2022 June Ethanol Producer Magazine

Page 1

JUNE 2022



Accelerating Alcohol-to-Jet Fuel Production PAGE 16


Positive Margins Amid Volatility PAGE 24


Brazil’s Corn Ethanol Boom PAGE 36

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2022 Int'l Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo


ACE American Coalition For Ethanol


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Capturing and storing carbon dioxide in underground reservoirs has the potential to become the most consequential technological deployment in the history of the broader biofuels industry. Deploying effective carbon capture and storage at biofuels plants will cement ethanol and biodiesel as the lowest carbon liquid fuels commercially available in the marketplace. The Carbon Capture & Storage Summit will offer attendees a comprehensive look at the economics of carbon capture and storage, the infrastructure required to make it possible and the financial and marketplace impacts to participating producers.



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June 13, 2022

June 13-15, 2022

Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN (866) 746-8385 | FuelEthanolWorkshop.com 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 is primarily focused on optimizing grain ethanol operations while also covering cellulosic and advanced ethanol technologies.

2022 Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit

June 13-15, 2022

Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN (866) 746-8385 | BiodieselSummit.com The Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit is a forum designed for biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to learn about cuttingedge process technologies, new techniques and equipment to optimize existing production, and efficiencies to save money while increasing throughput and fuel quality. Produced by Biodiesel Magazine, this world-class event features premium content from technology providers, equipment vendors, consultants, engineers and producers to advance discussion and foster an environment of collaboration and networking through engaging presentations, fruitful discussion and compelling exhibitions with one purpose, to further the biomass-based diesel sector beyond its current limitations.

2022 National Carbon Capture Conference & Expo

EDITORIAL President & Editor Tom Bryan | tbryan@bbiinternational.com Online News Editor Erin Voegele | evoegele@bbiinternational.com Staff Writer Katie Schroeder katie.schroeder@bbiinternational.com

DESIGN Vice President of Production & Design Jaci Satterlund | jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com Graphic Designer Raquel Boushee | rboushee@bbiinternational.com

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EDITORIAL BOARD Ringneck Energy Walter Wendland Little Sioux Corn Processors Steve Roe Commonwealth Agri-Energy Mick Henderson Aemetis Advanced Fuels Eric McAfee Western Plains Energy Derek Peine Front Range Energy Dan Sanders Jr.

November 8-9, 2022

Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, IA (866)746-8385 | NationalCarbonCaptureConference.com Produced by Carbon Capture Magazine and BBI International, the National Carbon Capture Conference & Expo is a two-day event designed specifically for companies and organizations advancing technologies and policy that support the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from all sources, including fossil fuel-based power plants, ethanol production plants and industrial processes, as well as directly from the atmosphere. The program will focus on research, data, trends and information on all aspects of CCUS with the goal to help companies build knowledge, connect with others, and better understand the market and carbon utilization. Please check our website for upcoming webinars www.ethanolproducer.com/pages/webinar


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EDITOR'S NOTE Go Time for E15, Wheels Up for SAF


The E100 Evangelist Making a case for pure ethanol at the pump

Ethanol’s Own SAF Runway

By Katie Schroeder

By Luke Geiver

VIEW FROM THE HILL Clearing the Air on E15 and Smog


GLOBAL SCENE A Review of Global Ethanol Market Development: Where We Stand Today



Workable Volatility Operating profitably despite costly inputs

By Geoff Cooper



Alcohol-to-jet fuel efforts taking flight

By Tom Bryan




Corn Ethanol Boom In Brazil





By Katie Schroeder


EPM Staff


Grain-based biorefining grows in land of sugarcane


Biogas Feedstock from Within Utilizing thin stillage for on-site energy

Barnstorming for Summertime E15

Biden visits POET plant after emergency fuel waiver

By Susanne Retka Schill

By Brian Healy



An Innovative Approach to CIP In Fuel Ethanol Plants By David Fowlie, Jim Ekenstedt and Kaitlyn DenHouten

By Katie Schroeder

ON THE COVER The airline industry is encouraging the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for a market that could surpass 230 billion gallons per year by 2050. It's a huge opportunity for low-carbon ethanol, which may just be SAF's most abundant feedstock. PHOTO: STOCK

Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) June 2022, Vol. 28, 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. ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 5

Editor's Note

Go Time for E15, Wheels Up for SAF As we put the final touches on the agenda for this year’s International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, our team wrestled over what to feature in the general session. Beyond policy and markets—year-round E15, let’s get it!—we ultimately agreed that carbon capture and sequestration and high-protein production were hot topics that should be on the ticket. But sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) was also high on our list and will probably show up on the FEW’s big stage as boldly as it does this month’s cover. Ethanol-based SAF, or “alcohol-to-jet,” is a subject most producers are keeping a close eye on right now. This month’s cover story, “Ethanol’s Own SAF Runway,” helps explain how supplying ethanol for SAF could springboard this industry into a whole new, multi-billion-gallon market for its primary output. As the page-16 feature explains, two of the nation’s largest ethanol producers have already locked into supply deals, committing more than a billion gallons of alcohol to future biojet fuel production. There’s no longer any question: a global race to secure low-carbon feedstock for biobased jet fuel has begun, and ethanol is in it. The prospect of an entirely new global market for ethanol is thrilling, but until SAF production archives scale, ethanol producers will have to keep selling ethanol as a fuel, not a refining feedstock, and make the most of the markets and margins they currently enjoy. In “Workable Volatility,” on page 24, we look at the current profitability of ethanol production, which is good but uncertain. Ethanol plants are making money, but $8 corn and surging natural gas prices make future profitability tough to guarantee. The price of corn is, of course, everything in this business. In fact, it was the possibility of cheap corn in Brazil that made grain ethanol production feasible there to begin with. Advancements in biotechnology and the ability to double-crop corn and soybeans is a big reason corn ethanol plants are being built in Brazil. The country now has 16 such plants, with more under construction. As we report in “Corn Ethanol Boom In Brazil,” on page 34, grain ethanol production volume there could surpass 2 billion gallons by 2028 if current trends continue. We keep peering at ethanol through the lens of South American production in “Biogas Feedstock from Within,” on page 44, which explains how a German company helped corn ethanol producers in Argentina convert thin stillage into biogas for on-site energy. Then, we look at the improbable but intriguing idea of pure ethanol, or E100, being sold at the pump in the U.S., like it is in Brazil. In “The E100 Evangelist,” on page 50, a former General Motors employee explains why he thinks it should happen. While E100 would be cool, our industry is more than happy to have a temporary hold on yearround E15, which was secured in April under the regrettable circumstances of rising inflation and “Putin’s price hike.” President Biden’s emergency fuel waiver, and his visit to POET Bioprocessing-Menlo to discuss it (see "Barnstorming for Summertime E15," on page 54), was a big win for ethanol this spring. And despite how distasteful the old political axiom is, we shouldn’t let this crisis go to waste. We have a second chance at summertime E15. We need to grow the higher blend over the next 12 months and find a way to permanently secure its year-round use, not because of Russia, but for all the right reasons here at home.




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View from the Hill

Clearing the Air on E15 and Smog

Geoff Cooper

President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association 202.289.3835


When President Biden announced in April that EPA would authorize an emergency waiver to allow summertime E15 sales, many mainstream media outlets botched the story by incorrectly reporting that E15 had previously been “banned” in the summer due to “smog concerns.” If reporters had done even a little bit of homework on the issue of ethanol blends and air quality, they would have quickly learned that E15 reduces emissions of the pollutants that can cause smog. In 2017 congressional testimony, Dr. Janet Yanowitz of EcoEngineering Inc., an environmental consulting firm, reviewed the existing scientific literature on E15’s emissions, concluding that “the available emissions test data indicates that replacing E10 with an E15 of the same vapor pressure will cause a slight decrease in emissions of ozone-forming organic compounds and carbon monoxide, and no change in NOx.” Smog is created when ozone combines with particle pollution and other gases. More recently, researchers at the University of California-Riverside tested 20 vehicles and found that E15 reduced particle pollution, toxic gases and ground-level ozone. In fact, they report, E15 cut the potential for ground-level ozone formation by 10 to 15 percent compared to regular gasoline (i.e., E10) in most vehicles. Why are reporters confused on this issue? Because even though E15 has a vapor pressure that is 1-2 percent lower than today’s regular E10 gasoline, EPA regulations (both prior to 2019, and again after the oil industry won a lawsuit against EPA last year) require E15 to meet a vapor pressure limitation that is 10 percent lower than the limit applied to E10. This more restrictive standard for E15 is the product of antiquated regulations that predated E15’s introduction by about 25 years. At that time, policymakers and regulators couldn’t fathom that gasoline would ever contain more than 10 percent ethanol. The recent misreporting on E15 and smog also belies ethanol’s long history as a solution to pollution, especially in urban settings. In response to worsening air quality problems in large urban areas, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 directed EPA to develop a “reformulated gasoline” (RFG) program to reduce smog. Ethanol was a key ingredient in RFG because its high oxygen content helped gasoline burn more cleanly, and it displaced certain gasoline components that caused smog-forming emissions. The RFG program has been a clear and resounding success: Many of the urban areas with major smog problems in the 1990s and early 2000s today have cleaner air that meets or exceeds federal air quality standards. In fact, EPA data show ground-level ozone concentrations are down nearly 30 percent since RFG began entering the market in the mid-1990s. Of course, ethanol also provides an additional, related benefit: lowering greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, typical corn ethanol provides a 44 percent GHG savings compared to gasoline. Similarly, researchers from Harvard, MIT and Tufts concluded that today’s corn ethanol offers an average GHG reduction of 46 percent versus gasoline. And E15 cuts GHG emissions by about 2.5 percent compared to regular E10 gasoline and nearly 7.5 percent compared to gasoline without any ethanol added. It is important to note that these GHG estimates account for all emissions related to the entire ethanol production lifecycle process, including fertilizer, energy use and emissions for corn farming, as well as possible soil and vegetation carbon losses from hypothetical cropland expansion. Clearly, ethanol and E15 scored an important victory in President Biden’s April announcement. Regardless, we need to continue to educate consumers and policymakers about ethanol’s many benefits, and those of the E15 blend in particular, as the oil industry and misinformed environmental extremists continue to attack.


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Global Scene

A Review of Global Ethanol Market Development: Where We Stand Today Brian Healy

Director of Global Ethanol Market Development U.S. Grains Council 202.789.0789


As Brian Healy, USGC director of global ethanol market development, transitions from his role at the organization, he looks back on the global ethanol market and how it has changed during his tenure. As I prepare to transition from my current role as head of global ethanol market development with the U.S. Grains Council, I expect this to be my last column for Ethanol Producer Magazine. I am sincerely honored to have had the opportunity to represent and advocate for the ethanol industry with governments and industries around the globe. United as an industry, we have achieved several successes through policy expansions, new market access and reduced tariffs on ethanol. I greatly appreciate the support from all our partners; these accomplishments would not have been possible without widespread support and guidance at all levels. With the foundations for successes laid, the future of the industry is bright for expanding global ethanol use. Working with three different U.S. administrations over the past several years, three common themes have emerged from this global advocacy and market development program: • Building partnerships • Creating alignment through communication • Delivering results Building partnerships has been foundational to the industry’s market development efforts to date. It was first done here in the U.S. to build a cohesive and coordinated advocacy program within our own industry to make sure we were all working together toward a common goal. We built those same partnerships with our governmental colleagues in U.S. embassies around the globe and in Washington, D.C., where ethanol transitioned from a commodity that was reported on, to an agricultural product market that was collaboratively developed. Partnerships continued to be established in overseas markets, getting buy-in from local ethanol industry and feedstock groups to support a domestic policy with a role for trade, including the signing of multiple memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for ongoing collaboration. Creating alignment and communicating the benefits of expanded ethanol use, generated foreign government acceptance of our global program on a day-to-day engagement with our local offices and at large format industry events like the Global Ethanol Summit. While the infrastructure for the global program was scaled up and built out, our efforts to establish partnerships opened doors to new channels for communicating messages about the local and global benefits of expanding ethanol use. Delivering results has always been the end goal, and the partnerships and alignment created early on helped deliver. Tangible examples include the creation of nearly 100 million gallons of new market access in Japan as that country updated its domestic policy; elimination of an outright ban on pre-blended ethanol imports into Indonesia; tariff rate reduction of 25 percent on ethanol in Vietnam. Future success will be built on investments in an office in India, the global industry marketing of ethanol generically at events like the Conference of the Parties (COP) and third-party endorsements for ethanol’s role in meeting transport sector decarbonization goals like the International Energy Agency. Our work is not done, but substantial progress has been made to date in delivering results for the industry.


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T eam is what it tak es .®

ND eC North Dakota Ethanol Council


european renewable ethanol


June 13-15, 2022 MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Sponsor & Exhibitors as of May 2, 2022

THANK YOU EXHIBITORS ADF Engineering, Inc. AGRA Industries, Inc. Air Resource Specialists, Inc. AirPro Fan & Blower Company Alfa Laval, Inc. Alliance Technical Group Allied Instrumentation Allied Tank And Construction Allied Valve, Inc. American Coalition for Ethanol Anderson Chemical Co. Angel Yeast Co., Ltd. Antea Group Apache Industrial Services, Inc. Apache Stainless Equipment Corp. Apollo Water Services Applied Material Solutions, Inc. Applied Products Thermal Products Group Appruv Arktos Environmental ASI Industrial Aspen Aerogels Baldwin Supply Company Barr Engineering Co. BASF Enzymes, LLC Battelle Bepex International, LLC BetaTec Hop Products, Inc. BioFuels Automation Bioleap, Inc. Bion Companies Bird Control Group Boerger, LLC Border States Electric Supply Boss RailCar Movers Brown Tank, LLC BRUKS SIWERTELL BS&B Pressure Safety Management, LLC Buckman Bulk Conveyors, Inc. Buresh Building Systems Burns & McDonnell Bushel Butterworth, Inc. Campbell-Sevey Carbon America Carter Day International CCS Group Chase Nedrow Industries Chem Aqua, Inc. ChemTreat, Inc. Christianson PLLP Christy Catalytics, LLC CIBO Technologies Clariant Corporation Clear Air Enviro- Services ClearFlame Engine Technologies Cleaver-Brooks Climate Engineers CompuWeigh Corporation Conveyor Engineering & Mfg. Co. Cooling Technology Institute (CTI) Cooling Tower Depot, Inc. CPM Roskamp Champion Crown Americas - Crown Iron Works CTE Global, Inc. C-TEC AG Cytiva D3MAX, LLC Decker Electric, Inc. Delta Southern Railroad Inc

Demo Plus, Inc. Lantha Sensors Diesel Locomotive Company Lazar Scientific, Inc. Direct Companies Leaf by Lesaffre Dowco Valve Company Llumin DraCool-USA Lotus Mixers, Inc./LOTUS Process Durr Systems, Inc. Group, LLC DXP Enterprises Louisville Dryer Company Eagle Services Corporation Lundberg-a LDX Solutions Brand Eco Specialized Services Maas Companies, Inc. Eco-Energy, LLC Malloy Electric EcoEngineers MAP General Mechanical Contractors EFCO USA, Inc. Mapcon Technologies, Inc. EGM, Inc. Mason Manufacturing, LLC Electro-Sensors, Inc. Master Packing & Rubber Company Emerson (MPRC) Emissions Analytics LLC MBA Energy & Industrial, LLC Energy Integration, Inc. McC, Inc. Enerquip, LLC Mcgyan Biodiesel, LLC Enviro-Dyne Industrial Services Merjent, Inc. ESC Spectrum Metrohm USA Ethanol Producer Magazine Midland Scientific, Inc. Fagen, Inc. Mid-States Millwright & Builders Ferm Solutions, Inc. Midwest Cooling Towers, Inc. Firefly Reliability Midwest Ironworks Flottweg Separation Technology, Inc. Miller Mechanical Specialties, Inc. Fluid Process Equipment, Inc. Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, Inc. Fluid Quip Technologies, LLC MoistTech Corp. Foss & Company Mole Master Services Corporation Foundation Analytical Laboratory, Inc. Montrose Environmental Group, Inc. Franzenburg Centrifuge MRC Global Gagnon, Inc. NABP GEA North America Nalco Water, an Ecolab Company Genesis III National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Global Refractory Installers & Suppliers Center Good Land Industrial Navigator CO2 Ventures, LLC Gorman-Rupp Pumps Nelson Baker Biotech GPM, Inc. Neptech, Inc Growth Energy Nestec, Inc. H2O Innovation Neuman & Esser USA, Inc. Hayward Tyler, Inc. NightStick By Bayco Products, Inc. Hengye, Inc. NLB Corp. HK Solutions Group Nova Pangaea Technologies Hoffmann, Inc. Novaspect, Inc. Howden Novozymes Hupp Electric Motors O'Connor Kiln & Dryer Hydrite Chemical Co. Oil-Dri Corporation of America Hydro-Thermal Corporation Oxidizers, Inc. ICM, Inc. P&E Solutions, LLC IFF P-A Industrial Services Industrial Contractors, Inc. Pace Analytical Services, LLC Industrial Equipment & Parts Paget Equipment Co. Industrial Sales Solutions, LLC Painters USA, Inc. Innovative Plant Solutions, Inc. Pentair Haffmans Biogas Innovative Technologies Phase Biolabs, Inc. IntegroEnergy Group, Inc. Phibro Ethanol Interpoll Laboratories, Inc. Pinnacle Engineering, Inc. Interra Global Corporation Pioneer Industrial Corporation Interstates, Inc. Pivot Clean Energy Co. J&D Construction, Inc. PK Safety J.C. Ramsdell Enviro Services, Inc. Plasma Blue Jackson Industrial Construction Pneumat Systems, Inc. Jacobs Corporation PRAJ Industries Limited Jasper Engineering & Equipment Co. Precision Pulley Johnson Screens Precision Survey & Consulting, INC. KATZEN International, Inc. Premium Plant Services, Inc. K-Coe Isom LLP Prentice Keit Spectrometers ProQuip, Inc. Kemin Biofuels PROtect, LLC KFI Engineers PSC Construction Kinergetics, LLC PSRG, Inc. Knobelsdorff Electric Qi2 Elements Koch Engineered Solutions Rain for Rent Komax Systems, Inc. Rapid Fire Protection, Inc. Kubco Services, LLC Rasmussen Mechanical Services Kurita America Refractory Service, Inc. L&M Ethanol Maintenance Contracting, Inc. Renewable Fuels Association Laidig Systems, Inc. Renewal Service, Inc. (RSI) Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits Richard Lamons Robinson Fans, Inc.

RTP Environmental Associates, Inc. Rudolph Research Analytical SafeRack, LLC SAFFiRE Renewables Saola Energy, LLC Schimberg Company Scott Equipment Company SCS Engineers SCS Global Services Separator Technology Solutions SGS North America, Inc. Agricultural Services Sepigel Sherwin Williams Shuttlewagon Siemens Industry, Inc. Simoneau Sterling Midwest Solar Turbines Incorporated Solutions 4 Manufacturing SonicAire SOS Leak Repair Southern Heat Exchanger ST Equipment & Technology StoneAge Tools Subsurface Modeling LLC SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions Sukup Manufacturing Co. Sulzer Pumps Solutions, Inc. Summit Carbon Solutions Sutton International Sys-Kool Cooling Towers Teikoku USA, Inc. The CMM Group The Walling Company Thermal Kinetics, a division of RCM Technologies, Inc. TorcSill Foundations, LLC Trace Environmental Systems, Inc. Trackmobile Railcar Movers Tranter, Inc. Trident Automation, Inc. Trihydro Corporation Trislot USA Trucent Twin City Fan / Clarage Unison Energy, LLC VAA, LLC Vahterus Oy Valley Equipment Company, Inc. Valor Manufacturing Training Vanguard Fire & Security, Inc. Veolia Water Technologies ViewTech Borescopes | RF System Lab Viking Automatic Sprinkler Co. Vilter Mfg / Emerson Vogelbusch USA, Inc. W.R. Grace & Co. Warrior Mfg., LLC Water Tech, Inc. WCR Incorporated WEG Electric Corp. Weishaupt America, Inc. Midwest Westmor Industries, LLC Whitefox Technologies Limited Williams Refractory Services, Inc. WINBCO Winger Companies Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. World Kinect Energy Services Woven Metal Products XOS Xylogenics, Inc. Xylome Corporation Zachry Group Zenviro Tech US, Inc. Zeochem, LLC


E15 is Here to Fuel Your



Summer Drives



Aemetis to launch next phase of biogas production

Find Stations & Learn More at


Aemetis Inc. has announced that its Aemetis Biogas subsidiary is launching the second phase of its biogas production project by completing construction of a third dairy digester and successfully testing a seven-mile biogas pipeline section that will be used by five future dairy digesters. Testing was recently completed for the $12 million dairy biogas-to-RNG up-

grading and compression facility which is co-located at the Aemetis Advanced Fuels Keyes ethanol plant near Modesto, California. The facility is adjacent to a PG&E natural gas pipeline; an interconnection unit has been constructed and is now being tested by the utility. The conversion of biogas to RNG, along with the injection of RNG into the PG&E pipeline, was expected to begin in early May. To date, Aemetis has completed three dairy digesters and more than 16 miles of biogas pipeline. The company plans to ultimately produce 1.6 million MMBtu per year of biomethane from 60-plus dairies.

Green Plains achieves 60% protein concentration

Green Plains Inc. has announced that product and technology innovation efforts have led to the production of greater than 60 percent protein concentrations with yields as high as 4 pounds per bushel at its Wood River, Nebraska, biorefinery, using the patented Fluid Quip Technologies MSC system. The breakthrough was accomplished through a full-scale production changeover across the entire plant’s fermentation and production processes.

Modifications for the trial also resulted in record-high low-carbon renewable corn oil yields of up to 1.4 pounds per bushel, further expanding the company’s ability to supply a strategic feedstock to the fastgrowing renewable diesel market. “We believe that for the first time in history, a dry-mill biorefinery has been able to achieve protein concentrations over 60 percent with yields approaching 4 pounds per bushel, which can drastically improve the economics of a biorefinery,” said Todd Becker, president and CEO. “This is a truly game-changing event.”

Iowa, Nebraska pass landmark E15 legislation

Just after the Biden Administration issued an emergency fuel waiver to safeguard summertime E15 sales in 2022, both Iowa and Nebraska passed supportive state-level E15 legislation. Iowa’s state legislature passed a bill on April 26 that will increase consumer access to higher blends of both ethanol and biodiesel. Gov. Kim Reynolds was preparing to sign the bill at press time. For ethanol, the legislation makes E15 the standard blend of gasoline to be sold

within the state by 2026. It also updates the E15 promotion tax credit to 9 cents per gallon, year-round, through 2025. For biodiesel, the bill increases the state’s biodiesel production tax credit from 2 cents per gallon to 4 cents per gallon. A week earlier, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed legislation that includes a provision providing tax credits for fuel retailers selling E15 or higher blends. The credit is 5 cents per gallon of E15 and 8 cents per gallon of E25 and higher blends. On April 28, Reynolds and Ricketts joined a bipartisan group of eight Midwest governors that sent a letter to the EPA officially exercising their authority to ensure E15 can be sold all year.

Summit Carbon Solutions partners with Bushmills Ethanol

Summit Carbon Solutions has announced that Bushmills Ethanol Inc., an 85 MMgy ethanol plant in Atwater, Minnesota, has joined Summit’s planned carbon dioxide pipeline. Bushmills is the 32nd ethanol plant to officially join the carbon capture and storage project. Summit Carbon Solutions is developing the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world, which will have the

capacity to capture and permanently store up to 12 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. The project will span across Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, and will cut the carbon footprint of affiliated ethanol plants in half. Bushmills Ethanol will direct more than 230,000 metric tons of CO2 per year to the CCS pipeline, which will be compressed and transported to North Dakota for permanent geologic storage. Summit has raised over $600 million of equity and recently announced significant project milestones, including submission of pipeline permit applications in Iowa and South Dakota.


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The production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is about to take off. Airline groups, government agencies and

tech developers are all aligning to utilize low-carbon, biobased jet fuel for a market that currently requires 106 billion gallons per year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts the demand for commercial jet fuel will surpass 230 billion gallons per year by 2050. In the nearterm, aviation companies want to run SAF now. Headlines on the subject no longer focus on the mere possibility of sustainable feedstocks for air travel fuel—or test-flights flown with small amounts of SAF. Instead, news and discussion of SAF today includes headlines, press releases and announcements about SAF production plants breaking ground, and producers locking into long-term supply agreements with airline conglomerates. For SAF, it’s wheels up. To date, multiple SAF production groups have focused on the use of triglycerides as feedstock for the in-demand, renewable drop-in fuel. In late March, Airbus performed the first A380 flight using 100 percent SAF. That flight, near


France, utilized unblended fuel provided by TotalEnergies made from hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids. In the past six months however, the story on SAF has been shifting. A new SAF feedstock has gained the attention of Delta Airlines, British Airways and numerous other aviation giants. Low- and potentially zero-carbon ethanol is now an SAF feedstock held in high regard. Speaking to the crowd at the National Ethanol Conference earlier this year, William Collings, mechanical engineer and consultant for 1898 & Co., said the use of triglycerides for SAF is slowing down because there is not a lot of it out there. “Maybe the next triglyceride isn’t a triglyceride at all,” he said. “Maybe it is ethanol.” The U.S. Department of Energy has created the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, to deal with the cost, sustainability and production of SAF. D3MAX, a fiber-to-ethanol production company with an operational system running at Ace Ethanol LLC in Stanley, Wisconsin, offers a glimpse into the merit in Collings’ assessment of ethanol as an SAF feedstock.


SAF RUNWAY The world’s major airlines are racing to decarbonize air travel by backing and using sustainable aviation fuel. Much of it is now being produced via plant-based oils in tandem with renewable diesel. Soon, it may also come from ethanol. By Luke Geiver

BIOJET Earlier this year, Mark Yancy, chief technology officer at D3MAX, helped create a spin-off entity to focus on the SAF opportunity. SAFFiRE (Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Renewable Ethanol), will demonstrate reliable, low-greenhouse gas (GHG) production of SAF from corn stover in a fully integrated, 10-metric ton per day pilot-scale facility. Yancy and the SAFFiRE team will utilize funding from DOE’s SAF Grand Challenge. The company aims to commercialize a novel process first created and tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. NREL has already proven how well the lowtemperature deacetylation and mechanical refining pretreatment process can work when combined with enzymatic hydrolysis and C5/ C6 sugar fermentation—the platform SAFFiRE will use to make the cellulosic ethanol building block of bio-jet fuel. DOE selected SAFFiRE to prove its technology at pilot scale before ramping it up to produce commercial volumes of ethanol intermediate product. Along with other partners, Yancy’s team will be working with another SAF staple, LanzaJet. Later this year, SAFFiRE will begin verifying the data provided to the DOE.

It’s not just government agencies, aviation entities or other SAF tech providers that want to engage with projects like SAFFiRE’s. Ethanol producers are now joining in as well. Lincolnway Energy LLC, a 50 MMgy dry mill cornto-ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, will host the SAFFiRE project. Lallemand is providing the yeast products and Novozymes will provide enzymes. “We’ve already demonstrated that this process works,” Yancy says. It isn’t hard to see why the DOE selected the project for multi-round funding. NREL has already calculated that SAF produced using the SAFFiRE approach will record an 85 percent reduction in carbon intensity score. One of the mainstays of the process relies on the pH of the corn stover biomass. While other processes have utilized dilute acid pretreatment with low pH balances, (most of which have failed to date), SAFFiRE will raise the pH in a pretreatment process of the biomass. Most corn-stover-to-ethanol plants have failed, Yancy explained, because the pretreatment requirements for the process often caused system failures in equipment not capable, within financial reason, to handle the high-pressures needed early in the process.


SAFFiRE’s approach can utilize stainless steel equipment that is off-the-shelf and obtainable quickly. “This project will have low technology risk,” Yancy says. “Data from this will help create the first commercial plant.” Gevo, a long-running, successful advanced biofuel, biochemicals and bioplastics producer, is also in the mix with top SAF pursuers. In February, Gevo signed a five-year, 200 MMgy deal with the Oneworld Alliance, a network of world-class airlines, for Gevo’s version of SAF. In March, Gevo added another major deal to its timeline. Delta Airlines signed a 75 million gallon per year offtake agreement with Gevo, also for its SAF. Through its partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Co., one of the leading ethanol producers in the world, Gevo has shown how feasible and possible ethanol-based aviation fuel is. ADM has pledged to use up to 900 million gallons of its ethanol production output with Gevo to produce aviation fuel, more than half of ADM’s yearly ethanol production volume. From that amount, Gevo and ADM expect to produce more than 500 million gallons of SAF and other sustainable products.

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ONBOARDING ETHANOL: To date, companies like Airbus have been testing SAF made from hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids. But now, ethanol is gaining the attention of airlines and fuel developers as a more abundantly available low-carbon feedstock for bio-based jet fuel. PHOTO: STOCK

“SAF is one of those products that everyone understands the need for,” according to Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “It is energy dense. They have to be exact drop-ins. They have to be safe and proven. We are making jet fuel from carbohydrates and driving down the carbon footprint.” To do that, Gevo is in the midst of developing what it calls a Net Zero Project. Located in Lake Preston, South Dakota, the project will produce energy-dense liquid hydrocar-

bons for use in ground and air transportation. Gruber says Gevo will be building an ethanol plant and then converting it to an alcohol-tojet fuel plant. “All of it is going to be renewable.” The plant’s carbon intensity score will be reduced by minimizing or eliminating the use of on-grid energy in the form of electricity or fossil-based natural gas. The ethanol will be converted to ethylene and then to jet fuel. “The whole value proposition is about driving down the carbon footprint.”

Gruber has already experienced the demand and interest from major airlines, and he has the agreements to prove it. The company intends to deliver fuel in 2025 with more expansion along the way. LanzaJet has also made headlines in the space this year. A spin-off of LanzaTech, the company formed in 2020 specifically to address the need for SAF. Last fall, LanzaJet hosted a tour of its first-ever sustainable fuels plant. This year, the company has already

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STEPPING UP: After testing SAF in smaller aircraft in 2021, Airbus completed an approximately three-hour-long flight with its A380 using only SAF in March. The airline's goal is to have all its aircraft certified to fly on 100% SAF by the end of the decade.







BIG-NAME PARTNERS: In March, Gevo announced that it intends to supply 75 million gallons of SAF to Delta annually for seven years. Through its partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Co., Gevo plans to eventually produce over 500 MMgy of SAF per year. PHOTO: DELTA

received $50 million in funding through the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. Recently, LanzaJet signed a deal with Marquis Sustainable Aviation Fuel to build an integrated SAF plant at a new sustainable energy site hosted by Marquis in Illinois. The memorandum of understanding between the two entities will create a 120 MMgy SAF plant. The plant will also include on-site carbon capture and sequestration and renewable energy to produce SAF, resulting in a lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction of more than 70 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.

Opportunities In SAF

Understanding the true opportunity for sustainable aviation fuel derived from ethanol or other renewable sources starts with CAAFI, the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative. CAAFI was formed in 2006, the same year the price of aviation fuel to the airline industry became an issue. In 2006, petroleum prices caused fuel to become the single largest component of U.S. airline operating costs for the first time in history, according to CAAFI. Since then, the initiative has been working

to drive down the cost of aviation fuel while making it more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As a whole, commercial aviation in the U.S. drives 6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and just under 9 percent of national employment, according to CAAFI. In 2020 alone, CAAFI leadership participated in more than 60 workshops, seminars and project discussions across the globe to push for SAF. In 2021, CAAFI had a banner year. And that excitement has spilled into 2022, with a slew of SAF announcements already made or coming soon. On the global scene,

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BIOJET FUEL MATTERS: Researchers (from left) Steve Decker, Mike Himmel, Brandon Knott, Gregg Beckham and Antonella Amore, from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, have gained new insights into work that could be used to improve enzyme performance to better break down biomass and convert waste plant matter to renewable fuels and products. PHOTO: D. SCHROEDER

the U.S. and EU have both set lofty goals for SAF use. By 2030, the pair hope to use at least 4 billion gallons of SAF per year. By 2050, that number jumps to 45 billion gallons. Most producers believe the number is both achievable and possibly low, given the continued push for lower carbon fuel—which can only come from feedstocks like ethanol and other renewable sources. Although the GHG reduction of SAF produced from companies like SAFFiRE can reach up to 85 percent (or 100 percent in some calculations by Gevo), the cost of the fuel is still an issue. Yancy says rough calculations show jet fuel currently costs in a range between $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon. SAF however, ranges in price from $6 to $8 per gallon. “The aviation industry not only needs billions of gallons of SAF,” Yancy says. “They need it at a lower price.” Providing that fuel more cost-efficiently may sound limiting to the developers of any production facility, but in many ways, it is a win-win for all involved. In the case of SAFFiRE, the corn stover it will need to produce SAF using its process will create an economic plus for corn farmers, Yancy says. Ethanol yields generally increase. So do corn yields, on a bushel-per-acre basis. For each pound of corn produced, a field creates a pound of corn stover. The corn stoverto-jet fuel process is a great solution to the excess corn stover, Yancy says. “This would be a huge amount of income to farmers. We project $80 a ton of stover. This would create economic development in rural communities.” Gruber echoes Yancy on the benefit of SAF production to rural communities. Gevo is planning or already in discussions with several rural ethanol plants to co-locate its net zero projects. Interested ethanol plants just need to know that Gevo will buy their product over the fence. “We are taking all of this into our own hands,” Gruber says of the push to lower carbon intensity scores. “We will go build our own infrastructure. The rural economy will benefit from us.” Author: Luke Geiver Contact: editor@bbiinternational.com


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WORKABLE VOLATILITY Corn and natural gas prices are spiking to levels not seen in over a decade. The effect of those rising costs would be dire if the values of ethanol, DDGS and corn oil weren’t also riding high. By Susanne Retka Schill

Whiplash may be the newest occupational hazard for ethanol producers these days given the volatility in margins and markets and a string of black swan events.

Black swan events are rare, totally unpredictable events with severe consequences. Think Covid. Think Ukraine war. Scott Irwin goes back even further. “The first one was the trade war with China. Then you got the sudden huge return of China buying U.S. commodities in the second half of 2020. Then you had the pandemic, where the bottom fell out of everything. Then all the uncertainties in recovering from that, like what happened with ethanol in 2021, which was very positive. Now in March of


2022, the closest thing to an outbreak of World War III since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.” These extraordinary, outside events laid on top of the normal volatility caused by weather concerns have created a perfect storm for volatility, Irwin says. “It would be nice if things calmed down for a while.” As an ag economist at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Irwin tracks markets and evaluates ethanol margins using a representative Iowa-based ethanol plant. (See accompanying figures showing historical prices and relationships.) After a spike in profitability in 2013-’14, the industry has operated on small average profits, fluctuating between moderate profits and moderate losses, he says. “That’s how the industry operated from 2015 until the pan-

demic hit, with an average of just over 10 cents a gallon net profit over variable and fixed costs.” After almost six years of slim pickings, ethanol profitability exploded in the second half of 2021 as U.S. driving and gasoline consumption recovered to prepandemic levels. “Exactly during the period when driving was ramping up and gasoline use was recovering, we got this odd downward blip in ethanol production relative to trend,” Irwin says. He suspects there is a benign reason, such as ethanol plants concentrating maintenance in this time block, thinking gasoline use wasn’t going to recover as fast as it did. Ethanol production recovered quickly and within a month, prices started retreat-

ing from the high. “Now everything is much closer to normal,” Irwin says. “The industry is profitable, based on computations through the first week of March.” Just before press time in mid-April, Irwin said ethanol production profits remained positive throughout March and the first two weeks of April, despite the proximity of $7 or $8 corn. The average net profit after all variable and fixed costs—based on his model of a representative Iowa ethanol plant—was 22 cents per gallon, 10 cents higher than the long-term average of 12 cents per gallon.

Benchmarking Snapshot

While Irwin’s analysis uses a representative Iowa plant to project broad industry averages for analysis, Christianson Benchmarking


Margins provides a snapshot into actual plant data. Plants sharing their data in the program represent roughly a quarter of the industry in a full range of plant sizes and both single and multi-plant ownership structures. Connie Lindstrom, senior analyst at Christianson Benchmarking, suggests looking at grind margin as a means of evaluating the industry’s profit potential by focusing on just the commodity price relationships. In the Christianson analysis, grind margin is defined as ethanol and coproduct netbacks on a pergallon basis, minus the cost of denaturant, corn and energy. All other operating expenses range between 20 and 30 cents per gallon, Lindstrom says. Looking historically at the actual benchmarking data (see chart on page 30), the average grind margin of over $1 a gallon in 2006 drove the industry’s expansion. Expanding ethanol supplies and higher corn prices then depressed grind margins, hitting a low dur-




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ing the drought of 2012. The generous grind margin in 2014 was followed by a steady downturn until last year’s spike. There’s a danger in looking at averages, Lindstrom adds. “In any given year there will be winners as well as plants facing challenges: proximity to feedstock, marketing relationships, efficiencies, even labor force and partsupply chain issues can all come into play in determining overall profitability,” she says. “In higher-profit times the gap between a high-performing plant and a less profitable one tends to grow. Both 2020 and 2021 are interesting. In 2020, the top-quartile average grind margin—the “leaders”—was 35 cents. In 2021, the difference between the top quartile and the bottom quartile—the “laggards”—was that same amount, 35 cents.” (See chart on page 32). “Riding the waves of commodity price fluctuation is a sport most producers are familiar with from their backgrounds as farm-

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ers,” Lindstrom says. “Ethanol producers have seen this before—they are savvy enough to use relatively higher-profit times to reinvest, make enhancements and improvements, build collaborative relationships and ready themselves to ride out the next inevitable slump.” Ag economist Chad Hart, at Iowa State University, agrees that volatility is nothing new. “We’ve seen this before. These plant managers do know how to manage through these times.” Recently, he says, producers utilized the increased profits to book corn deeper into the future. “Over the past six to eight months, we saw the ethanol industry become some of the more aggressive bidders for corn, and not only in the spot market, but also deferred pricing.” Hart also is seeing more collaborations develop. “We’ve also seen our industry look to set up greater storage partnerships with local elevators and co-ops so they can rely on crop storage facilities of their partners

to help them balance some of the swings within the commodity markets.”

Coproduct, Corn Outlooks

Covid threw a curve into commodity crop prices just as it did elsewhere in the economy, Hart says. “As Covid hit, there was a tremendous pull on the agriculture markets coming from the international markets. I described it as ag having its own sort of global toilet paper episode.” The fear everything would shut down resulted in panicked buying. But ag products continued to flow and 2020 saw record quantities exported. Although the quantities backed down a bit in 2021, commodity price increases boosted export values to new records. “An export surge has been driving the price structure across commodities these last couple of years,” Hart says. “Biofuels, specifically ethanol, has been at the whim of those movements, as opposed to leading.”

Looking at ethanol’s coproducts, corn oil’s dramatic price increase is following a dramatic price increase in all vegetable oils, partly due to global demand for vegetable oils alongside domestic demand for those oils for renewable diesel, Hart says. Where in the past, soybean meal demand drove the market and soy oil the residual, that has now flipped. (The rule of thumb is that a bushel of soybeans yields about 1718 pounds of oil and 40-some pounds of meal.) The resulting generous supplies of soybean meal impacted distillers grains, he continues. “When oil prices first took off, we saw lower soybean meal prices, and that put pressure on distillers grains prices.” As corn prices have increased, the feed market for soybean meal and distillers grains have seen a strong recovery. Those higher corn prices, of course, are putting a squeeze on ethanol margins even as the ethanol market appears to be shifting back to tracking crude oil. “In the

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beginning, ethanol had to be tied to oil, we had to be competitive in the energy markets in order for the industry to survive,” Hart says. “Once the industry got large enough to be viable, then you could argue ethanol


prices tended to track corn.” Last year’s higher ethanol margins were driven more by oil than corn, he says, which is continuing this year as gasoline markets react to what’s happening globally.

Today, the ethanol market is back to keeping an eye on oil, while keeping the other eye on corn, seeking a balance. “We need to have a strong enough signal from energy markets to help support what we

may face in the ag market. Or to put it another way, ethanol can only pay for corn what the gasoline market will allow it to do,” Hart says.

Global Impacts

“The war in the Black Sea region is both an energy issue and an agricultural issue,” Hart continues. By raising prices across the board, the higher energy prices are both a positive for ethanol prices and a negative for energy inputs, with increasing ag prices pinching the ethanol margin. As spring planting approached, the grain markets were trying to figure out what the Ukraine war would mean for crops in that region and domestically. Ukraine being a major regional winter wheat supplier, coupled with continued drought in the western U.S., is likely to keep winter wheat prices high relative to corn and soybeans. Hart says he expects the wild card will be

the potential for double cropping with winter wheat in the central parts of the U.S., with high fertilizer costs favoring beans over corn for the summer crop. The March 31 USDA Prospective Plantings report supported Hart’s theory showing projected soybean acreage up 4 percent and corn planted acreage down 4 percent from 2021. In its February Ag Outlook Forum, USDA put projected yield at 181 bushels per acre, which at the prospective 89.5 million acres would produce about 14.8 billion bushels—roughly matching corn usage in 2020 and 2021 marketing years, Hart says. Corn futures were bullish after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, jumping to a mid $7 range. USDA’s April WASDE report projected higher foreign corn production with increases for Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan and the EU. USDA projected a national season average farm corn price of $5.80 in the

April report, up from $5.65 in the March report, which hadn’t totally reflected the Ukraine war, and up $1.30 from the prior year.

Natural Gas

Bullish sentiment is affecting all commodities, including natural gas, says Andy Huenefeld, director of energy price risk at World Kinect Energy Services. While volatility in the winter months is a common reaction to periods of cold weather, the volatility and market highs this spring were disconnected from the fundamentals. “It’s more of a financially driven rally—market forces and additional buying interest and bullish sentiment in the financial markets— all working to increase price.” Spot markets were up, but not rallying to the same degree as the futures, he adds. Concerns about European natural gas supplies from Russia are having a psycho-




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Margins able than in recent years. “We have real signs of producers responding to higher markets and expanding gas production,” Huenefeld explains. “That was one of the big drivers of higher prices last year, because producers weren’t responding and increasing output like we might have expected. This year they are.” He does not, however, expect prices to return to the low levels of the past. “I think we’ll eventually find an equilibrium where gas producers can make a nice profit and keep growing output and the gas prices aren’t so high as to put a burden on the wider economy.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Contact: editor@bbiinternational.com

logical impact on U.S. markets, Huenefeld continues. But while the U.S. does export to the EU, he points out we are exporting as much as possible right now and bringing

any new export capacity online would take a minimum of three years, if not five. In the near term, the outlook for natural gas production looks a lot more favor-

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The world’s second-largest corn producer, Brazil is continuing to see a rise in corn ethanol production and new plant construction. The companies that design, own and operate these facilities explain what’s driving grain-based biorefining south of the equator. By Katie Schroeder




Ethanol plants are multiply- The Basics of the Brazilian ing across west-central Brazil. Ethanol Market The plants themselves are not unusual, due to the fact that Brazil is a key consumer of biofuels and the second-largest producer of ethanol worldwide, but it’s the feedstock these plants process that is drawing attention. The Brazilian ethanol industry primarily uses sugarcane as its feedstock; however, corn ethanol plants are popping up throughout the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and Goias. FS Bioenergia was the early leader in the corn-only ethanol industry, installing the first corn-only ethanol plant in 2017. Justin Kirchhoff, president of Summit Ag Investors, majority owner of FS Bioenergia, says the Brazilian ethanol market has “the combination of growth in that market and … a fundamentally lower carbon intensity score that presents a very unique opportunity.” This first plant was designed by engineering and technology company ICM Inc. Issam Stouky, director of global business development with ICM, gives insight into the Brazilian ethanol market and describes its unique makeup.

The ethanol market in Brazil has several unique factors differentiating it from other markets across the globe. These differences include the use of biomass to power ethanol plants, the well-established demand for ethanol, primary use of sugarcane as a feedstock and the use of hydrous ethanol. Stouky says that Brazil is a complex market to invest in. “Understanding the local ethanol industry and its drivers, from biomass and corn origination to product offtake and distribution channels, is paramount to be successful.” Ethanol plants in Brazil—from any feedstock—are capital intensive, but the ROI on corn-based ethanol is enticing with a shorter payback, he says. The ethanol market in Brazil is well-established and there is a steady demand for it, but the market for corn-based ethanol coproducts is still new. “I think Brazilians in terms of their framework around fuel policy are just very forward-looking and allowed more of a market-oriented approach,” Kirchhoff says. “When you pull up to a gas station in Brazil you basically have three choices. You

DOUBLING UP: The evolution of crop biotechnology has enabled farmers in Brazil to produce both soybeans and corn (see corn stover in between early-season soybeans) on the same ground in the same year. This has contributed to the favorable economics of corn ethanol production there. PHOTO: STOCK

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can either get diesel, you can get gasoline blended with 27 percent ethanol, or you can get 100 percent ethanol, and the consumer, for the most part, makes the choice on— just call it 100 percent ethanol or 27 percent ethanol basis price.” This “market-oriented approach” is what Kirchhoff believes has helped the Brazilian ethanol business grow long-term. He estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the liquid fuel used in the country is ethanol. Stouky explains that Brazil is also unique in that it is the only country where 100 percent ethanol, also known as hydrous ethanol, can be found in gas stations. Ethanol plants in Brazil utilize biomass to power the plant, as a 2020 report from the USDA explains. The majority of ethanol plants make ethanol out of sugarcane, using the bagasse to power the plant. However, corn ethanol plants primarily use eucalyptus as the fuel source, though there are some companies experimenting with other biomass fuel sources, according to the report. “Plants in Brazil do self-cogenerate to make their own power and export excess power to the grid,” Stouky explains. “All

facilities in Brazil have to cogenerate using biomass regardless of feedstock source.” In March, the Brazilian government lifted tariffs on imported ethanol through the end of 2022. The tariffs had been previously set at 18 percent but were reduced in an effort to alleviate the pressures of inflation.

The Growth of Corn Ethanol

One of the major factors that inspired Summit to pursue corn ethanol production in Brazil was the availability of low-cost corn. “When biotechnology and crops continued to evolve, just call it 20 years ago, that allowed for them to produce two crops per year on the same acre of ground where historically they were only producing a crop of soybeans,” Kirchhoff says. “But as you were able to shorten up the maturities of both soybeans and corn, that unlocked the potential for them to produce a crop of soybeans followed by a second crop of corn. What that did was lower their overall cost of production, allowing for a very eco-

nomic feedstock source for running corn ethanol plants in Mato Grosso.” The sugarcane ethanol industry remains prominent in Brazil as a legacy industry, however Kirchhoff expects that “the vast majority of new gallons produced in Brazil will come from corn-based ethanol.” Bad sugarcane crops in recent years are part of the reason corn ethanol is growing. In an interview with BNamericas, Biatriz Pupo, biofuel senior analyst of S&P Global Platts Analytics, stated that, “In our vision, ethanol from corn will gain a lot of relevance. The sugarcane cycle takes a long time to get a return, so we foresee a boom in corn plants, with corn ethanol production jumping from 3 to 9 billion liters by 2030, corresponding to 20% of the total [projected production].” The first corn-only ethanol plant was built by FS Bioenergia, a joint venture between U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group and Tapajós Participações S.A. (formerly Fiagril). This 60 MMgy plant was designed by ICM and later expanded to produce 140 MMgy. Since the completion of ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 39


construction in 2017, Brazil had a total of 16 corn-based ethanol plants with more under construction. According to the USDA report, Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy expects total ethanol production and consumption to grow to 43 billion liters by 2029, supported by the country’s new carbon credits program, RenovaBio. Stouky has seen this play out in real time as the demand for corn-based ethanol plants has increased in recent years. The UNEM (National Union of Corn Ethanol) also projects an increase in corn ethanol production to 8 billion liters by 2028, the report states. In the current harvest season, which started in April, the production of corn ethanol grew 37.15 percent in the past year, while production of sugarcane ethanol was down 8.83 percent. FS Bioenergia currently has two plants up and running, both of them engineered by ICM. Their first plant, built in Lucas do Rio Verde, came online in 2017 and currently produces 150 MMgy of corn-based ethanol. “It is the first greenfield corn-based ethanol [facility], a very efficient biorefinery, and very well operated,” Stouky says.

The second plant, located in Sorriso, Mato Grosso, came online in 2020 and currently produces 230 MMgy. “This is another example of a well-designed and operationally efficient plant that has exceeded our customer’s expectations,” Stouky says. These plants are the industry standard in Brazil, according to Stouky. Fitted with ICM’s proprietary Fiber Separation Technology and Selective Milling Technology, they have the ability to produce high-protein and high-energy feed. According to Kirchhoff, each plant also produces nearly three gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn. The combined capacity of FS’ two plants is currently 380 MMly, but Kirchhoff says that number will soon grow. ICM is working with FS to design a third plant, located at Primavera do Leste in Mato Grosso. This plant will produce 160 MMly, bringing FS’ total production to 550 MMly when the plant becomes operational in June of 2023. FS is not alone in building new plants across west-central Brazil; ICM is also working with Neomille to build an ethanol plant in Maracaju, Mato Grosso Do Sul, and with Agribrasil to build a plant in Canarana, Mato Grosso.

FAMILIAR FACILITY: FS Bioenergia currently has two plants up and running, both of them engineered by ICM. Their first plant, built in Lucas do Rio Verde, came online in 2017 and cur­rently produces 150 MMgy of corn-based ethanol. PHOTO: FS BIOENERGIA

ICM works with its clients providing engineering, plant design, process technology implementation and more, Stouky explains. Some of ICM’s patented process technologies that have been installed are Selective Milling Technology and Fiber

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Advantages and Challenges of Corn Ethanol

Corn has some benefits over sugarcane as a feedstock, and bad sugarcane crops are making those benefits attractive to producers and investors. “As far as corn is concerned, it’s a feedstock that is available all year long,” Stouky says. Corn-based ethanol gives plants an opportunity to become

more of a biorefinery due to the number of value-added feed products that can be produced alongside ethanol, such as corn oil and animal feed. The added expense of purchasing biomass to power corn ethanol plants can be a challenge for corn-based ethanol producers. However, Stouky explains that both sugarcane and corn have their own advantages and disadvantages. While sugarcane

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POWER PLANT: Ethanol plants in Brazil have historically generated biomass power from bagasse. Corn ethanol plants, however, primarily use eucalyptus as a fuel source. Supply agreements with commercial eucalyptus plantations like this one are necessary prior to development of a new facility. PHOTO: STOCK

does come with a built-in biomass to fuel production, it has a limited growing season and it cannot be stored, since this feedstock starts fermenting as soon as it is cut. Corn ethanol plants can produce year-round as well as producing a variety of coproducts. The biomass factor is important to keep in mind as it is one of the largest expenses for a corn-based ethanol producer, Stouky explains. “I would say in some areas biomass is more critical than corn as plants are typically built where this feedstock is abundant (origination plants),” he says. Kirchhoff affirms this statement, explaining that their use of biomass requires them to plan their growth as a business three to six years ahead of time. “Acquiring the biomass certainly requires you to be more forward thinking in your growth plans, given that you need to grow eucalyptus trees in order to move forward with construction of the new plant,” Kirchhoff says. Although sugarcane plants have their biomass come with their feedstock, corn ethanol producers have a lower production cost due to corn’s efficiency as a feedstock, 42 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | JUNE 2022

along with the extra revenue from coproducts. Although using biomass to power cornbased ethanol plants is tricky, it has a positive impact on the carbon intensity scores of the end product. Kirchhoff says the carbon intensity (CI) score of ethanol currently coming out of the FS plants is about 20. However, FS is not going to stop there, and the company hopes to use carbon capture and sequestration onsite to bring that score down to negative 10 CI. “Once we have that implemented, we believe we will be producing the first liquid fuel that has a negative carbon footprint at sale anywhere in the world,” Kirchhoff says. They are currently in the process of doing the seismic and geological checking to make sure that they are able to store the CO2 onsite. Coproducts are an important advantage for corn-based ethanol producers in Brazil. Like most ethanol producers in the U.S., corn ethanol producers like FS Bioenergia also produce corn oil and DDGS. The feeds produced include FS Ouro, a high-fiber feed; FS Essencial, a high-protein feed;

and FS Umido, which is a wet cake feed. FS Bioenergia also produces the coproduct of electricity. Due to the biomass used to power the ethanol plants, FS Bioenergia is able to cogenerate bioenergy for the Brazilian electrical grid. “Both plants have the ability to produce more electricity than the plants need,” Kirchhoff says. “We basically export the excess electricity that’s created from our turbines back into the grid in Brazil.” The ethanol market in Brazil has a strong legacy of using sugarcane to produce ethanol, but the attractive price of corn and variety of coproducts could lead to a market with a mixture of both. In the meantime, ethanol producers in the U.S. can gain some insight about how biomass can be used to bring down carbon intensity scores by looking at how FS and ICM have integrated bioenergy production into the workings of an ethanol plant. Author: Katie Schroeder Contact: katie.schroeder@bbiinternational.com

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Energy self-sufficiency and a new coproduct opportunity are what biogas plant designer Krieg & Fischer has to offer. The German company is able to help ethanol plants utilize their thin stillage for on-site energy and improved carbon intensity scores. By Katie Schroeder

REPEAT CUSTOMER: Krieg & Fischer has a quarter century of experience, but didn't build a biogas plant integrated with an ethanol plant until 2017, when it did so for a customer in Argentina. In 2018, it built another biogas unit at the same site that utilizes thin stillage as a substrate. PHOTO: K&F

The ethanol industry is known for coproducts like corn oil and DDGS, but a company in Germany is giving them the option to branch out into a new coproduct: biogas. German company Krieg & Fischer GmbH designs biogas plants around the world for a wide variety of industries, anything from the potato industry to oil and gas companies. Krieg & Fischer’s expertise in established biogas technology


is being applied to the ethanol industry by using thin stillage as a feedstock for biomethane production. Raphael Thies, general manager with Krieg & Fischer, outlines the benefits, process and complexities of building a biogas plant. Krieg & Fischer was started 23 years ago in 1999. In the beginning, their clients were primarily farmers, Thies says. The German renewable energy law created a lot of interest in the farming community due to incentives for energy using crops as the feedstock. Over the years, Krieg & Fischer started building biogas plants internationally for an array of industries. “We know our different technologies in the biogas field and our

job [is] to adapt the technology to the feedstock,” he explains. The company will design and build a biogas plant onsite at whatever plant or farm will produce the feedstock. Analyzing the feedstock is where the job begins. Krieg & Fischer first built a biogas plant integrated with an ethanol plant in 2017 with a facility in Argentina. “At the very beginning, the idea was to digest corn sileage, but our client caught on quite quickly that they had a lot of organic waste from their ethanol plant, and thin stillage,” Thies says. Krieg & Fischer then built the second biogas plant for the customer—this time using thin stillage—which started operations in 2018. “When you produce alcohol from the corn, you take out the carbohydrates to produce the alcohol and all the fat and protein, and

also still some carbohydrates are left. And the residuals, the whole stillage … the usual treatment is solid/liquid separation. The solids go to farmers … for animal feeding and the liquid part is perfect substrate for biogas plants.” Thin stillage as a feedstock for biogas is “quite easy to handle,” Thies explains. The advantage of thin stillage is that it is already in liquid form, which makes it easier to transport and begin the anerobic digestion process. Thin stillage does come out of the ethanol plant very hot, at 176 degrees Fahrenheit, so Krieg & Fischer addresses this by cooling the stillage down. “Then you need to calculate carefully the retention time in the digester tank and the organic load rate

and main design parameters for every single biogas plant,” Thies says. The more organic matter in the stillage, the more biogas can be produced. The presence or absence of corn oil in the thin stillage impacts the overall yield of the biogas plant. “But it doesn’t really matter, with or without corn oil the difference is only the energy content,” Thies explains. “Of course, when you take out the corn oil there’s less energy inside, so you get less gas yield per cubic meter of thin stillage.” The amount of biogas produced depends greatly on the makeup of the thin stillage, however, the biogas plant will typically produce about 600 to 1,000 cubic meters of biogas per ton of volatile solids.

Another important parameter is the type of oil removal technology used by the ethanol plant. Thies explains that if the plant uses a technology which increases the dry matter in the thin stillage, it can cause problems by increasing the nitrogen concentration which inhibits the anaerobic digestion process. “When you increase dry matter by evaporation, and you do not remove the nitrogen, the concentration in a certain amount of stillage is getting higher and then we might get a problem for the AD process itself because it will be an inhibition of the methane bacteria due to the high nitrogen concentration,” he says.



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Biogas production offers many opportunities to ethanol producers, according to Thies. Ethanol producers can use the biogas or biomethane produced to generate renewable electricity or thermal energy to reduce their overall carbon intensity score, he explains. Utilizing thin stillage for biogas production can also bring independence for an ethanol producer. “The moment they have to find a customer for their stillage, someone who buys it, corn oil is dependent on biodiesel producers, so if there’s less demand from biodiesel the price will go down,” Thies says. “At the moment, they are dependent on other markets, [but] with the biomethane or biogas production at their own plant, their own facility, they are [becoming] more independent from other parties.” Once the biogas plant is in place, the producer can depend on energy at a dependable price, without the need to rely on a volatile fossil fuel market. “It is also a way to use King Corn. Last time I was in the States—South Dakota and Nebraska—a plant manager told me, ‘I don’t know what is going on in five years or ten years, what I know for sure is that right now we can grow corn.’ The corn will survive.” The producer could also use other parts of the corn to increase biogas yield, such as corn sileage or corn stover. Thies suggests corn stover as an ideal feedstock for an ethanol plant to use alongside thin stillage. The corn stover would require different pretreatment technology to get it ready for anerobic digestion.

The Anatomy of a Biogas Plant


Although each biogas plant looks a little different due to different feedstocks, there are a few technologies which are consistent across the board. The most important of these, according to Thies, is the digester tank, which comes with a heating system, a mixing system and insulation. The thin still-

'It is also a way to use King Corn. Last time I was in the States—South Dakota and Nebraska—a plant manager told me, ‘I don’t know what is going on in five years or ten years, what I know for sure is that right now we can grow corn.’ The corn will survive.' Raphael Thies General Manager Krieg & Fischer

age will be pumped into this tank from the ethanol plant. The anerobic digestion takes place in this tank, when the organic components are broken down into smaller chains, then through acidification processes, the specialized bacteria convert the hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methane. “The main point is that you have to provide all the bacteria there with the perfect conditions in terms of water content, temperature, and you have to homogenize this in a good way,” Thies explains. After the digester tank, there is generally a secondary or “post digester” used to optimize the biogas production. Next, a gas buffering system used to store the biogas for a few hours, Thies explains that this system is usually a plastic membrane system on top of the tank. “Then of course, you need a gas utilization system, a CHP or biogas upgrading unit or biogas boiler where you can directly burn the gas so it can produce

electricity—so electrical energy, thermal energy or simply the biomethane that can be injected into a grid,” Thies says. An ethanol plant could have a biogas plant up and running in a year to 18 months, he estimates. Other factors, such as the size of the plant or winter climate, could impact this timeline. The technology of a biogas plant is by no means in the research and development phase, Thies explains. “All this biogas technology [has been known for] more than 40 years, industrial scale we are talking about

now more than 20 years, so it’s not R&D or something. This is a really well-established technology.” There are a wide variety of plant sizes found across the world, from those producing 50 cubic meters per hour of biogas, to those producing over six thousand, these plants are utilizing proven technologies. Although the biogas industry started primarily in the agricultural market, with parts that were originally designed for construction or farming purposes, it has grown to an industrial size and has a lot to offer. “Now in Europe we have spe-

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SELF SUFFICIENCY: Krieg & Fischer believes that coupling biomethane production and use with etha­nol production gives producers enhanced energy stability and flexibility. PHOTO: K&F

cialized companies providing the perfect technology for the different tasks: pumps, mixers, tanks, gas holding membranes, pretreatment systems,” Thies says. “All of that is not research and development anymore, CHP units, 20 years ago it was an old truck


engine and you adjusted it. Now there are professional industrial suppliers.” Coproducing energy alongside ethanol helps plants have more stability and the flexibility of biogas gives ethanol producers more options for the future. “You can use

it for heating in your households, you can even use it for driving your car,” Thies says. “It can be used in the same way as natural gas today.” Author: Katie Schroeder Contact: katie.schroeder@bbiinternational.com





Straight ethanol isn’t sold at U.S. gas stations. But why not? A top proponent of E100 says offering 98-percent pure ethanol at the pump would not only benefit ethanol producers and consumers, but the environment and energy security. By Katie Schroeder

Don Siefkes believes E100 can save the planet. Not alone, of course, but in parallel with the widespread

adoption of other clean fuels and, yes, electric vehicles. He says offering consumers practical alternatives to gasoline—real choices that offer similar low- or net-zero carbon emissions results—is the fastest and most realistic way to immediately reduce vehicle emissions and mitigate climate change. Siefkes, president of the Californiabased E100 Ethanol Group, is not E100’s only American proponent, but he may be the most recognized. E100 is often associated with Brazil, but Siefkes was far from equatorial South America when he had his aha moment about ethanol. On a trip to Antarctica, he saw tabular glaciers melting into the ocean and, soon thereafter, E100 Ethanol Group was born. The goal of the group is to ban the sale of new gasoline vehicles in the United States while allowing existing gasoline vehicles to stay on the road until they wear out. Siefkes believes several viable replacements for gasoline

could be offered—he says people should have the freedom to choose—whether that be E100, electric vehicles, hydrogen power or something else. But he says ethanol is the most practical and abundantly available alternative.

What is E100?

“E100, technically, is E98,” Siefkes says. “Ninety-eight percent ethanol and two percent denaturant.” Most of the time, that denaturant is gasoline, however, isopropyl alcohol and ether are also approved additives. Getting ether combined with two parts per million of denatonium benzoate approved as an additive is one of the accomplishments E100 Ethanol Group is most proud of. The most prevalent obstacle currently in the way of E100 in the U.S. is the fact that engines simply aren’t designed to burn pure ethanol. “You have to change the engine to optimize it to get [competitive] mileage on ethanol,” Siefkes says. “And right now, all the attempts that were done in the past used E85, which is 85 percent ethanol, in engines optimized for gasoline.” While flex-fuel en-

gines are designed to accept high blends of ethanol, they aren’t necessarily optimized for them. As a result, Siefkes says, E85 has a reputation for relatively inferior mileage. The U.S. Department of Energy agrees. In a recent report, the DOE stated, “If [FFVs] were optimized to run on higher ethanol blends, fuel economy would likely increase as a result of increased engine efficiency.” The DOE goes on to state, “Ethanol also has a higher-octane number than gasoline, which provides increased power and performance.” E100 Ethanol Group proved that it is possible to get the same gas mileage with E100 as with gasoline by modifying a Ford Focus FFV, Siefkes says. “We modified it by increasing the compression ratio, changing the engine timing and running lien and more oxygen than is necessary to burn all the fuel,” he explains. “We matched the mileage with E85 and E100 with gasoline to prove that this is not an impediment. Once you do that, once you change the engine, you can no longer burn gasoline in it.” Optimizing engines for E100 is entirely feasible, Siefkes says, but car companies

CHIEF BELIEVER: Former General Motors employee Don Siefkes, who holds degrees from MIT and the University of Michigan, founded E100 Ethanol Group to promote the idea of ethanol as a primary motor fuel in the U.S., not just a blending agent with gasoline. PHOTO: T. VANDERHEIDEN


Vision don’t seem interested in it. “No car company wants to do something dramatic,” he says, explaining that companies like General Motors are more focused on going electric and don’t want to be the first to create an E100 engine. “They’re sort of like lemmings, they all want to do the same thing; they don’t want to do anything different. But if one does it, then they’ll all do it. But it takes somebody [saying], ‘Hey, carbon dioxide emissions from gasoline are killing us. We have to stop doing this.’”

Past and Present Examples

Brazil, the world’s second largest consumer of ethanol, is known for utilizing higher ethanol blends. E100 (hydrous ethanol) is sold at the pump in Brazil alongside 27 percent ethanol blends. Car engines can burn E100 but are still optimized for at least 70 percent gasoline blends, meaning they also struggle to get good gas mileage burning E98. “E100 sells for less than the


gasoline, so the people in Brazil, they sort of choose between E100 and gasoline depending on price,” Siefkes says. The entrenched nature of gasoline use in the U.S. makes the idea of detaching from it seem almost impossible. “It’s a huge inertia change, I mean we’ve been using gasoline for 100 years. But we did it before and we can do it again,” Siefkes says, referencing the phase out of leaded gasoline in the ’80s and ’90s. He says the nation’s move from leaded to unleaded gas serves as a template for how it could move to 98 percent ethanol today. “When we banned the sale of leaded gasoline, now we didn’t ban the sale of leaded gasoline, we banned the sale of new cars that burned leaded gasoline and let existing vehicles burn leaded gasoline until they wore out, and that took 15 to 20 years,” Siefkes says. “And we think the same thing should happen, but it won’t happen voluntarily by the automobile industry; it’s going


'You have to stop it now, if you don’t stop it now, it’s going to be too late. And the way to stop it, the easiest way, is to simply ban the sale of new gasoline engines in the United States.' Don Siefkes Executive Director and President E100 Ethanol Group

to take an act of Congress to ban the sale of new gasoline vehicles.”

Benefits of E100

The use of E100 has many potential benefits over gasoline (i.e., E10) and even electric vehicles, Siefkes explains. E100 could replace gasoline fairly easily because it can utilize the same infrastructure and is cheaper. Integrating E100 would be fairly simple, according to Siefkes. Gas stations

would probably have to clean their gasoline tanks to get rid of any gunk and replace a gasket on the pump itself, but most of the pumps already blend fuel. Siefkes describes how the setup would look, “Most gas stations have four or five storage tanks, so one tank of premium gasoline, one tank of regular gasoline and another tank of E100—and then E100 could be pumped to that center pump on the dispenser.” This simplicity makes switching to ethanol more

attractive than electric vehicles since the whole country switching—even just lightduty vehicles in the U.S.—to electric would require a significant increase in the production of electricity. Siefkes believes that using replacements to gasoline would help keep the world’s oceans from rising, keep the consumer from dealing with constantly fluctuating gas prices and ensure energy independence for the United States. The environmental benefits of switching to E100 would be a good step toward addressing global warming, he says. “You have to stop it now, if you don’t stop it now, it’s going to be too late. And the way to stop it, the easiest way, is to simply ban the sale of new gasoline engines in the United States.” Author: Katie Schroeder Contact: katie.schroeder@bbiinternational.com

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PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL: Speaking at a POET ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, President Joe Biden offered a strong endorsement of ethanol production, saying: “It’s estimated that there are over 400,000 jobs directly and indirectly supported by this industry nationwide. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of paychecks—and good decent paychecks.” PHOTO: POET




Becoming the fourth consecutive U.S. president to visit an ethanol plant, Biden offered broad support for corn ethanol, biorefining and agriculture after announcing a historic emergency fuel waiver enabling uninterrupted E15 sales this summer. By EPM Staff

By emergency decree in midApril, E15’s off-and-on summertime restrictions were lifted—for now—amid high gas prices, inflation and Russia’s war on Ukraine. And while President Joe

Biden stood within the DDGS-filled “halls” of an ethanol plant in Iowa to discuss the action, an occasion typically met with considerable pomp or rally—the industry offered this leader, this time, gracious but somewhat qualified appreciation. Biden’s E15 order was, after all, a little overdue and mostly a reaction to voter pocketbook issues amid what the administration calls “Putin’s price hike.” The environmental benefits of blending more ethanol—climate, carbon reduction, etc.—didn’t really seem in play. But then, speaking from that “barn” in Iowa, Biden not only acknowledged E15’s benefits beyond price, but wholly endorsed ethanol and biorefining. It wasn’t just climate that the administration seemed to initially downplay in its April 12 emergency fuel waiver announcement, but farming, coproducts and rural economic development. But Biden would eventually reference all of those things, and more. While announcing the waiver, the administration specifically focused on alleviating high fuel prices while also mentioning energy security. The White House said the emergency waiver would help increase fuel supplies, give consumers more choices at the

pump and help U.S. households spend less on gas this summer. “At current prices, E15 can save a family 10 cents per gallon of gas on average, and many stores sell E15 at an even greater discount,” the White House said in a fact sheet supporting the president’s action. “For working families—families eager to travel and visit their loved ones—that will add up to real savings. Allowing higher levels of blending will also reduce our dependency on foreign fuels as we rely more heavily on home-grown biofuels. This will help us bridge towards real energy independence.” The White House said E15 sales would be allowed to continue this summer as soon as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially issued an emergency waiver, which it did on April 29—about a month before E15 restrictions would have otherwise began. It also announced the daily release of 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve for six straight months. Other countries have made similar commitments in a global attempt to try keep prices down while oil production ramps up. Outside of corn country, the president’s E15 announcement was met by mostly ineffectual criticism from groups concerned about issues like food vs. fuel, amplified by the war in Ukraine. The usual critics of ethanol pointed out the “drop-in-the-bucket” difference that 5 percent more ethanol at 2 percent of the nation’s gas stations would have on consumer spending on fuel this year. Indeed, while E15 is available for use in all

model-year 2001 and newer vehicles—which represents 245 million cars and trucks on the road in the U.S. (90% of all light-duty passenger vehicles)—it’s only available at about 2,500 gas stations nationwide. The blend’s retail presence has been steadily growing, but unquestionably hampered by interruptions in the summer when it historically could not be sold in most markets from June 1 through Sept. 15—due to antiquated regulations centered around Reid vapor pressure (“Clearing the Air on E15 and Smog,” on page 8, helps explain that). An EPA rulemaking mid-2019, under the Trump administration, gave E15 the same RVP waiver that E10 enjoys, allowing uninterrupted retail sales of the higher blend. But that rulemaking was challenged by oil groups, and as a result last summer, it was partially vacated by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, preventing a majority of retailers from selling E15 year-round. Now, the Biden administration’s emergency action provides a temporary bridge for E15 sales to continue this summer while permanent solutions are explored. At press time in early May, EPA was still considering additional actions to facilitate the use of E15 year-round, including working with states that have expressed interest in allowing year-round use of the blend. Prior to the emergency fuel waiver, at least two states had petitioned the EPA to use its emergency waiver authority to allow E15 sales to continue. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Kansas Attorney General ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 55


Derek Schmidt on April 4—less than two weeks before the waiver announcement— sent a letter to Regan asking him to exercise the EPA’s emergency waiver authority under Section 211(c)(4)(C)(ii) of the Clean Air Act to waive the 9-psi RVP limitation for E15 for the 2022 summer ozone control season. On April 28, eight Midwest governors from both political parties notified the EPA that they are exercising the authority granted to them under the Clean Air Act to forgo the statutory summertime E10 waiver starting in 2023, which would allow retailers and marketers in their states to permanently sell E15 year-round. Looking back, the emergency waiver was not a complete surprise. A week before Biden’s announcement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan hinted at the possibility of it happening when he appeared in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. There, Regan confirmed that the Biden administration was looking at every available tool to provide relief for high fuel prices. And he said summertime E15 was on the table. “We are currently evaluating what flexibilities we have around E15,” he said. “This is a conversation that I and Secretary [Tom] Vilsack have been having quite a bit as of late. So, I can tell you that we are evaluating what Clean Air

PRODUCER AT THE PODIUM: President Biden enjoys a moment at POET Bioprocessing-Menlo as he's introduced by Rachel Conner, a grain merchandiser at the plant and fifth-generation Iowa farmer, who said she planned on fueling up with E15 on her drive home from work later that day. PHOTO: POET

Act authorities we have to potentially take advantage of E15.” Seven days later, Biden was on his way to Iowa on Air Force One.

Another Presidential Visit

According to Ethanol Producer Magazine’s archives, Biden is the fourth consecutive U.S. president to visit an ethanol plant while in office. Notably, three of the four

visits occurred in April; two visits were related to summertime E15 use; and two were at POET facilities. President George W. Bush visited Dakota Ethanol LLC in Wentworth, South Dakota, in April of 2002—just seven months after 9/11. President Barack Obama visited POET’s Macon, Missouri, biorefinery in April of 2010 (note: before taking office, Obama was the keynote speaker at the

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BACK TO THE CORN BELT: President Biden is the fourth consecutive U.S. president to visit an ethanol plant over the past 20 years. PHOTO: POET

grand opening of the Charles City, Iowa, ethanol plant now owned and operated by Valero). And, in June of 2019, President Donald Trump visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to celebrate the final rule issued by the EPA to lift restrictions on year-round sales of E15—without the authority of an emergency fuel waiver. This time, just a day after making the E15 announcement, President Biden flew to Iowa to discuss it, using POET’s 150 MMgy biorefinery in Menlo, Iowa, as an ideal agriindustrial backdrop. He spoke from inside a coproduct storage building with not only distillers grains behind him, but also an American flag flanked by two John Deere tractors. “I’m here today to talk about the work we’re doing to lower costs for American families and put rural America at the center of our efforts to build a future that is made in America,” Biden said. “That is not hyperbole—it’s about being made in America. A lot of that has do with this industry.” Surprisingly, Biden took time to rattle off the benefits of biorefining. First, he said, it supports farmers and the farm economy. “Knowing you have a buyer gives farmers something you don’t often have—peace of mind, certitude about where their product can be sold and to get a fair price for it,” he said. Second, biorefineries create good paying jobs.

“It’s estimated that there are over 400,000 jobs directly and indirectly supported by this industry nationwide,” Biden said. “That’s a lot of people, and a lot of paychecks—and good decent paychecks.” Third, biorefineries reduce our reliance on foreign oil by stretching the fuel supply, and fourth, they give consumers choice at the pump, which creates competition that reduces prices, he added. “In addition to that … you get lower greenhouse gas emissions,” Biden continued, noting that biorefineries also produce important coproducts, such as the DDGS behind him. “I’m here today because homegrown biofuels have a role to play right now as we work to get prices under control and reduce the price to families,” the president said, adding that “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world. … We need to address this challenge with urgency … Your family budget—your ability to fill up your tank—


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Market none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war or commits genocide half a world away.” Biden continued, “With this waiver, on June 1, you’re not going to show up at your local gas station and see a bag over the pump that has the cheapest gas. You are going to be able to keep filling up with E15 … [the emergency waiver] is not going to solve all our problems, but it’s going to help some people, and I’m committed to doing whatever I can to help.” The ethanol plant in Menlo is one of POET’s 33 bioethanol production facilities. POET—the largest ethanol producer in the world—has a combined annual production capacity of 3 billion gallons. Thanking President Biden, POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin said E15 can immediately save consumers not just 10 cents per gallon, but as much as 50 to 70 cents—and offset 6.2 billion gallons of gasoline. “Every driver should have the freedom to choose a fuel that’s better for their wal-

let, their health and the environment,” Broin said. “Plant-based bioethanol is the only liquid fuel that can check all those boxes, and it’s produced by Americans, for Americans, right here in the Heartland. … We are grateful to President Biden for following through on his commitment to deliver lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel options to the American people, and for allowing the POET team to share in the celebration of this major win for consumers and for America’s energy security.”

Association Response

Growth Energy, which not only represents POET but dozens of other U.S. ethanol producers, thanked Biden for temporarily lifting restrictions on summer E15 sales. “This is welcome news for all American drivers seeking lower cost options at the pump,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Lifting outdated and unnecessary summertime restrictions on E15 will ensure continued access to a fuel that has been sav-

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ing drivers as much as 50 to 60 cents a gallon in recent weeks, offering working families relief at the pump at a time when they need it most. … We are grateful to President Biden and for the support of champions like Secretary [Tom] Vilsack who have helped promote American biofuels as a solution to rising gasoline prices. We look forward to working with this administration and leaders in Congress to deliver a permanent fix to restore year-round access to E15 in the years ahead.” The American Coalition for Ethanol also focused on how the waiver would help consumers save money. “President Biden’s announcement is great news for the ethanol industry, farmers and, most importantly, American consumers, who are under financial stress from rising energy prices and expenses,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “We appreciate the president making it clear the farmers and biofuel producers who produce American-made ethanol are part of the solution to address pain at the pump. Given the long-term importance to ensuring uninterrupted availability of E15 year-round in all parts of the country, we look forward to working with the administration and Congress on a permanent remedy to expand consumer access beyond the emergency measures being taken this summer.” The Renewable Fuels Association also welcomed Biden’s announcement. “We applaud President Biden and his administration for recognizing that low-cost, low-carbon ethanol should be given a fair opportunity to strengthen our energy security and reduce record-high pump prices,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “Giving fuel retailers the freedom to offer E15 this summer will not only result in lower fuel prices for hardworking Americans, but it will also cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce tailpipe pollution linked to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses and other health concerns. As our nation copes with energy price inflation and strives to enhance energy security and diversity, we salute President Biden for turning to America’s farmers and biofuel producers for ingenuity and solutions.” Author: EPM Staff Contact: editor@bbiinternational.com

PhibroTCP uses a central PLC to control product dosing, taking signals from an ethanol plant's DCS. The system can fully replace caustic CIP or be used in conjunction with it. Early adopters of PhibroTCP report saving up to 30 percent on CIP expenditures, with improved cleaning results and higher product yields. PHOTO: PHIBRO

An Innovative Approach to CIP In Fuel Ethanol Plants By David Fowlie, Jim Ekenstedt and Kaitlyn DenHouten

PhibroTCP™ (Total Cleaning Program) is a turnkey solution that provides ethanol producers with reliable and consistent clean-in-place (CIP) performance, cost savings and improved plant operational efficiencies.

The program is fully customized to meet unique plant operational demands. It utilizes deposit-prevention technologies that reduce the rate and degree of foulant formation to keep plants running more efficiently between cleaning events. PhibroTCP then applies advanced detergent rinse aids and CIP formulations that effectively and efficiently remove deposits that negatively influence plant performance. In addition, the program uses a central PLC

system to control all product dosing that takes signals from the plant DCS to facilitate automated dosing through multifunctional, accurate dosing skids. This approach provides ethanol plants with a way to help control plant operating pressures, improve heat-transfer efficiencies and reduce the potential for bacterial infections, leading to higher production yields and improved plant efficiencies with minimal interaction from plant operators.

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).



Plants can use PhibroTCP technology as a stand-alone low-pH CIP system to fully replace using caustic CIP, or in conjunction with caustic CIP to enhance caustic performance and efficiency.

Deposit Prevention

Phibro’s deposit prevention technologies include PhibroSI™ scale inhibitor and PhibroDC™ organic deposit control formulations. These formulations reduce the rate and degree of foulant formation to keep plants running more efficiently between cleaning events. This helps create an operational environment that supports higher ethanol, corn oil and protein production yields while allowing plants to operate at higher rates efficiently. Both products are applied to the plant process flow to reduce the rate and degree of fouling that occurs between CIP events at specific unit operations. Generally, plants add PhibroSI scale inhibitor to evaporators and oil recovery systems to control the formation of inorganic deposits, including beer stone (calcium and magnesium oxalate), struvite, calcium and magnesium phytates. PhibroSI’s ability to reduce inorganic scale formation can lead to improved evaporator efficiencies and increased corn oil yields. Plants typically add PhibroDC organic deposit control formulation to liquefaction, beer columns, evaporators and corn oil recovery systems to reduce the negative impact the formation of organic deposits can have on plant efficiency. Applying PhibroDC can help control pressure build up in liquefaction and evaporators, improve performance and yield of corn oil recovery operations and reduce the frequency of CIP.

CIP Cleaning

Phibro’s cleaning product formulations include PhibroClean™, a highly effective detergent cleaner, and PhibroAC™, an acid plus detergent CIP concentrate. Plants apply PhibroClean to the process conden-

In production comparisons, applying Phi­broDC is proven to help reduce pressure build up in liquefaction and evaporators, leading to better performance and corn oil recov­ery, and reducing the frequency of CIP. PHOTO: PHIBRO

With its PLC-driven automated dosing and reporting system, PhibroTCP delivers reliable, accurate and consistent application of Phibro’s range of deposit control and CIP cleaning formula­tions. The system also provides a way for plant management to track chemical usage and overall CIP costs in real time. Pictured here is a closeup of the system's HMI screen, or user interface that serves as an operational dashboard. PHOTO: PHIBRO

sate rinse cycle ahead of CIP to remove more deposits, more efficiently, in less time. Removing deposits during the rinse cycle makes the CIP process more efficient and extends the service life of CIP solutions.

PhibroAC CIP concentrate is an acid-plusdetergent cleaner that plants can use to fully replace caustic CIP in a low-pH CIP system or in conjunction with caustic CIP programs. PhibroAC effectively removes both


inorganic and organic deposits during the CIP process, while also providing bacterial control.

Automated System

Multipurpose dosing skids enable ethanol plants with PhibroTCP systems to automatically dose multiple plant locations at different application rates without the need for additional plant operator interaction. PHOTO: PHIBRO

Phibro’s TCP system uses a PLCdriven automated dosing and reporting system that delivers reliable, accurate and consistent application of Phibro’s range of deposit control and CIP cleaning formulations. The system also provides a way for plant management teams to track chemical usage and overall CIP costs in real time. The PLC system controls multipurpose dosing skids that are capable of dosing at different application rates to multiple plant locations automatically without the need for additional interaction or control from plant operators. This frees up operators to focus on other plant operations while providing a way to consistently and reliably apply CIP formulations. PhibroTCP typically saves plants 2030 percent on CIP expenditures while delivering better cleaning results that can lead to higher production of ethanol, corn oil

Cleaning and protein. Phibro’s many years of experience in infection control and management in the industry helps plants lower infection rates through better cleaning so plants can optimize their use of antimicrobials. “The PhibroTCP program has allowed our customers to enhance their CIP procedures and processes to control their CIP costs while getting improved cleaning results,” explains Dave Fowlie, PhibroTCP project manager. “Our customer feedback has been extremely positive regarding the modern approach we have taken with advanced prevention and cleaning formulations and the ease of application through our integrated automation system.” Phibro’s extensive technical support capabilities are also an integral part of the program’s success, providing advanced data analytics and hands-on troubleshooting of plant operations through borescoping and IR imaging analysis that identifies and eliminates potential sources of infection. Phibro’s Technology Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, also supports customer plant optimization by monitoring organic acid development, fermentation kinetics and analysis of plant foulants. Jeff Zueger, CEO of Blue Flint Ethanol, who’s operation was the first to adopt PhibroTCP, confirms the positive impact the program has had on his plant’s operations. “We really benefit from the Phibro team’s high level of engagement. Our relationship with Phibro helps us do a better job of producing high-quality fuel. We’re always working together to find new ways to do that.” PhibroTCP offers a range of options for fuel ethanol plants to optimize their CIP programs and overall plant operations through an integrated approach of advanced CIP formulations, state of the art delivery and control systems, and unparalleled customer technical support. PhibroTCP delivers lower CIP costs, improved cleaning, best in class automation, and dosing systems supported by an extensive technical support program. “Our approach is to provide a customized CIP program that is best suited to each individual plant requirements and goals,”

explains Dave Fowlie. “Phibro bases our program on operational inputs from each plant that allows us to provide an accurate assessment of its CIP requirements while offering accurate projected costs ahead of implementing PhibroTCP. Our ability to deliver an effective program that meets the cost expectations of the customer has been a key to the success and growth of PhibroTCP.”

For more information, contact: Jenny Forbes Phibro Ethanol VP Sales & Services Jenny.forbes@pahc.com Dave Fowlie Phibro Ethanol TCP Project Manager david.fowlie@pahc.com Authors: Dave Fowlie, TCP Project Manager Jim Ekenstedt, TCP Senior Technical Service Representative Kaitlyn DenHouten, TCP Technical Service Representative

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ANTIBIOTICS | YEAST | CLEANING | ENZYMES Contact your Phibro representative today for more information. phibroethanol.com ©2021. Ph ©20 Phibr ibro Animal Health th h Co C rpo pora rat ation ion,, Phib ion Phibro ro o Eth Ethano Et an nol, nol, l Totall Cle l ani aning ng Progra Program, m, and d Phibr Phibr bro o logo logo ggo o de desig siign are tra sig tradem d ark dem arr s owne owne wned d by or lice icc nse sed se d to to Phi hibro hibro hib o Ani A mal ma He H aaltth Corp rp pora raatio on or or its ts affil ffi iat ates. at ess es.

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