
39 37 2
1,901 1,899 2
3 1 2
Total number of distilleries
Total production capacity
Plants under Total projected construction operational plants by 2013 operational by 2018
27 6 16 4 1
Projected 2018 production (million liters)
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SOURCE: USDA, ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE using data from ANP (2009) AND MME/EPE (2010a).
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 41
tor Mark Holtzapple, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, focuses on enTexas A&M shoots biomass hancing the enzymatic digestibility Put an aqueous slurry of biomass in a pipe of lignocellulosic biomass for use in a variety and literally shoot it with a shot gun shell. What of conversion processes for almost any chemdo you get? A shock wave that disrupts the bio- ical or fuel, including ethanol, he tells EPM. Lime and air has been used for two demass and makes it more digestible by enzymes. A project to commercialize the technology was cades to help reduce the lignin and acetyl conawarded $2.3 million by the U.S. DOE. The tent of biomass and make it more digestible three-year project, led by principal investiga- by enzymes, Holtzapple explains. Although a
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shot gun shell is sufficient at laboratory scale, a more cost-effective means will be needed at industrial scale. â€œThe treatment takes literally a second, so a small vessel can process large volumes of biomass; therefore, it is not expensive,â€? he adds. The funding is part of $36 million passed out to six projects to advance technology for drop-in advanced biofuels and other biobased chemicals. â€œProjects such as these are helping us to diversify our energy portfolio and decrease our dependence on foreign oil,â€? Energy Secretary Steven Chu says. The five other projects funded include: â€˘ Michigan Biotechnology Institute, Lansing, Mich., up to $4.3 million for improvements to a pretreatment process for stable conversion-ready intermediates compatible with long-term storage and ease of transfer. â€˘ General Atomics, San Diego, Calif., up to $2 million to reduce energy, capital and operational costs for algal fermentation processes. â€˘ Genomatica Inc., San Diego, Calif., up to $5 million for an engineered organism and optimized fermentation process for conversion of cellulosic sugars to 1,4-butanediol. â€˘ HCL CleanTech Inc., Oxford, N.C., up to $9 million to demonstrate process improvements for pretreatment, conversion to sugars and conversion of those sugars to diesel products. â€˘ Virent, Madison, Wis., up to $13.4 million to develop a fully integrated process that can efficiently and cost effectively convert cellulosic biomass to a mix of hydrocarbons for jet fuel. â€”Holly Jessen
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Ten Paces and Turn Mark Holtzapple, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, will study biomass pretreatment utilizing a shot gun technique. 42 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
PHOTO: CALGREN RENEWABLE FUELS LLC
Stepping Aside California biogas project delayed after neighbors express concern
Pixley Biogas and Calgren Renewable Fuels LLC has delayed a project to build a $10 million anaerobic digester. The 58 MMgy ethanol plant wanted to turn manure from area dairies into biomethane to power the plant. It voluntarily withdrew the project from consideration by the Tulare County Planning Commission after area residents and California Dairies Inc., the stateâ€™s largest dairy cooperative, objected. Among their concerns were odor, impact to air or water quality and possible contamination by pathogens. â€œEvery significant professional or regulatory authority on digesters says the technology improves air and water quality,â€? Daryl Maas, project manager for Pixley Biogas says. â€œIf the perception is out there that this project will do the opposite, then we donâ€™t want
Biogas Hold Calgren, a 58 MMgy ethanol plant in Pixley, Calif. has proposed a $10 million anaerobic digester planned to displace natural gas use.
to proceed without getting our neighborsâ€™ support.â€? Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels is surprised at the opposition to the digester. Maybe itâ€™s because they didnâ€™t get the word out adequately. Perhaps itâ€™s because they didnâ€™t talk to their neighbors soon enough in the process. Whatever the reason, some just arenâ€™t convinced, as the ethanol producer is, that an anaerobic digester would actually be a positive for the community. â€œWe just got sideways I think on this one,â€? he says. All hope is not lost, however. In early July the California Energy Commission com-
mitted to a $4.68 million matching grant for the project, despite local opposition. Pixley Biogas and Calgren will continue to negotiate with the county in the next few months. â€œWeâ€™re not giving up, Mass said. If the plant receives local approval to build the anaerobic digester, it will pump liquid manure from a nearby dairy and haul in additional manure solids from other dairies. The resulting biogas will reduce natural gas needs at the ethanol plant and also result in clean fiber bedding for cattle and a pathogen-free liquid fertilizer. â€”Holly Jessen
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know-how to DSMâ€™s portfolio, allowing DSM to further optimize its yeast technology. Do you see opportunities to work with DSM or do you want to learn more about our technologies? Please contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 43
to grow in Indiana, it’s important to continue to assess the industry’s Ethanol industry growing in Indiana, impact on our state’s even in times of economic distress economy,” says Greg Indiana is now the fifth largest ethanol Noble, ICMC biofuels director. “Hoosier ethaproducing state—representing 7.5 percent of nol producers now have the ability to produce the total U.S. industry, according to a recently over one million gallons of ethanol each year released study conducted by Informa Econom- and are generating $3.2 billion annually in sales ics and commissioned by Indiana Corn Market- and revenues.” Noble was touting the results of the study ing Council. “As our ethanol industry continues
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at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, held in Indianapolis this year. There are 13 ethanol plants in the state, which produce a total of 1,095 MMgy of ethanol. In 2010, when a similar study was conducted, the state was in sixth place. Since that time construction was completed at the Aventine Renewable Energy plant in Mount Vernon and Poet LLC restarted the Cloverdale plant. In all, 602 people work full-time jobs at the ethanol plants in the state, the 2011 study said. However, for each job at an ethanol plant, 4.8 additional jobs are created. That adds up to a total of nearly 3,500 full-time jobs created in the state. On the money side, ethanol production created $1.5 billion in direct capital investment since 2006. It’s also responsible for a $497 million increase in gross state production and a $45 million increase in state taxes. Ethanol has also made a difference to drivers in Indiana. The wholesale ethanol price in Indianapolis was $1.97, compared to $2.12 for wholesale gasoline, according to the Price Information Service. If applied to retail, the price differential would have saved consumers $47 million, according to the U.S. DOE. “As Hoosier corn farmers, we are committed to increasing ethanol production within our state to improve the demand for our product,” says Mike Shuter, ICMC president and farmer from Frankton, Ind. “Our state’s ethanol industry is vital to Indiana’s economy, not only for the health and prosperity of Hoosier farmers, but also for consumers who see benefit at the pump with ethanol and the state’s economy as a whole. And this study has shown that the ethanol industry has even more potential for growth in our state, which is good for farmers and consumers alike.” The study also points out that one-third of every bushel of corn that is used to produce ethanol comes out the back end as distillers grains. “As a corn checkoff (ICMC), we are looking at ways to make sure more of our corn is getting used inside of our state borders,” says Shuter. “Both ethanol and livestock production are key markets for our crop, so it’s great that this study shows that even while supplying the ethanol industry, we can still be suppliers to our livestock producers.” —Holly Jessen on the web A copy of the 2011 study is available at http:// www.incorn.org.
44 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Shell steps into biofuel production through Brazil joint venture Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell plc is entering into the ethanol production arena through a joint venture formed with Brazilian sugar and ethanol producer Cosan Ltd. The $12 billion venture is named Raízen, a combination of the Portuguese words for root (raíz) and energy (energia), and is now the third largest fuels company in Brazil. The company will produce 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol annually, as well as 4 million tons of sugar and up to 900 MW of electricity from sugarcane bagasse. It will distribute its ethanol internationally to Shell’s nearly 4,500 retail service stations initially and plans to expand its distribution market in coming years to include exports to other key markets. Shell has previously been a significant distributor of ethanol, including cellulosic
ethanol produced at Ottawa-based Iogen Energy’s demonstration facility. Shell has invested heavily in Iogen Energy as part of its strategic biofuels development program and transferred its commercialization rights related to Iogen to Raizen as part of the joint venture. Shell CEO Peter Voser says the joint venture with Cosan further advances his company’s plan to play a major role in biofuels production and distribution. “We are building a leadership position in the most efficient ethanol-producing country in the world,” he stated. “Low-carbon, sustainable biofuels will be increasingly important in the global transport fuel mix.” As part of the joint venture, Shell transferred approximately 5.6 million shares of its stock in Codexis Inc., a California-based
technology firm dedicated to developing biocatalysts for advanced biofuels, among other applications. As a result, Raízen is now Codexis’ largest shareholder. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Raízen in the development of biofuels,” says Codexis President and CEO Alan Shaw. “With access to feedstocks and experience in ethanol production, Raízen has the potential to accelerate future commercialization of renewable fuels.” —Kris Bevill
corn oil prices.” He adds that, based on the corn oil prices in June, Golden Grain was gainGolden Grain finds corn ing $2 for every $1 it spent on the technology. The back-end corn oil extraction aid oil yield sweet spot comes from Ashland Hercules Water Technologies, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc. The A chemical corn oil extraction aid has chemical is added to the process after distillahelped a Mason City, Iowa, ethanol plant in- tion, to the syrup being separated into corn oil crease its corn oil yield dramatically. “It’s prob- and distillers grains and works by improving ably about doubled the amount of corn oil the release of oil during mechanical extraction, that we get out of the plant on a weekly basis,” says McCord Pankonen, global biorefining says Chad Kuhler, chief operations officer of marketing manager, water technologies. The Golden Grain Energy LLC. “It’s providing a resulting oil contains less solids and means a very good return based upon these current reduction of system deposits, adding up to less downtime for cleaning and maintenance. Golden Grain first began testing Ashland’s product in October. Though it produced some good results, the 80 MMgy ethanol plant did its due diligence and tested other products as well, Kuhlers says. In March, the company settled on Ashland’s patent-pending extraction aid. In May, Ashland worked with Golden Grain to smooth out some challenges by providing the ethanol plant with a controller to more accurately dose the chemical. “Since that time it Where it Fits A schematic diagram shows where the Ashland corn oil has been basically turned on full extraction aid is used in the ethanol production process. time,” he says. SOURCE: ASHLAND INC.
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PHOTO: ASHLAND INC.
Before and After Corn oil on the left was extracted before the extraction aid was used, and is compared to the extraction using the technology on the right.
Ethanol production facilities interested in increasing corn oil extraction numbers need to evaluate all potential suppliers. Each technology is different and will fit in differently with the needs of various plants. Still, Kuhlers can say Golden Grain is pleased with what Ashland’s corn oil extraction aid has done for that company. “At least for our system, it needed something in order to get the system to perform more as designed,” he says. Removing more corn oil does push down the protein/ fat numbers in the plant’s distillers grains. It’s important that an ethanol plant going for higher corn oil extraction numbers understand its customers’ needs or it will lose business. So far, he says, the company’s increased corn oil yield has had no negative impact on its distillers grains sales. —Holly Jessen
The Next-Next Best Thing
Iowa State University devotes attention to hybrid processing techniques Of the various potential cellulosic ethanol producers working to commercialize their technologies, most are taking a singular biochemical or thermochemical pathway approach. A select few are employing a hybrid approach, using thermochemical processes to extract sugars from biomass feedstocks and biochemical methods to ferment those sugars into saleable products. This hybrid approach deserves more focus, according to researchers at Iowa State University’s Biorenewables Research Laboratory. A year ago, ISU opened its Hybrid Processing Laboratory, located on the first floor of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory, and researchers have since been actively researching and experimenting with different hybrid approaches to renewable fuels and chemicals production. The goal is to use the lab’s incubators, reactors, gas chromatography instruments and anaerobic chambers to find new and better ways to produce those products. One of the researchers working in the hybrid lab is Laura Jarboe, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering. She’s attempting to develop bacteria that can ferment sugars from bio-oil in order to produce biorenewable fuels and chemicals. She says the main advantage of using a hybrid approach to produce biofuels, rather than a singular approach, is that the process is feedstock agnostic. “Some of the traditional processes can be very dependent on the type of biomass you’re using,” she says. “This is a more generic treatment.” So far, hybrid processes have been costcomparative with singular approaches, and with additional research can be reduced even further, Jarboe says. A hybrid approach can also produce a suite of products, including liquid, syngas and biochar, rather than a single liquid stream. “I think the lab is working well,” she says. “Everybody loves the idea of this hybrid approach. It has such a promising future; the challenge is in the collaboration.” Simply housing the hybrid lab within
the biorenewables lab has fostered a collaborative environment. Robert Brown, a leader at the biorenewables lab, says students working in the hybrid lab have easily accepted the concept of using both biochemical and thermochemical production methods. “Just
like children from different cultures often learn to communicate with one another more quickly than do their parents, graduate students seem to pick up cross disciplinary culture and language faster than their faculty advisors.” —Kris Bevill
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2011 few Review Advancing the Industry Through Promotion, Policy and Technology Written by holly jessen, kris bevill, ron kotrba and susanne retka schill. Photos by shawn williams
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The International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo is well-known for its top-notch networking opportunities and technically oriented panel sessions, but it also provides an opportunity for like-minded people to come together and celebrate the industryâ€™s accomplishments in the face of diverse opposition. This yearâ€™s event was no exception to the rule. Once again, the industry has made significant accomplishments over the past year and, again, anti-ethanol groups are waging war against what they see as a detriment to their own interests. Presentations both mornings of the FEW addressed different aspects of these accomplishments. The first was a keynote conversation between Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis and NASCAR CEO Brian France. The second morning Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen spoke.
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 51
Uniting to Face Opposition
In Dinneen’s keynote, he offered an inspiring message to the hundreds of ethanol plant employees at the conference and the thousands more who were back at their respective plants producing renewable fuel for the nation’s transportation system. “We’re always going to have a pretty strong base of support,” he assured the audience, “but don’t be mistaken—we’re always going to have well-funded, well-heeled, highly motivated opponents.” The ethanol industry is represented on the policy front by an “ethanol alliance” consisting of the RFA, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol and the National Corn Growers Association, but Dinneen made clear that the grassroots support, which established the industry, will continue to be required in order for etha-
Cellulosic Ethanol Ready Now
nol to remain successful. “Education is all of our jobs,” he said. “We all need to correct the notion that it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you get out of it. We need to dispel the notion that somehow we’re driving the price of food while people ignore the skyrocketing prices of oil and ignore the role of speculators in commodity markets. We need to be the responsible ones and do that sort of thing. It will be a challenge for all of us. But we need to do that. We need to show some outrage about the one-sided debate that’s going on in Washington today.” Complex issues currently facing the industry include federal financial support, lack of infrastructure and flex-fuel vehicles, and the ever-present opposition to midlevel ethanol blends. The ethanol industry also needs to evolve for new feedstocks and
The commercialization of cellulosic ethanol is one of the most critical issues facing the entire ethanol industry. A panel of speakers representing various cellulosic projects addressed some of their concerns related to cellulosic advancement, following Dinneen’s presentation. Their comments were especially pertinent considering the U.S. EPA just days before had announced a proposal to again drastically reduce the coming year’s cellulosic biofuels volume requirement as part of the renewable fuel standard [RFS]. Panelists said they weren’t surprised by the reduction, but stressed that it shouldn’t deter investors from participating in their
technology in order to continue to displace greater amounts of petroleum, Dinneen said. “That will not happen if we all just sit around our own breakfast tables, venting frustration with what’s going on in Washington,” he said. “I ask for your help, because we certainly need it. Everybody needs to be a part of this fight. I need you to make the magic happen again. You need to help us make it happen in D.C. and awaken them to the growing threat that we face by the failure to immediately address our energy issues.”
Countering the Myth Machine
While Dinneen’s remarks covered the challenges in Washington, the general sessions on the first day showcased American Ethanol’s new venture into the world of racing. Several years ago, when NASCAR
industry. “We’re going to miss it again in 2013, 2014, 2015,” said Wes Bolsen, chief marketing officer and vice president of government affairs at Coskata Inc. “We aren’t building plants today. It takes at least two years to build a plant, so we shouldn’t be shocked that the EPA is going to waive it this year and the next year and the year after. This is about: we need to start building now.” Once plants are built, the industry will prove itself, he said, and the fact that the EPA has had to reduce the cellulosic target should in no way indicate that the overall RFS should be lowered. Bolsen called on corn ethanol producers to assist in getting cellulosic facilities built. “Some of you in this room may want to
Confronting Challenges Wes Bolsen, chief marketing officer and vice president of government affairs at Coskata Inc., left, John McCarthy, president and CEO of Qteros Inc., and Tom Corle, marketing representative for Inbicon A/S, discuss issues facing the cellulosic ethanol industry during a special panel session at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Indianapolis.
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first started considering using ethanol in its race cars, the myths began flying thick and fast. Ethanol ruins engines. There’s a significant mileage loss. Ethanol is to blame for rising food costs. Every piece of misinformation the ethanol industry has ever battled against, NASCAR heard it, said Brian France, chairman and CEO. In spite of the opposition, NASCAR decided to do its own investigation into ethanol. The result was the partnership of NASCAR and American Ethanol, which involves fueling every racecar with E15 and proudly displaying the American Ethanol logo on everything from the green race flags to the fuel port of each and every car. “We can be that [third-party] validator to help you get some of those myths just absolutely squashed,” France told the crowd. “And we can help you from a vis-
ibility standpoint—we race with millions of people watching. Your product, your fuel is in the cars every weekend.” France’s message was delivered during a keynote conversation with Buis on the first full day of FEW. Following that, a panel of speakers representing NASCAR as well as the National Corn Growers Association, Poet LLC and Novozymes, all supporting organizations of American Ethanol, drilled into the details of the partnership between the two. E15 hasn’t caused a single problem for NASCAR, France said. In fact, it’s a higher combustion fuel that provides increased horsepower and only a slight decrease in mileage. “This fuel has been a great fuel for NASCAR and we’re happy to be your partner,” he said. In turn, NASCAR provides American Ethanol with a very visible, high-
step up and say, ‘You know what? I think we can tap into some of these USDA funds.’ Agriculture Secretary [Tom] Vilsack has been a fantastic champion for this industry and there’s going to be a farm bill coming up. He’s going to need to hear that the current producers and the future producers of cellulosic ethanol are going to be there.” John McCarthy, president and CEO of Qteros Inc., which formed a strategic partnership early this year with India-based ethanol engineering firm Praj Industries Ltd. to accelerate the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol, pointed out that the U.S. is quickly falling behind other countries in the development of cellulosic biofuels. The market is growing rapidly outside of the U.S. because it is not as politicized, he said, adding, “These aren’t just bucket-shot projects that are getting built. These are very highly qualified, very sophisticated projects with very sophisticated partners.” He said the need to continuously reduce the U.S. RFS lies not at the fault of cellulosic technology, but the policy issues surrounding it. “The facilities are getting built, admittedly at a slower pace than any of us would have liked, which is more of a capital markets issue, but the technology is there and ready to go,” he said. “If the requirement is put in place to blend 500 million gallons of advanced biofuels into the fuel stock, yet there’s only 3 or 4 million gallons available, why? It’s not a question of technology; it’s not even a question of balance sheets. The major oil companies, the major ag companies, and others will put their money behind this industry, if they are required to. This ultimately gets into a very straightforward energy policy consideration for the country.” Panelists unanimously agreed that long-term tax credits will alleviate some of investors’ concerns related to cellulosic ethanol production. Tom Corle, marketing representative for Inbicon A/S, said yearly extensions do not provide the assurance needed to raise capital to fund first-of-a-kind projects. “A short window … we can do maybe a project or two, but Washington should be interested in developing an industry and not just a couple of projects,” he said.—Kris Bevill
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impact stage to get its message out, France said. A lot of work was done by both sides to make the partnership possible. “This is a true relationship that’s going to get better,” he said. “It’s going to get bigger.” Attendance is up at NASCAR races for the 2011 season, Buis pointed out. “Can we say that’s because of ethanol?” he asked. Heavy Hitters Representatives of NASCAR and American Ethanol drill into the details of their partnership. They are, from left, Mike “We can today— Lynch, NASCAR, Eric Nyquist, NASCAR, Rick Tolman, NCGA, Greg Breukelman, Poet, Norris Scott, NASCAR, and Poul Ruben Anderson, Novozymes. with this group,” France quipped, prompting laughThat was the beginning of a two- or blend so closely following the U.S. EPA’s apter from the audience. It all started, more than three years ago, three-year process of education for NA- proval of the E15 waiver. “We just couldn’t when France mandated that NASCAR start SCAR’s team. At the same time NASCAR think of any other way to validate E15 as a moving in a greener direction, said Eric was vetting the ethanol industry, the ethanol high performance fuel than NASCAR,” he Nyquist, vice president of strategic devel- industry was carefully considering whether said. NASCAR is known for having many opment, NASCAR. Working with corpo- a partnership with the stock car racing assorate sponsors and fans to encourage more ciation would be a good move. Some were commercial sponsors and branding that is environmentally friendly practices was the enthusiastic while others were skeptical, said very visible on the track. The unique thing easy part. What was harder, however, was Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn about American Ethanol, however, is that identifying something NASCAR could do Growers Association. Although exact terms it’s truly a partnership rather than just a that was directly attached to racing. Using of the six-year partnership have not been sponsorship, said Norris Scott, vice presiethanol as a racing fuel came to mind very released, Tolman did say the commitment dent of partnership marketing and business quickly. However, the risk was initially per- is a “substantial investment financially” on solutions for NASCAR. In addition, it’s not ceived to be way too high, considering that the part of American Ethanol. Though it’s a partnership with a single ethanol plant or many within NASCAR firmly believed in always difficult to “pry open the wallets of company; it’s a partnership with an entire what they now know to be myths, which is farmers,” Tolman considers it a very worth- industry. Key elements of that partnership, why, at that point, Nyquist saw the chances while partnership. “This could be a game besides the fuel in every race car, are the green flags waved at the start and restart of NASCAR using ethanol as zero. “This is changer,” he said. Several speakers, including Tolman, of every race and the green circles around what our entire business was built around, was performance on the track,” he said. talked about the power the partnership has the gas tank covers of every car. That puts “There was no chance that we were going to debunk the myth that ethanol damages American Ethanol in the position of being to introduce something into that vehicle, if engines. “When you can say that the most the first to have branding on the flags and in way, shape or form it had any chance of sophisticated engines in the world—800 one of only a few with logos on every car. horsepower, $100,000 vehicles are running “To someone that doesn’t know NASCAR, compromising our racing product.” Despite the perceived difficulties of on ethanol and the pit crews and the crew that might not seem like a big deal,” he said. using ethanol, Nyquist decided to do a lit- chiefs and the race drivers are saying, ‘This “But there are hundreds of sponsors in the tle more research. He flew to Sioux Falls, is good stuff, it works, we’re supportive of sport and there are only a handful of sponS.D., where he met with Poet LLC’s CEO it,’ that puts that argument to rest,” Tolman sors that literally have branding on every car, so it’s a very unique position, something Jeff Broin and Greg Breukelman, senior said. Breukelman talked about the power that we think will, over time, have much vice president of communications. That is when, Nyquist said, he learned the truth of NASCAR’s use of E15 in validating more of an impact on our fans.” —Holly about ethanol—something he considers that specific fuel. Although there are more Jessen and Kris Bevill somewhat shameful, considering the Min- hoops to jump through to bring E15 to the nesota native “grew up within spitting dis- marketplace, Poet felt it was an ideal time for NASCAR to start using the 15 percent tance” of an ethanol plant. 54 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
High Octane Award Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, was recognized for his advocacy for the ethanol industry. He gave credit to NCGA’s staff and leaders at the state and national level for putting “their heart and soul into ethanol promotion” and talked about the benefits of ethanol. The ethanol industry has historically gone through up and down cycles. “Even though it looks like there are a lot of critics and some challenges right now, I think we have to keep a long-term perspective,” he said. “We’ll get back to another growth cycle and things will change, as they always do. This too shall pass. Those strong fundamentals will win out.” Award of Excellence Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering and associate director of the office of biobased technologies at Michigan State University, was recognized for his extensive research on the production of cellulosic ethanol, developing the pretreatment known as AFEX and for his work in scientifically challenging the indirect land use change (ILUC) concept. In accepting the award, he reminded the audience the U.S. was the first oil country, and the decline of domestic oil is behind the economic slowdown. “We will solve the problem by developing sustainable renewable fuels.” He urged the ethanol industry to wholeheartedly embrace cellulosic ethanol. “I believe we can replace all of our oil with renewable fuels—technically, we can do it.”
FEW Scholarships Two women are receiving $2,000 Kathy Bryan Memorial scholarships this year. They are Mary Schrock, left, an employee of Abengoa Bioenergy of Indiana, and Bailee McClellan, the daughter of an employee of Big River United Energy LLC in Dyersville, Iowa. Schrock has worked as a laboratory technician at Abengoa Bioenergy of Indiana in Mount Vernon since July 2009, and is working on a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies to further her advancement at the ethanol facility. McClellan is seeking a degree in environmental policy. She discovered her passion for all things green when taking an Introduction to Environmental Science class. “Ethanol … became a biofuel, a hope for alternative, renewable energy that could sustain the future,” she said in her application.
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Room for Debate Paths Ahead Producers and project developers share their perspectives on integrating cellulosic ethanol production systems with existing starchbased facilities during the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo held in Indianapolis, June 27-30.
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Cellulosic producers present multiple paths forward By Kris Bevill
Ethanol produced from cellulosic materials—once thought to be a concept that would never make it out of the lab—has unarguably become the most popular topic among corn ethanol producers and cellulosic project developers alike, as evidenced by the overwhelming turnout of eager speakers and attendees in the cellulosic track at the 27th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Indianapolis. While it seems to be widely agreed that second-generation biofuel production is the future of ethanol, exactly which feedstocks and technologies will be best used to produce that fuel are still under debate. For years, cellulosic ethanol was viewed as a portion of the industry that would exist independently from starch-based facilities, but as new technologies become available and corn ethanol producers aggressively seek new ways to diversify their product streams, a growing number of traditional ethanol producers are warming to the notion of co-locating cellulosic systems with their existing plants. More than 200 conference attendees packed into the conference’s opening cellulosic ethanol session to listen as industry experts discussed their views toward integrating cellulosic production at existing corn ethanol facilities. Mark Penshorn, project manager for Science Applications International Corp.’s renewable energy group, pointed out that it will eventually become impossible to plant enough corn to meet the U.S. federal government’s steadily increasing renewable fuel standard. “The obvious next step is cellulosic biofuel,” he said. One of the most attractive aspects of co-locating cellulosic facilities with corn facilities is the ready availability of feedstock by way of corn stover. Or
is it? Several presenters said they’re placing their bets on corn stover as the winning feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production, but others disagreed. Speakers representing Inbicon A/S and EdeniQ Inc. said they are exploring stover as one of the first primary cellulosic feedstocks. Inbicon’s project leader for North America, Paul Kamp, appealed to the ease of obtaining stover suppliers at existing ethanol plants and said that’s one reason it makes sense for corn ethanol facilities to integrate cellulosic capabilities. “Your grain suppliers will also likely be your stover suppliers,” he said, adding, “we do a lot of work on it and we know we can do it.” Tom Griffin, vice president of technology at EdeniQ, said stover is the first feedstock of focus for his company, followed by switchgrass, bagasse, energy cane and wood sources. Doug Rivers, director of research and development at ICM Inc., made a case against corn stover as a primary feedstock during his presentation. He displayed a photo taken of the 2009 corn crop that showed unharvested corn nearly buried in snowdrifts after the area received early, heavy snowfalls. Stover can’t be taken off fields until the corn crop is harvested, and if the harvest is delayed due to bad weather conditions, it could result in feedstock shortages for stover users, he suggested. “It is our position that we would hate to bank a $200 to $400 million cellulosic plant on a stover supply that doesn’t get there,” he said. “So we see corn stover as an opportunist feedstock, where you may run it part of the year based on availability.” Others are focusing their efforts on ethanol produced from dedicated energy crops and many favor the Southeast U.S. as an ideal location to establish those facilities. Speakers from Tennessee-based Genera Energy LLC and Ceres Inc. said weather and land availability in the Southeast make it favorable for switchgrass, sorghum and miscanthus projects. Genera is readying a launch into the commercial arena as a feedstock supplier for ventures throughout the Southeast, according to Bob Randle, the company’s vice president of business development. Frank Hardimon, Ceres’ di-
rector of sales, highlighted his company’s switchgrass and sorghum projects throughout that portion of the country but said miscanthus is not ready for commercialization anywhere yet due to the difficulties of harvesting it. Financial hurdles continue to be a major issue for cellulosic ethanol producers. In his presentation, Jeff Passmore, president of Passmore Group Inc., said Wall Street investors are currently more willing to invest in wind or solar projects than biofuels because of the inherent uncertainties related to first-of-a-kind cellulosic projects. “The project capital cost and the project operating cost and the project revenue flow are all known for wind. And none of them are known for cellulosic ethanol,” he said. “So, while wind faces cost challenges—yes, it’s more expensive than natural gas—cellulosic ethanol faces first-plant commercialization challenges.” Passmore’s list of “tools” necessary to encourage investment in cellulosic ethanol projects included a long-term cellulosic producer’s tax credit, expanded infrastructure by way of E85 and blender pumps and more flex-fuel vehicles, and the continuation of the renewable fuel standard. Considering the multitude of issues facing cellulosic ethanol producers, Phil Madsen, president of Katzen International Inc., offered an alternative to the next generation of biofuels. His presentation focused heavily on new sugar and starch feedstock sources, such as inedible sweet potatoes, cassava root, and SunSpuds, which could be used with existing technologies and strategies as a bridge between firstgeneration and second-generation biofuels. His company refers to this as generation 1.5 and believes it will be a necessary filler to move the industry from first- to secondgeneration biofuels production. “Cellulosic conversion will succeed in special situations and by 2020 we will see less than 500 million gallons worldwide,” he said. “We believe at Katzen that new sugar and starch sources, by 2030, using fuel-specific agriculture, will have greater than 50 billion gallons of production using conventional, known technology.” AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 57
Management Listening In Top photo, Jay Beckel, ERI Solutions Inc., speaks about safety. Others on the panel included moderator Walt Wendland and speakers Paula Emberland, Christianson & Associates, and Rob Southern, Kennedy and Coe LLC.
It’s Not Just About the Money Competitive salaries aren’t the only thing people look for in their job choice By Holly Jessen
It’s a good idea for employers to research how their organization’s salary and benefits plan stacks up to the competition. For ethanol plants, that means what other ethanol production facilities, as well as other employers in their geographical region, offer their staff. What is in an individual employee’s paycheck, however, is hardly the end-all be-all of what makes him or her a hard-working and satisfied member of the team. Two speakers, Rob Southern, a human resources consultant for Kennedy and Coe LLC, and Paula Emberland, a business analyst for Christianson & Associates PLLP, addressed this topic during a panel presentation held June 29 at the FEW. Southern characterized it this way. “It’s hiring the right people, getting the right people in the right positions, treating them fairly, developing them and giving them feedback, providing strong leadership and recognizing and rewarding their contributions,” he said. Southern zeroed in on the importance of proper training for supervi58 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
sors and management. That could include attending seminars, taking advantage of webinars or free online training content and even assigning that person a mentor. “This is really too vital to be left to chance and sometimes it does get left to chance, I think,” he said. He gave the example of a situation where a stellar employee that has never been a supervisor or manager is promoted from within the ranks. Putting someone with no management experience in a management position without any training can be a recipe for disaster—not to mention the difficulties of someone managing people who used to be their peers. “We put people into positions, being a supervisor or manager, and really don’t equip them … for those roles,” he said. Beyond that, it’s absolutely critical that the right people are put in management positions in the first place. A good manager needs to be caring, competent and engaged, staying in touch with his or her employees and showing that they value them, South-
ern said. That means showing concern for employee well-being and giving open and honest feedback in a constructive way. That kind of manager gets results. “They Be Careful What You get commitment,” Wish For Paula Emberland he said. “That is, the of Christianson & employee wants to Associates said that bonus and incentive commit, versus comprograms can actually pliance—they have be counterproductive, if to. As we all know, not structured properly. those are two significantly separate situations.” Training isn’t just important for those in management positions, however. Southern recommended fostering an environment of continuous learning. Employers might want to make career and advancement goals a part of the employee review process. In addition, they should offer all employees training opportunities on any of the tools they use to
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do their job. “They’re going to be more efficient, they’re going to be more effective, with less frustration in their job,” he said. Another important step in retaining employees is taking the time to let them know when they have done a good job. This is something that frequently gets lost in the shuffle of a busy schedule. Southern said it could be as simple as a quick comment or an email. He also suggested that the compliment be specific, describing what they did that was positive, rather than just a general good job, pat on the back. Expressions of gratitude can also go to teams, rather than just individuals. For example, Southern mentioned a cookout or a team-building event away from the workplace. “There’s lots of creative things that you can do to help build the team,” he said. He also talked about giving employees the chance to give their input into what’s happening and help identify areas for improvement in the workplace. “Give them a say in how things are done,” he said. “It
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makes a huge difference.” This could happen during a team meeting or through an anonymous employee survey, which is a great tool to measure how engaged employees are in the business. “It really gives you a good pulse of what’s going on with your workforce,” he said. Emberland’s presentation focused on bonus and incentive programs, an area in which Christianson & Associates gathers statistics as part of its benchmarking program. Although the two words are often used interchangeably, a bonus is extra pay for good performance while an incentive encourages a certain behavior from employees but does not have to be financial. Like Southern, Emberland mentioned company events either for employees alone or including their families, tickets to a ball game, happy hour at a bar or any number of ways to recognize and reward employees. “There’s a lot of employees out there that just like a pat on the back,” she said. “You need to figure out what’s going to motivate your team.”
Benchmarking Labor Survey - Plants Offering Bonuses
SOURCE: CHRISTIANSON & ASSOCIATES
A bonus or incentive program does not have to be complicated, she said. She gave examples of programs used by ethanol plants that participate in the benchmarking program and stressed that each company should find what works for itself. One plant provided a 1 percent bonus for zero lost time hours, 2 percent bonus based on yield, 1 percent based on energy savings and 1 percent based on the plant’s production
level—adding up to 5 percent of a production team members annual salary. Another way to do it, separately or together with the previous type of bonus program, is to give employees percentage bonuses based on the company’s annual net income. The key is to think through carefully how the program will work, how much money it will cost the company and when the bonuses will be paid out. The next step is to make sure employ-
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60 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Benchmarking Labor Survey - Plants with Incentives
SOURCE: CHRISTIANSON & ASSOCIATES
ees understand how it will work. It’s also vital that the goals are actually achievable. “The goals need to be realistic and they need to be measurable,” she said. “There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can ever achieve that goal.” There are a lot of myths out there about bonus and incentive programs. The first is that it automatically boosts morale. In fact, if it’s not structured correctly, it can have the opposite effect. Often companies turn to bonuses and incentives when they are having trouble with morale, but that move alone won’t fix the problem. “Take a look deeper as to what is going on with your company if you are struggling,” she said. “There’s no employee or bonus incen-
tive program that is going to fix poor hiring or bad management practices.” Another myth is that bonuses or incentives will show that the company is generous. That’s not always the case either. “From the employee perspective, what they see is the fact that the company is expecting more from me. I need to work harder in order to achieve what they’re expecting from me,” she said. Others have the mistaken idea that bonuses or incentives will always boost productivity and motivate employees. If employees aren’t provided with the correct resources and tools, it could actually work against productivity. Another thing to be careful of is workplace competition. It’s im-
portant to remember that with competition, there will be winners, yes, but there will also be losers. That’s not to say that bonus and incentive programs can’t be a good thing, if structured correctly. A company whose bonus and incentive program isn’t working should scrap it and start over, Emberland recommended. Once it’s working as it should, a bonus and incentive program can serve to get employees’ attention, help them feel more like a part of the team and align them with the goals of the company. Jay Beckel, the director of process safety management for ERI Solutions Inc., spoke during the panel discussion about keeping employees safe once they have been hired. The moderator for this panel presentation was Walt Wendland, CEO and President of Golden Grain Energy LLC.
Good managers get results. ‘They get commitment. That is, the employee wants to commit, versus compliance—they have to. As we all know, those are two significantly separate situations.’ — Rob Southern, human resource consultant, Kennedy and Coe
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Expanding Revenue Streams Ethanol producers are keen to learn more about expanding ethanol coproducts beyond DDGS to include corn oil. New synergies with biodiesel are being explored.
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Enhancement & Diversity The next generation of corn ethanol coproducts is here By Ron Kotrba
Some say the next generation of corn oil extraction must focus on oil quality and quantity, while maximizing DDGS value and consistency. Others say the time is right for dry fractionation, a capital-intense approach to diversifying ethanol plant product streams. Then there are those who bring to light new Food and Drug Administration regulations that will put extraordinary pressure on ethanol producers, since feed is ultimately food. Even though their agendas and messages were slightly different, one thing all of the speakers in the Coproducts/Product Diversification track at the FEW agreed on is that coproduct enhancement and diversity are critical to survival as a low-cost player in today’s trying economical and sociopolitical environments. Yhanhong Zhang, assistant director with the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center, presented survey results on DDGS contaminants. “Mycotoxins are unavoidable,” she said, “they are weather related.” Harold Tilstra with Land O’Lakes Purina Feed, who spoke on the same panel titled Containing Distillers Grains Contaminants, further explained that some mycotoxins such as aflatoxins are associated with drought conditions while others, such as vomitoxins (also called deoxynivalenols) are brought on by wet weather conditions. Zhang said in 2009 predictions of greater vomitoxins present in corn were on the rise, which initiated interest at NCERC to
conduct sample surveys of DDGS at various ethanol plants. The DDGS survey took place between August 2009 and January 2011, so the corn used came from the 2008-’10 growing season. Eight ethanol plants were surveyed every other month during the investigation period. The results showed that aflatoxins were found not to be an issue, but two of the eight plants sampled showed levels of vomitoxins well past the 5 ppm Food and Drug Administration advisory level. The samples showing the highest concentration of vomitoxins were taken during spring 2010, dying down after then. Fumonisin levels at three of the eight ethanol plants surpassed the FDA advisory level of 5 ppm as well. Zhang noted, however, that “the plants with high vomitoxins were different than the plants with high fumonisin levels.” None of the eight plants tested bimonthly during that period showed detectable levels of T-2 mycotoxins. Zhang also shared data from DDGS produced with corn from crop years 2005-
’07. She said 235 samples were taken from 23 dry mill ethanol plants, and the highest aflatoxin levels were at 4 ppb, meaning none were higher than the FDA advisory level. No vomitoxin levels were higher than the advisory level either, but the highest fumonisin levels were at around 8.6 ppm, and 10 percent sampled showed levels of fumonisin greater than the 5 ppm FDA advisory level. She explained how mycotoxin levels in corn get concentrated in DDGS. To prove it, she took paired samples from two ethanol plants in 14 consecutive days, and monitored the results. Enrichment of contamination in DDGS from mycotoxin-contaminated corn is roughly 3.5 times, she said, stressing that it is imperative to monitor levels of these contaminants in the incoming corn.
The Food Safety Modernization Act is changing how ethanol producers do business, shifting focus on just being fuel producers that incidentally make a feed coproduct, to being
fuel, and food, producers. “Feed is food,” said Matt Gibson, ICM Inc.’s vice president of feed. Gibson directed anyone in the audience who wishes to learn more about the FSMA to search Public Law 111-353. The main points of the new regulation are to improve the capacity of ethanol producers to prevent problems, and to detect and respond to problems. “It’s not just about recalls or inspections,” Gibson said. It’s about a prevention mandate, and those who are noncompliant will be held accountable. Ethanol producers must register under the act beginning in 2012, and every other year thereafter. Having a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan “is a big part of this,” he said, and it needs to be implemented by July 4, 2012. The FDA “shall assess and collect” for re-inspections, he emphasized. The frequency of facility inspections is based on risk, higher or lower, and Gibson noted that feed producers like ethanol plants are considered lower risk, but cooperation with the FDA is paramount.
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 63
dience that, just like feedstock, It also increases VOC emissions. Another chemicals and yeast, “opera- point to think about, Vigil told the audience, tions is another input.” is that improper cooling leads to product She detailed how design bridging. Backset is good because it deof an ethanol plant’s milling, creases the amount of fresh water needed to piping, equipment, automa- make ethanol, but it increases viscosity and tion, cooling, dryer designs enzyme usage, and it increases the potential and DDG handling all have for contamination as well as produces more profound effects on distillers nonfermentable solids circling around the grains quality. Milling is im- plant. Vigil cautioned managers to maintain portant as it determines par- consistent operator schedules. “The importicle distribution in the plant tance of shift uniformity is key, especially and the size of material in if the plant is not automated.” Finally, Vigil DDGS, so a plant needs the noted that the very most important thing to DDGS Study Yhanhong Zhang, assistant director with the National Cornright hammers, screens and so monitor in an ethanol plant is fermentation. to-Ethanol Research Center, said mycotoxins are unavoidable, they are forth to optimize particle size. weather related. The right piping can mini- Dry Fractionation “There is whistleblower protection mize chemical inputs, reduce or eliminate Integration of front-end fractionation clearly in the law,” he added. “What does all sulfur and minimize caustic consumption. technologies has long been discussed as an this mean for me? In my opinion, you and I, “No dead legs,” she said, meaning a plant opportunity for ethanol producers to diverand everybody, must be proactive. There’s a shouldn’t have any areas in its configuration sify their product streams and add to their big liability associated with this. Compliance of piping where mash sits and doesn’t move, bottom lines, but years of anticipation have must become SOP (standard operating pro- for that only leads to a place where bacte- given way to little acceptance from dry mill cedure).” ria and sugar concentrate, which have to be plants at best. Pete Moss, vice president of He advised ethanol producers to be on mitigated with chemicals. Also, Vigil pointed marketing for Cereal Process Technolothe lookout for new rules, and cautioned out that something as simple as pipe welds gies, gives good reasons why this may finally that all inputs must be feed grade or better. can have a big impact on bacteria growth. change. “Assistance is available,” Gibson said. “Smooth welds give no place for bacteria Moss says the 15 billion gallon cap on to grow,” as opposed to jagged welds with corn ethanol in RFS2 is one reason fractionGood Inputs, Good Outputs pockets for bacteria infiltration. She said heat ation will finally come to the dry mill corn Tara Vigil, a chemical process engineer exchangers should be designed with biology ethanol industry. Corn ethanol plant projects with Katzen International, who spoke on in mind so they can be easily drained. Higher not grandfathered into RFS2 will be forced the same panel as Gibson, uttered those temperature cooking can help kill bacteria to incorporate advanced technologies to same words: “Feed is food.” She said “too that would otherwise get recycled through move forward. The U.S. EPA dictates that many chemicals in your plant can destroy the backset, and if the bacteria is minimized advanced ethanol technologies that can be your coproduct,” and rallied the audience or eliminated through high-temof ethanol producers to “make a better feed perature cooking, so too is the that ultimately ends up on your table.” need for antibiotics. Automa“Coproducts make the margin,” she tion can greatly increase a plant’s said, meaning a plant’s profitability, or lack consistency. thereof, is often determined by the distillPlants also must consider ers grains sales. She highlighted the often- dryer capacity, and a plant may discussed drawbacks of distillers grains: in- require spare capacity in order consistency in moisture, fiber, grain size, fat to run consistently on a day-tocontent, sulfur and more. “There’s room for day basis. “Size matters,” she improvement,” she said. “The standard de- said, referring to dryer capacity. viation is very great, and it can land on either “Dryers become bottlenecks, so side of the average, making a huge range.” when the drying temperature is What is done upstream affects results raised” to push more product downstream. “You get out what you put in,” through, this adversely affects she said, “or better yet, you don’t get out what lysine levels, dropping the pres- SOP Compliance Matt Gibson, vice president, feed, for ICM, said whistleblower protection in place, everyone must be proactive and you don’t put in.” She also reminded the au- ence of the critical amino acid. with compliance with regulations must become standard operating procedure. 64 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
incorporated at dry mills include both corn oil fractionation and back-end extraction, Moss said, and to be considered advanced, the plant must achieve an annual average rate of 1.33 pounds of oil per bushel of corn. “By 2022, the technology will be there,” he added. In addition to the 15 billion gallon cap, Moss said the other driving factor that will finally enable ethanol plants to move toward the capital-intense fractionation process involves consolidation in the industry. “What we’re seeing today is more capable [companies] with bigger balance sheets,” he said. Companies with deeper pockets can either absorb the higher capital expenses to outfit a plant with front-end fractionation capacity or finagle investors to shell out the money. “We are moving from being a subsidydriven industry to being an RFS2-driven industry,” Moss said. He added that in order to make this work, some plants will have to “team up with others” in order to take
full advantage of the value, which he said can lead to four times the net income of an ethanol plant producing just fuel, carbon dioxide and distillers grains. Instead, the plant can produce industrial- or food-grade corn oil with low free fatty acids, de-oiled germ, bran, white fiber, fuel, high-protein feed and more.
Oil Extraction, Biodiesel
ICM announced at the FEW it has obtained signed contracts for installation of its patent-pending Advanced Oil System at four plants. The company is calling AOS the next-generation oil extraction system. “Most oil extraction providers use a combination of centrifugation and chemical additives to extract corn oil; however, extraction rates can be limited by emulsification,” the company stated. AOS uses an emulsionbreaking approach to deliver a much higher conversion rate than is currently possible with first-generation oil recovery technology, and consists of separate skid-mounted
units that can be installed at plants without oil extraction technology, or a modified version of the technology can be installed at plants that have already invested in ICM’s first-generation oil separation equipment. Despite ongoing patent infringement litigation, Greenshift Corp.’s Chief Technology Officer David Winsness shared the stage with Brock Beach, capital sales manager for oil separation solutions for ICM Inc., one of several litigants in the lawsuit, where the two answered audience questions about their companies’ differing oil extraction methods. “I believe we have the pioneering patent on the extraction process,” Winsness said. “We don’t use a tricanter, we use a disc stack centrifuge. There’s more G-force there while consuming less horsepower.” Beach responded, saying that ICM uses a tricanter made by Flottweg, another litigant in the patent infringement case, because “tricanters are designed for heavy solids,” and the material will ultimately “spend less time in a tricanter” than in a disc stack
centrifuge. On the unit’s power, Beach said, “We don’t see the need for more G-force.” Winsness said at 30 cents a pound, extracting a half pound a bushel, a 110 MMgy ethanol plant that processes 20 million bushels can add $6 million to its bottom line. The capital costs for extracting a half-pound per bushel is about $500,000, Winsness said, adding there’s a one-year return on that investment. He acknowledged that removing too much oil from distillers grains can have negative impacts on the quality of the feed supplement and its going rate. “If you keep taking out the fat, it will impact the feed,” he said, adding to keep the protein-to-fat ratio in mind. “For every 3 percent of the oil you remove, you increase the protein by 1 percent.” Joe Riley, general manager of FEC Solutions, said there should be a premium for high-fat distillers grains, so if the demand for inedible corn oil from the biodiesel industry goes away, the markets won’t crash and ethanol producers will still be able to retain some of that value. “Today there’s not much price difference” between high-fat and de-oiled DDGS, Riley said. Soybean meal goes for $330 a ton and “we should shoot for that,” he said, admitting, “Yes, the amino acid profile is different.”
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“Find diverse homes for your oil,” Riley said. “The last thing you want to do is have a load of corn oil come back into your plant.” He said the low-hanging fruit at an ethanol plant is still from beer column on, and that the next generation of corn oil extraction will need to focus on oil quality, quantity and, finally, maximizing DDGS quality. Riley was asked by an audience member if the oil extracted from the backend of ethanol plants is “good enough for the biodiesel industry.” He responded, “There are a number of different biodiesel technologies out there” to handle the material. “Good enough is difficult to say.” Biodiesel producers found the oil to be “good enough” to make up slightly less than 10 percent of the U.S. feedstock supply in 2010, according to Dave Elsenbast, vice president of supply chain management for Renewable Energy Group Inc. The National Biodiesel Board reports only 315 million gallons of biodiesel was produced in the U.S. last year, so roughly 31 million gallons of U.S. biodiesel manufactured in 2010 were derived from corn oil. He said about 35 percent of U.S. ethanol plants implement corn oil extraction, adding that he expects that number to double within a couple of years. While use of 31 million gallons of corn oil for biodiesel production is encouraging,
Winsness said the U.S. EPA projects 680 million gallons of corn oil will be needed to meet the RFS2’s biomass-based diesel targets. He mentioned the 2011 diesel requirement of 800 million gallons, next year’s 1 billion gallon mandate, and EPA’s proposed volume for 2013, 1.28 billion gallons. “We’ve got 500 million gallons to make up in three years,” Winsness said. Talk of co-locating biodiesel processing units with ethanol plants has been around since these oil extraction technologies emerged, but the model of selling the oil to offsite users through marketers has dominated the scene. Now Winsness says he thinks a number of ethanol companies will finally come around to processing their corn oil into biodiesel onsite. One big reason is, as he said, “There’s plenty of opportunity to sell 100 percent of the biodiesel locally.” The combined on- and off-road local demand would soak up locally available biodiesel. He said Greenshift has a pending patent application for a blender pump so ethanol producers with biodiesel manufacturing onsite could maximize sales of biodiesel locally, and with the high price of biomass-based diesel RINs and the $1 per gallon federal blenders tax credit in play, they can pass the higher blend savings to the customer locally. “The first movers have the advantage here,” he said.
Tuning it Up Multi-pronged approaches to optimization
By Susanne Retka Schill
The well-attended production track at the 2011 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop got into the nitty gritty of optimizing ethanol plants, addressing topics from yeasts and enzymes to the proper grind, efficient distillation, maximized water use and well-tuned software controls. Christopher Richards, global sales manager, Lallemand Ethanol Technolgy, pointed out there are four steps to optimizing plants. The first is to achieve consistency. “Seventy percent of any gains come from reducing variability,” he said. A consistent plant, even one that is running poorly, is easier to optimize than a variable one. The second stage involves standard operating procedures. “Are they right? Do they need to be updated?” he asked, adding that writing, reviewing and continually updating standard operating procedures “can be an effective way of getting buy-in from shifts.” The third stage, this fermentation expert said, is making sure there is effective dosing and that fermentation is consistent and efficient. Only when those three are in place, he said, can new ideas, products and tech-
nologies be examined. “Most people want to jump to step four,” he added. Reducing variability was the main focus of the software experts who discussed process control. Representatives from ICM Inc., Rockwell Software and Expertune Inc. described the conceptual frameworks behind their software solutions. John Gerry, president of Expertune, explained that better base layer control in individual control loops is needed before an overall advanced process control system can be put in place. “In typical plants, 40 to 60 percent of the control loops are turned to manual mode,” he said. Before comprehensive computerized control systems are put in place, ethanol operators are typically reacting to laboratory test results, said Maina Macharia, industry manager-biofuels for Rockwell Software. Adapted from the oil industry, multivariable predictive control (MPC) systems are used to build computer models capable of doing virtual online analysis that can then make adjustments from real-time tests. In the plant-wide MPC systems installed to date by Rockwell, the average production rate increased 9.7 percent, the average yield increase was 3.6 percent, the average natural gas used per gallon reduced 5.72 percent, for an overall margin improvement ranging from 5 to 11 cents per gallon. MPC is useful where there are measurement that can be taken and valves can be manipulated, explained Bob Wilson, capital sales manager at ICM Inc. “Yeast and en-
zymes don’t have valves,” he added. ICM’s team for total optimization has developed advanced process control models to work synergistically with MPC. Advanced process control implementation at one 115 MMgy plant brought its capacity up to 120 MMgy, he said. Other speakers during the panels in the production track addressed many other areas of plant operations, with several introducing their companies’ ideas for innovation. “The drying operation for DDGS is responsible for 30 percent of the total energy use in the plant,” said Vivek Sharma, Genencor senior applications scientist. Genencor is developing a dewatering enzyme that reduces the water-holding capacity of whole stillage, allowing 10 to 14 percent more liquid to be sent to the evaporator and reducing the liquids in the wet cake, thus reducing the wet cake load on the dryers. Thin stillage is the target of another technology using anaerobic digestion combined with ultrafiltration membranes developed by Biothane LLC. Timur Dunaev, process engineer, said anaerobic digestion can provide flexibility between using thin stillage for energy production, or sending it on the evaporators and dryers for distillers grains in favorable feed markets. Thin stillage produces 4 to 7 cubic feet of biogas for every gallon and in the process removes 98 percent of the chemical oxygen demand and 99.9 percent of total solids, making any consequent water treatment much easier. AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 67
AUTHORS: Holly Jessen Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine. (701) 738-4946 email@example.com Kris Bevill Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine. (701) 540-6846 firstname.lastname@example.org Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine (701) 738-4942 email@example.com Susanne Retka Schill Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine. (701) 738-4922 firstname.lastname@example.org
68 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Networking Plus Solid content draws attendees, but so do the opportunities to network and socialize. Held in Indianapolis, the 2011 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo developed the racing theme, offering insights into American Ethanolâ€™s partnership with NASCAR and updates on policy and technology advancements. The Wednesday evening Brickyard Bash was held at the site of the Indy 500.
Photo: kris bevill
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 69
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Constant in Changing
One plant’s success story in an ever-evolving industry By Kris Bevill
In three decades of industrial ethanol production in the U.S., there is really only one summation that can be made with total accuracy—nothing ever stays the same. Policies
change, prices skyrocket and drop, some technologies advance while others become obsolete, new competitors emerge. The volatility and thin margins of the industry have taken their toll on a number of companies through bankruptcies, mergers and reorganizations. But other members of the ethanol industry have had the good fortune to travel down a different production path. Near Hastings, a community of about 25,000 people nestled amid the seemingly endless corn fields of south-central Nebraska, Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc. has been steadily churning out ethanol since late 1984. The oldest dry-mill ethanol facility in Nebraska, Chief Ethanol celebrated a milestone earlier this year when it produced and sold its billionth gallon of ethanol in February. For a plant that began operations with just 10 million gallons of capacity, reaching the billiongallon mark is quite a feat. So, considering its humble beginnings, and the wild swings of the industry, we just had to know: What’s their secret? “We expect times to change,” says Duane Kristensen, Chief Ethanol’s general manager. “We’ve been through the markets enough to know that when things are at their darkest it’ll get better and when things look bright there’s probably something that’s lurking out there that’s going to come back.” Kristensen joined Chief Ethanol in its early years of operation (he’ll celebrate his 25th employment anniversary later this year) and has served as general manager of the plant since 2004. He’s seen the plant through multiple technology and capacity upgrades, ramping from the initial 10 MMgy to its current capacity of 70 MMgy, and says the conAUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 71
stant effort to strive for improved production plays a large role in the plantâ€™s success. â€œWe run an efficient plant,â€? he says. â€œWeâ€™re a continuous-flow Vogelbusch-designed plant. I think we know what our capabilities are, or have a good idea of them, and that enables us to have some flexibility.â€? Nebraskaâ€™s first ethanol plant opened its doors in December 1984 under the ownership of American Diversified Co. The 10 MMgy plant would be a small mom-and-pop shop in todayâ€™s industry, but back then it was a large facility, Kristensen says. Because it was the first ethanol plant to establish itself in Nebraska, would-be customers were unfamiliar with the products it produced, and those in charge of marketing found themselves in uncharted territory. â€œWhen we first started, there were no distillers grains here,â€? Kristensen says. â€œWe were the first facility in Nebraska, and one of the first west of the
Mississippi, as far as dry mill ethanol facilities, so we had to go out and develop our own feeding relationships and also our own alcohol markets. The ethanol board in Nebraska has been very supportive of our industry and helped us out a lot, but we got out there in some of the terminal sites and had a presence much greater than what it would reflect today because now, ethanol is a legitimate product in the fuel supply. Twenty-five years ago it was a struggle sometimes just to get it included in the gasoline.â€?
Keeping on Top of Technology
Rough markets made the first five years or so of the plantâ€™s existence a bit of a struggle, Kristensen admits. â€œIt was pretty dark and dismal there for a little bit in the late â€˜80s when fuel prices were cheap,â€? he says. â€œOil prices were cheap and fuel was cheap and ethanol was just a gasoline additiveâ€”used
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as a replacement for lead and as an octane enhancer. Ethanol was a pretty small, almost niche industry at that point in time.â€? All that soon changed. In 1990, Chief Ethanol, a wholly owned, independent subsidiary of Chief Industries Inc., stepped in to purchase the plant. Shortly after plant ownership changed hands, the U.S. entered into the first Gulf War and Chief Ethanol soon began work to increase its capacity in response to spiked interest in ethanol stemming from concern over oil supplies. â€œThat had a major impact because oil prices shot higher. It was very good returns almost immediately when Chief stepped in,â€? Kristensen says. The first major expansion, complete in 1993, increased the capacity to 28 MMgy and included the installation of molecular sieves. This was a marked improvement over the previous process, making production easier and enabling the industry to move forward, Kristensen says. Other significant expansions were carried out in 1996, 1999, and about every three years thereafter as various technologies became available to improve the production process. â€œItâ€™s easy enough to add some of the better technology as we move forward,â€? Kristensen says, dispelling any claims that older plants canâ€™t compete with newly built facilities. â€œIf the technologyâ€™s available the older plants can certainly incorporate it, and thatâ€™s more or less what we did. You find out what your bottleneck is and then you work on that to achieve some better efficiencies and that type of thing. You stair-step it through.â€? Chief Ethanol has been able to accomplish what every ethanol producer knows should be doneâ€”implementing technology innovations as they become available in order to stay on the cutting edge of production and remain economically competitive, says Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Chief Ethanol has been a member of ACE since 2005 and Kristensen has served on its board of directors since 2007. â€œDuane, like many of the ethanol producer general managers I visit with, is constantly examining opportunities to innovate through technology improvements,â€? Jennings says. â€œPart of the success of this plant is that theyâ€™ve had a group
of long-term employees with a commitment to long-term success, and they’ve worked as a unit to identify how and when to innovate.”
Making Cents Count
“Chief Ethanol offers an example of success and longevity that are, in part, tied to the stability of the company, sound management, adoption of technology and innovation, development of solid business relationships and astute financial management,” says Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “State and federal public policies that encouraged the production and use of ethanol helped to provide an environment in which Chief Ethanol could invest capital. The increased capital investment created additional capacity, additional jobs and expanded the economic impact of the ethanol plant.” Nebraska is home to two dozen ethanol facilities producing a combined 2 billion gallons of ethanol annually, placing the Cornhusker State second only to Iowa in terms of production capacity. The industry as a whole plays a significant role in the state’s economy, with each plant noticeably impacting its home area. Chief Ethanol is one of the state’s major grain buyers, according to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, taking in 25 million bushels of corn annually—about 80 percent of the crop grown in the county in which the plant is located. It also markets all of its own ethanol and distillers grains. As a result, the company has developed close relationships with many of its customers, including the surrounding cattle yards, where Kristensen says it would be unusual to find any cattle producer not using distillers grains as feed. The plant also supplies 60 full-time, well-paying jobs. According to Kristensen, the workforce at Chief Ethanol may be a little inflated compared to other similar-sized plants, but he attributes that to the fact that the company does everything in-house and says that is one of the reasons for the company’s longevity. “We make all of our decisions, so it’s very easy for us to sit down and have quick conversations about what the market is doing, what our options are and where it leaves us economically,” he says. “So we
can probably adapt quickly and make some snap decisions because we’re not burdened by extreme levels of management or have to contact outside people to find out what the market is doing. Also, because we’ve been around for a long time, we have very good and loyal customers. To a certain degree, we feel we have a stake in what they’re doing and they feel they have a stake in what we’re doing.” The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit played a very helpful role when the plant was first establishing itself and other state and federal incentives, particularly the Clean Air Act, have been vital to the plant and industry’s success, Kristensen says. Increased market share through the removal of MTBE was a milestone for the industry and led it to become what it is today, he says. These factors all contributed to Chief Ethanol’s longevity, but they have affected other
facilities equally and so can’t be considered underlying reasons for the plant’s success. One quality that does set Chief Ethanol apart from many other producers is its lack of debt. Kristensen says the plant has never really been burdened with a high debt load and has been able to finance all of its expansions internally with its own equity. It’s also a private company, so isn’t hampered by the reporting duties required of public firms. Financial stability will surely play a role in Chief Ethanol’s future activities, which are likely to include continued diversification through technology upgrades. Kristensen “absolutely” sees a future for cellulosic ethanol production at corn-ethanol sites because of the infrastructure and feedstock compatibilities. He also has his eye on a number of other value-added product additions, such as corn oil and biogas, but isn’t ready to say yet which direction Chief Ethanol will go. “I
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 73
PHOTOs: CHIEF ETHANOL FUELS INC.
1984 Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc. began operations as a 10 MMgy plant.
1993 An expansion complete in 1993 bumped up Chief Ethanol’s capacity to 28 MMgy.
Current Plant Today, Chief Ethanol produces about 70 MMgy of corn-based ethanol.
don’t know if there’s anything in today’s market that’s a slam dunk. But there are things coming down the road that can assist in spreading out your risk and giving you more revenue streams and I think that’s something everyone will want to look at doing,” he says. “It’s not going to be everybody doing the same thing. It will depend on your location and what works for you.” In the coming decade of ethanol production, expansion of the marketplace through blender pumps will be vital to the industry’s success, Kristensen says. He sees it not only as a way to expand ethanol’s market share, but also to gain a closer connection to the consumer and pass along a greater share of ethanol’s economic advantages. “Frequently what we’ve seen with ethanol is when it’s valued below gasoline neither the customer
nor the ethanol plant really benefits,” he says. “By having blender pumps, when ethanol’s cheaper the consumer can get more of a direct benefit. It’s also difficult sometimes when we’re selling to a blender who doesn’t necessarily want to buy our product because it cuts into their refining capacity. You’re selling to a reluctant customer. I think there’s better ways to get us to the final consumer which would benefit both the ethanol industry and the consumers themselves.” Policy will continue to play a role in shaping the industry, Kristensen says, just as it has for the plant’s entire history. However, as he looks ahead to compare the next two decades of ethanol production to the past 20 years, he believes the policy of the future that could be most significant for the industry and his plant will be emissions related.
“Carbon is a big one that I don’t think we have the answer to right now,” he says. “You can say we’re starting down the road to lowering everybody’s carbon footprint, but what sort of economic incentives or disincentives are out there? That’s something that’s going to be in play. Do we need to be looking at biogas systems to help get away from fossil fuel use for energy, or do we grow algae off our carbon dioxide? What are the things we need to be doing as an industry?”
74 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Author: Kris Bevill Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine (701) 540-6846 email@example.com
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78 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Catching the Sugar
Not content to let Brazil hog all the glory, three development-stage companies eye sugar-based ethanol feedstocks By Holly Jessen
Brazil has the sugar-to-ethanol process down pat. And why not? The countryâ€™s super hot climate makes it a perfect place to grow sugarcane. The U.S., on the other hand, has spent the past several decades focused on ethanol production from cornâ€” which grows abundantly in the Midwest. Now, with the intense focus on advanced biofuels, U.S. companies are working to catch the sugar wave.
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 79
Brazilian Money for a U.S. Project
Sugar Powerhouse California Ethanol & Power plans to grow about 40,000 acres of sugarcane year round and 30,000 acres of sweet sorghum seasonally to produce 66 MMgy ethanol in California.
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80 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
If successful, California Ethanol & Power LLC will be the first ethanol production company bankrolled partially by Brazilian money, but built in the U.S. The company wants to construct, own and operate a 66 MMgy advanced ethanol plant, the first of a series of plants in Californiaâ€™s Imperial and Palo Verde valleys, says Dave Rubenstein, chief operating officer. To finance the first plant CE&P applied for a U.S. DOE loan guarantee, but later withdrew that application due to a mutual agreement with the DOE. Now, the company is working with Uni-Systems do Brazil LTDA, a Brazilian engineering and technology company, to secure funding from the Bank of Brazil. CE&P has been working toward ethanol production in California for about four years, Rubenstein says. The company plans to grow about 40,000 acres of sugarcane year-round and 30,000 acres of sweet sorghum seasonally. The crops would displace forage crops, much of which are currently exported today. â€œWe think that we can build maybe five in the southern California region,â€? he said. â€œThe reason we say five is there would be enough farmland to support it, without starting to use farmland that is used to grow food.â€? The sugarcane and sweet sorghum will be converted into 66 MMgy low-carbon ethanol, 50 megawatts renewable electricity and 880 million cubic feet of biomethane. The company has secured a letter of agreement with an unnamed major international energy company that will purchase all CE&P ethanol under a five-year contract at premium pricing. The same energy company will purchase all the electricity and biomethane from an on-site anaerobic digester under 20-year fixed price contracts. To get that first $450 million plant built, the company is hoping for financial closing by the first quarter of 2012 and groundbreaking by the second or third quarter of 2012. Fagen Inc. will be the lead construction company, integrating that companyâ€™s extensive ethanol know-how with the technology and equipment from Uni-Systems, which has engineered and installed numerous sugarcane ethanol plants in Brazil.
The Imperial and Palo Verde valleys, both located in southern California, include cropland with priority rights to ample irrigation water from the No Food vs. Fuel Colorado River. The Dave Rubenstein, chief area is well-suited operating officer for CE&P, says sugarcane for sugarcane with and sorghum will be lots of sunlight, no grown on land currently used for forage crops rainy season and no and won’t displace food inclement weather. production. Although the first question many ask is about water, Rubenstein says sugarcane will use only slightly more water than the crops already being grown in that area. CE&P has partnerships with a group of third-generation farmers that have been growing sugarcane in the Imperial Valley for more than seven years. The company will own the sugarcane and sweet sorghum, and
22.19 gallons of ethanol from every ton of sugar cane, adding up to 860 gallons of ethanol per acre of sugarcane. There’s also the transportation factor. Midwest plants use local crops to produce a fuel that is typically transported long distances. Companies like Pacific Ethanol Inc. bring feedstocks to California from the Midwest so it can produce a fuel used close by. CE&P, on the other hand, will use locally grown crops to produce a fuel that will be sold at blending racks in the area. “It’s no rail, strictly truck,” he says, adding that all deliveries will be within three hours of the plant.
plant and harvest the crops itself. The land will be leased from the farmers at market rates and the company will contract with the farmers on a cost-plus, guaranteed profit basis. That will help the company mitigate risk in varying feedstock costs and offers farmers guaranteed income. Once sugarcane is established it can be harvested or cut five times over a five-year period. The plant will switch to sweet sorghum as a feedstock in the 100plus degree summer when the “sugarcane is growing like crazy,” he adds. The benefits to sugarcane ethanol are many, Rubenstein tells EPM. First, it will have 85 percent lower carbon intensity than gasoline and corn ethanol and about 70 percent lower carbon intensity than imported Brazilian ethanol. The company expects it to command a premium under California’s new Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Sugarcane also produces substantially more ethanol per acre than corn. An early analysis, which looked at 60,000 acres of sugarcane, and no sweet sorghum, showed the company would produce
Development-stage Proterro Inc. is working toward a day when the company can sell ethanol producers a fermentationready sugar feedstock dubbed Protose. The nonagriculture-based sugar is secreted from a modified cyanobacteria. In nature, if the organism is subjected to a high salt concentration it produces an equal amount of sugar
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AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 81 1/27/11 4:55 PM
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82 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Green Design Inspired by nature, Proterro’s leaf mimetic bioreactor does not immerse the cyanobacteria in water, but instead grows them on fabric moistened with water using a drip-feed system. The company has scaled a one square foot breadboard reactor up to a square meter.
to counteract the salt and keep itself from drying up, explains Kef Kasdin, CEO. Proterro has leveraged that natural response by identifying and genetically engineering those genes so that the organism no longer needs salt stress to make sugar. “It’s a very productive little machine,” she says. Cyanobacteria, like algae, are photosynthetic microorganisms needing sunlight and CO2 to thrive. Unlike algae, Proterro’s genetically modified organism simply secretes sugar and does not have to be harvested or further separated. While both algae and cyanobacteria are grown in photobioreactors, the Proterro system is significantly different from the algae systems used today. “We have a different idea of how to grow these bugs,” Kasdin says. Algae is typically grown in a liquid photobioreactor, or a submerged culture. It can be quite a challenge to get light and CO2 to the algae in what is essentially a big vat of water, she says. The algae on the surface tend to thrive, while what’s on the inside is getting starved unless it’s circulated. To get around that, Proterro took a page from nature, mimicking the structure of a leaf. Basically the company has developed a solid-phase photobioreactor with layers of fabric to grow the organism and to transport water and nutrients to the photosynthetic cells. The design puts the cells on the surface, exposed to light and CO2, and producing efficiently. Proterro has demonstrated it can grow its organisms on a fabric surface, which the company has scaled up from a Petri dish to a square foot and then again
to a square meter. Using gravity, the vertical fabric panels transport small amounts of water and nutrients to the sugar-secreting organisms. “On one path you give the bugs what they need, and sugar and the fermentation-ready solution comes out the bottom,” she says. “There’s still more work to be done to prove out this bioreactor at a real industrial scale, but we have proven the basic concept that you can grow the organisms on this substrate, very productively, and they can make sugar.” The feedstock could be used to produce ethanol at a dedicated facility or as an add-on technology at an existing cornethanol plant. The patent-pending process could boost an existing ethanol plant’s capacity by 20 to 25 percent using the CO2 produced by its own fermentation process. Founded in 2008, the company is backed by Battelle Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures. The cyanobacteria project has its roots in Battelle Memorial Institute, which manages or co-manages six of the U.S. DOE’s national laboratories. Battelle Ventures was formed to act as an independent venture capital firm, which primarily but not exclusively, helps commercialize the scientific breakthroughs developed in the national laboratories. Biotechnologist John Aikens was the instigator for the compelling idea that sparked Proterro. “[He told me] ‘Maybe people are going about it the wrong way,’” Kasdin recalls. “‘If we could come up with a way to make sugar directly from a process that uses sunlight, CO2 and water and take out a lot of the steps that are being used to grow up sugarcane
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or corn or energy crops and then break them back down again into sugar, we should be able to get to a much cheaper sugar, which can Will Work for Sugar then be used for Kef Kasdin, CEO of Proterro Inc, calls a feedstock for a the cyanobacteria number of differthe company has engineered to secrete ent biofuels prosugar a “very productive cesses.’” little machine.” The trick will be determining what total surface area the system will be able to support and connecting all the puzzle pieces. Scaleup, on the other hand, isn’t expected to be as significant an issue because the bioreactors are modular. And, though more funding is certainly needed, Proterro’s technology isn’t expected to be as capital intensive as many other novel technologies. Because it’s produced using only water, CO2 sunlight and nutrients, the sugar feedstock is projected to cost significantly less than other feedstocks, including Brazilian sugarcane. “Overall, we believe this could be a much more capital efficient way to get to a much lower cost sugar for ethanol production than the alternatives people have been exploring,” she said.
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In 2008, Great Valley Energy wrapped up the permitting process for a corn-ethanol plant in California. Then the “bottom fell out of the U.S. economy” and the original plan was scrapped, says Brian Pellens, president. In the aftermath, the group began considering all kinds of feedstocks—just not corn. “We went back to the drawing board.” Eventually, the group zeroed in on sweet sorghum as the feedstock with the most potential in California. It has some great attributes, including low water requirements. In fact, it’s commonly said that sweet sorghum requires 50 percent less water than corn, he says. In addition, since it’s not a food crop, the crop can be
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irrigated with water that’s not suitable for other uses. Finally, much like sugarcane, ethanol produced from sweet sorghum has a great greenhouse gas footprint. The puzzler was that the economics aren’t much different than corn, on average. Just crushing the stalks for juice to make ethanol and burning the stalks, sometimes called the crush-and-burn model, would leave a business open to feedstock risk. On top of that, it would mean risk without the promise of economic reward. “That doesn’t make much sense,” he says. After some head scratching, Great Valley learned of a technology to split sugarcane stalks radially, resulting in chemically and physically distinct fractions. A Canadian company, KTC Tilby Ltd., designs and manufactures the cane separation system that is used on sugarcane but also works on sweet sorghum in trial runs. The separation system produces sweet sorghum sugar juice, which can be used to produce ethanol, and plant material that could be used as inputs for building materials, pellet fuel or even cellulosic ethanol production. Another possible product is phenolic antioxidants, or other food-grade additives, using a separate food-separation technology. “We’ve got fuels and maybe a cure for cancer, we don’t know,” he says. While crushing results in just sugar and biomass, the KTC Tilby design offers other possibilities. “Having that up-front separation process is really the key to being able to extract those bioactive compounds economically,” he says. The company is currently working on a feasibility study to determine exactly what those products might be. As part of that, three tons of California sweet sorghum were harvested last fall, separated using the KTC equipment and sent for testing to Great Valley’s partners, Lang Technologies in Australia. Although the company has identified bioactive compounds of interest in sweet sorghum testing in the past, it’s important to test with the specific variety of sweet sorghum
Great Valley plans to work with in California due to possible differences in the crop. The results of that testing were still pending in late June. Rather than build and operate its own sweet sorghum biorefineries, as was once the plan, Great Valley is aiming to be a mid-stream company, providing sugar juice and other sweet sorghum products for ethanol production and other industries. Another possibility is working with corn-ethanol plants to provide bolt-on or modular units for added ethanol production from sweet sorghum, he says. Great Valley’s current goal is to build a pilot plant where it hopes to process sweet sorghum at the rate of one ton per hour. Part of the funding for that is coming from a nearly $2 million grant from the California Energy Commission, the same money it is using to conduct the feasibility study, says Ed Stahl, director of business development for Great Valley, which will also leverage funds from private backers and matching contributions from various development and technology stakeholders. The pilot plant will be located near Hanford, Calif., the site of the originally planned corn-to-ethanol plant, Pellens says. Great Valley is working to get the pilot plant up and running in time for this year’s sweet sorghum harvest, in late summer. A year later, the company should be able to wrap up most of its data collection efforts. The next step would be to build a larger plant, which could process 10 to 50 tons of sweet sorghum an hour. Great Valley is also working to increase the storage time of sweet sorghum, which currently has a short post-harvest shelf life. In California, that would extend the processing cycle beyond the current six-month harvest season. Author: Holly Jessen Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine (701) 738-4946 firstname.lastname@example.org
Troubleshooting– How the Lab Can Help Reviewing the basics of fermentation from a lab analyst’s point of view By Sabrina Trupia
While today the trend is to get online instrumentation for fast problem solving on issues that occur at an ethanol plant, in the majority of ethanol plants it is still up to the laboratory to correctly quantify the problem and identify the issues, especially when it comes to fermentation. The lab is often the first line of defense when a problem is suspected, as it is the laboratory’s task to correctly identify what really is going on in the fermentor. Naturally, the lab plays a role in quality control for every aspect of the process (front end and back end included), but its most crucial task is to control the quality of the fermentation.
86 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Yeast Check Marisa Tarpinian, at NCERC, prepares a mash sample to do yeast cell counts and viability by staining the solution with methylene blue. PHOTO: NCERC
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 87
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ÄšĆľĆŒÄ‚Ä?Ĺ?ĹŻĹ?ĆšÇ‡Ä?Ç‡ÄšÄžĆ?Ĺ?Ĺ?ĹśÍ˜ÎĄ 88 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Lactic Acid Bacteria Lactobacillus Plantarum is a common yeast suppressor as it competes for yeast during fermentation. In this image we only see concentrated bacteria, about 800 million per milliliter. Magnification 100x.
Lab Analyst, Troubleshoot Thyself
Correctly identifying that there is, in fact, real trouble is the first step in troubleshooting. Laboratory analysts should be able to troubleshoot themselves before deciding whether there is a production issue. This is possible because the lab keeps a log of previous fermentation data, and can decide whether things are within the normal range. The two most important issues that may lead to an incorrect diagnosisâ€”trouble when there is no trouble or perhaps worse, no trouble when there is troubleâ€” are issues in the quality control process such as calibration, sample preparation or measurement errors, or communications with plant operators that may lead to sampling errors or other issues. So, for the first step of troubleshooting, two things are essential: that the lab communicate effectively with the plant and that the lab follow appropriate quality control guidelines. That way the lab is in a good position to provide valuable information for plant troubleshooting. To communicate effectively with plant operators, the lab analyst needs to understand the process. For quality control guidelines, a couple of basic things need to be kept in mind. First, it is important to calibrate the high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC) instruments on a curve using at least three points. Second,
the lab analyst needs to run â€œcheckâ€? standards every five to 10 samples, and before and after a questionable data point. While it may seem these steps are not needed in an ethanol-plant laboratory or that they may be time consuming, they do save time and resources in the long run. (Incidentally, for both these points, the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center has a proven record of providing effective hands-on laboratory training on best ethanol-lab practices.) Once the trouble in fermentation has been spotted unequivocally, in a corn- or starch-based fermentation there are generally three areas of troubleshootingâ€”the enzymes, the yeast and the nutrients.
The Enzyme Alpha Amylase
We are working under the assumption that the correct dosage of all additions are known by the plant operators, but that either some amount of alpha did not get to the slurry tank or that liquefaction targets are not being reached for whatever reason. If there are questions whether the dosage of alpha used routinely is correct, the ethanol plant needs to contact the enzyme manufacturer to learn more about optimization of dosage. We are omitting from this discussion of troubleshooting of other, more specialized enzymes such as beta glucanase. Alpha amylase is used to break down
Yeast in Mash The small circles are yeast cells shown in fermentation broth, diluted at 1:25. The big blue particles are corn. Magnification is 40x.
the starch and reduce viscosity. In general, issues with alpha amylase are solved relatively easily. They just require monitoring and adjusting the dose to improve liquefaction. If identified in time, alpha dosing issues usually do not stall a fermentation. The thing that needs to be checked when troubleshooting this part of the process is the dextrose equivalent (DE) levels. Dextrose equivalent is a measure of the total amount of reducing sugars in a solution, calculated as dextrose and expressed as a percentage of the total solids in a solution. DE measurements are therefore affected by the total solids in solution, so those have to be accounted for. In liquefaction, starch is converted to soluble dextrins with chains of 1 to 50 dextrose units. In the liquefied mixture, only the terminal dextrose unit has reducing capacities, so the reducing capacity of a solution is a measure of the extent of the starch conversion to glucose. The higher the DE, the shorter the average chain length, and the more efficient the liquefaction. In the case of ethanol plants using a jet cooker (hydro heater), usually dosing of alpha will occur both in the slurry tank (generally one-third of the total dose) and in the liquefaction tank (the remaining twothirds of the dose, applied after jet cooking). At NCERC, the target DE levels in the liquefaction tank, at a total solids level of about 32 percent, are 11 to 13, while in
the slurry tank they are lower, between 5 and 7, because there is less alpha to convert the starch into dextrins. While DE is the most common measurement performed on slurry and mash, there are other methods (HPLC, starch analyzers, etc.) that can give a picture of the state of the liquefaction. These other analyses will also have normal ranges that depend on the instrument’s specific calibrations. If there should be an anomaly in the alpha dosage, however, it would be clear from the lab results, no matter what the method of detection is. There are several things to check if the DE readings/liquefaction levels are outside the acceptable range, including • • • •
Has the temperature changed? Has the pH changed? Has the concentration of solids increased or decreased? Is the particle size of the corn different?
The above are all parameters affecting the liquefaction and dosage of alpha amylase, with liquefaction temperature and pH being the most crucial ones. If none of the above questions has been answered with a “yes,” it is possible that the batch of alpha being used has lost activity (troubleshooting tip: check enzyme storage tank temperature), or that there is an issue with dosing (troubleshooting tip: is
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Glucoamylase: Troubleshooting Saccharification
the pump working, is it set at a correct rate, are there blockages in the delivery system?). If loss of enzyme activity is suspected, there are commercially available test kits to test the alpha amylase in the lab, although most require the use of an ultraviolet spectrophotometer. It is possible that the enzyme manufacturer can provide either the testing or a small batch for comparative purposes. Fermentation Trends This chart shows trends during a corn-to-ethanol fermentation that NCERC did for one of the many baseline trials conducted for the USDA. The HPLC concentrations may vary a little from trial to trial, but the trends are the same. Oligo indicates oligosaccharides (higher sugars DP4+ DP3 and DP2).
Glucoamylase will convert dextrins to simple sugars, making them available to the yeast that will ferment them, producing ethanol. Problems with sugar can be caused by having either too little or too much sugar during fermentation. In either case, we talk about a “stuck” fermentation. In the first scenario, the glucoamylase level is too low, so that there isn’t enough sugar for the yeast to metabolize and the yeast will not produce ethanol because there isn’t enough “food” around. In the second scenario, too much sugar is liberated by the glucoamylase and it will overwhelm the yeast, stressing it and reducing the ethanol production. What does the lab analyst see when glucoamylase is incorrectly dosed? In the chromatogram (HPLC), low-glucoamylase dosing will result in a higher concentration of oligosaccharides (especially DP4+) persisting late in the course of the fermentation instead of being broken down into glucose, resulting in lowered ethanol production. In the second scenario, we would notice an abnormally high glucose concentration early in the fermentation as well as a plateauing out of the ethanol concentration. In both low- and high-dosing scenarios then, ethanol production would be stalled, but for different reasons. When troubleshooting a fermentation with high sugars/low ethanol, it is sometimes possible to re-start a fermentation 90 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
that is “stuck” because of low glucoamylase by adding more enzyme to the fermentor. If there is too much sugar and the yeast gets overwhelmed, it is also possible that waiting it out might help the fermentation. Another, more common way of handling too much sugar in the fermentation broth would be to add fresh yeast in appropriate concentrations (usually higher than the initial dose) to consume it.
The availability of adequate amounts of fermentable sugars is only one aspect of troubleshooting a “stuck” fermentation. Other signs can let us know if the yeast is thriving or not. Yeast “happiness” is also a function of nutrient availability, lack of contamination, adequate temperature and pH control. Most of the parameters that need controlling during a fermentation for optimum yeast performance can be checked by looking at chromatograms (HPLC data) during the fermentation. There are two major things to watch in fermentation data: signs of nutrient limitation and contamination. In monitoring nutrient limitation, look at the total sugars concentration over time (HPLC data). If the concentration of sugars does not decrease and we are sure there is sufficient glucoamylase in the system, then the yeast may be nutrient limited. Another
Bacterial contamination is indicated when the levels of lactic and acetic acid are high (HPLC data), the ethanol level is low, as bacteria compete with yeast for the sugar substrate, and glycerol is high. Normally, in a clean fermentation the lactic acid should be below 0.1 percent (by weight), and the acetic acid below 0.05 percent. If they are not, the fermentation is contaminated. Usually, in addition to the high organic acids levels, glycerol levels are also higher than normal, indiMining Data Keeping good records of tests provides the history needed to spot when problems in the fermentor are developing. cating a stressful environment for the yeast. Bacterial contamination can sign is given by the levels of glycerol, which also be indicated by pH measurements below increase during times of yeast stress. If it can 4 and by looking at the broth under a mibe determined that it is not the glucoamylase croscope. The yeast viability and cell counts that is too low, adding urea or other yeast nuwill likely decrease under contamination contrients could help the yeast, if it is early in the ditions. Lactic acid bacteria can be detected fermentation. Re-inoculating is another soluunder the microscope in an oil immersionâ€” tion, as the yeast that is stressed cannot easthey are rod-shaped and much smaller than ily recover. If this is a persistent problem, it might be worth analyzing the corn, the water/ yeast, but still visible. What can be done when there is bactebackset used in the preparation of the slurry, rial contamination? The only way to fight a and also the fermentation broth for levels of bacterial contamination is using more antiminutrients or perhaps presence of compounds crobial agents. After introducing more antithat could inhibit nutrient availability to the microbial, it is possible that the yeast may still yeast.
be stressed and not able to come back to produce, so more inoculumâ€”more yeastâ€”may be needed. Now, if the infection has been going for a long time, the bacteria will have consumed a measurable amount of the sugar that would otherwise be converted into ethanol. The ethanol yield will be reduced even if the fermentor can be recovered. That is why preventive introduction of the right amounts of antimicrobial agents is preferred, as well as thorough sanitation procedures to keep a clean system. The fermentation troubleshooting issues discussed here are the primary ones that can present themselves in any ethanol plant. Each ethanol plant is different, however, with its own particular set of enzymes, nutrients, type of yeast and mode of operation. In general, if none of these items in troubleshooting seems to help, or if specific issues arise, it is helpful to contact the experts at the enzyme or yeast companies or the provider of antimicrobials. They usually can help. Because it is part of our mission, the NCERC is also always available for questions and to help with specific troubleshooting. Author: Sabrina Trupia, Ph.D. Asstistant Director of Biological Research, National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (618) 659-6737 email@example.com
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 91
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Time for Dialogue Discussion over juice at Copacabana beach in Rio. From left: Nathanael Greene, Joe Ludowese, Ben Lilliston (IATP), Perry Meyer (Minnesota farmer), Jeremy Martin (Union of Concerned Scientists), and Karen Hansen-Kuhn (IATP) PHOTO: IATP
94 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Seeking Common Ground Traveling together to Brazil, Americans representing a range of perspectives on ethanol and environmentalism attempt to forge a shared path toward ethanol sustainability By Julia Olmstead
For 10 days in March, a group of farmers, ethanol producers, environmental advocates and university professors traveled with staff from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to Brazil to learn about the effects of U.S. biofuels policy on Brazilian agriculture. The divisiveness of the indirect land use change (ILUC) debateâ€”the theory that corn ethanol production in the U.S. leads to deforestation in countries like Brazilâ€”has accelerated an already widening divide between many environmental groups and biofuel proponents. But IATP believes that the two sides of the debate have similar goals regarding the sustainability of biofuels, goals that can only be recognized and jointly acted upon through dialogue. To
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 95
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96 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
that end, the Minneapolis-based IATP invited open-minded participants with diverse opinions on the politics around ILUC to join a tour of Brazil. The results of the trip were rich. As we traveled from the sprawling metropolis of Rio de Janiero to the small town of Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, in the heart of Brazil’s Cerrado—a grassland ecosystem where most of that country’s soybeans are grown, participants learned as much about each other as they did Brazilian agriculture. During six-hour bus rides through the Brazilian countryside, over tropical juices alongside Rio’s Copacabana beach, or while swatting mosquitoes in the Pantanal—the world’s largest wetland—group members dug into the issues surrounding ethanol’s real or perceived impacts on land use in Brazil and elsewhere. And while the discussions were always civil— “Minnesota nice” ruled the day—the group never shied away from asking tough questions of each other. Following are excerpts from interviews with three trip participants: Nathanael Greene, director of renewable energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council; Bill Lee, CEO of Frontline Bioenergy; and Joe Ludowese, Minnesota farmer and board member of Heartland Corn Products Ethanol Cooperative in Winthrop, Minn.
Nathanael Greene, what was your opinion about ILUC before the trip, and did it change at all from what you saw there? A: I don’t think it changed in any big sweeping way. Folks who don’t like the concept tell me ILUC isn’t going to stop deforestation.
ILUC Accepted Brazilians are embracing sustainability, giving them an advantage over their U.S. counterparts, says Nathanael Greene, director of renewable energy policy, Natural Resources Defense Council.
They say: “If you like the forest, work to protect it head-on.” Well, the pressure is on the Amazon and the Cerrado to be cleared and developed. I got a more profound sense of how strong those pressures are. There is no doubt in my mind that biofuels policy alone is not going to save the Cerrado—even if it’s done perfectly. So there is something to that argument. On the other hand —ILUC is not about saving the Cerrado, it’s about developing biofuels without exacerbating the challenges to the Cerrado. What surprised you most from the trip? A: I knew Brazil was an agriculture powerhouse, but I assumed it would be more unique, more obviously Brazilian in its approach to agriculture. It looks like commodity production here in the U.S., or like what I’ve seen in Europe. There were differences, but they were more about scale, less about equipment, or economics, or people.
What lessons could U.S. ethanol producers learn from Brazil? A: We learned an interesting lesson in marketing from the sugar cane industry. I don’t think we really learned or saw enough to validate their claims of dramatically improved sustainability. But they spent a lot of time talking about it—accepting and embracing major policy changes, zoning, the whole concept of ILUC. I’m not sure they love [ILUC], but they have modelers working on it and they don’t dispute the basic concept of it. The U.S. corn ethanol industry is losing the marketing challenge by not embracing the steps it could take to reduce their environmental impacts, things like shifting to biomass for process energy, shifting to cover crops and other steps.
Is there a path forward on indirect land use change that would satisfy ethanol producers and environmentalists? A: What seemed more important to
me after talking to corn farmers and other trip members is the urgency of having working models of biofuels that avoid ILUC. Not in theory on paper, but out in the world. Until we have those models, and there are people getting rich on those models, I think it’s going to be hard to forge agreement on ILUC in a broad way. The path forward is via the economic development of low-ILUC feedstocks and technologies. There will continue to be a debate and science will continue to drive the policy, but there won’t be broad consensus. Policies will reward me more if I go that way. I heard loud and clear that the farmers think of this as a penalty and don’t see any way they can avoid it, and it doesn’t feel fair to them. I get that, but if we want to do biofuels we have to figure out how to avoid this. The way is to commercialize those models that can avoid putting more pressure on land.
Bill Lee, Brazilian agriculture and ethanol production are por-
trayed in the U.S. as threats to U.S. agriculture—from what you saw in Brazil, do you think that’s true? A: We were in Mato Grosso and Compromise Needed clearly they have a Finding a solution lot of acres and they to the ILUC debate requires finding a want to grow more number nobody likes, crops on those acres. says Bill Lee, CEO of Frontline Bioenergy When they complete LLC. Leadership of the railroad, they Chippewa Valley will be the dominant Ethanol Company and SGC Energia have soybean producer in ownership shares in the world. Is that a threat? privately held Frontline. Lee previously served Not necessarily. We as general manager of still have infrastrucCVEC and as chair of the Renewable Fuels ture advantages, and Association. there will be a growing market for commodities regardless. In terms of cane ethanol—the competition between cane ethanol and U.S. biofuels is potentially very healthy and mutually supportive. It sup-
ports the notion that biofuels are important and have the potential to displace fossil fuels. What could Brazilian producers learn from the U.S.? A: They need to concentrate on improving sugar yield per acre. In lots of ways the U.S. is doing a better job on land use than Brazil, but that’s not the perception. UNICA [the Brazilian sugarcane association] producers are somewhat disjointed and technically unsophisticated. U.S. corn ethanol production, by comparison, is probably better managed, more technically adept, but the perception is that Brazil is more “advanced.” I’m going to lay a lot of the blame for that at the feet of the NCGA [National Corn Growers Association] and its lack of willingness to engage with environmental communities. They say, “I don’t even want to dignify your position by asking you to look at me in a positive light.” Corn ethanol and the NCGA are so married, that corn ethanol’s bad rap is inherited. But I put this on Daddy Corn.
Why do you think biofuels are such a focus for the environmental movement? A: This was the subject of many discussions during the trip. Historically, the environmentalists have fought the fossil fuel industry, a very powerful foe that’s been around a long time and is entrenched in our lives—it’s a tough battle. But then here comes a new kid on the block, one that’s highly dependent on public policy and is a lot easier to fight than oil companies. And if someone like [Princeton researcher] Searchinger convinces you biofuels are worse than petroleum, you have all the moral reasoning you need to go after them. But if you peel back the assumptions, and see that biofuels are really better than fossil fuels, you think— are they crazy? Shouldn’t they be advocating for the best environmental outcomes? The ILUC debate is an opportunity for the environmental community to kick the new kids in the shins and take away their money, all for the wrong reasons.
ILUC Group IATP invited a diverse group to tour Brazil and learn about each other. From left: John Sheehan, University of Minnesota; Julia Olmstead, IATP; Jeremy Martin, Union of Concerned Scientists; Ben Lilliston, IATP; Karen Hansen-Kuhn, IATP; Jim Kleinschmit, IATP; Gene Fynboh, CVEC; Chris Deisinger, Energy Foundation; Bill Lee, Frontline Bioenergy; Joe Ludowese, Heartland Corn; Nathanael Greene, NRDC; Larry Novakoske, Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op; and Perry Meyer, Heartland Corn. (On the tour, but not pictured were Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University, and, Jamie Dean,Ad Packard Foundation.) LWC627-RJS-0445 Ethanol #1 1/1/11 7:43 AM Page 1
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Is there a path forward on indirect land use change that would satisfy ethanol producers and environmentalists? A: Each side has a range of perspectives. People on the extremes will never be satisfied with a compromised solution. But for the rest of us, pick ILUC values that nobody likes and agree on them, numbers the ethanol guys think are too high, and the environmentalists think are too low. I think it’s an illusion to think you can get a working model that has a high level of complexity. By taking this approach—the compromise— you are reflecting that this is a real issue and that you have accounted for it. I think reps from both sides have to say—this is important, this is real, then decide on some numbers and move on.
Joe Ludowese, what was the most interesting thing you learned? A: You always hear that Brazil really struggles with infrastructure, and it’s true. Promotion Needed The U.S. ethanol In Mato Grosso they industry needs to grow have neither a vast ru- up and tell its story, says Joe Ludowese. ral infrastructure nor He raises corn and a rural railroad system soybeans on a farm near Stewart, Minn., to support agriculture. and serves as a Until you actually see board member of the Heartland Corn that, it’s really kind of Products ethanol hard to comprehend. cooperative in It was fascinating to Winthrop, Minn. see the volume of trucks on the road as it is the only means of getting agricultural products to and from the export locations. They really have a primitive infrastructure for the volume that they’re doing. In the cities there was infrastructure everywhere, but in rural areas it is very limited.
Were there any big differences in land use issues between Brazil and the U.S.? A: [Brazilian farmers’] ability to double crop corn and soybeans is amazing. In the part of Mato Grosso we visited, they’re not
exporting any corn, it’s all being used in the area to feed livestock. If they get transportation infrastructure into that part of the country, who knows where they’ll go? My understanding is that there is more groundwater in Mato Grosso than in any place in the U.S., so their ability to irrigate crops in the dry season and increase yield seems untapped.
What lessons could U.S. ethanol producers learn from Brazil?
A: To be more approachable and to do a better job presenting and promoting the industry. That’s been a huge failure on the part of the U.S. ethanol industry. The reality is that the ethanol industry is very “young” and has had a lot of growing pains just as every other industry has over the course of history. We have a story to tell about progress and evolution, and at some point the industry needs to grow up and promote itself.
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Is there a path forward on indirect land use change that would satisfy ethanol producers and environmentalists? A: Environmentalists need to have a broader view of how one thing impacts another. I think ILUC has such a narrow focus and is an inexact science because of all of the variables, some of which are subjective. I don’t know how you get to a compromise between people who believe in ILUC models and those who don’t. I’m somewhere in between, but I don’t think ILUC models are ready to be used for policy. If there is some kind of a compromise, that same formula needs to be applied to all other energy sources. Everything has to be painted with the same brush, not just U.S. biofuels.
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Visit IATP’s website, www.iatp.org, to view the Brazil tour itinerary, see more photos, listen to audio interviews with many of the participants, and get information about an upcoming ILUC conference IATP and the University of Minnesota will host in September.
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Helping Ethanol Producers Operate in the ‘Sweet Spot’ Novozymes describes the process behind finding innovative solutions By Guillermo Coward-Kelly
Part of being successful in business—or virtually any endeavor—is knowing when to keep to conventional wisdom and when to go out on the proverbial limb and challenge “the way we’ve always done it.” It is indisputable that the ethanol industry could have never moved
from its infancy to where it is today without a healthy dose of unconventional thinking and ingenuity. At Novozymes, a major component of our “Rethink Tomorrow” strategy involves moving the industry forward with innovative products and services, as well as testing new ideas and sharing what we’ve learned.
The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ethanol Producer Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 102 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
Such has been the case with a new analytical method developed by Novozymes scientists that can change the way ethanol producers monitor their processes to optimize performance. Born in the lab, nurtured in a week-long creative exercise, and brought to fruition by initiative and determination, this new take on a long-standing concept is already driving process improvements at ethanol plants. One of the most commonly used indicators of fermentation performance in an eth-
anol plant is the measurement of the DP4+ peak. Abnormal concentrations are often presumed to mean potential yield loss. New information on DP4+ and residual starch is available to assist plants with measuring process efficiency and data-based decision making. Previous studies have shown that the DP4+ peak contains ions, proteins, dextrins and other soluble compounds from corn, yeast, enzymes, salts and acids that come from the fermentation or are added during sample handling. The peak composition is complex and ever-changing. Plants that use the DP4+ peak as an indicator of incomplete hydrolysis and fermentation need to understand that a sudden change in DP4+ peak concentration may not be indicative of incomplete hydrolysis and fermentation, but can actually be a result of changes in backset, feedstock handling or other processes. Misinterpretation of these readings
Proteins, cell mass, and other organic and inorganic compounds
Constituent Shift The table demonstrates the dynamic composition of the DP4+ peak in the dry grind ethanol process. SOURCE: NOVOZYMES
may lead to a cascade of decisions that can significantly impact plant operations. Based on these findings, a new pretreatment method has been developed that combines a simple and robust preparative chromatography step with the high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method commonly used by the ethanol industry to analyze total residual sugars, fermentation health, yeast stress and ethanol concentration. All of these measures are needed to calculate ethanol yield, and
What is in the DP4+ peak?
HPLC was adopted as the industry standard long ago. This pretreatment method is based on ion exchange—a well-known technique that has been used in the starch and brewing industries for many years to clean up wet mill streams. In its new application for the ethanol industry, this preparative step removes ion contaminants from the fermentation drop sample that contribute to, and possibly distort, the DP4+ peak. The resulting DP4+ measurement more accurately represents the amount of residual sugars remaining in the sample. This information enables ethanol producers to make better decisions as they work to investigate abnormal DP4+ readings and maximize yield. In our testing, HPLC data obtained after this ion exchange process typically shows a reduction in the size of the DP4+ peak, suggesting that the contribution of fermentable dextrins to the total residual sugars measurement is significantly less than might be expected. In a standard sample study, our scientists found that the DP4+ peak at fermentation drop was composed of 70 percent ions, 20 percent proteins and other solubles, and only 10 percent dextrins.
Innovation to Real-World Application Dextrins
Peak Contributions Within the DP4+ peak there is a mixture of components that do not interact with the column (called “flow through peak” or “void volume”). Each of these components contributes differently to the DP4+ measurement. SOURCE: NOVOZYMES
Novozymes scientists are always encouraged to think outside the box, but that’s not always easy to do when dealing with the workload of a typical day. That’s why Champagne Week is so important. This yearly event, when Customer Solutions and R&D staff are allowed to venture away from their standard duties to work on a new idea that
AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 103
Testing New Test A Novozymes research associate prepares a fermentation sample using the ion exchange method for HPLC analysis.
they haven’t had time to explore, is a unique way to promote creativity. It was during one of these events that the concept of applying ion exchange to HPLC analysis was finally able to be investigated. The idea was the brainchild of Billy Whitlock, a scientist at the Novozymes Midwest Customer Solutions Center in Ames, Iowa. Whitlock, along with colleague Susan Johnson, a senior research associate based in Franklinton, N.C., took advantage of their time during Champagne Week to delve into the possibilities that this new troubleshooting tool might hold. According to Whitlock, “The fact that the HPLC’s DP4+ peak was a catchall for soluble components present in fermentation was already well-known. We saw this technology as an opportunity to remove a major chunk of that “catch all” and get closer to what customers really want to measure—how much sugar am I leaving behind? As it turns out, there’s usually more salt (ions) than sugar left over in well-run industrial fermentations.” At the end of Champagne Week, senior scientist Rogerio Prata was asked to evaluate Whitlock and Johnson’s work and come up with a customer-friendly approach for implementation. It was Prata who took the original idea to the next level and developed the new application tool for
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an old solid phase extraction technique—a special cartridge to process the sample through. “Once management made the decision to revisit this topic, we employed a Creative Innovation variety of laboratory Guillermo Cowardtechniques to evaluKelly, staff scientist and team leader, ate methodologies and Novozymes Biofuels ensure the integrity R&D, describes a new way of evaluating of the results,” Prata fermentation explains. “Our overall performance. goal was to develop a simple, user-friendly method to give our customers a better estimation of the contribution of dextrins to the DP4+ peak.“ Preliminary results in real-world ethanol plants have been very encouraging. One of our customers used the pretreatment method at multiple plant locations and consistently measured lower readings of real soluble substrate. The data has continued to show that only about one-third of the DP4+ value at fermentation drop is actual remaining soluble substrate. The benefit to the plants has been immediately helpful. Their ability to monitor residual sugars at multiple locations has resulted in improved standardization and consistency, and serves as a helpful benchmarking tool.
to effectively troubleshoot ways to achieve maximum feedstock conversion and ethanol yield. A better understanding of the DP4+ peak serves to eliminate a lot of guesswork about factors such as dosing strategy. We are still in the early stages of incorporating this tool with our customers, but we are excited about its potential to bring knowledge and innovation to the ethanol in-
Author: Guillermo Coward-Kelly Staff Scientist/Team Leader Novozymes Biofuels R&D email@example.com
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Learning more about the composition of a plant’s normal DP4+ peak makes it easier to investigate reasons for abnormal variations in DP4+ concentrations. This insight leads to improved decision making by the plant management team and assists in their efforts to maximize ethanol yield. Further, this knowledge tells ethanol producers where they should focus their attention. For example, do they need to add more glucoamylase to their sample? When should they add enzymes? This pretreatment tool has many beneficial applications for ethanol producers. As results of each assay answer relevant questions about their process operation, they are able
dustry. We know that when our industry wins, everyone benefits. Knowledge is power and this new analytical method will enable our customers to better understand and manage their ethanol production.
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AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 105
Biofuels Strategy Sugarcane and sweet sorghum for ethanol production distributed across the state are part of a Louisiana strategy to recover from hurricane-induced economic distress. Pictured is one of many fields of sugarcane in Vermillion Parish, La., that were flooded after Hurricane Rita in 2005. PHOTO: LSU AGCENTER
Louisiana Biofuels Plan Would Decentralize Production How the 2008 Recession Halted the Progress of Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative By Michael K. Bullard
Legislating environmental policy is not new, but rarely is it the case that advancing an environmental strategy to protect environmental resources is also good for business and the consumer. In recent years, Louisiana has ranked dead last in 27 states reported by the
Renewable Fuels Association. Still suffering from the economic impacts of Hurricane Katrina, a few legislators recognized that the advanced biofuel industry could provide the opportunity needed to help Louisiana right itself economically and environmentally. In 2008, the State of Louisiana hit the trifecta of environmental legislation when
The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ethanol Producer Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 106 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
then-Rep. and now-Sen. Jonathan Perry (RDistrict 47), Sen. Nick Gautreaux (D-District 26) and 25 other legislators co-authored what was coined the “most comprehensive biofuels development and production legislation in the country.” The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative (Act 382) represents a complete strategy to not only address the aggressive federal mandates for ethanol production and use in the nation’s fuel supplies, but also positions Louisiana to become one of the top noncorn-feedstock-
based advanced biofuel producer in the country, while creating jobs and improving the local economy along the way. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that moves fuel ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline by including a mandatory blender pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program. The overall strategy relies on decentralizing the biofuel manufacturing process by creating numerous small manufacturing facilities across the state. These facilities will rely on locally grown, noncorn-based feedstocks, such as sweet sorghum and sugarcane, which, in turn, benefit local growers and the local rural economy. Multiple suppliers reduce local water demands and reduce the risk of feedstock supply shortages. Costs savings realized by utilizing locally available raw materials should be passed onto the consumers.
What is the State Kicking in?
To give this initiative a jump start, HB1270 provides for several financial incentives. First, grants have been authorized to complete pilot programs for blender pumps offering E10, E20, E30 and E85. Ethanol is typically splash blended in the delivery trucks at the bulk terminal and due to storage limitations, gas stations generally only offer E10. By blending ethanol with gasoline at the gas station, blender pumps offer the consumer a wider variety of ethanol blends than currently available and at a lower cost. Grantees are also required to develop guidelines for the installation and use of advanced biofuel variable blending pumps by complying with applicable National Type Evaluation Program and National Institute of Standards and Technology requirements and ASTM standards Working in conjunction with the Office of Agro-Consumer Services, Division of Weights and Measures within the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, small, advanced biofuel facilities can purchase vehicles to evaluate the performance of various hydrous fuel blends. This division of Agro-Consumer services will be working with the biofuel facilities on the introduction
of the field-to-pump, ethanol-blending strategy on an experimental basis until 2012. The Agro-Consumer services will monitor the equipment used by those advanced biofuel facilities that qualify for dispensing the ethanol blends. The legislation also requires the state to only purchase or lease motor vehicles that are capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel, which increases the demand and market for ethanol fuel blends. The overarching goal of the legislation is outlined in section 3761 of The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative which states, “The legislature hereby finds and declares that the development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana is a matter of grave public necessity and is vital to the economy of Louisiana. The use of advanced biofuel will expand United States and Louisiana fuel supplies without increasing dependency on foreign oil. The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing: 1) Increased value added to the feedstock crops, which will benefit the producers and provide more revenue to the local community; 2) Increased investments in plants and equipment, which would stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed; 3) Secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant coproducts becoming available at a competitive price; and 4) Increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations would stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region … Therefore, an advanced biofuel industry development initiative in Louisiana is vital to ensuring the broad-based rural economic development of Louisiana and is a matter of public policy.”
Is it Working?
The governor signed the bill into law on June 21, 2008. Since that time, progress in the development and implementation of
the small advanced biofuel facilities has been almost nonexistent. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Agro Consumer Services, charged with monitoring the program, no company has expressed any interest in over a year or stepped forward to pursue these opportunities. The 2008 recession as well as budget cutbacks have clearly hampered the development of these plants as well as the availability of state-funded grants and implementation of this promising legislation. The obstacle that has seemed to slow progress on the Advanced Biofuels Initiative on all fronts is clearly funding. The legislation is indeed ambitious, however, lack of funding on the production front has stalled the implementation of its goals. The recession that hit across America in 2008 no doubt has had its effect on the schedule and goals of many of these projects. Feedstock concerns have also risen. The potential use of sweet sorghum in the production of ethanol has some worrying about the rise in the relatively low prices of food using Louisiana sugarcane syrup and molasses. Although somewhat easier to grow than corn, some believe that the repeated growing of sorghum year after year will require increased fertilizer inputs and crop rotation. The sorghum crop must be handled quickly in order for the juice to be successfully processed, resulting in a small harvesting window in order to optimize the best quantity and quality of the crop. This crop will also most likely be harvested in the summer months, just when hurricane season begins in the Gulf Coast. The goal of creating an ethanol supply from a decentralized network of plants, however, could help ease the concern of a hurricane substantially halting production efforts, if certain areas are hit harder than others. The troubles that Louisiana Green Fuels has run into the past few years illustrate many of these concerns. Both the economic downturn and sporadic weather conditions have hampered the efforts of the company in its goal of getting a 25 MMgy sucrosebased ethanol plant up and running. The availability of feedstock also depends on the AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 107
islation have yet to even begin taking shape. However, by taking steps legislatively, Louisiana has committed to support and help build that industry rather than taking a back seat and just reaping the benefits. Progress may be slow, but it is still progress. The nationâ€™s dependency on foreign oil cannot be solved with one panacea approach using corn- or grain-based ethanol production that relies on megafarms. Louisianaâ€™s decentralized approach, if successful, could result in a sustainable and reliable alternative fuel source that will serve as a model for all other states. Author: Michael K. Bullard Secretary, Environmental Law Society Loyola University New Orleans College of Law email@example.com
farmersâ€™ willingness to invest. At this point, the lack of funding and the shakiness of different projects implementation seem to have made many farmers reluctant.
Is Louisiana on the Right Track?
Any new industry has its growing pains, learning curves, and bumps in the road and the promising goals set forth in the 2008 leg-
,[OHUVS9LK\JLK.HZ7YPJLZ I` WLYNHSSVUPU Ethanol reduced the average American household’s gasoline bill by more than $800. If ethanol disappeared, gas prices could rise by as much as 92%.*
>LJHU»[HMMVYK[VWH`L]LUTVYLH[[OLW\TW Over 200 plants nationwide. 13 billion gallons of clean, renewable American energy, a year. Fueling the economy with over 400,000 jobs. Turning everyday abundant, renewable ingredients into clean sustainable energy.
www.EthanolRFA.org *Hayes, Dermot J., Du, Xiaodong (April 2011) The Impact of Ethanol Production on US and Regional Gasoline Markets: An Update to May 2009. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD).
Sweet Sorghum Boosts Ethanolâ€™s Efficiency Ethanol has some distinct advantages as a fuel, and sweet sorghum promises even better input/output ratios By Benjamin Burroughs
Traditionally agriculture has but as we move farther into this been in food/feed stock produc- new century, fuel crops have betion for humans and livestock, come part of the equation. There The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ethanol Producer Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 110 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
are crops that can be used for ethanol production that have better input/output ratios than corn. According to university studies, the ratio of input to output using corn is 1-1.25. When looking at ethanol production, the output ratio should be substantially higher than the input for a crop to be deemed ef-
ficient. One such crop that has a higher ratio give you a rough estimate of how much you per gallon of diesel or gasoline, the working spend a year on fuel. This number will not be class was made to choose between eating or is sweet sorghum at 1-8. In addition to having a higher ratio, exact since everyoneâ€™s driving habits differ; it filling up their gas tank to get back and forth the cost of production for sweet sorghum is only for a quick calculation based on filling to work. It was a dark couple of weeks that is lower than for corn. For every bushel of your vehicle completely every two weeks. If OPEC countries pushed the barrier to see corn produced, there must be a pound of you fill your vehicle each week multiply by 52 where the American people would break at the pump, and how much we will pay in ornitrogen put out for fertilization. Distrib- fill ups a year. There are more than six million new der to keep our mobility. uting 130 to 250 pounds of nitrogen per vehicles sold each year in the United States There is no reason for this to happen acre, sometimes more, can consume a large portion of the funds for production. Sweet alone. With the current ethanol demand ever again, but there must be local support sorghum requires only 40 to 60 pounds of based on 10 percent blend, that is an addi- of growing crops for fuel production. Helping to stabilize the fuel economy nitrogen per acre, which can be is vital to not only national seaccomplished by using a simple curity, but to the infrastructure crop rotation that includes a of the society we live in. Every winter cover crop that fixates American wants to own their nitrogen into the soil. own vehicle and drive from For every bushel of corn place to place. It is our freedom around 2.7 to 2.8 gallons of to choose when and where we ethanol are produced. Another want to travel. Having fuel pricconsideration is that corn is es at the current level of $3.65 harvested only once a year and to $4 per gallon is going to hit has a long growing season, oftourist towns and economies ten more than 140 days. If a the hardest, not to mention the farmer were only growing corn trucking industry, which ships for ethanol production and had most of our goods from ware150 bushels an acre, he would house to storefront. Each perhelp produce 405 to 420 gallons son that touches the goods adds of ethanol per acre. This may a penny here or a penny there, seem like a good number, but and that is partly why we have sweet sorghum has the potential seen increases at the grocery of producing up to 800 gallons store. of ethanol per acre. Another The next topic is one that advantage is sweet sorghum stirs up controversy every time it can be harvested twice and, in is discussed: reduction of greensome regions, three times a year. house gas (GHG) emissions. By If there were year-round operausing ethanol in the fuel today, tions, they could achieve over Crop Advantage In some regions, three sweet sorghum crops can be harvested in a yearâ€™s time. Another positive is its low nitrogen requirement. Sweet sorghum we have only scratched the sur1,000 gallons of ethanol per ethanol would thus have favorable greenhouse gas impacts. face on cutting GHG emissions. acre. That is at least twice that Many people would think that of corn production, and it has lower input costs resulting in higher profit tional 600,000 gallons of ethanol that is go- the majority of pollution comes from indusing to be needed. (The 600,000 gallons of try. This is due to the stacks billowing with margins for producers. Some farmers/ranchers think that land fuel is based on the assumption that a car clouds of what is perceived to be smoke, but has to be taken out of one particular pro- was not traded in for the purchase of the is actually steam, in most cases. Most of the duction scheme and put into this one. The new car.) With the ever-increasing price of pollution comes from everyone driving their best practice is to have enough acreage to fuel, a cheaper source has to be put online own personal vehicle anywhere they travel. help offset your own fuel cost. The next time for consumers. The people of the United Having ethanol in the fuel has helped to reyou are at the gas pump filling your vehicle, States have not had to pay for such high gas duce GHG emissions, but there needs to be preferably from empty for this calculation, prices since the spike in the summer of 2008. a larger effort for significant changes to ocmultiply the total by 26. This number should When the prices spiked between $5 and $6 cur. Using E85 has helped to reduce GHG, AUGUST 2011 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 111
crops like corn
are finely ground
and separated into their component sugars
that is reaborbed by the original crops
CO2 which releaes carbon dioxide
which can be used as an alternative fuel
the sugars are distilled to make ethanol
Recycling Carbon In this view of the carbon cycle, ethanol production does not introduce new carbon into the atmosphere, but rather recycles the carbon existing in the atmosphere.
carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) by as much as 70 percent. With a 70 percent reduction, smog-encased cities like Los An-
geles could help to make a better environment for all of their inhabitants. By using E85 in larger quantities, our fuel can help the environment, and decrease our dependence
112 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | AUGUST 2011
on foreign oil for fuel. The carbon cycle illustration shows how growing our own fuel will benefit the environment. Understanding how carbon travels in our atmosphere is crucial to understanding that the more fuel produced from petroleum the higher the levels of CO2, CO and GHGs in our atmosphere. To help decrease current levels in our atmosphere, alternatives are needed that have lower carbon content, plus a source that can absorb carbon and take it out of circulation. Plants are the best at this process through photosynthesis and respiration. They take in CO2 and release oxygen. Ethanol production helps to ensure our fuel independence, decrease our dependence on foreign oil sources, decrease pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, have a healthier environment for children, increased economic activity that creates jobs, a strong industry and a step toward a cleaner future. Learning how to use what the earth has provided is vital to the future. Success is dependent upon on a willingness to change our habits and move away from petroleumbased fuels.
Author: Benjamin Burroughs Renewable Fuel Research, Angelina College (936) 633-5353 firstname.lastname@example.org
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