Page 1

JUNE 2018

DRIVEN BY

DEMAND Policy, Climate Goals Boost Ethanol in Brazil

Page 24

Element Illustrates Innovation

Page 42

ALSO

Corn Kernel Fiber Q&A Page 62

2018 Ethanol Producer Award Winners Page 70

AND MORE www.ethanolproducer.com

Attempts on the RFS Page 52


ADVERTISER INDEX

EDITORIAL President & Editor in Chief Tom Bryan tbryan@bbiinternational.com Managing Editor Lisa Gibson lgibson@bbiinternational.com Associate Editor Tim Albrecht talbrecht@bbiinternational.com Copy Editor Jan Tellmann jtellmann@bbiinternational.com

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EDITORIAL BOARD Ringneck Energy Walter Wendland Little Sioux Corn Processors Steve Roe Commonwealth Agri-Energy Mick Henderson Pinal Energy Keith Kor Aemetis Advanced Fuels Eric McAfee Western Plains Energy Derek Peine Corn Plus Mike Jerke Customer Service Please call 1-866-746-8385 or email us at service@bbiinternational.com. Subscriptions to Ethanol Producer Magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for anyone outside the United States. To subscribe, visit 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 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Advertising Ethanol Producer Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and highquality print production. To find out more about Ethanol Producer Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.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 email to lgibson@bbiinternational.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

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2018 Ethanol Producer Magazine's Fall Map 2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo 2019 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo 2019 International Biomass Conference & Expo AgCountry Farm Credit Services Agra Industries Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation Badger Meter BetaTec Hop Products Buckman Cloud/Sellers CPM Roskamp Champion CTE Global, Inc. D3MAX LLC Donaldson Company-Industrial Air Filtration DSM Bio-based Products & Services DuPont Industrial Biosciences Durr Systems, Inc. Edeniq, Inc. EISENMANN Corporation Ethanol Producer Magazine's Webinar Series Ethanol Producer Magazine's Top News Ethanol Producer Magazine Fagen Inc. Fluid Quip Process Technologies, LLC Growth Energy Hengye, Inc. Hydro-Klean LLC IBT Industrial Solutions ICM, Inc. Interra Global Corporation J.C. Ramsdell Enviro Services, Inc. Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits Leaf-Lesaffre Advanced Fermentations Louis Dreyfus Company McC Inc. Mist Chemical & Supply Company Nalco Water Natwick Associates Appraisal Services Novozymes On Sight Video Surveillance Orbijet, Inc. Oxidizers, Inc. Phibro Ethanol Performance Group POET LLC Premium Plant Services, Inc. ProQuip, Inc. R.S. Stover Rayeman Elements, Inc. Renewable Process Solutions RPMG, Inc. Salco Products, Inc. Saola Energy, LLC Seneca Companies SGS North America, Inc. Agricultural Services Solenis LLC Soliton, A BION Lab Suez Water Technologies & Solutions Sulzer Pumps Solutions, Inc. Tramco, Inc. Trident Automation Trinity Rail Group Trucent U.S. Water Services United Sorghum Checkoff Program Victory Energy Operations, LLC Westmor Industries, LLC Whitefox Technologies Limited WINBCO Zeochem LLC

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CONTENTS

JUNE 2018 VOLUME 24

DEPARTMENTS 4

ISSUE 6

FEATURES

FOREIGN MARKETS

AD INDEX

All Eyes on Ethanol

Brazil's RenovaBio to increase production, demand By Tim Albrecht

10 EDITOR'S NOTE

A Bit of Everything By Lisa Gibson

11

EVENTS CALENDAR

12

VIEW FROM THE HILL

14

16

Ethanol and Boats: A Perfect Summer Combination By Bob Dinneen

24

SUMMIT AGRICULTURAL GROUP

PERSONNEL

Settled In

GLOBAL SCENE

Low turnover reduces job availability at ethanol plants By Tim Albrecht

Need for Global Adoption of Transport Biofuels is Pressing By Bliss Baker

CLEARING THE AIR

A Blueprint for Keeping Midwest Dollars in the Midwest By Dave VanderGriend

18

BUSINESS BRIEFS

92

MARKETPLACE

34

STOCK PHOTO

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Integrated Innovation

Element combines all ICM’s new technologies in one facility By Susanne Retka Schill

42

STOCK PHOTO

POLICY

On the Front Lines Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) June 2018, Vol. 24, Issue 6. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ethanol Producer Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.

6 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

A roundup of recent RFS news and a look ahead By Erin Voegele

52

STOCK PHOTO


Together,:H&DQ KŶĞƐŝnjĞĚŽĞƐŶŽƚĂůǁĂLJƐĮƚĂůůͲLJŽƵƌĐŚĂůůĞŶŐĞƐĂƌĞƵŶŝƋƵĞĂŶĚƚŚĞƐŽůƵƟŽŶƐŚŽƵůĚďĞƚŽŽ͘ h͘^͘tĂƚĞƌǁŽƌŬƐĂƐĂŵĞŵďĞƌŽĨLJŽƵƌƚĞĂŵƚŽƵŶĚĞƌƐƚĂŶĚLJŽƵƌƵŶŝƋƵĞŽƉĞƌĂƟŶŐĐŚĂůůĞŶŐĞƐĂŶĚ ĚLJŶĂŵŝĐƐ͘LJĐŽŵďŝŶŝŶŐŽƵƌŝŶƚĞŐƌĂƚĞĚŽīĞƌŝŶŐƐĂŶĚŝŶĚƵƐƚƌLJĞdžƉĞƌŝĞŶĐĞ͕ǁĞĞŶŐŝŶĞĞƌĂĐƵƐƚŽŵŝnjĞĚ ƐŽůƵƟŽŶĨŽƌLJŽƵƌŵŽƐƚĐŚĂůůĞŶŐŝŶŐǁĂƚĞƌ͕ƉƌŽĐĞƐƐĂŶĚĞŶĞƌŐLJŶĞĞĚƐ͘ dŽŐĞƚŚĞƌ͕ǁĞĐĂŶĂĐŚŝĞǀĞLJŽƵƌĨĂĐŝůŝƚLJΖƐŐŽĂůƐ͘

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CONTENTS

JUNE 2018 VOLUME 24

ISSUE 6

FEATURES

CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

Down to the Details

Q&A with EcoEngineers explains Kernel Fiber Now program By Lisa Gibson BBI INTERNATIONAL

62

2018

ON THE COVER Sugarcane is harvested for ethanol production in south-central Brazil.

BBI INTERNATIONAL

PHOTO: UNICA

70

ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS

CONTRIBUTIONS

80 COPRODUCTS

STOCK PHOTO

Ethanol: The Renewable Naphtha Existing plant capabilities allow for value-added chemicals By Luca Zullo

8 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

LALLEMAND BIOFUELS & DISTILLED SPIRITS

86 OPTIMIZATION

Well-Fed, Stress-Free Yeast Required

Fermentation is focal point for increased yield By Jim Miers

AWARDS

Best in the Business Merits of inaugural year winners detailed By Lisa Gibson


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EDITOR'S NOTE

A Bit of Everything When Brazil comes up in conversation in the U.S. ethanol industry today, the topic eventually turns to the tariff implemented last year. At 20 percent for

all U.S. ethanol imported above 600 million liters, it could impact the No. 1 foreign market for the industry—a market that imported 450 million gallons (1.7 billion liters) in 2017. But Brazil is also noteworthy in a few other ethanol-related areas. The country’s sugarcane ethanol industry is booming, helping to support a 27 percent blend in every liter of fuel sold. In our cover story, starting on page 24, we take a close look at Brazil’s industry, as well as the biofuels-production targets laid out in its RenovaBio policy. Notably, even Brazil's corn ethanol production is on the rise, with the help of a U.S.-based company. And, of course, the feature delves into the tariff with some input from UNICA to explain the country’s attempts to burgeon its own markets. Lisa Gibson Shifting coverage back to the U.S., the feature on page 34 evaluates the ethanol industry’s job market. While most of the Midwest struggles with ongoing staffing shortages, ethanol seems to have an opposite Managing Editor lgibson@bbiinternational.com reality—plant employees are settled, satisfied and stay where they are, leaving few open positions within companies for advancement. A member of EPM’s editorial board says hiring for new plants likely means transfers from other companies, as employees try to advance their careers around supervisors who are staying put. And the industry does have a few new plants coming up. Construction of Element LLC, a widely publicized partnership between ICM Inc. and The Andersons, is well underway. Developers say it’ll be fully operational by the end of 2019. The project showcases a myriad of ICM’s innovations in gasification, kernel separation, coproducts and more. The name Element, in fact, represents the project’s purpose: to demonstrate the separation and use of corn kernel elements, as well as the integration of all the elements necessary for an efficient ethanol plant design. We cover the project and its progress, starting on page 42. Don’t miss the sidebar that details other plants under construction. The feature on page 52 is a roundup of the recent developments on the Renewable Fuel Standard. If you’ve been trying to keep up, you’re aware of the discussion and attempts to change or completely dismantle the legislation. Trade groups tell us it’s a constant battle, but the recent Philadelphia Energy Solutions bankruptcy and renewable volume obligation waiver have intensified it. Politics are at play and ethanol advocacy to fight misinformation is crucial. On page 62, we’ve compiled a Q&A about EcoEngineers’ Kernel Fiber Now program, which helps producers navigate the D3 RIN registration process. The service also includes market analysis and pathway expertise. It’s well-timed, with increasing interest in corn fiber-to-ethanol opportunities. Jim Ramm, EcoEngineers’ director of engineering, answers all our questions about Kernel Fiber Now, as well as markets, pathways and potential struggles. And finally, we round out this issue with profiles of our 2018 Ethanol Producer Award winners. In their inaugural year, the awards attracted excellent nominees, all deserving of recognition. Turn to page 70 to learn about the winners, chosen by our editorial staff and editorial board. At 96 pages, this is our biggest issue of the year. It will be prominent at the largest ethanol conference in the world—the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, June 11 to 13 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. So, we’ve made sure to pack these pages with well-rounded and relevant coverage to appeal to multiple sectors of our industry—a bit of everything. We’re eager to present it to you. See you at the FEW.

FOR INDUSTRY NEWS: WWW.ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM OR FOLLOW US: 10 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

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EVENTS CALENDAR 2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 11-13, 2018 CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production—from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and fiscal management. The FEW is the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program covers cellulosic ethanol while remaining committed to optimizing existing grain ethanol operations. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com

2018 Advanced Biofuels Conference June 11-13, 2018 CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska

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

ACE Conference August 15-17, 2018 Renaissance Depot Hotel Minneapolis, Minnesota The ACE Conference is a must-attend event for industry leadership. Relaying timely updates on public policy, market development, board of director training, and much more, this event combines the detail of a high-level training course with all the fun of a family reunion. 605-334-3381 www.ethanol.org/events/conference

Please check our website for upcoming webinars

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VIEW FROM THE HILL

Ethanol and Boats: A Perfect Summer Combination By Bob Dinneen

The weather is getting warmer, summer is nearly here, and that means boaters all across this county will soon be enjoying time on the water. But that also means consumers can enjoy the same energy,

economic and environmental benefits of ethanol, whether on the road or in the water. There are 12 million recreational boats in the U.S. and all of them are compatible with E10. For nearly 30 years, E10 has helped provide an extra octane boost to marine engines. E10 is the fuel of choice for many boaters because of its high performance and lower emissions. Ethanol is safe, it’s already used by many boaters and it helps clean out engines. I continue to be surprised, however, by the misinformation about ethanol and boats. That’s why the Renewable Fuels Association is again the cotitle sponsor of the Crappie Masters National Tournament Trail this year. One of the unique elements of this tournament is that every winning team’s boat for the past three-plus years has been powered by ethanol. Additionally, the winners of the 2017 Crappie Masters Tournament even noted that fueling with E10 played a factor in their championship, yielding great performance for their team. Week after week, I’m thrilled to hear that Crappie Masters teammates in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Illinois are powering their boats with clean-burning ethanol. How clean? By displacing hydrocarbon substances like aromatics in gasoline, ethanol helps reduce emissions of air toxics, particulate matter, carbon monoxide,

12 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

nitrous oxides and exhaust hydrocarbons. Plus, corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 percent compared to gasoline. Boaters care about the environment, and powering with ethanol helps keep air and water clean. Ethanol is also a homegrown fuel that boosts local economies. Many of these weekly Crappie Masters tournaments are held in states that have ethanol plants, giving consumers the chance to fuel up with a locally made product that helps employ nearly 360,000 nationwide. Buying local extends to fuel in many parts of the country, and especially for boaters on this tournament trail. But while E10 is approved for use in all marine engines, higher ethanol blends, such as E15, are not. Just like gasoline, federal regulations require higher ethanol blends be clearly labeled at the pump. In the six years since E15 has been offered, there has not been a single reported case of E15 misfueling in a marine or any other engine. So as boaters enjoy the waters this summer, they can get that extra octane boost—and know they’re doing right by the environment and our economy—by using E10. Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association 202.289.3835 bobd@ethanolrfa.org


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GLOBAL SCENE

Need for Global Adoption of Transport Biofuels is Pressing By Bliss Baker

2018 will see global temperatures vary significantly from the norm. At the start of the year, January was recorded as the

fifth-highest temperature for that month since 1880. Each January in the past four years (2015 to 2018) ranks among the five highest on record. The global land and ocean temperatures during January have increased at an average of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.07 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880, but the average rate of increase doubles as of 1975. Going into spring, March was colder than the 1981 to 2010 average over almost all of Europe, the northern U.S. and southern Canada. But temperatures were substantially above average over a large region stretching from northeastern Africa through the Middle East and into China and the Indian subcontinent. It was also notably warmer than average over Mexico, Alaska and west across the Bering strait into northeastern Russia, the northeast of Canada and parts of the American Southwest, Antarctica and Australia. Essentially, regions that should not be warmer got warmer. Experts are predicting a much warmer summer for 2018. Observing these trends, scientists note that, going forward, each new month and year have the potential to be the hottest on record. The data so far in 2018 strongly suggests that it will pass 2015 and 2014 as the hottest year on record. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century and it’s only 2018. The ink is barely dry on the celebrated Paris agreement reached at COP21, which pledged global action to keep global temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, this latest data has already shaken the foundations on which the deal was reached. Changes to the climate are outpacing predictions, putting efforts to reduce emissions significantly behind schedule. The targets set in the COP21 agreement were used to inform government planning for emissions reductions on a timeframe looking forward to 2050. As David Carlson, the director of the World Meteorological Organization put it, “We don’t have as much time as we thought.” One of the most pressing sectors where further action is needed is the transportation sector. Transport is the second-biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world, accounting for more

than one-fifth of all emissions. But progress in reducing these emissions is among the slowest of all sectors. This may be attributed to the fact that the adoption of biofuel technologies, including the use of ethanol, remains far below current potential. According to the International Energy Agency, sustainable biofuels could provide 27 percent of the world’s total transport fuel by 2050 and avoid around 2.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, with biofuels eventually providing 20 percent of total emission savings in the transport sector. For the Paris Agreement to be realized, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries need to decline by 2.1 percent annually up to 2025. And they’ll need to use ethanol. Ethanol cuts GHG emissions from petrol by more than half and is promoted by most major industrial nations in the world. The IEA expects oil demand to grow at an average annual rate of 1.2 million barrels per day. By 2023, oil demand will reach 104.7 million barrels per day, up 6.9 million barrels from 2017, but the oil market likely will tighten by 2023 with increased risk of price volatility. The bright side is that the market could go through two phases during the next six years. Through 2020, record supply from non-OPEC countries more than covers expected demand growth. But by 2023, if investments remain insufficient, the effective global spare capacity cushion falls to only 2.2 percent of demand, the lowest number since 2007. This raises the possibility of oil prices becoming more volatile until new supplies come on line. Increasing the ethanol blend wall could be the answer to meet demand. The biofuels industry will respond to this new demand. Government policies that increase the demand for, and investment in, biofuels will continue to drive research into new technologies and best practices. This, in turn, will promote next-generation biofuels and their associated advantages such as the use of agriculture waste products and increased emission offsets. With an accelerated time frame for global action on climate change, the challenge for national governments has changed from identifying what actions need to be taken, to finding the best policy direction to achieve them. Whatever form those policies take, biofuels will have a significant and continuing role to play in the global effort to fight climate change. Author: Bliss Baker President, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance 647.309.0058 info@globalrfa.org

14 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


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CLEARING THE AIR

A Blueprint for Keeping Midwest Dollars in the Midwest By Dave VanderGriend

I think it is safe to say, in any endeavor, go with your strengths; do what you are good at.

In the case of Midwest agriculture, we are good at growing corn. We are good at processing that corn into ethanol and adding value. What we are not so good at is capturing that value and keeping the dollars it generates at home. Ethanol has been a lifeblood infusion to Midwest states and the entire rural economy. It is value-added corn processing, creating clean, high-quality, renewable fuel along with high-protein animal feed. Despite the phenomenal growth of the ethanol industry, we still depend on nearly 90 percent of our motor fuel needs from petroleum nationwide. But considering we produce enough ethanol in our states to reduce that dependency dramatically, why do we send it—and the dollar savings it represents—away? Take Iowa as an example, with its 43 biorefineries producing 4.1 billion gallons of ethanol annually. Impressive for sure. But we use less than 10 percent of that total in the state, exporting the balance to other states and even overseas. Every step of the way represents added transport costs and savings lost. The problem lies in the fact that Iowa consumes 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline, none of which is produced in the state and all of which is consistently 30 to 40 cents per gallon more expensive than ethanol. So while we reduced the cost of 10 percent of Iowa gasoline, the other 90 percent is imported and costs consumers millions. It doesn’t have to be this way, we have the ability to reduce that cost. It’s pretty straightforward—we make fuel in Iowa at $1.30 and export it, and we import fuel at $1.70. While we can’t replace all our gasoline, displacing 20 percent of our gasoline from the current 10 percent rate would increase ethanol sales in Iowa by 170 million gallons. At a 40-cents-per-

16 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

gallon advantage over gasoline, we would save Iowa consumers $68 million. Impractical you say? Not at all. E15 has been approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, and President Donald Trump himself has indicated support for allowing year-round E15 sales. We are working with the auto industry to approve much higher blends that clearly improve fuel properties. Millions of miles are being driven on 20, 25 and 30 percent volume blends in various test programs with no adverse effects, while reducing operating costs and improving performance. This same example applies to Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota and any number of Midwest states. Imagine the control over our own future we would have if we adopted a regional agreement to use higher ethanol blends. So how do we get started? It must start from the top and our elected officials can take this initiative and lead by example. The Governors’ Biofuel Coalition is likely to get a green light from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to demonstrate E30 in state vehicles in the coming weeks. At the Urban Air Initiative, we have petitioned EPA asking for no limits on ethanol volumes in gasoline. By increasing the availability of ethanol blender pumps and higher blends, our Midwest states can use more Midwest produced ethanol, pumping millions of dollars into our economy. In so doing, we will be providing cleaner air for everyone. Author: Dave VanderGriend President, Urban Air Initiative CEO, ICM Inc. 316.796.0900 davev@icminc.com


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BUSINESS BRIEFS

People, Partnerships & Projects

Ace Ethanol to install D3Max technology Ace Ethanol will be the first ethanol plant to integrate the patented D3Max technology with its existing corn dry mill. Ace Ethanol has received approval from its board of directors and members to proceed with the design and construction of the corn kernel fiber-toethanol plant. The integrated facility will also employ membrane-based ethanol recovery technology supplied by Whitefox Technologies. Ace has selected Fagen Inc. to build the new D3Max facility. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, pending final negotiations and signing of the contract with Fagen. “The team at D3Max was extremely excited to hear the news that the Ace board and members approved moving forward with the project,” says Mark Yancey, chief technology officer for D3Max. In 2017, Ace Ethanol and D3Max conducted pilot testing of the technology. “The

D3Max process was able to meet or exceed our performance goals,” says Neal Kemmet, president and general manager at Ace Ethanol and Fox River Valley Ethanol LLC. “Based upon the pilot testing, D3Max demonstrated the ability to substantially improve our companies’ financial performance by converting corn kernel fiber to cellulosic ethanol.” Based on the results of pilot testing, Ace and D3Max selected DSM to supply enzymes for the D3Max process, and Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits has been selected to supply the yeast. “We have assembled the best team with the best technologies to build the first commercial-scale D3Max plant,” Yancey says. “We are employing a fully integrated design at the Ace plant, which will make the facility one of the most energy efficient ethanol plants in the U.S. with the highest ethanol yield per bushel.

The combined facilities will be so efficient that the energy use of the new integrated facility will be approximately the same as the current Ace ethanol plant. We are very excited to make this announcement and begin the construction of what we believe will be the new benchmark for the industry.” Yancey says the D3Max process is the only corn kernel fiber-to-ethanol process that will not require an independent engineer to validate the cellulosic ethanol production every 500,000 gallons. Yancey says D3Max production can be measured directly, avoiding the cost of recertification required by EPA for insitu corn kernel fiber processes and processes that mix corn starch or sugar with the cellulosic sugars.


BUSINESS BRIEFS¦

ICM, KnipBio to create fermentation process for aquafeed KnipBio Inc., an animal feed firm, and ICM Inc. have entered into a joint development agreement to create a commercial fermentation process for KnipBio’s single cell protein aquafeed, KnipBio Meal. As part of the agreement, they’ll explore new fermentation processes using ethanol and ethanol production process coproducts. ICM will also handle process engineering and construction plans for commercialization of KnipBio’s research. ICM will have representation on KnipBio’s board of directors. Steve Hartig, ICM’s vice president of technology development, says aquaculture needs “new sources of traceable, sustainable and resource-efficient protein and KnipBio’s single-cell protein (SCP) tech-

nology could be a major factor in meeting that need. “Alternative proteins for aquaculture will be a multibillion-dollar market and this process enables the U.S. ethanol industry new opportunities for growth,” Hartig says. The joint agreement, which is expected to last about one year, will be conducted at KnipBio’s research center in Lowell, Massachusetts, and at ICM’s research facility and pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri. The companies’ research will focus on scaling up fermentation, testing the viability of using ethanol-related streams as a fermentation feedstock, improving production economics and optimizing processes for different SCP products.

“ICM is a great strategic fit for us,” says Larry Feinberg, CEO of KnipBio. “Bringing together ICM’s best-in-class fermentation know-how and KnipBio’s innovative biotechnology will allow us to dramatically accelerate our commercial plans. “ICM recognizes the potential of the alternative protein market and its importance for the future of ethanol,” Feinberg adds.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 19


ÂŚBUSINESS BRIEFS

American Ethanol partners with Universal Technical Institute Growth Energy’s American Ethanol program has teamed up with Universal Technical Institute as part of Growth Energy’s goal to work with automotive thought leaders to validate the engine performance capabilities of ethanol. As part of the agreement, Growth Energy will support the student resource center at UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina. “We are thrilled to join Universal Technical Institute’s Business Alliance,� says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We know that most Americans look to technicians at their local auto shops and dealerships for advice on how to maintain their vehicles, so working with Universal Technical Institute, the nation’s leader in training highly skilled automotive technicians, will

ensure the experts advising consumers have all the facts on American ethanol performance. “We are fortunate to work with some of the most respected engine performance experts through the American Ethanol racing program,� Skor adds. “We look forward to facilitating a productive, ongoing dialogue between those individuals and UTI students and instructors on the role that biofuels play in engine performance.� John Dodson, UTI vice president of business alliances & NASCAR, says, “Growth Energy will be a great addition to the list of partners who support us in educating students on the industry’s most current information and technologies. Today’s cars are sophisticated, high-tech machines and, as vehicle technology continues to

evolve, renewable biofuels like ethanol will play an even more important role. Growth Energy has a deep commitment to supporting automotive education and giving back to this industry through its American Ethanol program, and we are pleased and proud to welcome them to the UTI family.�

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20 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


BUSINESS BRIEFS¦

Lee Enterprises Consulting hires former assistant secretary of the Navy Lee Enterprises Consulting has added Ret. Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, former assistant secretary of Navy Energy, Installations & Environment, to its team of over 100 bioeconomy consultants. McGinn served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for 35 years as a naval aviator, test pilot, aircraft carrier commanding officer, and national security strategist. McGinn is former president of the American Council on Renewable Energy and a past member of the steering committee of the Energy Future Coalition, U.S. Energy Security Council, Bipartisan Policy Center Energy Board, and CNA Military Advisory Board. He currently serves as a board member for the Rocky Mountain Institute, Customer First Renewables, Willdan Group Inc., and HALO Maritime Systems, and is a senior

advisor to the Electric Power Research Institute, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Center for Climate and Security. McGinn holds a degree in Naval Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, was a Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Fellow at the U.S. Naval War College, and was the 2018 recipient of the Holmberg Lifetime Achievement Award at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. “I am very excited to have Adm. McGinn on board with our team,” says Wayne Lee, CEO of Lee Enterprises Consulting. “I met him when he won the Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, and was very impressed with his vast experience

in so many facets of the bioeconomy, both public and private.” Lee notes that McGinn's advice and counsel will be invaluable not only to McGinn clients, but to the experts in the consulting group. “This is a very diverse group of top flight experts, with many years of experience in their respective bio specialties, and is the only bioeconomy consulting group I know of that can assemble such broad multidisciplinary teams to fit virtually any situation,” McGinn says. “I’m very pleased to be part of such a cutting edge venture.”

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 21


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COPRODUCTS FOREIGN MARKETS

ALL EYES ON

ETHANOL Brazil’s ethanol industry continues to grow with the help of renewable fuel goals and international partnerships. By Tim Albrecht

More than 90 percent of all new cars licensed in Brazil each year are flex fuel. Every liter of fuel sold in Brazil includes 27 percent ethanol. Consumers have chosen to replace almost

40 percent of the country’s gasoline needs with sugarcane ethanol, says Leticia Phillips, North America representative for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, UNICA. Ethanol use in Brazil has risen in the past two decades, and now is supported by the country’s 2015 Paris Climate Summit commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. That goal supports Brazil’s continued development and use of low-carbon, clean biofuels as part of RenovaBio, the country’s new renewables policy. Even corn ethanol production in Brazil is growing, with the help of a U.S.based agricultural group. But experts say it won’t soon affect the amount of corn ethanol the U.S. sends to Brazil, our largest ethanol export designation.

24 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | MAY 2018 24 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


COPRODUCTS FOREIGN MARKETS

EAGLE EYE: FS Bioenergia, the first large-scale corn-only ethanol plant in Brazil, is the result of an international collaboration between Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril and U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group. One more corn ethanol plant is proposed, as Brazil’s ethanol industry ramps up with the help of its new renewables policy, RenovaBio. PHOTO: SUMMIT AGRICULTURAL GROUP

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 25 ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 25


FOREIGN MARKETS

First Step

RenovaBio is the first step in meeting the goals Brazil set at the Paris summit. The program brings predictability to the biofuels industry, and provides incentives and targets for the reduction of emissions. It mandates that Brazil fuel distributors gradually increase the amount of biofuels they trade each year to help cut carbon emissions. It’s expected to be a game changer that will help stabilize the country’s sugarcane industry and “benefit global biofuels players,” Phillips says. “Brazilian consumers have enjoyed subsidized gasoline prices for many years, which weakens demand for ethanol. RenovaBio will alter this dynamic and encourage fuel distributors to boost sales of biofuels versus gasoline by requiring them to lend a hand meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals.” Ethanol and bioenergy produced from sugarcane currently make up 15.7 percent

of Brazil’s energy mix, and have offset 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Reaching the Paris climate summit goals will require biofuels to supply about 18 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030. RenovaBio will assist in that goal and sets Brazil’s renewable fuel policy apart from other programs across the world, Phillips says. “Brazil fosters a diverse energy matrix that prioritizes renewable energy and encourages an innovative transportation fleet that can maximize biofuel consumption,” Phillips says. “It’s a recipe for success when coupled with a biofuels industry that’s committed to sustainability and continuous improvement.” Brazil’s president recently signed a decree that would regulate RenovaBio. According to the new guidelines, responsibilities will be shared between the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE), the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) and the RenovaBio Committee.

The CNPE will be in charge of defining annual emission reduction targets in the country’s fuel sales, the ANP will evaluate the criteria for the certification of biofuels and accreditation of its producers and the RenovaBio Committee will work as a technical support body for CNPE. The Committee will be responsible for conducting studies and public consultations, as well as monitoring Brazil’s biofuels supply and production chain. The U.S. ethanol industry is keeping a watchful eye on the RenovaBio program and discussing with Brazilian officials how the program will operate, focusing on the establishment of a carbon trading market, says James Miller, president of Agriculture and Biofuel Policy Consulting, who consults with Growth Energy on its global market development and trade policy issues. “We have some concerns on how that market might work, particularly given the fact there are other carbon trading markets that each have their own unique character-


AT THE PUMP: A consumer pumps fuel at a station in Brazil. Consumers there have chosen to replace almost 40 percent of the country's gasoline with sugarcane ethanol. PHOTO: UNICA


CORN HARVEST: Farmers harvest corn in Mato Grosso, Brazil. FS Bioenergia, with majority owner Summit Agricultural Group, based in Iowa, is the only large-scale corn-only ethanol plant in Brazil. PHOTO: SUMMIT AGRICULTURAL GROUP

istics and pretty soon we could have a confusing situation,” Miller says. Despite their concerns, Miller and Growth Energy are hopeful for the RenovaBio program and want to work with Brazilian officials to ensure the it melds well

with other renewable fuel programs around the globe. “We want to find ways to harmonize many elements of the RenovaBio program with similar programs that exist in other parts of the world,” Miller says. “We think

this is a way to actually help Brazil grow its biofuel demand and I think we’ll be a beneficiary of that, as well as Brazilian agricultural producers. “I think ultimately what we’ll see over the long term, given Brazil’s policy they’re

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trying to implement in RenovaBio, is demand may increase enough in Brazil that it will not only continue to make room for domestic ethanol production from both sugarcane and corn, but still be a very vibrant import market that the U.S. will be competing with other ethanol producers for.”

Opportunity in Corn

While most of Brazil’s ethanol production has relied on sugarcane, corn ethanol is growing. Because of Brazil’s policies on renewable fuels, Summit Agricultural Group, an Iowa-based agribusiness, looked to the country as a candidate for a new corn ethanol facility. “It became pretty clear to me in traveling Brazil that biotechnology, such as the advent of second crop over the last decade, was going to increase Brazil’s ability to produce a significant amount of corn,” says Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “In believing that, we thought

ALL CORN: FS Bioenergia started production in Brazil in mid-2017. By early 2019, the plant will produce 130 MMgy of corn ethanol and 400,000 tons of feed rations for a growing livestock industry. PHOTO: SUMMIT AGRICULTURAL GROUP

a corn ethanol plant in Brazil made sense for us.” Summit partnered with Fiagril Ltda of Brazil to build FS Bioenergia, Brazil’s first large-scale corn ethanol plant. The ICMdesigned facility is located in the center of

Mato Grosso, Brazil’s Corn Belt. Summit is the majority owner of FS Bioenergia. Rastetter views corn ethanol production in Brazil as a growing opportunity. He isn’t surprised the corn industry in Brazil

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FOREIGN MARKETS

DOUBLE CAPACITY: FS Bioenergia recently announced a $100 million expansion of its corn ethanol plant in Lucas de Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, Brazil, which is expected to more than double capacity to 130 MMgy. PHOTO: SUMMIT AGRICULTURAL GROUP

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is looking for a new source of demand for its corn, with global corn prices being as depressed as they are. Ethanol is a “very logical” choice for that source of demand, he says. In the past few months, FS Bioenergia announced plans to develop a second corn ethanol plant in Brazil and a $100 million expansion of its first facility, which is expected to more than double capacity to 130 MMgy. The second facility is planned for Sorriso, Mato Grosso, Brazil, with a capacity of 160 MMgy. Brazil’s push for renewable fuels aided Summit’s movement into the country and is a primary reason FS Bioenergia is building a second facility, Rastetter says. “We think the economics made sense. Brazil is truly a model for the U.S. to follow on ethanol consumption and having consumer choice at the pumps. Plus, you have a government who’s stated goal is to dramatically increase ethanol use and production.” Rastetter says Brazil’s growing corn ethanol market won’t hinder U.S. corn ethanol imports to the country. Production will take years to ramp up significantly, and RenovaBio will ensure demand for U.S. corn ethanol continues. “I think as Brazil goes from 7 billion gallons per year in ethanol consumption to the 13 billion they want to reach with the RenovaBio program, there will be continued need over the next decade for U.S. corn ethanol exports to Brazil to supplement their demand for ethanol,” Rastetter says.


FOREIGN MARKETS

Import Tariff

In August of 2017, Brazil implemented a 20 percent tariff on U.S. ethanol imports over a 600 million-liter-per-year quota. The Tariff-Rate Quota was based on Brazil’s average annual ethanol imports from 2014 to 2016, Phillips says. Phillips points to a column in the April 2018 issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, where she writes that the tariff was a result of China and Europe shutting down biofuel imports, making Brazil the only major market that was receiving excess ethanol supplies. This caused ethanol imports to Brazil to triple the amount imported in 2016. In her column, Phillips writes that the Brazilian government needed to act after imports spiked for two reasons. One, Brazil had to safeguard against displacing lowercarbon fuels with higher-carbon fuels, which would have been counterproductive to the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Second, the Brazilian sugarcane industry generates almost 1 million jobs and is still recovering from a financial crisis that prompted closure of about 20 percent of its sugarcane mills. The U.S. had been engaged in talks with Brazilian trade officials since Brazil first indicated it was considering a tariff. “The beginning discussions weren’t about the TRQ that was actually implemented, but the northeastern Brazilian ethanol industry originally proposed a significant tariff on all ethanol imports,� Miller says. “We were engaged in many discussions with the Brazilians as to why that would be bad policy. After months of talks, Brazil decided to implement the TRQ that’s in place today and we’ve continued to have discussion to get them to eliminate or modify that TRQ. Brazil is still our largest ethanol market irrespective of the 20 percent tariff.� UNICA remains committed to removing trade barriers between Brazil and the U.S., as well as other major markets. Phillips says Brazil and the U.S. have made strides

working together and she hopes the partnership will continue. “As the world’s largest ethanol producers and exporters, the United States and Brazil enjoy the benefits of trading renewable fuels,� Phillips says. “Together, our countries have created a global biofuels market providing clean, affordable and sustainable solutions to our planet’s growing energy needs. Both countries need strong

domestic markets, and we also intend to continue working collaboratively to remove trade barriers in international markets.� Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922 talbrecht@bbiinternational.com

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PERSONNEL

LOOKING FOR PROOF: The ethanol industry, in general, has low turnover rates, making it difficult for employees to climb the ladder in the companies where they're currently employed. Some might look to opportunities with other companies to advance their careers. Here, an operator learns how to perform an ethanol proof test at South Bend Ethanol in South Bend, Indiana. PHOTO: ANGELA CARTER, ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

34 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MAY 2018 34 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


Settled IN

Success and lack of turnover have created a shortage of open positions in the ethanol industry. By Tim Albrecht

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 35


PERSONNEL

Contrary to many industries Workplace Outlook The ethanol industry has rebounded in the Midwest, ethanol overall considerably since market problems in doesn’t have a shortage of em2008, which affected producers’ ability to ployee candidates. Instead, it has hire quality candidates and stay profitable. somewhat of a shortage of available jobs. The industry’s success and plants’ relative youth have led to a lack of open positions, says Walter Wendland, president, CEO and chairman of Ringneck Energy & Feed LLC. “Good compensation, benefits and good work environments have led to a low turnover rate in the industry,� he says. “The industry is rather young, most of the plants are less than 15 years old and a lot of the employees that were initially hired are from a younger generation, so you don’t see the usual retirements you would see in an industry that’s been around for 50 years.�

Conditions have improved, positions have been filled and the lack of open jobs has reduced the number of job seekers entering the ethanol industry, says Mark Ragland, director of biofuels talent acquisition for SearchPath of Chicago Inc. “One thing to consider is, if you visit an ethanol facility and it’s this enormous facility that’s producing 100 million gallons of ethanol per year—a lot of those plants only employ maybe 50 people. These plants don’t require as many people to run their operation, compared to a food company or something similar that would have more hands on the floor.�

A lack of awareness and less emphasis on biofuels from the major automotive manufacturers also contribute to fewer college students choosing a career in the industry, says Michael Behrmann, associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. SIU-Carbondale offers an alternative fuels curriculum as well as a sustainability minor as a part of its four-year baccalaureate degree program in automotive technology. The curriculum includes training in advanced automotive truck-equipment system technology, industry applied business management-leadership practices, data usage, and the necessary interpersonal skills. “As compared to other areas that are available and open to our students, we see only a few of our students entering the biofuels industry. Students are being actively

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CONSTRUCTION PHASE: Ringneck Energy & Feed LLC’s Onida, South Dakota, plant has been under construction since last fall. It is expected to be commissioned in November and soon will begin hiring for plant positions. PHOTO: RINGNECK ENERGY & FEED LLC

recruited early on in their academic career by other sectors of the industry and they do a good job of building brand and company awareness.” But there are some areas for growth in the industry, including positions related to the new technologies being implemented to improve efficiency, says Jon Leafstedt, managing partner of Kincannon & Reed Ltd.

Renee Loesche, director of the Building Illinois Bioeconomy Curriculum and Training Department at Southeastern Illinois College, agrees. “In the past decade, there have been sweeping innovations such as biodiesel units that bolt on to ethanol plants, zero-waste producers, the many companies that support the industry from water treatment, to mechanical and electrical outage support, and the increased in-

novations in byproducts such as truly biodegradable packaging made from ethanol byproducts.” Southeastern Illinois College offers a basic Biofuels and Sustainability Certificate comprised of four courses focused on ethanol and biodiesel production. This certificate can then be the basis for other certificates, an associate’s degree, and can lead into a bachelor’s degree with either

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 37


PERSONNEL

SIU-Edwardsville or Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Hiring Process

HANDS ON: Lab Manager Alex Sexton (right) trains a new operator on ASTM standards for fuel ethanol at South Bend Ethanol in South Bend, Indiana. PHOTO: ANGELA CARTER, ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

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Ringneck Energy is building its first plant in Onida, South Dakota. The plant brings with it a new outlook on the hiring process for Wendland, who has participated in several other plant development projects. “When I started up previous plants, we had a lot more people that were new to the industry,� he says. “We think the industry is more established so we have an opportunity at employees that have experience within the industry.� Wendland hopes to first find employees who are originally from the Onida area and want to come back. Secondarily, Ringneck will focus on candidates in the area looking for an opportunity in the ethanol industry, he says. Ringneck is working with Energy Management Solutions, a subsidiary of ICM, to recruit employees and assist in running the facility. “EMS will try to find people that don’t have a lot of opportunity in plants they’re at, but there will be some things that are appealing to them about Ringneck,�

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SAMPLE PREP: Southern Illinois University-Carbondale students prepare samples of biofuels for vehicle testing. PHOTO: SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY – AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY

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Wendland says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a brand-new facility with new technologies and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a little more cutting edge than some plants from earlier in the industry. That might be more intriguing for somebody whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in the industry now, but is looking for a shift.â&#x20AC;? While hiring for entry-level positions is pretty straightforward, filling higher-level jobs is a bit more involved, says Gary Weihs, managing partner of Kincannon & Reed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For example, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hired to find a CEO of an ethanol plant and then we would work with them to develop what the search profile is for the position. The biggest part is the cultural fit. We look at if that CEO is going to work well with the board and are they going to be a good leader of people.â&#x20AC;?


PERSONNEL

Certifications and training, along with biofuel-related degrees, are attractive qualities in candidates of all levels, Loesche says. Most companies want to hire applicants with work experience to fill the operations positions. Chemistry and operations management positions are more likely to require technical or chemical degrees, or certifications, Loesche says. “The biofuels industry and associated support industries have matured over the last decade,” she says. “Most companies are looking for employees with good work records and who have attempted to build their skill sets with training, whether it's college or technical levels.” Many plants offer on-site training for new employees unfamiliar with the ethanol process. Loesche says ethanol producers have begun introducing their own internal training programs to “orient incoming workers to the field of biofuels and to train them on safety, plant equipment and internal procedures.” At Wendland’s plants, and as a part of ICM’s procedure, employees are required to complete a six- to eight-week training, whether they have previous experience or not. “For entry-level positions, as long as they have the basic skills, we can train them on how to use our systems over time,” Wendland says. “We’re looking for a lot of the classic things in an employee, such as communication skills, work ethic and being on time—a lot of those simple things.”

But on the executive level, the willingness of candidates to relocate for a new position has declined in the past decade or two, Weihs says. “The U.S. is the most mobile society in the world. So, when we’re asking someone to pick up and move, executives are less available now then they were in the past based off data we’ve seen in the industry.” Also, ethanol plants are located in rural areas, making them less desirable for executives. So some companies are establishing administrative offices in large cities to attract those executives to nonoperation positions, Leafstedt says. “It’s dramatically enhanced some of those companies’ ability to bring in good talent.” Ragland says many ethanol plant employees are local residents and enjoy the

tight-knit work environments they find at ethanol plants. “The company itself is a lot like a family and those are not easily broken up. “The good news is if you find a job with a good plant, you have a place you can retire at some point,” he says. “You don’t have to worry about what your next job is going to be in three to five years. That’s a good thing.” Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922 talbrecht@bbiinternational.com

Up the Ladder

Wendland says low turnover within the ethanol industry prompts employees to transfer across companies. Some employees have the requirements to fill a supervisory role, but are stuck in a nonsupervisory position because no higher-level jobs are open within the company. They might look to another company to advance in their career, he says.

icminc.com |

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 41


PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

42 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

INTEGRATED INNOVATION Element LLC employs ICMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new process technologies, coproduct systems and efficiency improvements in one state-of-the-art facility. Construction is underway. By Susanne Retka Schill

COMING UP: In early April, the fermentation tanks were being poured at the construction site for the 70 MMgy Element ethanol plant. ICM headquarters are seen in the background. PHOTO: ICM INC.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 43


PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

‘ICM’s vision is to give our customer base the opportunity to see our entire suite of technologies consolidated into commercial-scale production.’

Element LLC is the name of the state-of-the-art 70 MMgy corn ethanol plant under construction in Colwich, Kansas. The name represents the project’s purpose: to demonstrate the separation of the elements in a kernel of corn and the many elements that need to be efficiently integrated in a successful ethanol plant design. Groundwork began at the site adjacent to ICM Inc.’s headquarters last fall, and once the partnership with The Andersons Inc. was announced in March, construction began in earnest. Startup is scheduled for next spring and full operation of all units is expected by year end. The project will showcase ICM’s newest technologies, including a couple yet to be deployed. “ICM’s vision is to give our

- CHRIS MITCHELL PRESIDENT, ICM INC.

customer base the opportunity to see our entire suite of technologies consolidated into commercial-scale production,” says ICM President Chris Mitchell. For The Andersons, the project not only expands the company’s ethanol capac-

ACHIEVING THE MOST EFFICIENT STARTS AT THE TOP.

ity, but helps meet other goals. “Our investment executes on several of our strategic priorities, such as operating efficient and profitable ethanol production facilities and developing new technologies with highervalue coproducts,” says Mike Irmen, presi-

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PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

dent of the ethanol group at The Andersons. Diversifying ethanol coproducts has become ICM’s focus in recent years, says CEO Dave VanderGriend, as most of the process and energy efficiency gains have been identified. “There’s five or six elements in a kernel of corn,” he says. “We’re separating every one now to maximize their value.”

Site, Technology

Element is being built on the site of a former Abengoa plant. ICM bought the property in the bankruptcy auction following Abengoa Bioenergy’s demise, precipitated by the Spain-based parent company’s financial restructuring. Abengoa had purchased the plant in the early 2000s from High Plains Corp., expanded and upgraded it, but only ran it intermittently in recent years. Element’s $175 million price tag includes the first commercial deployment of ICM’s patent-pending Gen 1.5: Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology, where

46 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018

‘There’s five or six elements in a kernel of corn. We’re separating every one now to maximize their value.’ - DAVE VANDERGRIEND CEO, ICM INC.

corn fiber separated on the front end will be pretreated and converted in a separate system before reintroduction into fermentation. Gen 1.5 builds on the company’s Select Milling Technology V2 and Fiber Separation Technology Next Gen. While many plants have installed SMT and several have added FST, only one plant has installed ICM’s newest technology, TS4 (Thin Stillage Solids Separation). “The only way we could get all of the pieces in one facility to show what it would look like to put it all together was to do it at one plant,” VanderGriend says. Having commercially produced sufficient quantities of the new higher-value feed products is critical, Mitchell says. “It can be a long cycle getting these feeds into rations.” Element will also include ICM’s patented gasification technology developed more than a decade ago when natural gas prices were at record highs. Interest plummeted, however, when prices dropped and, without a commercial installation, it was difficult to demonstrate that the technology works,


PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

VanderGriend says. Waste wood from the Wichita area will be used in the gasifier to generate the majority of electricity and process steam for Element. That, along with other efficiencies, lowers the plant’s carbon footprint. “When you add everything together, it will be the most efficient, lowest carbon footprint corn ethanol plant in the world,” VanderGriend says. The carbon score on the cellulosic side scores 10 on the California carbon rating system, he says, while the ethanol from the starch side is around 55. That compares with gasoline at 96 and conventional corn ethanol in the 70s. Ethanol yields are expected to exceed 3.1 gallons per bushel of corn. While much of the plant will look like a typical ICM design, there will be differences taking full advantage of the new technologies. Hammermills used for grinding corn, for instance, will be replaced with the roller mills in SMT V2. FST Next Gen removes 10 percent of the material (fiber), changing the sizing of liquefaction tanks and other systems that follow. Removing solids with TS4 will impact the configuration and operation of the evaporators, as well as clean up backset, which impacts front end operations. Efficiency gains also impact the sizing of motors and pumps throughout the plant. “With these technologies combined, the design and operation of the facility will be significantly different than the traditional ethanol facility,” Mitchell says.

Full Circle

For VanderGriend, the construction of Element brings his career full circle. In 1985, after assisting in the construction

of several farm-based ethanol plants, he moved to Colwich to manage a new plant for High Plains. The first job was to rebuild parts of the 10 MMgy plant to operate more efficiently. Working with High Plains’ construction arm, he built several plants, including three for Broin Associates, the forerunner of today’s Poet LLC. In 1995, High Plains decided to leave the construction trade, so VanderGriend bought part of the Colwich property and an office building and launched ICM Inc. High Plains retained its ethanol plants that Abengoa would purchase a few years later. “We looked at the industry and asked, ‘What is one thing that doesn’t work very well?’” VanderGriend recalls. “That happened to be dryers.” Since ICM’s first redesigned dryer was installed at Corn Plus in Minnesota, ICM has installed about 400 more throughout the industry, he says. In 2001, VanderGriend decided to apply all the lessons learned from High Plains and the plants repaired and rebuilt by ICM, to develop a new plant design. He attributes the successful design used in 105 plants in North America to his brother Dennis. But, he recalls, it was nearly impossible at first to get anybody interested in the new technology until they could see it. “We had to build one to demonstrate the efficiency and performance. We built one and everybody wanted one.” That’s one of the goals of Element, too. “It will give the industry the opportunity to see these components assembled together, as well as the new coproducts,” Mitchell says. “It will be compelling and the best way to show what the opportunity is, rather than displaying it through a PowerPoint and outlines.”

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PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Other Plants Under

Construction

UNDERWAY: Ringneck Energy & Feed LLC is under construction and is expected to be commissioned in November. PHOTOS: RINGNECK ENERGY & FEED LLC

Continued from page 47

Element is one of three ethanol plants under construction

tion was completed before work ended in 2008. Contrac-

in the U.S. The other two are:

tor Ron Fagen bought the site in 2012 and engaged N

Elite Octane LLC

and begin recruiting a new set of private investors. Fagen

Elite Octane LLC began receiving corn in May, filling

its two 2 million bushel Sukup grain bins, says CEO Nick

Bowdish, calling them “the world’s largest steel bins.” The 120 MMgy plant is expected to begin commissioning in

early June. It’s been a long time coming for the Atlantic,

Iowa, facility. Previous entrepreneurs began developing the plant in 2006 and a significant amount of construc-

Bowdish Co. LLC to put the project components together

Inc. relaunched construction on the ICM-designed plant in early 2017.

Ringneck Energy & Feed LLC

In scheduling reminiscent of the industry build-out a

decade ago, as Fagen crews finished a project in Iowa, the

team headed to Onida, South Dakota, where construc-

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tion got under full swing last fall for Ringneck Energy &

Grain Energy LLC in Mason City, Iowa, and 1,300 inves-

plant is expected in late November, says CEO Walt Wend-

Ringneck has a small crew, at just under 200 investors.

Feed LLC. Commissioning of the 80 MMgy, ICM-designed land. ICMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Energy Management Services will manage the plant.

Located north of Pierre, the Onida location is in the

heart of cattle country, and about 100 miles west of the

closest ethanol plants. But even with attractive local corn prices, raising equity capital for this project was far more

tors in Homeland Energy Solutions LLC in Lawler, Iowa,

â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are a lot fewer farmers out here, plus the poor farm economy,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And this is an area that hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had a lot of success with value added. In the end, the ethanol

plants and large investors stepped up to finish the deal, making it a pretty strong company.â&#x20AC;?

challenging than the two Iowa plants Wendland helped

Author: Susanne Retka Schill Freelance Journalist retkaschill@yahoo.com

launch, he says. Compared to 900 investors in Golden

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POLICY

52 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018 52 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


POLICY

ON THE

FRONT LINES The old battle between ethanol and oil takes center stage with the RFS. Ethanol Producer Magazine recaps the many recent attempts to hinder the policy, and looks beyond 2022. By Erin Voegele

INDUSTRY INFLUENCE: Ethanol and oil industries have battled it out over the Renewable Fuel Standard since it was implemented. Recent news has added fury to the fire, prompting meetings with lawmakers and industries, delays in negotiations and even politics-fueled accusations. PHOTO: ISTOCK

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 53

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 53


POLICY

When President Donald Trump pledged his support for year-round E15 availability during a meeting at the White House April 12, the entire ethanol industry seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. It was an important policy victory that punctuated a long, sometimes confusing, war the industry had been fighting all spring. The Trump Administration confirmed plans to allow year-round sales of E15 during a May 8 meeting with several senators, and announced it will abandon plans to pursue a price cap on renewable identification numbers (RINs). The administration, however, has indicated it likely will allow RINs to be attached to exported volumes of biofuels, a move strongly criticized by the ethanol industry. To many, it appears Philadelphia Energy Solutionsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; January bankruptcy was the spark that ignited the current discussions and fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard. But leaders in the ethanol industry are quick to point out this fight is not new; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the same battle over market share the

ethanol industry has been fighting with the oil industry since the RFS was first implemented more than a decade ago. PESâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bankruptcy filing merely brought that fight to the surface. Trump PES filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, blaming the price of RINs for its financial difficulties. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, latched onto the story and helped turn it into a matter of national interest. Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, calls Cruz one of the best opportunists in Congress, noting he really elevated the issue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sen. Cruz exploited the PES situation to get more press attentionâ&#x20AC;Śand the attention of the White House,â&#x20AC;? Jennings says. A special election in Pennsylvania and Cruzâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s midterm primary election in Texas both were held March 6. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cruz wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going to lose the republican primary election, but this sure was a convenient way for him to raise his visibility and gain more attention leading up to that Tuesday vote, which he won handily,â&#x20AC;? Jennings

says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So, certainly, politics played a role.â&#x20AC;? The issue also grabbed Trumpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention. On Feb. 27, Sens. Cruz; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Cruz met with Trump at the White House to discuss the RFS. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt were also in attendance. The meeting focused on the elusive â&#x20AC;&#x153;win-winâ&#x20AC;? solution Trump is seeking. A few days later, Trump met with a variety of stakeholders from the biofuels and refining industries to continue the discussion. Merchant refiners argued for a price cap on RINs, a move the ethanol industry said would squash demand. Ethanol producers, alternatively, have been calling on Trump to quickly implement a Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver, which would allow E15 to be sold year-round, increase blending and reduce the price of RINs. Merchant refiners, however, arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t on board with that solution.

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POLICY

A third White House meeting on the RFS was scheduled to take place March 12, but was later cancelled. On April 4, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the DisJennings trict of Delaware approved a proposed settlement with the U.S. government under which PES was able to waive a significant portion of its renewable volume obligations (RVOs). The move was widely criticized by the biofuels industry, which argued that the settlement undermines the RFS and sets a bad precedent. One day before the PES settlement announcement, news broke that EPA had effectively circumvented its mandate to enforce refiner RVOs by granting small refiner hardship waivers to refining companies that are neither small, nor experiencing economic hardship. Initial reports have found that at least 25 of these waivers have been awarded retroactively for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years.

During an April 24 hearing held by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the EPA’s actions “demand dePruitt struction” and estimated approximately 1.12 billion gallons of the 15 billion-gallon RVO for conventional biofuel were waived through the EPA’s misuse of its waiver authority. Pruitt appeared before two House committees on April 26, fielding several questions on the RFS. When asked about how many waivers are set to be approved for 2018, he said “applications are still pending in 2018,” but added that there are already more than 25. Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, pointed out that the EPA is required by law to reassign waived gallons to other obligated parties and asked Pruitt if the EPA has taken such action. “It’s my understanding that that process has happened as it’s supposed to under the statute,” Pruitt responded.

Pruitt was also asked about the holdup in issuing an E15 waiver. He said the EPA “is just trying to ensure the legal basis is solid because there will be litigation that will ensue.”

A Waiting Game

Perdue

As of press time for the June issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, the industry continued to wait for the details of an RVP waiver to be finalized and for the administration to release details on its plans for RINs and exports. While Jennings notes there is a real concern that the RFS could be changed in a substantial manner, he stresses nothing can happen overnight. “Amid this sense of urgency, I think people sometimes get carried away,” he says. Jennings also points out that many proposed changes that aim to undermine the RFS would likely violate the statute and fail to survive litigation. He says there does not seem to be enough votes in Congress to

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POLICY

dismantle the program. “This has been the case for 10 years now,” he says, referencing repeated past efforts by some lawmakers to end or hobble the RFS. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, also says legislative action seems unlikely at this point. “The unilateral changes EPA has made to the RFS with the

waivers make it unlikely that Congress will agree on additional intervention in the program at this juncture,” he says. “EPA’s recent actions favor one group of oil refiners over others, so I would not expect the oil industry to unite behind any congressional proposal. “Additionally, with commodity prices in bad shape already, Midwest representa-

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tives and senators may be wary of rattling those markets further,” Erickson adds. “As such, Congress will likely have a hard time getting votes for RFS changes right now, and they would Skor also be hard pressed to complete legislation with the limited time left this year.”

Market Share

Since its inception, the RFS has faced a myriad of challenges from the food vs. fuel debate, to disputes associated with water use and indirect land change, and many others. While not all of the challenges have come from the same parties, the disputes with Big Oil have largely boiled down to market share. “The real complaint the refiners have is they don’t want to see ethanol continue to creep into their territory in terms of market share,” Jennings says. “They want to limit ethanol’s market share—and at the end of the day, we want to expand market share. We believe that is one of the primary purposes of the RFS.” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, says, “As long as we’re taking market share away from an entrenched incumbent, we’re going to see these types of challenges. This is part of our daily existence. We have had so much success as an industry. As a nation, we are blending more than 10 percent ethanol into our fuel supply, so now we have to fight for continued market access. “We’ve saturated E10,” she adds. “So, now we need to look at E15 and even higher blends. So, that is going to have to be a fight—because again—higher blends means that we are taking market share away from the oil industry. It is straight up competition and they are not going to like it. … We are seeing that play out in politics and in terms of some of the allegations that are made about ethanol.”


POLICY

While members of the ethanol industry continue the fight over the RFS and E15, they are also looking to the future—to the post 2022-RFS, when fights between ethanol producers and Big Oil are likely to escalate.

Erickson

Erickson points out that the process for setting annual volumes after 2022 is laid out in law. “Recent court decisions provide clarification on how EPA must set RVOs,” he says. “So long as EPA complies with the requirements of the law, there should be no surprises in how the RVOS are set after 2022.” Even though many would like to see improvements to the RFS, the ethanol in-

dustry has historically been hesitant to seek legislative changes. That seems unlikely to change between now and 2022. “We have a long list of improvements that we’d like made to the RFS,” Jennings says. “But the political calculus has always been if we open the statute up, it’s likely that more damage will get done than improvements be made.”

RFS After 2022

“Contrary to popular belief among some, the RFS doesn’t simply end in 2022,” Jennings says. In EISA, Congress only set statutory RFS blending targets through 2022. “After 2022, EPA must set the annual volumes based on six specific factors,” Jennings adds. These factors include environmental effects, energy security, production, infrastructure costs, and things like jobs and commodity prices, Jennings explains. “So, there are goal posts, if you will,” he says. “There are parameters to their consideration. It’s not going to be the Wild West.” Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., questioned Pruitt on EPA’ plans for the post-2022 RFS during an April 26 House hearing. “As you know, under the statute, we have an ability to reset those volume obligations and we are evaluating that,” Pruitt said. “There is a cap of 15 billion for conventional [biofuels] presently. But another area I know … you’ve been interested in is high octane. … There needs to be a serious consideration of us pursuing, as a country, fuel choices and options to meet those [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards and provide high octane as an option to the American people. I think there is a potential that will serve both the ag sector as well as the auto sector and consumers across this country that we could pursue together.” Jennings say ACE’s RFS focus for post2022 will be on making sure EPA is evaluating the correct factors when proposing the RVOs.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 57


POLICY

“It really helps to keep inviting members of Congress and their staff to tour facilities and to make sure employees engage with local congressional offices on a quarterly basis.” - BRENT ERICKSON

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, BIOTECHNOLOGY INNOVATION ORGANIZATION

“I think, at the end of the day, our goal is to have the ability to compete,” Skor says. “The reason we are so adamantly protective of the RFS is because that is the thing that gives us the ability to compete. The fuel market is not an open marketplace. I wish it were. Life would be a lot easier if it were, but it isn’t. That’s why we are so protective and zealous about the RFS.” Skor says most of the reform efforts pitched to date are actually attempts to cut or cap the ethanol industry’s ability to grow. She offers the recently introduced WelchUdall bill, which aims to sunset the RFS, as an example. “The RFS program still presents tremendous opportunities for growth of the ethanol industry—such as expansion of cellulosic ethanol production from corn kernel fiber and corn stover, or growth of drop-in fuels, such as biobutanol,” Erickson says. “After 2022, the program still provides a floor for the starch ethanol industry.” The 2020 presidential election could have some impact on the RFS and other policy issues important to the ethanol industry. “I’m a believer that every election has consequences,” Jennings says, adding that the fact that the Iowa caucuses hold such a pivotal place in the election-year calendar bodes well for the ethanol industry. “I think the industry was smart to leverage the Iowa caucuses the way that we did for the 2016 election,” he adds. “I hope that we continue to do that and educate not only the candidates, but also the voters 58 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | MAY 2017

about what the important issues are.” Five years from now, Skor says her goal is to see E15 become the new norm. “That’s 7 billion gallons of new biofuels,” she says, stressing the importance of an RVP waiver for E15. “E15 is the stepping stone for E25 or E30,” she continues. “That is the fuel of the future, needed for the car of the future, for the consumer of the future.” Jennings says the ethanol industry struck lightening in a bottle with the RFS. He says there may be potential for that lightening to strike again, perhaps in the form of a minimum octane standard that would help push the market toward higher blends, like E25 or E30. Erickson notes BIO’s five-year wish list includes prompt approvals for biofuel pathways and new refineries. “On average, cellulosic and advanced biofuel pathway petitions have been waiting for more than three years for EPA to begin addressing them,” he says. “These are pathways for which EPA has not even proposed rules or greenhouse gas emission analysis. That wait is inexcusable—multiple biofuel producers have gone bankrupt while waiting for approval.”

Stay Engaged, Stay Involved

Those who work in the ethanol industry might wonder what they can do to help ensure a positive future for ethanol-related policies. Jennings, Skor and Erickson all point to grassroots efforts.


“All politics is local,” Erikson says. “It really helps to keep inviting members of Congress and their staff to tour facilities and to make sure employees engage with local congressional offices on a quarterly basis.” Jennings urges those in the industry to not become fatigued by some of the political fights that replay over and over. “Stay engaged, stay involved,” he says. “Organizations like ACE are only as effective as our members are contributing and engaged. “Members of congress get sick and tired of hearing from people like me—the paid lobbyist who they’ve come to know over the years,” Jennings continues. “But there is something incredibly disarming and persuasive and authentic about having a retailer who is selling E15 and E85 meet with the EPA administrator and members of congress and explain that his or her business is hurt because they can’t sell E15 year round—that the sales of their fuel go down in summer months and so do sales inside the store, where they make most of their money…I feel ACE’s role is to provide opportunities to our members to speak up and speak out for the industry to demonstrate there is a strong, diverse grassroots network of people around the country that benefit from ethanol.” Author: Erin Voegele News Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4963 evoegele@bbiinternational.com

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 59


CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

Down to THE

DETAILS EcoEngineersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Director of Engineering Jim Ramm details Kernel Fiber Now, a service that helps producers navigate their options with corn kernel fiber-to-ethanol technologies, RINs and more. By Lisa Gibson

Jim Ramm, Director of Engineering, EcoEngineers. PHOTO: ECOENGINEERS

62 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 63


CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

With intense interest in corn kernel fiber-to-ethanol technologies, many producers are evaluating the investments, payoffs and risks of installing the systems. EcoEngineers has devel-

oped a program called Kernel Fiber Now, designed to help navigate the D3 renewable identification number (RIN) registration process. But beyond that, Kernel Fiber Now includes market analysis, pathway expertise and more. In a Q&A with Ethanol Producer Magazine, Jim Ramm, director of engineering for EcoEngineers, details the program, the markets and the pertinent information producers should know about D3 RINs, corn kernel fiber-to-ethanol technologies, and how Kernel Fiber Now can help. Here's what he says.

Q. What is the goal of Kernel Fiber Now? A. The goal of Kernel Fiber Now is

to partner with technology providers and

the ethanol industry to support the seamless integration of the kernel fiber pathway and to facilitate the production of low-carbon cellulosic ethanol and generation of D3 RINs and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits. We do this by offering a complete line of services including market intelligence, regulatory guidance, feasibility analyses, pathway applications, facility registrations, ongoing quality assurance programs, and Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) modeling.

Q. What services does it provide for cellulosic ethanol producers? A. While ethanol producers have

never realized much of the D6 RIN value, they can realize a high percentage of the D3 RIN value. Ethanol producers can work with their marketers to receive a fair price on D3 gallons. Delayne Johnson of Quad County Corn Processors, in Galva, Iowa, pioneered these efforts and has reported about a $1.95 to $2 additional value

on sale of cellulosic ethanol gallons over the past two years. Ethanol producers may also choose to blend their own D3 gallons as E85 so they can separate and sell the D3 RINs, which have been valued at or above $2.50 per RIN for the past two years. Kernel Fiber Now offers the seamless integration of kernel fiber processing to an industry poised for significant expansion. That integration has included concurrent D3 and Efficient Producer Pathway production and establishing separate California pathways for kernel fiber ethanol. Despite our efforts, coprocessing registration approvals are currently taking longer than expected at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Edeniq indicates that about three plants have registrations pending with EPA and an additional 10 or more plants have trials ongoing. Soliton Laboratories indicates multiple registrations are pending. The kernel fiber industry is mobilizing in response to these recent delays at EPA.

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CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

Q. Why is a program like this necessary? What factors might producers be missing? A. Kernel fiber processes convert the

lowest-value feedstock already coming into the plant into a high-value cellulosic ethanol gallon. Because it converts cellulose into ethanol, it results in higher protein level distillers grains, which have higher feed value for dairy cattle or monogastric hogs and poultry. Finally, it lowers the overall carbon intensity of ethanol being produced from a bushel of corn. Because 1 to 10 percent of the ethanol gallons leaving a plant can be demonstrated as D3, it has the potential to be a 1.5 billion-gallon annual market. We believe in the growth of kernel fiber for these reasons.

Approved Pathways Under RFS Pathways 2 Fuel Type

Feedstock Type

Production Process

D Code

Cellulosic Ethanol

Cellulosic Biomass Agricultural Residues

Cellulosic Production Process

3

Renewable Compressed Natural Gas, Renewable Liquefied Natural Gas, and Renewable Electricity

Biogas from waste digesters

Any

5

Renewable Compressed Natural Gas, Renewable Liquefied Natural Gas, Renewable Electricity

Biogas from landfills, municipal Any wastewater treatment facility digesters, agricultural digesters, and biogas from the cellulosic components of biomass processed in other waste digesters

3

SOURCE: U.S. EPA

Q. What pathways are approved for D3 RINs currently? A. EPA approved kernel fiber ethanol

as D3 in the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard

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CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

Pathways 2 rulemaking. Two types of kernel fiber ethanol production were approved including separate processing and coprocessing. In 2014, EPA approved QCCP as the first registrant in D3 kernel fiber ethanol using separate processing.

Also, in 2015, EPA approved Pacific Ethanol Stockton using the Edeniq Pathway as the first registrant using simultaneous coprocessing. Through December 2017, EPA registered the following producers to make cellulosic ethanol using

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Edeniqâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coprocessing technology: Flint Hills Resources Iowa Falls and Flint Hills Resources Shell Rock, both in Iowa; Little Sioux Corn Processors, Marcus, Iowa; Siouxland Energy, Sioux Center, Iowa; and Mid America Bio Energy, parent of Mid America. In 2017, EPA allowed producers to employ both D3 kernel fiber and efficient producer pathways, beginning with Little Sioux Corn Processors, and established more stringent variation criteria for registration of new coprocessing facilities. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Edeniq reported that overall plant trial and EPA registration was being accomplished in four to six months. Notably, the EPA took just seven weeks for the last registration approval in December 2017. In 2018, however, EPA has stopped posting D3 kernel fiber coprocessing sites on its pending registrations list and indicates that senior EPA officials are reviewing certain requirements for the kernel fiber registration process.

Q. What is the difference between separate and coprocessing? A. Separate processing uses a sepa-

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rate weak acid hydrolysis step which converts more of the kernel fiber and can allow for 7 to 10 percent kernel fiber gallons. The QCCP process uses Enogen corn, teamed with Syngenta under the Cellerate brand. To date, QCCP has led the country in cellulosic ethanol production. Other companies are developing their own separate processing technologies including the ICM Gen 1.5 kernel fiber technology being installed at Element in Colwich, Kansas, and D3MAX being evaluated at ACE Ethanol in Stanley, Wisconsin.


CELLULOSIC ETHANOL

Coprocessing occurs in a plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existing conventional ethanol fermenter and can currently generate 1 to 3 percent kernel fiber gallons. Edeniq led the way in establishing a coprocessing pathway, which has been registered at six ethanol plants. In addition, Soliton Laboratories has developed its own starch and fiber assays to support coprocessing pathway applications that have passed peer reviews and can meet EPA variation criteria.

29 grams per megajoule. Based on recent OPIS pricing of $145 per megaton and $0.011860 per carbon intensity point from an ethanol baseline CI of 79.9, D3 ethanol could earn a $0.59 per gallon premium when used in California. As a result, D3

ethanol gallons have a strong attraction to the California market. Author: Lisa Gibson Managing Editor Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4920 lgibson@bbiinternational.com

Q. Will the Quality Assurance Program be important now? How? A. The Quality Assurance Program,

Q-RIN, will be important for D3 kernel fiber ethanol producers. Application of Q-RIN will be a market requirement when multiple D-code ethanol products with RINs are being furnished from the same production facility. In addition, Q-RIN will benefit those producers who wish to blend, separate and sell their own D3 RINs. We recommend including a Q-RIN program for ethanol diversification into D3 kernel fiber ethanol and RIN separation.

Q. How does kernel fiber ethanol work in the California LCFS market? A. Kernel fiber ethanol works well

in the California market because the farming practices and indirect land use change in the GREET model are applied to starch ethanol. As a result, the kernel fiber ethanol has low carbon intensities, typically in the 20s and 30s. Some of the first registrants of D3 kernel fiber ethanol in California are Little Sioux Corn Processors at 31 grams per megajoule and Siouxland Energy at

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ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 67


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2018

ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS

70 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS

BEST IN THE BUSINESS This year, Ethanol Producer Magazine launched the Ethanol Producer Awards, naming winners based on open nominations in five categories. By Lisa Gibson

In their inaugural year, the Ethanol Producer Awards proved to be a worthwhile endeavor, with excellent nominations of noteworthy producers and partners summitted in each of the five categories—The Good Neighbor Award, Board of the Year, Workplace of the Year, Project of the Year and Collaboration of the Year.

Winners were chosen by Ethanol Producer Magazine’s editorial staff and editorial board. Many categories brought tough decisions, as more than one nominee seemed deserving of recognition. The winners have shown themselves to be exemplary in their respective award categories. They are as follows:

THE GOOD NEIGHBOR AWARD

Exemplary Community Service and Support Pacific Ethanol Magic Valley Inc., Burley, Idaho

“As a company, Pacific Ethanol has always promoted community outreach efforts at all of our locations,” says Wayne Rylant, human resources manager for Pacific Ethanol. “One of our plants, the Magic Valley Plant in Burley, Idaho, stands out above the rest. They have consistently pushed all of our plants to think of new and better ways to help make the communities we live and work in better and stronger. They have been true pioneers in promoting our community service programs.” The Magic Valley plant won Pacific Ethanol Inc.’s month-long food drive competition in September 2016, collecting and donating 1,976 pounds of food to the Community Council of Idaho and the South Central Community Action Agency. In 2017, Magic Valley upped its donation to 2,173 pounds. Al Lowe, plant manager, says Pacific Ethanol Magic Valley’s largest community service project is the food drive, but many employees participate in parades, Christmas toy drives, charity walks, community clean-up and local

youth athletics. “We try to encourage employees to do their part in our community,” Lowe says. “We want to be part of the community fabric,” he adds. “We all live here and raise our families in this small area. When we support the community in organized activities, we are essentially saying ‘We are part of this with you and we care.’” During the 2016 Trunkor-Treat event, employees started a trend by decorating their float to hand out Halloween candy. The next year, PITCHING IN: Pacific Ethanol Magic Valley donated almost 2,000 10 other participating compa- pounds of food to local shelters during a 2016 food drive. From left: nies followed suit, distributing Bill Rutherford, environmental, health and safety manager; Paul candy to about 1,500 local Richins, maintenance manager; Afton Baker, compliance manager; Zack Jensen, production/lab manager; Al Lowe, plant manager; children. Juan Garza, commodities manager; and Paula Day, office manager. “Pacific Ethanol realizes PHOTO: PACIFIC ETHANOL MAGIC VALLEY INC. that being part of a community is more than receiving a Pacific Ethanol offers eight paid hours pay check and spending it here,” Lowe says. “They understand that personal involvement per year for community service and one-third requires time spent by people at events that of the Magic Valley plant employees logged may not be able to be scheduled around time their hours in 2017, making it a company-wide away from work. When employees express a leader, Rylant says. desire to be involved in these scheduled activities, they attend with management approval.” ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 71


ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS BOARD OF THE YEAR

Exceptional Board Leadership, Planning and Vision Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP, Benson, Minnesota

In her nomination for CVEC, Renewable Fuels Association Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis starts with, “Best board in the business” and goes on to describe “excellent” diversification moves, strategic growth through investments, and passion. Chad Friese, CVEC general manager, agrees. “They are a great group of people and individuals and they certainly deserve the accolades and recognition,” he says. “They certainly go beyond the call of duty, not just looking out for the members they represent, but always looking at opportunities to engage in a positive outcome for the future.” Diversification moves include production of beverage and industrial alcohol, both niche markets, says Dave Thompson, CVEC’s board chairman. The board has also invested

in Guardian Energy, which owns plants across the country. Friese adds that the CVEC board has invested in technology and efficiency. “We’re one of the older plants in the industry,” Thompson says. “This is our 23rd year of grinding corn, so we end up doing a lot of capital projects to keep us modern and efficient.” Board members have varying backgrounds including banking and farming, but all have a passion for the ethanol industry, Thompson says. “If you’re involved in the industry, you have to believe in the industry LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE: The CVEC board of directors and you have to have a passion for it. includes: front from left: Gene Fynboh, Jan Lundebrek Our board has always been engaged (secretary), Dan Benson, Dave Nagler (vice chairman); back in industry events. We’re very ac- from left: Chuck DeGrote, Dale Tolifson, Roger Longhenry, tive in Renewable Fuels Association Kent Evenson (treasurer) and Dave Thompson (chairman). and American Coalition of Ethanol Not pictured: Tom O'Leary. PHOTO: CHIPPEWA VALLEY ETHANOL CO. events.” The board consists of nine boards, have strong business knowledge and members, each serving three-year terms and eligible for reelection after those maintain an awareness of new technologies, three years are up. Most are also serving on investments, policies and politics that may inboards of other companies and organizations. fluence decisions at a rural cooperative. “The board is very supportive and is a true “The CVEC board is very engaged and extension of the team approach at CVEC,” he active,” Friese says. “They participate on other

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ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Management spends a lot of time looking forward and gathering information and opportunities. The board reviews and audits those thoughts and ideas and handles them with a real-world collaborative efficiency.â&#x20AC;?

Thompson says CVEC was one of the earliest in the industry to separate corn oil and to market E85, and is always looking for new ways to increase efficiency. But, humbly, he adds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re more deserv-

ing than a lot of other plants. I expect many plants are able to increase efficiency in their own ways.â&#x20AC;?

WORKPLACE OF THE YEAR

Outstanding Employment and Management Practices Midwest AgEnergy

Midwest AgEnergy, the parent company of Dakota Spirit AgEnergy in Spiritwood, North Dakota, and Blue Flint Ethanol in Underwood, North Dakota, has a focus on peer-to-peer communication, cooperative problem solving and overall wellness. Midwest AgEnergy recently provided a behavioral training course to help drive peerto-peer feedback, effective communication and employee engagement, says Cindy Griffin, director of human resources and corporate services. The course teaches noncon-

TEAM TRAINING: Employees from across Midwest AgEnergy participate in an April 19 group discussion about effective communication, peer-to-peer feedback and accountability. PHOTO: MIDWEST AGENERGY

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ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS frontational inquiring skills that employees can use with each other to help solve issues on the job. “Everyone is engaged and holding each other accountable,” she says. Similarly, the company employs the Kaizen Process, a concept that uses crossfunctional focus teams to address setbacks and opportunities for improvement. Those team members can be anyone in any position up the ladder. “These people come together and say, ‘What can we learn from this?’ And they work together to fix it,” Griffin says. “We empower our newest individuals, up to our senior people. Everyone has a say in their work.” Those communication skills show in the plants’ safety records, she says. Blue Flint, which began operating in 2007, has achieved 11 years with no lost-time accidents and Dakota Spirit, which started up in 2015, recently marked three. Midwest AgEnergy contracts a third party to lead the communication initiative, providing training, developing action plans

and evaluating the results. Additional coaching and leadership seminars are offered for managers. “It’s a big investment but it’s something our CEO is committed to doing,” Griffin says of CEO Jeff Zueger. Brian Markegard, engineer at Dakota Spirit, says he has always felt valued as an employee of Midwest AgEnergy. “Management continues to show a commitment to the employees and the culture of valuing each individual,” he says. “Employee appreciation is definitely a part of the culture at Midwest AgEnergy.” Beyond its dedication to communication and engagement, Midwest AgEnergy encourages and offers training on wellness—physical, financial and mental. The company has offered depression management, financial and tax planning, and spine health presentations, among others. And Midwest AgEnergy’s wellness benefits program reimburses employees and spouses up to $175 per year for activities including gym memberships and massages.

About a year and a half ago, the company boosted its 401k employer contribution to allow up to a 4 percent dollar-for-dollar match, and added an additional nonelective 4 percent contribution, for an employer total of 8 percent. “There are many great benefits of working at Dakota Spirit other than the work environment,” Markegard says. “We are provided with great insurance options and a wellness program, as well as an excellent retirement plan. The company also values giving back to the communities that we live in and has developed a program that encourages volunteering, without taking time off from work.” Markegard adds Midwest AgEnergy is a great company to work for, where employees feel heard and are given opportunities to grow and develop.

Making efficiency our first priority to get us to profitability. Discovering better ways to run continuously at full capacity. Seeing the potential of a feedstock that can also produce a high-value livestock feed. That’s what fuels me. Learn how sorghum can fuel your ethanol operation at

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ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS PROJECT OF THE YEAR

Overall Scale, Complexity and Impact Homeland Energy Solutions LLC, Lawler, Iowa

At the end of November 2017, a $42.5 million, 35 MMgy expansion was commissioned at Homeland Energy Solutions. It was on budget and six weeks ahead of schedule, despite the fact that it was done on an operating facility that maintained expected production and efficiencies during construction. The only shutdown, according to Plant Manager Kevin Howes, was for 15 days in late September and early October, when required tie-ins and revamping of the distillation system were completed. Howes says the expansion touched all areas of the plant. It included: 7,700 feet of track to add a rail loop; a 1.2 millionbushel Sukup grain bin and updated reclaim system; two additional hammermills, feed system and flour conveyor; an additional

POST-PROJECT: Homeland Energy Solutions is producing 185 MMgy per year after an enormous expansion. PHOTO: HOMELAND ENERGY SOLUTIONS LLC

three-cell, two-pump cooling tower; two additional fermenters; a third beer/mash train and ferm fill booster pumps; two additional evaporators; an energy center consisting of two new dryers, three decanter centrifuges, RTO and boiler; an upgraded sieve vaporizer; a complete overhaul of the beer column and rectifier system; and installation of six larger pumps and several hundred feet of upsized piping and instrumentation

to handle higher flows. More than 10 engineering firms, construction companies and contractors assisted in the project. But before all that work was done, planning included a corn origination study to estimate what percentage of corn in the plant’s draw area was being contracted, Howes says. “The study showed the area could support an additional draw of 11.5 million to 12 million bushels with only a

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ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS $0.01-per-bushel impact on basis,” Howes says. “The extra profit from the additional gallons would more than offset this.” In addition, Homeland Energy contracted a plant debottlenecking study. “Each main part of our operation was examined to determine what areas needed to be expanded to meet the additional production,” Howes says. “Based on the results, preliminary project scope items were identified and further evaluations were completed to determine what all was going to be needed.” The purpose of the expansion was to

make Homeland Energy, which is farmerowned, a low-cost producer of ethanol, which gives shareholders the greatest return on their investment, he says. Howes says the biggest lesson learned is to make sure to check out all the contractors who will be involved in a large project. “Don’t just use their list of references. Check within your network of people also.” And he has some advice for other ethanol plants looking at enormous expansions: • “Make sure your corn draw area can support the additional gallons.”

• “Don’t be hesitant to use multiple general contractors for various parts of the project. We had many different companies working side by side with no issues.” • “You could spend months evaluating what to do, but there comes a time where you just need to move forward with what you have. We live in a commodity market, and sometimes a few-month delay could make a huge difference on your ROI.” He adds that the economics in this commodity industry will dictate any future plans.

COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR

beliefs: “They believe that there is always a better way, and you work better by working together with others.” The concept is dubbed “Constant Improvement and Collaboration.” Al-Corn has a 20-year collaboration history with engineering firm Karges-Faulconbridge Inc., increasing efficiencies and an original 10 MMgy capacity to 50 MMgy. Because KFI works closely with McGough Construction, Al-Corn has enlisted McGough’s services many times, also.

Most recently, the three collaborated on the 70 MMgy expansion at Al-Corn, boosting the plant’s capacity to 120 MMgy. “McGough management brought realworld experience and advice to the project, helping Al-Corn make good decisions about design and desires that would bring the project to completion within the budget provided,” Doyal says. “It was very much a joint effort between Al-Corn staff, KFI engineers and McGough management teams to work through design, bidding, contractor and vendor selection, and contracting.”

Technology Advancement through Partnership Al-Corn Clean Fuel, Claremont, Minnesota; Karges-Faulconbridge Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota; and McGough Construction, St. Paul

Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, says the company has two important

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ETHANOL PRODUCER AWARDS

ALL TOGETHER NOW: From left: Tim Dunnwald, executive vice president and project principal of McGough Construction; Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel; and James Faulconbridge, president of KargesFaulconbridge Inc. PHOTO: AL-CORN CLEAN FUEL

The expansion was finished on budget, three months ahead of schedule and with no unplanned shutdowns. Tim Dunnwald, executive vice president and project principal for McGough, attributes that to clear and effective communication within the team. “The core of our teamwork’s success stems from the mutual trust and respect instilled in each of our companies’ cultures,” he says. “Continuous communication, honest feedback, transparency—there was a clear understanding from the get-go of the roles and responsibilities of each team member on this project.” Doyal agrees. “For collaboration to work, you have to be willing to share your ideas freely,” he says. “You have to be willing to hear why your favorite idea is a bad one. You have to have some humility and be gracious to the ideas of others. But most important is to make sure you invest the time to create a relationship that can stand the trials and tensions that come when you face serious problems that need serious solutions. Investing your time, investing yourself in building a relationship is basic to getting to a deep collaborative association.

“The reason collaboration is important is because you are never as smart as you think you are,” he adds. “You can fall in love with your own ideas but still be completely wrong.” Respect for the knowledge and viewpoints of all the collaborators is a must, says James Faulconbridge, president of KFI. “Our joint commitment to continuously push the reliability, efficiency and capacity of the plant drives everything. When you couple that with having respect for everyone’s knowledge and input, and accepting that no one has all the answers or is perfect, great things begin to happen. They know they can call us anytime with a question or an idea. We know we can do the same with them.” Author: Lisa Gibson Managing Editor Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4920 lgibson@bbiinternational.com

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SCALING UP: Greenyug hopes to colocate ethyl acetate plants with ethanol plants. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s working on a project with ADM in Columbus, Nebraska, installing a commercial-scale version of this pilot plant. PHOTO: GREENYUG

CONTRIBUTION: 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).

80 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


COPRODUCTS

ETHANOL:

The Renewable Naphtha

With existing capabilities, chemical coproducts represent a low-hanging fruit for the industry. Ethanol, in fact, is a better feedstock for some chemicals than oil-based sources. By Luca Zullo

The commercial use of oil, which began in the second part of the nineteenth century, provided the world with new forms of energy, but also delivered a feedstock that made the modern chemical industry possible. The chemical industry predates the oil industry, but it is the development of industrial organic chemistry, made possible by abundant hydrocarbons, that made the modern chemical industry we know today. The impact of the chemical industry on society cannot be overstated. For example, only the incredibly rich would be able to afford anything more than occasional use of fabrics of vibrant and varied colors, as dyes previously were exclusively of vegetable and animal origin. The almost infinitely wide variety of materials, coatings, fibers and detergents available today, with their even more significant number of applications and astonishing performance, would have been unimaginable in the world before oil. Surprisingly, given all the diversity in appearance, properties and applications, virtually all of the organic chemical industry output comes from a handful of base chemicals—methane, ethylene, propylene, butylene, and the aromatics benzene, toluene and xylene. With the exception of methane, all these chemicals are derived from a crude oil fraction: naphtha.

Naphtha is one of the lighter fractions of oil and a precursor of gasoline. In fact, in the early days of the internal combustion engine, straight naphtha was used as a fuel. While some of these base chemicals can come from other sources, naphtha remains a critical feedstock for the chemical industry and in the oil value chain. The chemical industry consumes less than 10 percent, on average, of a standard 42-gallon barrel of oil, yet it provides more than 40 percent of the overall commercial value of all barrel derivatives. The biofuel industry has long recognized that overall profitability can be improved by side streams and coproduction of higher-value and lower-volume products. The ethanol industry should look at the naphtha model with interest as it searches for new growth opportunities. Ethanol is the perfect renewable naphtha.

Chemical Feedstock

Ethanol, like naphtha, is mainly a fuel molecule with characteristics that make it an excellent chemical feedstock. It is reactive and produced in large volumes with well-understood and advantageous economics. Ethanol, unlike naphtha, is a pure substance. For chemical synthesis, pure substances have an advantage over mixtures like naphtha, as the desired chemistry might require fewer synthesis and separation steps. Ethanol chemistry is rich in possible reaction pathways and allows for the synthesis

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sources. Drop-in replacements make it easier to manage the market risk and minimize adoption cost for the buyers. These chemicals, which can be both a feedstock for other synthesis or used in enduser products, commonly command several hundred dollars per ton premiums over ethanol. Economics are important. The experience of the past several years have taught that competing with oil-derived products is challenging and that the market will not pay a premium for a product derived from a renewable resource. Competitiveness against incumbent petrochemical producers on a market basis is essential.

Technology SOURCE: GREENYUG

of a variety of products such as acetates, esters, ketones, fatty alcohols and many more with broad applications in several industries. Many of these products have no economically

or technically viable fermentation synthesis route. Often, these chemicals also are drop-in replacements for molecules of broad market appeal that are currently derived from fossil re-

This vision requires adequate technology with the right mixture of technical and economic performance. To extract such value from the spread between ethanol and chemicals, one needs a process technology that ensures high mass yield and selectivity with moderate capital costs. Heterogeneous catalysis, used in the petrochemical world, is that technology.

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COPRODUCTS The high concentration of the fuel grade ethanol enables the design of compact reactors, as ethanol does not contain a significant volume of nonreactive dilutive materials. The relatively high purity of ethanol allows catalysys with all but the finickiest of catalysts with a small amount of purification and preconditioning. The last but immensely beneficial characteristic of heterogeneous catalysis is the ease of scale-up. Once the laboratory work has demonstrated that a good catalyst is available, and the desired mass yield, selectivity and operational life are achieved, scale-ups by four or five times magnitude in a single step are possible. The chemical industry achieves such scale-up factors thanks to the maturity of understanding of the hydraulics and thermal characteristics of catalytic reactors.

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As none of the operations used in these processes is new to the world, the time from research and development in the lab to industrial scale design can be greatly reduced. Time to market can be similarly short. The benefits for the ethanol producers do not stop here. A catalytic process that uses ethanol as feedstock can literally be bolted onto the mill without the needs of any retrofit on the front end. No changes in the process are needed, no changes in quality and yield of DDGS, oil and other coproducts is risked. Once again, this incremental growth around a core process is straight out of the oil industry playbook. Some of the largest industrial complexes in the world sit on locations that were once modest lamp-oil refining operations. Looking at ethanol as a feedstock might even allow an increase in the grind rate for extra oil and protein, without relying on volatile and saturated markets for the disposal of additional ethanol. Operationally, we have a literal light-switch upgradeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the day the catalytic process is ready to start up, the only change is the diversion of some ethanol from the load-out to the new process. No need to disrupt or in any way impact the existing operations, while the new process still benefits from the ethanol plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existing infrastructure in logistics, utilities and operational expertise. This vision has prompted Greenyug to develop an ethanol-toethyl acetate plant adjacent to the ADM corn processing plant in Columbus, Nebraska. The project is under construction. Ethyl acetate is a widely used, low-toxicity organic solvent used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications from wood varnishes to nail polish. It is obtained through petrochemical processes, but Greenyug and ADM will bring to market a biobased ethyl acetate in commercially significant quantities. While tooling up for this start-up, Greenyug is only scratching the surface of what an ethanol-chemical industry built on top of the U.S. ethanol biorefining industry could do and become.

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DOSING DONE RIGHT: Tera Stoughtenger, technical services manager for Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits, feeds nutrients to yeast. Proper nutrition keeps yeast healthy and growing. PHOTO: LALLEMAND BIOFUELS & DISTILLED SPIRITS

CONTRIBUTION: 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).

86 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2018


OPTIMIZATION

Well-Fed, Stress-Free

YEAST REQUIRED The best way to minimize issues from stress or contamination and maximize yield is to cultivate healthy, actively growing yeast. By Jim Miers

Ethanol plant managers have many factors to watch in the quest for efficiency. Optimiz-

ing yields requires maintaining consistency through tight controls on plant parametersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an important step in establishing a solid baseline to use when evaluating tweaks to the process or new products. Proper yeast nutrition, particularly in propagation, can translate into fermentation consistency. In addition to nutrition, keeping stress to a minimum is important, with two environmental factors needing special attention: pH and temperature. The ideal mash pH is 5.0 to 5.2, although the range at which yeast will ferment is much broader. If acidity is off, which can happen when using anhydrous ammonia as the source of the nutrient nitrogen, the yeast cell will expend energy adjusting its internal pH to the ideal, sacrificing ethanol yield. Yeast also have optimal temperatures in which they thrive, with bittersweet results. If the temperature is too low, yeast

slow the conversion of glucose to ethanol but gain better viability and vitality. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too high, conversion speeds up but yeast viability is sacrificed. Stressed yeast produce more glycerol, decreasing ethanol production. Fermentation itself, of course, produces heat. One strategy is to lower temperature near the end of fermentation when ethanol levelsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;another stressor on yeastâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;increase.

Combating Stress

Fermentation broths can be inherently stressful environments, with yeast naturally producing heat, ethanol and organic acids, along with other compounds impacting pH. Combating those potential stressors and keeping yeast optimally producing ethanol starts in the propagator. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the critical first step, keeping the mother cells in the yeast culture healthy so they produce healthy daughters from the start, because the daughters, as exact duplicates of their mothers, are going to become mothers producing exact duplicates.

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OPTIMIZATION

Oxygen is an important nutrient for healthy yeast. Proper aeration is needed to produce the unsaturated fatty acids and sterols required for strong cell membranes. Not only do strong membranes allow the passing of needed nutrients, but they play a role in the cell’s ability to withstand stress. Corn, and all other grains used for ethanol production, are rich in starches that get converted to the nutrient glucose, but are limited in another key nutrient—nitrogen. The need for useable nitrogen, called free amino nitrogen (FAN), and its management is well-known in the ethanol industry. Anhydrous ammonia or urea have long been used for nitrogen and, more recently, proteases have been introduced to enzymatically break down the protein in the grain itself into FAN.

UNDER THE LENS: A yeast cell counter is used to determine the health of the yeast in fermentation. Nutrition, pH and temperature are the three main factors to consider. PHOTO: LALLEMAND BIOFUELS & DISTILLED SPIRITS

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stuck fermentations. Magnesium helps insulate the cell from the osmotic stress that occurs if the glucoamylase gets ahead of the process and converts more starch to glucose than the yeast can immediately consume. Magnesium also helps the cell withstand stress caused by temperature and ethanol. Calcium helps make the cell wall more permeable, so important nutrients can easily pass into, and byproducts pass out of, the cell. Too much calcium can be detrimental, however, thus maintaining the correct ratio between calcium and magnesium is important.

Your Ethanol Dehydration Partner

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Less understood is the impact of other nutrients, including phosphorus, sulfate, copper, potassium and others. Many micronutrients play a big part in the enzyme functions within the yeast cell. Zinc, for example, plays a part in the ethanol dehydrogenase enzyme and deficiencies can cause

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Corn is a great source for a broad range of nutrients, although not all are 100 percent bioavailable. A nutrient analysis on corn will show both bound nutrients as well as the soluble portion that can be utilized by yeast. Also, alternative feedstocks have slightly different nutrient profiles. For example, the lower yields often experienced by producers using grain sorghum is a result of a slightly different balance of essential bulk and trace minerals than seen in corn. Micronutrients also likely play a role in the differences observed in corn from year to year and region to region. Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits field personnel have long noted that plants in some areas will see process changes when new-crop corn comes in, while plants in other areas of the Corn Belt observe little impact. Corn also appears to change in nutrient availabil-


SICKNESS AND HEALTH: The difference is noticeable between healthy yeast (left) and stressed yeast (right). PHOTO: LALLEMAND BIOFUELS & DISTILLED SPIRITS

ity the longer it is stored, exacerbating the difference between old and new crop. With these factors in mind, Lallemand has formulated yeast nutrient packages for different applications, including one when sorghum is used. One of the newest, Nutri-Plex Pro, is even formulated for plants working through yeast stress. The high degree of recycled process streams in today’s ethanol plants means fusels can inadvertently become elevated. With all the naturally occurring yeast stressors—temperature, pH, osmotic and ethanol—in the broth, the addition of fusel stress can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Once identified, however, high fusel levels can take time to correct. Lallemand’s Nutri-Plex Pro nutrient package was designed specifically for high-stress loads from fusels, as well as high temperature and lactic stress. While the package won’t eliminate the stress, it can help minimize losses as the plant tackles the root cause. The bigger role for yeast nutrition, however, is to ensure consistency and insulate yeast from naturally occurring stressors. But nutrient benefits may not be easily quantifiable in a single ferm tank’s yield. Often, the true benefit is seen in improved kinetics. A well-designed yeast nutrition program can speed up fermentation by as much as four hours, reducing a 52-hour fermentation to 48 hours to completion. It quickly adds up. A 100 MMgy plant dropping three fermenters every day will be able to add a fermenter every four days, given the back

end can handle the increased throughput. In a year, the additional 80 fermenters give a nice return on investment for the added nutrition. Today’s ethanol industry aims for efficiency and optimization in all operations, but it is only in fermentation where ethanol

is made. Producers should keep yeast wellfed, stress-free and productive. Author: Jim Miers Nutrient Category Manager Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits 815.218.9976 jmiers@lallemand.com

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Nutri-Plex Omni Delivers “Excellent Results” to Ethanol Fermentation Yields Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits Nutri-Plex Omni™ yeast nutrient is providing producers and early adopters with outstanding yield returns. When used in ethanol production facilities, Nutri-Plex Omni has been shown to: • Improve cell mass in propagation • Reduce glycerol production • Improve rate of kinetics early in fermentation

• Decrease lactic acid production • Increase yields • Maximize yeast health

“When tested at a slight excess to our previous nutrient dose, fermentation yield improved noticeably and to a degree that more than compensated for the extra ingredient cost.” -Tim Politano, quality assurance manager, United Wisconsin Grain Producers, LLC

“We have been using Nutri-Plex Omni for approximately 18 months and experienced an immediate boost in yeast health. We have been able to increase the nutrient usage to also quantify a yield boost!” -Helene Garst, laboratory manager, Arkalon Ethanol, LLC.

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2018 June Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The Plant Personnel: Recruitment/Training PLUS: 2018 Ethanol Industry Awards Issue

2018 June Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The Plant Personnel: Recruitment/Training PLUS: 2018 Ethanol Industry Awards Issue