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Page 1

MARCH 2020

CONSCIENTIOUS

CLEANING Exploring Naturally Derived Products PAGE 18

ALSO

Fractionation Favorability PAGE 26

Engineering Better Yeast PAGE 34

www.ethanolproducer.com


EDITORIAL

ADVERTISER INDEX

Editor Lisa Gibson | lgibson@bbiinternational.com Associate Editor Matt Thompson | mthompson@bbiinternational.com Copy Editor Jan Tellmann | jtellmann@bbiinternational.com

ART

2020 Fuel Ethanol Industry Directory

43

2020 Fuel Ethanol Plant Map

39

2020 Int'l Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

32

AgCountry Farm Credit Services

9

Archangel, LLC

20

CPM Roskamp Champion

25

CTE Global, Inc.

44

Vice President of Production & Design Jaci Satterlund | jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com

D3MAX LLC

22-23

Graphic Designer Raquel Boushee | rboushee@bbiinternational.com

DSM Bio-based Products & Services

41

DuPont Industrial Biosciences

40

Fagen Inc.

30

Fluid Quip Technologies, LLC

31

CEO Joe Bryan | jbryan@bbiinternational.com

Growth Energy

2

ICM, Inc.

15

President Tom Bryan | tbryan@bbiinternational.com

Interstates Companies

37

Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits

33

Phibro Ethanol Performance Group

7

POET LLC

11

PUBLISHING & SALES

Vice President of Operations/Marketing & Sales John Nelson | jnelson@bbiinternational.com Business Development Director Howard Brockhouse | hbrockhouse@bbiinternational.com

Premium Plant Services

5

Senior Account Manager/Bioenergy Team Leader Chip Shereck | cshereck@bbiinternational.com

RPMG, Inc.

24

Circulation Manager Jessica Tiller | jtiller@bbiinternational.com

Seneca Companies

36

Solenis LLC

3

Trucent

13

Victory Energy Operations, LLC

21

Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe | mdefoe@bbiinternational.com Marketing & Social Media Coordinator Dayna Bastian | dbastian@bbiinternational.com

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.

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

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

COPYRIGHT Š 2020 by BBI International TM

4 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


Ä×ËÎÆËÐÉÃÕÃÈÇÔËÐÆ×ÕÖÔÛÖÊÔÑ×ÉÊÖÇÃÏÙÑÔÍ ÔáßáêðèõÒîáéåñéÒèÝêðÕáîòåßáïÝêàåðïïåïðáîßëéìÝêõËêêëòÝðåòáÒèÝêðÕëèñðåëêïïìáêðÝóááçåêÕðëêáÃãá äõàîëÞèÝïðåêãðëëèïĊâÝßåèåðõïäÝîåêãðäáåîğáèàáôìáîåáêßáïÝêàîáßáåòåêãäÝêàï™ëêðîÝåêåêãÒîáéåñéÝêàËêêëòÝðåòá ÝîáðóëëâðäáðëìåêàñïðîåÝèßèáÝêåêãßëéìÝêåáïåêðäáÏåàóáïðÖäáõßñîîáêðèõìîëòåàáðñîêÝîëñêàìîáòáêðÝðåòá éÝåêðáêÝêßáÝêàáéáîãáêßõïáîòåßáïðëÝììîëôåéÝðáèõ YëâðäááðäÝêëèåêàñïðîõÖäåïäáÝòõóëîçèëÝà áïìáßåÝèèõàñîåêãðäáïìîåêãÝêàâÝèèïäñðàëóêïáÝïëêïîáíñåîáïðäáìîëìáîðëëèïðáßäêëèëãõÝêàçêëó™äëóðëãáð ðäáæëÞàëêáïÝâáèõÝêàëêðåéá ÙáÝðÒîáéåñéÒèÝêðÕáîòåßáïÝîáâîáíñáêðèõÝïçáàóäõäÝïÒîáéåñéßäëïáêÕðëêáÃãáðëëèïÕðëêáÃãáäÝïÞááê àáòáèëìåêãäåãäíñÝèåðõóÝðáî™ÞèÝïðåêãðëëèïâëîéÝêõõáÝîïÝêàóáäÝòáñïáàðäáåîðëëèïâîëéðäáÞáãåêêåêãÃïðäá åêàñïðîåÝèßèáÝêåêãåêàñïðîõãîëóïóáêááàðëãîëóóåðäåðÕðëêáÃãáäÝïÞááêîåãäðÞáïåàáñïäáèìåêãðëìîëòåàá ïëèñðåëêïðëëñîßñïðëéáîïĊìîëÞèáéïËðĊïëêáðäåêãðëëîàáîÝìåáßáëâáíñåìéáêðâîëéÝßÝðÝèëãÝêàğãñîáëñðäëó åðóëîçïËðĊïÝêëðäáîðäåêãðëïìáêàðåéáóåðäðäáðáÝéðäÝðßîáÝðáàåðìîëòåàåêãâááàÞÝßçâîëéîáÝè™óëîèàïáððåêãï ÖäåïßëééñêåßÝðåëêÝêàðáÝéóëîçäÝòáìîëàñßáàðäáäåãäíñÝèåðõëâóëîçëñîßñïðëéáîïäÝòáßëéáðëáôìáßð ÄîåêãåêãÝñðëéÝðáàèÝêßåêãðëðäááðäÝêëèåêàñïðîõåïìÝîðëâëñîâñðñîá ÑêáäñêàîáàìáîßáêðäÝêàï™âîááÝñðëéÝðáàèÝêßåêãåïëêðäáäëîåöëêâëîÒîáéåñéÒèÝêðÕáîòåßáïÝêàËêêëòÝðåòá ÒèÝêðÕëèñðåëêïÕðëêáÃãáåïéÝçåêãðäåïðîÝêïåðåëêÝïïáÝéèáïïÝïìëïïåÞèáóåðäåðïêáóðáßäêëèëãåáïÑñîáêðåîá ìñîìëïáÞáäåêàðäåïïóåðßäðëÝñðëéÝðáàèÝêßåêãåïðëðÝçáðáßäêåßåÝêïëñðëâßëêğêáàïìÝßáïëñðëâÞèÝïðöëêáï ÝêàáèåéåêÝðåêãáôäÝñïðåêãóëîçßëêàåðåëêïÑñîæëåêðãëÝèóåðäÕðëêáÃãáåïéÝçåêãåêàñïðîåÝèßèáÝêåêãÝïÝâáî åêàñïðîõËêßîáÝïåêãïáîòåßáíñÝèåðõåïÝèïëÝéÝæëîÞáêáğðåêÝñðëéÝðáàèÝêßåêã×ïåêãÕðëêáÃãáĊïÝñðëéÝðáà èÝêßåêãðáßäêëèëãõëñîðáßäêåßåÝêïßÝêîñêðñÞáïñêàáîâñèèìîáïïñîááÝßäàåîáßðåëêÝêàÝðÝßëêïåïðáêðâááàîÝðá ÙáÞáèåáòáðäáðîáéáêàëñïåêßîáÝïáåêïÝâáðõÝêàïáîòåßáíñÝèåðõðäåïðáßäêëèëãõìîëòåàáïëñðóáåãäïðäáÝààåðåëêÝè ßèáÝêåêãðåéá ÖäáéëîáóáóëîçðëãáðäáîÝêàßëééñêåßÝðáðëßîáÝðáïëèñðåëêïðäáïÝâáîóáéÝçáðäåïåêàñïðîõ™îáïñèðåêãåêðäá äåãäáïðíñÝèåðõïáîòåßáâëîëñîßñïðëéáîïóäåßäåïðäáîáÝèãëÝè


Contents

18

RINGNECK ENERGY

MARCH 2020 VOLUME 26

AD INDEX

8

EDITOR'S NOTE

9

EVENTS CALENDAR

10

DRIVE

12

14

Driving Demand in 2020 and Beyond By Emily Skor Climate Change and Ethanol: Get the Facts Right By Andrea Kent

GRASSROOTS VOICE

Seeing New Markets Clearly in 2020 By Ron Lamberty

42

MARKETPLACE

NOVOZYMES

A Natural Fit

Plants seek environmentally friendly methods By Matt Thompson

26

FRACTIONATION Relevant Results

Researchers analyze efficiency, economics By Lisa Gibson

GLOBAL SCENE

BUSINESS BRIEFS

34

FEATURES 18 CLEANING TECHNOLOGIES

March On By Lisa Gibson

16

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

ISSUE 3

DEPARTMENTS 4

26

34

YIELD MAXIMIZATION A Combined Approach

Partnerships enhance yeast development By Matt Thompson

ON THE COVER

Ringneck Energy in Onida, South Dakota, uses alternative cleaning agents, reducing impacts on fermentation and enhancing environmental friendliness. PHOTO: LANE WARNER, DAKOTA FILM CO.

Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) March 2020, Vol. 26, Issue 3. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ethanol Producer Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.

6 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


EXPERTS DON’T SET THE BAR,

THEY RAISE IT F ER MFAC T S.COM

At Phibro, we believe in raising the bar on industry standards and empowering our customers with the information needed to maximize profitability. That’s why we’ve created the industry’s most comprehensive digital hub – FermFacts.com™. This new resource provides the expertise and solutions needed to optimize the fermentation process, create a more efficient plant and increase profitability. To learn more, visit FermFacts.com™.

©2020. Phibro Animal Health Corporation. Phibro, FermFacts, and Phibro logo design are trademarks owned by or licensed to Phibro Animal Health Corporation or its affiliates.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 7


Editor's Note

March On

Lisa Gibson EDITOR lgibson@bbiinternational.com

My favorite thing about being a part of the ethanol industry is the fact that we’re helping decrease fossil fuel use, helping clean up our planet, helping reduce pollutants. It’s a strong argument for ethanol use worldwide, and it’s a major talking point for U.S. ethanol, perhaps more so now that we have a Democratic-majority House of Representatives. Our Earth friendliness is appealing. Some ethanol producers are taking their environmental friendliness a step further, using naturally derived, less-harsh cleaning agents in their processes. I’m a realist and I’ll concede that the lower cost, efficiency and reduced impact on fermentation (probably) play a role in those decisions, but I’m pleased to report the shift, nonetheless. Associate Editor Matt Thompson takes a look at some alternatives on the market, how they work and why plants are making the switch. The Food Safety Modernization Act has increased awareness of which chemicals can end up in dried distillers grains, so cutting back on some can help increase markets for that coproduct. Hear from suppliers with product offerings, and producers who overhauled their cleaning techniques, starting on page 18. Vijay Singh, professor at the University of Illinois, delivered a passionate, persuasive argument in favor of fractionation at The Alcohol School in Montreal last year. He’s researched the subject most of his career and feels strongly that the ethanol industry is missing out on revenue and markets by not separating the corn kernel. With two other co-authors, Singh recently released a paper that compares eight different wet and dry fractionation techniques on technical and economic scales. It’s the most comprehensive study on the process to date and essentially provides a guide to choosing the best option for any specific plant. But fractionation is not widely used, and a technology developer declined to share any details on his process for this article. It’s too early, he says. Still, Singh and his colleagues present a strong case. Find out more on page 26. Last, this issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine explores how partnerships have further advanced yeast strain evolution. Just as engineers can seek and extract favorable yeast strains, developers can search and partner with other developers in certain areas of expertise. It broadens the knowledge on the teams and expands capabilities. Most recently, Lallemand and NextFerm have partnered up, and are working vigorously on their new line. Details on page 34. We’re heading into March with the same drive and passion for our industry that we’ve carried since its inception. A quick read through the columns on the next few pages of this issue will be a testament to that. The ethanol industry continues to carry its message of environmental friendliness and encouraging steps toward curbing climate change. We march on.

FOR INDUSTRY NEWS: WWW.ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM OR FOLLOW US: 8 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020

TWITTER.COM/ETHANOLMAGAZINE


Upcoming Events

2020 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 15-17, 2020 Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota

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. 866-746-8385 www.FuelEthanolWorkshop.com

Relationship lending for all your financial needs

Focused solely on agriculture, the Agribusiness and Capital Markets department of AgCountry Farm Credit Services has the experience and expertise to be the complete solution for all your financing needs.

Biodiesel Production Technology Summit

June 15-17, 2020 Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota The Biodiesel Production Technology Summit is a new forum designed for biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to learn about cutting-edge process technologies, new techniques and equipment to optimize existing production, and efficiencies to save money while increasing throughput and fuel quality. 866-746-8385 www.biodieseltechnologysummit.com

Please check our website for upcoming webinars www.ethanolproducer.com/pages/webinar

877-811-4073 • www.agcountry.com

white (transparent) logo

Proudly serving customers across all facets of agriculture


Drive

Driving Demand in 2020 and Beyond

Emily Skor

CEO, Growth Energy 202.545.4000 eskor@growthenergy.org

Growth Energy recently concluded its 11th annual Executive Leadership Conference in Key Biscayne, Florida. It’s an opportunity for leaders from every part of the biofuel supply chain to come together and take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. From historic floods to hostile regulators, over the past 12 months we met and overcame some of the toughest challenges this industry has ever faced. We secured year-round sales of E15, forged new retail partnerships to accelerate E15 adoption, and reached new drivers with the news of Unleaded88 through trusted experts like those at Gas Buddy. We rallied unprecedented opposition to refinery exemptions and got the U.S. EPA to finally start accounting for small refinery exemptions in rulemakings going forward. And I’m thrilled to report that Growth Energy and its members are moving faster and more aggressively than ever toward an exciting vision for 2020 and beyond. Driving new demand is at the heart of our work, and we envision a future where markets are open, E15 (not E10) is the floor for domestic growth, consumer confidence in ethanol soars to new heights, and policymakers globally lean in on ethanol, embracing its performance, health and climate benefits. To get there, we will continue to reshape markets and set a new standard in liquid fuels, where higher blends are the default choice for a low-carbon future. Fortunately, the strength of our coalition continues to grow, and a game-changing victory on year-round E15 is just the beginning. For example, just a few months ago, we opened the nation’s fourth-largest gasoline market to E15. It didn’t happen overnight. Growth Energy spent five years working hand-in-hand with community leaders, retailers, farm advocates and biofuel supporters to update the state’s fuel regulations. Among those champions is Growth Energy member Western New York Energy, led by President and CEO Timothy Winters. Our friends at ECR Engines, New York Corn and Soybean, and Cumberland Farms chimed in, too, explaining to New York regulators why E15 is a win-win for engines and the environment. Over time, this one market could generate demand for an additional 285 million gallons of ethanol annually—equal to more than 100 million bushels of corn. Best of all, it would open a pathway to retail expansion across New England. On the West Coast, we’re making the same kind of long-term, sustained effort with regulators in California. There, Growth Energy and our industry partners are working directly with academics and regulators to develop the robust body of research and testing needed to help secure E15’s rightful role in a market that consumes more than 15 billion gallons of fuel each year. That forward-looking vision is also driving our work in nations like China, India, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Brazil, where we are positioning ethanol as the foremost climate and human health solution available around the world. In today’s trade environment, the challenges we face are great, but the opportunities are even greater. That’s why, over just the past year, Growth Energy participated in 26 trade missions in eight countries; submitted comments to 11 foreign governments; hosted six foreign retail and technical workshops; and co-sponsored the first Global Ethanol Summit, which brought together more than 400 leaders from 60 nations. These exchanges are absolutely critical as we encourage foreign leaders to take a fresh look at ethanol’s unique value as more than an additive—a true alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Fortunately, we have a great story to tell, thanks to the incredible innovations achieved by U.S. ethanol producers. With each passing year, we are capturing new efficiencies and pushing our climate footprint down. It’s that progress that has allowed biofuels to generate more carbon credits than any source of fuel under programs like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Growth Energy is excited to tell this story, but we aren’t telling it alone. Our industry’s most important victories in 2019 were fueled by a growing coalition of biofuel supporters from all sides—Republican and Democrat, corn and soy, ethanol and biodiesel. Working together, we showed the world that we can and will stand united when our backs are against the wall. Now, we must put that spirit of collaboration and unity to work behind a new vision—one where ethanol is embraced as the fuel of the 21st century.

10 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


opportunity

is everywhere if you know where to look

POET.COM

At POET, the workday ends, but the work never does. We’re using renewable resources and our endless passion to create biofuels, nutrient-rich protein and oil alternatives.


Global Scene

Climate Change and Ethanol: Get the Facts Right

Andrea Kent

Vice President of Government and Public Relations, Greenfield Global Board Member, Renewable Industries Canada 1.833.476.3835 andrea.kent@greenfield.com

A few short months ago, the world watched as a series of massive bushfires tore across Australia. Since the fire season began in July, record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fueled the worst wildfires the country has seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated. The fires were another stark and threatening reminder that our environment, and the impacts of climate change, cannot be ignored. But in 2020, just as in the decades before, there is no single, perfect solution to climate change and the politics are anything but pristine. In Canada, the need to balance environmental urgency with economic pragmatism is accepted. We want action but we recognize that action will be difficult. Further complicating matters, we also seem to be too often forgetting the few, effective solutions we have already put in place. Perhaps it’s because climate change is, by its very nature, so vast and complex. Maybe part of it is our inherent fascination with finding a new and exciting technology to solve all of our problems. But there is another phenomenon impeding our progress and jeopardizing our success—misinformation. And this is especially true when it comes to the blending of ethanol into gasoline. Millions of Canadian drivers already fill up their tanks with fuel that is a blend of gasoline and ethanol, the latter of which generates much less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Federal blending mandates—in place since 2007—require our gasoline to contain an average 5 percent ethanol. In addition, several Canadian provinces are currently considering proposals to increase ethanol content. Ontario, for example, is examining the merits of moving to 15 percent ethanol and Quebec is considering a move to 10 percent in mid-2021 and 15 percent in mid-2025. Despite the reality of widespread, and growing, ethanol use, most Canadians still don’t think about how it helps the environment. With every fill-up containing a blend of ethanol and gasoline, drivers are doing their part to reduce GHG emissions. Best of all, since ethanol costs less than gasoline—by about 20 cents per liter—this benefit has come at no additional cost. If policy is half of the equation, the other is public awareness and education. To move forward, we have to break down the myths of ethanol, especially those being propelled by either old or biased information. First and foremost, ethanol is good for the economy, period. Today, Canada’s ethanol industry generates approximately $2.5 billion in economic activity. This is projected to grow to up to $8 billion per year with a welldesigned Clean Fuel Standard, currently being drafted by the federal government. If Ontario implements an E15 blending mandate, the domestic ethanol industry would have up to a $3.7 billion annual economic impact. Since the first biofuels mandates came into effect in 2007, Canada’s domestic ethanol industry continues to be on an impressive business trajectory—free of subsidies—that provides some of the highest-paying jobs in rural communities. Ethanol is friendly on engines and wallets. Ethanol is a high-octane fuel, and E15 is compatible with modern car engines. The U.S. EPA has approved the use of E15 in vehicles year 2001 and newer, and drivers in America have already driven over 10 billion miles on E15 (without incident). And, because ethanol costs less than gasoline, increased blending will lead to drivers saving money at the fuel pump. Last, but certainly not least, cleaner fuel means cleaner air. The science is clear: Canadian ethanol made from local corn reduces GHG emissions by up to 62 percent compared to gasoline. Across Canada, blending biofuels has reduced GHG emissions by a remarkable 4.2 megatonnes annually, the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road. Ethanol also reduces toxic tailpipe emissions linked to disease. Understanding is the key to progress. To date, nothing has been as effective at reducing transportation sector GHGs as the federal and provincial regulations that require the use of cleaner, renewable fuels, like ethanol. And, unlike more complex and costlier environmental policies, we know ethanol works. Ethanol is not a new, untested technology. It has not been proven only theoretically, in academic papers, or just by scientists in a lab. We know ethanol works from over a decade of real-life experience. The facts are clear—but not well enough known. If we are to achieve the maximum social, economic and environmental benefits of higher ethanol blends, we all have to do our bit to raise awareness and to keep pushing for expanded use. After all, we have never had more to gain or more at stake.

12 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


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At Trucent, we have the knowledge and data to drive the story on corn oil extraction. With the combination of leading-edge technologies and unmatched service, we optimize the process from fermentation to extraction. Our industry-leading solutions can help you capture more corn oil:

&2666/$GYDQFHGFRUQRLOH[WUDFWLRQPRGXOH 7UX6KLHOG6&6HULHV(IIHFWLYHSUHWUHDWPHQWV\VWHP '&23OXV&RPSUHKHQVLYHSURFHVVDQDO\WLFVDQGPRQLWRULQJ $VFHQWÂ&#x160;(PXOVLRQEUHDNHUFKHPLVWU\ &353DUWVDQGVHUYLFHIRUGLVNVWDFNFHQWULIXJHV Call us today. 877.280.7212

trucent.com


Grassroots Voice

Seeing New Markets Clearly in 2020

Ron Lamberty

Senior Vice President American Coalition for Ethanol 605.334.3381 rlamberty@ethanol.org

As we move into the year, it seems like fewer people are using “2020” and its common association with perfect vision to make what they think is a clever point about “vision” or “focus” for the upcoming year. Aside from its lack of originality, what bugs me (and probably only me) when 2020 is used that way is the fact 20/20 vision isn’t perfect. 20/20 simply means from 20 feet, a person can see what they’re supposed to be able to see from 20 feet. It’s more like standard vision, and what’s more (or less, actually), it’s standard vision of high-contrast black images on a white background. The real world has depth and shadow, texture and color, and it wraps around us. That’s why humans have more than one eye. Without information from those two “cameras” and a brain sorting their pictures while adding input from other senses to provide constant 150-degree wide, 3D moving images, we would only see black and white things right in front of us. Straight-ahead, black and white vision tells us updated Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rules mean more E15 sales in 2020. No question. However, to move significant new ethanol volume in E15, we need additional perspectives to have a fuller picture. We need input and participation from small retailers—like the ones who took the lead in making E10 available nationwide—for E15 to become a coast-to-coast regular fuel. Single-store and small chain retailers still own more than half of the nation’s convenience stores. Unfortunately, most of them also still think E15 requires more new equipment than it does, are concerned it will create liability that it won’t, and believe customers don’t want it like they have proven they do. They’re also smarting from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership money and industry matching funds mostly going to their larger, richer competitors, unintentionally convincing them they were right about the high cost issue (Why provide funds if it doesn’t cost much to change?), even while those bigger chain operators are proving liability concerns are a myth and there is plenty of E15 demand out there. USDA invited fuel retailers and biofuels industry stakeholders to Washington, D.C., last November to talk about the BIP program and how a new and different program could help more fuel marketers offer higher biofuel blends. In January, USDA asked for input on a Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program it has been working on since those first meetings last fall. At both opportunities, ACE emphasized the importance of making funds available to smaller retailers and making sure those retailers know they’re available. Most stations could add E15 with a few relatively inexpensive changes to equipment, but the myth that adding E15 costs hundreds of thousands of dollars is so persistent, most retailers haven’t even bothered to check. We pointed out true volume growth requires higher blend availability in more places, not just larger volumes in the same places, and with flex fuels still moving far more new ethanol volume than E15, incentives must help retailers keep E85 and flex fuels available. Most importantly, just as ACE reengaged environmental groups in discussions about ethanol and a Low Carbon Octane Standard, we asked some of the small retailers and groups who complained about the BIP program and have fought against E15 to tell us what they would need to sell more of our fuel. We also asked them to share their thoughts with USDA. Because as clear as some of us think our vision is, the best view usually belongs to the person standing right next to the chart.

14 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


BUSINESS BRIEFS PEOPLE, PARTNERSHIPS & PROJECTS

Cook leads Enogen business

Cook

Chris Cook is the new head of the EnoCook earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy gen business for Syngenta. Enogen technology from South Dakota State University Brookings. He joined the Enois an in-seed innovation that enhances ethanol gen team in 2015 heading up stewardship and stakeholder relations. production and feed efficiency by delivering al- Cook has been with Syngenta for 21 years. pha amylase enzyme directly in the grain while offering growers the opportunity to earn a premium for an identity preserved crop.

Badger State produces 1 billion gallons Badger State Ethanol in Monroe, Wisconsin, recently produced its 1 billionth gallon of ethanol. The 85 MMgy plant began production in October 2002. “I thank all of the investors who have believed in us, the community that supports us, the consumers who buy our end products, in both ethanol and feed, and the organizations that support the agenda that helps make this possible,” said Erik Huschitt, BSE CEO and general manager. “We certainly didn’t do this alone, and we express our gratitude to all of those who helped us reach this milestone.” “RFA applauds Badger State on this important milestone and its longtime commitment to the industry,” said Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO. “All those involved in the operation, from investors to staff, should be very proud of the hard

work they all put into a facility that supports the community around them. The company supports dozens of good jobs, adds value to locally grown crops, and plays an important role in providing consumers with cleaner and more affordable fuels at the pump.”

ACE appoints Fosheim as director of member and industry relations The American Coalition for Ethanol has appointed Nick Fosheim, former executive director of South Dakota’s Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations, to serve Fosheim as director of member and industry relations at the organization’s office based in Sioux Falls. ACE CEO Brian Jennings says Fosheim’s experience coordinating business attraction and retention efforts and connecting community organizations and staff to development resources makes him a natural fit to enrich current relationships with the organization’s members and other constituencies, as well as expand ACE’s diverse membership base to support its efforts in building market demand for ethanol. 16 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020

“We are excited Nick Fosheim is bringing his ability to connect people across multiple platforms and his enthusiasm for ag and advocacy to the ACE team,” Jennings said. “Having worked in a membership-based environment, Nick will hit the ground running to advance relationships with ACE’s current and potential members, industry partners and supporting organizations, while developing new strategies to promote our efforts throughout the industry.” “People are at the heart of what drives ACE,” Fosheim said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know ACE members and connecting with the people who power this grassroots organization over the coming months.”


Business Briefs

Kemin adds to biofuels business Kemin Industries, a global ingredient manufacturer, has expanded its Kemin Biofuels business with new hires. Kenny Erdoes is vice president of corporate engineering. A U.S. Navy veteran and chemical engineer, Erdoes has significant experience starting up biodiesel plants and has previously worked for biodiesel companies. Shweta Shah is scientific and regulatory affairs manager. Shah has over 15 years’ experience in biofuels and related studies and is a widely cited scientist. For her Master of Technology in Modern Methods of Chemical Analysis dissertation, she focused on optimizing the reaction conditions for biodiesel production from vegetable oils. Shah received both this degree and her doctorate in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. She completed post-doctoral research at Iowa State University, followed by five years as a staff scientist. Ye Lao is vice president of worldwide research and development. Lao has been with the company for more than 10 years. She began her Kemin career in research and development at Kemin

Animal Nutrition and Health – China. She then took on the role of vice president of marketing for the region, which was followed by her current role. Lao earned her doctorate degree in biochemistry from the University of Iowa and received an Executive Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. Matt Timm is plant manager. Before joining Kemin three years ago, Timm spent the bulk of his career at Red Star Yeast, beginning as a process shift supervisor and eventually becoming production manager. “The biofuels industry is accelerating and has the capacity to make a positive impact on so many aspects of our daily lives and the future of our planet,” said Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Kemin. “Because Kemin has decades of experiences with the same enzymes and antioxidants biofuels producers are using, we found this extraordinary synergy between our applied science and the interests of the biofuels industry. As we work to transform the quality of life, now is the time to grow our presence in an area that presents so much potential for beneficial change.”

Aemetis awarded $14 million in energy efficiency grants Aemetis Inc. subsidiary Aemetis Advanced Fuels Keyes Inc. in Keyes, California, has received two grants from the California Energy Commis­sion for a combined total of $14 million to implement upgrades that would reduce natural gas use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, decrease operating costs, and reduce the carbon intensity of fuel grade ethanol produced at the plant. The cost reduction and revenues increase associated with the upgrades are expected to improve the operating cash flow of the Keyes plant by $13 million each year. Aemetis plans to install a 1.56-megawatt photovoltaic micro grid solar array with integrated battery energy storage and an AIdriven power distribution control system, which is expected to significantly reduce the natural gas currently used in generating onsite electricity. In addition, Aemetis plans to upgrade the facility’s evaporation and distillation units with a mechanical vapor recovery system to further reduce the use of natural gas, lowering carbon intensity and increasing expected plant production capacity by approximately 25 percent.

Aemetis will also administer a scholarship program that will fund 10 annual scholarships, at $3,000 each, aimed at mentoring local students in science, technology, engineering and math careers. “Aemetis is implementing technologies that allow the traditional biofuels industry to enter a new era of improved operational efficiency and lower carbon intensity renewable fuel, which we expect will result in a significant reduction of carbon content in renewable energy,” said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis Inc. “When fully implemented at the Keyes plant, these projects are planned to result in a double-digit reduction in the carbon intensity of our ethanol and significantly improve our operating cash flow by more than an estimated $18 million per year, all while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs. We are grateful to the California Energy Commission for their support and confidence, and we look forward to implementing these upgrade projects.”

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 17


Cleaning Technologies

EFFICIENT DISTRIBUTION: These pumps distribute EcoLab’s natural cleaning products Trimeta and Trimeta Shield at Ringneck Energy. Chad Carter, Ringneck’s operations manager, says removing caustic has resulted in a cost savings for the plant, while reducing impact on the process and the environment. PHOTO: RINGNECK ENERGY

18 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


A NATURAL FIT Some ethanol plants are turning to alternative cleaning methods and naturally derived products that are more environmentally friendly than traditional chemicals. By Matt Thompson

While many ethanol plants use caustic soda to clean process equipment, the chemical comes with its fair share of issues. So, Chad Carter, operations manager of Ringneck Energy in Onida, South Dakota, says he’s eager to replace it. “Because the caustic can cause a hinderance to the process, especially with fermentation and the yeast, I’ve always wanted to get rid of it,” he says. But his opinion isn’t common in the industry, he adds. “Since I got in the business, whether I was an operator or production manager, it’s always been caustic. Caustic followed by the acid solution, with whoever’s company you go with.” In place of caustic, Ringneck uses Ecolab’s products, Trimeta and Trimeta Shield, which Carter says has resulted in a cost savings. He says one order of the chemicals lasts about a month and a half. “When I was using the traditional caustic then followed by an acid solution, I was ordering caustic probably every week,” he says. “So we did a rough cost analysis on that, and we were saving about $10,000 a month just in not buying the caustic.”

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 19


Cleaning Technologies And the benefits reach beyond cost savings. “We had an operator error where a ferm CIP valve was left open, and when they were cleaning the other one, some of the acid solution got into our fermentation, and it did not affect it,” Carter says. “The only thing it really did is it just slowed down the kinetics of that ferm a little bit. “What my job is as operations manager is to try to make this plant as efficient as possible and as safe as possible to run,” Carter says. Zach Babcock, associate district manager at Ecolab, says the company started working with Ringneck after the plant’s startup last year. “Once they were in a place where they felt comfortable making the change to the standard process, shortly thereafter, we started working with that site to support the cleaning end,” Babcock says. The process Ringneck is using is similar to the CIP process Badger State Ethanol in Monroe, Wisconsin, is using to remove caustic from its processes, with some minor updates. “Some of the dosing options have evolved and improved since the initial POINT OF ENTRY: Trimeta and Trimeta Shield enter the Ringneck Energy ethanol plant through these tubes. PHOTO: RINGNECK ENERGY

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test and partnership with Badger State,â&#x20AC;? Babcock says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;More diagnostic tools, more integration into the [distributed control system], the base chemistry remains the same and then in 2020, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be some additional options we can bring to that package.â&#x20AC;? And the cleaning process hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had an impact on the plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distillers grains. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everybody now has those [Food Safety Modernization Act] documents they need to supply to the plant,â&#x20AC;? Carter says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had no ill effects with our DDG or anything like that.â&#x20AC;?

A Common Theme

Babcock says awareness of the chemicals that are used in the production process has increased. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In the past 12 months, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve definitely gotten more requests on whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a cleaner process, more awareness of whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going into their process, and/or removal of certain items from the process,â&#x20AC;? he says. The reasons for looking more critically at the chemical inputs vary among plants, Babcock says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some plants have more challenges from a lactic and acid perspective and have more challenges with infection than others. Those customers may really be looking to help clean up their process. Or a site Continued on page 24

ANTIBIOTIC FREE: Rick Bradley, production supervisor at Golden Triangle Energy, stands in front of a tote of IsoStab, BetaTecâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hops extract for microbial control. Bradley says the product hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had any negative impacts on fermentation. PHOTO: BETATEC HOP PRODUCTS

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Cleaning Technologies Continued from page 21

may be looking to remove other things from their process such as limiting the amount of sulfuric acid they need to pH adjust their process.” He adds that some plants are simply looking for cost reduction, while others want healthier yeast and fermentation. Stacey Campbell, ethanol technical services manager for BetaTec Hop Products, says FSMA has made producers more conscious about what goes into their distillers

grains and coproducts. “I feel like definitely plants are thinking along those lines and looking down the road for the future,” she says, adding that the trend is also customerdriven. “I feel that is a trend that I do see more,” Campbell says. “I’ve been in the industry for a while, but it seems that probably within the past three to five years, it’s a more up-front topic versus what it was 10 years ago.”

NATURALLY DERIVED: IsoStab is BetaTec’s solution to antibiotic-free microbial control. Stacey Campbell, ethanol technical services manager at BetaTec, says bacteria don’t develop resistance to the hop extract. PHOTO: BETATEC HOP PRODUCTS

Microbial Control

For plants looking to remove antibiotics, or cut down on their use, BetaTec supplies a natural hop product that can be used for microbial control. “We’ve discovered a way we can extract and isolate those natural compounds and that’s where we’ve provided a liquid extract that can provide bacteriostatic activity,” Campbell says. A major advantage of using a naturally derived product, Campbell says, is that bacteria don’t develop a resistance to it. Campbell says the hops contain natural, weak organic acids. When those organic acids are dosed to the propagator, “any of the bacteria that’s present will absorb the hop extract through the cell wall and with this being a weak organic acid, it will

24 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


reduce the pH within the bacterial cell,â&#x20AC;? Campbell says. That reduction prevents the bacteria from absorbing glucose. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to essentially starve the bacterial cell of its food and prevent competition with the yeast for the glucose.â&#x20AC;? In addition, the natural process can have a positive impact on fermentation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We typically see improved health with increased cell counts that may translate into an increase in yield of your ethanol,â&#x20AC;? Campbell says. Rick Bradley, production supervisor at Golden Triangle Energy in Craig, Missouri, says his plant has seen those benefits. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It seems like it makes your yeast healthier and it increased our yield a little bit. Those are good things.â&#x20AC;? Golden Triangle began using BetaTecâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s antimicrobial solutions both as a cost saving measure, and with an eye toward becoming antibiotic-free, Bradley says. The plant has been using BetaTecâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s IsoStab for more than 15 years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dose a whole lot, so it makes our cost low,â&#x20AC;? Bradley says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We knew that they were pushing and talking about these antibiotic-free feedstuff, so we were looking at ways to meet that and we were already using a product that we knew we could get by with and say weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re antibiotic-free, and control our lactics and acidics and bacterial infections in fermentation.â&#x20AC;? Babcock says Ecolab also has customers exploring antibiotic-free options. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had a couple sites tell us thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really where theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to be in the next 12-plus months, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something that I truly believe the industry can get to,â&#x20AC;? he says. While Ecolab isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an antibiotic supplier, he says the company strives to help plants achieve their goals by helping to manage the CIP process. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll take time, but just based on what can be done in other industriesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the dairy industry and the broader global brewing industryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;I definitely believe with the correct targeted changes in the process, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no reason

a biofuels plant canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t run antibiotic-free at some point.â&#x20AC;? Meanwhile, EcoLab is helping plants clean up their cleaning processes. At Ringneck, Carter says the switch to chemicals that are less harsh and more environmentally friendly has resulted in a good regimen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve spent most of my time these first several months dialing everything in, getting everything optimized and then optimizing

the chemical as well,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Basically, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at where we want to be for that cleaning process.â&#x20AC;? Author: Matt Thompson Associate Editor, Ethanol Produce Magazine 701.738.4922 mthompson@bbiinternational.com

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ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 25


Fractionation

VALUE BOOST: The fiber separated in fractionation can be converted into cellulosic ethanol, generating D3 renewable identification numbers. University of Illinois researchers conducted a study that thoroughly evaluates economics and performance of eight fractionation techniques. PHOTO: ISTOCK

26 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


RELEVANT RESULTS A technical and economic analysis of eight fractionation techniques shows cost, profitability and coproduct quality comparisons. By Lisa Gibson

Implementing a fractionation pro- ing previous studies on the topic haven’t analyzed as many modified processes or studied the outcess at a conventional dry-grind etha- comes as deeply. nol plant has the potential to increase With low margins in the ethanol industry, the the plant’s profitability, increase the study shows how fractionation can increase profvalue and nonruminant digestibility itability at dry-grind plants. “This process is very at converting starch into ethanol, but all of dried distillers grains, and provide efficient the other valuable components of the corn kernel a corn fiber coproduct that can be don’t get processed into their optimized form,” converted to cellulosic ethanol for ad- Singh says. “So fractionation is a way of generating ditional revenue, without significantly additional coproducts in a conventional dry-grind affecting conventional ethanol yield. ethanol process.” So says a first-of-its-kind technical and Processes and Modifications economic analysis of eight different Singh, Kumar and Kurambhatti compared fractionation processes by researchers nine processes, including conventional dry grind at the University of Illinois at Urbana- with no fractionation. Wet fractionation techniques involve soaking the corn kernel in water Champaign. for six to 12 hours and coarse grinding to separate In “Impact of Fractionation Process on the Technical and Economic Viability of Corn Dry Grind Ethanol,” lead co-authors Vijay Singh, professor of bioprocessing; Deepak Kumar, now professor in paper and bioprocess engineering at State University of New York; and Chinmay Kurambhatti, a doctoral student in food and bioprocessing at the University of Illinois, set out to compare wet fractionation with modified dry fractionation processes, comparing profitability, capital investment, ethanol yield and coproduct quality, to determine the best bang for an ethanol producer’s buck. “The object of this paper was to find all the fractionation technologies and put them at one platform with similar assumptions,” Kurambhatti says, add-

components including germ, pericarp fiber and fine fiber. Different modifications of wet fractionation separate different components. In dry fractionation, hot water or steam is applied to the corn kernel for 15 to 30 minutes, followed by coarse milling and separation of individual components. The study clearly confirmed what the researchers already knew: Wet fractionation provides a cleaner separation and leaves enough nutrients in the germ behind to allow efficient fermentation of starch. “In wet fractionation, you get a much cleaner product, and the quality of those products is higher,” Singh says. “Whereas in dry fractionation, the separation is not that clean, and

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 27


Fractionation

28 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

as a result, the value of the products that they produce is also not high. For example, the oil content in the germ produced through dry fractionation is 18%, compared with 39% in wet fractionation.” In wet fractionation, the nutrients from the germ are leached into the water, and therefore are still available to the yeast in fermentation, Singh says. “You don’t affect the fermentation process in wet fractionation, but you do in dry fractionation.” The study modified dry fractionation to fix the issues it brings to fermentation. “What we’ve been working on over the years is to try to come up with innovations to fix the problems with fermentation in the dry fractionation process,” Singh says. Those fixes were established, but the cost, effect on coproducts, and the effect on yield were unknown. Until now. The study evaluates the following wet fractionation techniques: quick germ; quick germ quick fiber; enzymatic milling with front end

fine fiber recovery; and enzymatic milling with post-fermentation fine fiber recovery. It also evaluates the following dry fractionation techniques: conventional dry fractionation; dry fractionation with germ soak water addition in slurry; dry fractionation with protease addition in SSF; and dry fractionation with partial germ addition in slurry.

Assumptions, Quality and Yield

Using SuperPro Designer, an Intelligen Inc. computer simulation technology, the study assumed a dry grind plant would process 1,113.11 metric tons of corn per day, operating 330 days per year. Other assumptions for coproduct yields were based on previous lab studies. The results show ethanol yield without fractionation at 40.2 million gallons; yield with wet fractionation between 37.2 million ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 29


Fractionation and 40 million gallons; and yield with dry fractionation at 31.3 million to 37.3 million gallons. “Ethanol production capacities for all fractionation processes were found lower compared to conventional dry-grind processes due to loss of starch in various coproducts,” the study reads. Yields in wet fractionation were up to 7.4% lower than conventional, whereas yields in dry fractionation were up to 18.9% lower. “What we found is you can do dry fractionation, but you’ll have to implement some innovations in order to improve the profitability of that dry fractionation process,” Singh says.

At What Cost FRACTIONATION AND FINANCE: Vijay Singh, professor of bioprocessing at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (right), and Chinmay Kurambhatti, doctoral student in food and bioprocessing, are co-authors of the study evaluating fractionation techniques. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

30 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020

Not surprisingly, wet fractionation’s increased profitability comes at a higher cost. Implementing fractionation added up to $13.4 million to the cost of developing a dry-grind ethanol plant (estimated at $83.95


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million). Developing an ethanol plant with a dry fractionation process comes with capital costs of $83.35 million to $84.91 million, less than $1 million more than a process without fractionation. “If you have more capital, you would rather go for wet fractionation,” Singh says. Because of the high value of coproducts, ethanol production costs in most fractionation processes ($1.29 to $1.35 per gallon) were lower than conventional dry grind ($1.36 per gallon). Internal rate of return for most of the wet fractionation techniques (6.88% to 8.58%) and dry fractionation techniques (6.45% to 7.04%) was higher than the conventional process (6.39%). Wet fractionation tailored for germ and pericarp recovery was the most profitable among the processes evaluated. Operating costs for wet fractionation were higher than that for conventional, while dry fractionation operating costs were similar to that of conventional.

Fiber and Future

Removing fiber from the corn kernel through fractionation not only makes that fiber available for further conversion to cellulosic ethanol and generation of D3 renewable identification numbers (RINs), but also makes the DDGS more digestible for nonruminants, such as poultry and swine.

“Those small animals don’t have a mechanism to digest the fiber, and if you feed too much of the fiber to them, you can actually affect the weight gain,” Singh says. Poultry and swine with too much fiber in their diets will gain weight slowly, or not at all, he adds. So, removing that fiber increases the rations of DDGS in those diets. These results related to coproduct quality, and overall profitability illustrate a strong argument in favor of fractionation, Singh says. It shows there are ways to modify dry fractionation to increase profitability while retaining fermentation efficiency, he adds. The results, Singh says, are incredibly positive and useful for the ethanol industry. “This is a very comprehensive study that brings everything together and then compares the profitability of all those fractionation processes. It then gives a quick synopsis of what a company can do to increase profitability.” With these results in mind, Singh hopes to see an increase in the number of ethanol plants using fractionation processes. Author: Lisa Gibson Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4920 lgibson@bbiinternational.com

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Yield Maximization

A COMBINED

APPROACH Partnered expertise helps yeast developers keep up with evolution in the ethanol industry. By Matt Thompson

It’s an exciting time for the biofuels yeast industry, says Kevin Wenger, executive vice president of Mascoma, a subsidiary of Lallemand Biofuels and Distilled Spirits. When Wenger first entered the industry 20

years ago, there wasn’t a lot of differentiation between yeast strains used for biofuels production, he says. That’s changed with the adoption of engineered yeasts. “It’s really incredible to see how far we’ve come. We have yeasts that are producing enzymes, and we have yeasts that are capable of increasing the ethanol yield and other things that nobody was really counting on yeast to do years ago. Traditionally, there was a lot of innovation in the enzyme market in biofuels, and now I think yeast kind of caught up with enzymes in terms of the amount of innovation and value that they’re bringing to the table.”

Partners in Yeast Production

Mascoma hopes to bring further innovation to the table through a partnership announced a little over a year ago. Late in 2018, Masco-

UNDER DEVELOPMENT: Emily Stonehouse, research and development manager at Mascoma (left), and Anda Panaitiu, research scientist, design new yeast for the biofuels industry. Mascoma and NextFerm last year announced a partnership designed to take advantage of each company’s strength in developing new strains of yeast. PHOTO: MASCOMA

34 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020


ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 35


Yield Maximization ma and NextFerm, an Israeli biotechnology company, announced a partnership and development of a new strain of yeast. Wenger says the idea behind the partnership was to combine expertise in genetic and metabolic yeast engineering. Tzafra Cohen, NextFerm’s senior vice president of research and development, says NextFerm’s approach to yeast development relies on breeding techniques, rather than genetic modification. “We are mostly relying on the yeasts that were isolated from nature, over millions of years of evolution,” she says. “In this way, we can isolate the yeast with super resistance to specific stress, and then we are modifying and we are improving the yeast to have the industrial characterization, like being very potent, being very economic with a super high yield, etc., while keeping the very unique environmental resistance.” Cohen says the non-GMO technique NextFerm employs allows the company to modify many genes simultaneously, which is important in the development of specific traits. “Genetic modification is a very unique point change in one gene or several genes that are very precise and accurate,” she says.

“The combination of these approaches and technologies has been very great. You can then have an ethanol-producing yeast that can have a very potent ethanol production with, for example, high heat resistance.” Wenger adds, “The types of things that we’re looking into are characteristics that are difficult to engineer—so things like a yeast’s overall ability to withstand temperature excursions or pH excursions, or maybe a yeast’s ability to ferment very fast. That’s the type of thing we’re hoping to do is combine those discoveries that are based on selection of natural yeast with our engineering approach.” Wenger says Mascoma and NextFerm hope to take advantage of recent advancements in DNA sequencing technology. “Our overall goal is that we’ll be able to identify these different characteristics, link them to a genetic basis and then you can use many different technology approaches to integrate them into a commercial product,” he says. “We are trying to see what we can discover by combining these approaches.”

Development Schedule

UNDER OBSERVATION: Lior Klein, scientist at NextFerm, examines a yeast sample. NextFerm brings expertise in breeding technology to a partnership with Mascoma. PHOTO: NEXTFERM

Wenger says the partnership is still

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NEW STRAINS: Yeast is shown in Mascomaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lab. Mascoma last year announced a partnership with Israeli biotechnology company NextFerm. The two companies are combining their expertise to develop new strains of yeast. PHOTO: MASCOMA



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Yield Maximization

Constant progress is important for the ethanol industry, Wenger adds. “It needs to be constantly finding ways to reduce the production cost and increase the yield of ethanol and improve the value of the coproducts and things like that, so I think yeast and bacteria will play a key role in all of that development in the coming years.”

Need for Speed

FERMENTATION EVALUATION: Elizabeth DeFreese, manager of Novozymes’ microbial fermentation development team, evaluates yeast cell response to fermentation challenges. PHOTO: NOVOZYMES

young, so it’s too early to talk about specific developments the two companies have achieved. He adds, though, that they hope to share more specifics about their efforts in the next one to two years. Cohen says announcements about new products will happen in phases. “I think that the most important thing is that we’re predicting to have a stream. So it will be one, and the next generation somewhere in the future, etc., because we see the potential is huge, as is the prospect to proceed to further improve the strain.” While consumers may sometimes hold a negative view of genetic modification, Wenger says it’s not a major concern for NextFerm and Mascoma. “In the ag industry in the U.S., there’s not that big of a concern about biotechnology or genetic modification, or at least it’s generally accepted as a safe technology,” he says. “So in that market, you’re going to pursue perfor38 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | MARCH 2020

mance features via the fastest way possible and use all of the technology tools in the toolbox to get there as fast as you can.” Direct-to-consumer products, however, take a different approach and highlight the tradeoff between speed of development and non-GMO techniques.

A Strong Collaboration

NextFerm and Mascoma are both happy with the partnership so far. “We’ve got a good cultural fit working together with those folks and that’s a really important part of R&D: people working productively together,” Wenger says. “We’ve been happy that there’s been a great fit.” “We have a very good collaboration with them,” Cohen says, adding the teams mesh well professionally and personally. The speed of development is bolstered by the teams’ different areas of expertise, she adds.

Mascoma and NextFerm aren’t the only yeast developers taking advantage of combined expertise. Brian Brazeau, Novozymes’ president for North America and head of bioengineering, says his company also takes a combined approach to yeast innovation. “If you look at the approach we’ve taken where we’ve combined different types of biological techniques, one of them with our partner Microbiogen, it just amplifies the rate at which we’re able to bring new technologies to the market,” Brazeau says. Microbiogen is a biotechnology company that specializes in industrial yeast development. “The industry is pushing for more robustness and tolerance, and so we are seeing some developments in this direction,” Cohen says. “I think that this results in a great economic improvement for the whole industry.” Brazeau says, “Breeding allows you to take advantage of the inherent robustness that organisms that exist in nature must have. Breeding technologies help you take advantage of those natural robustness characteristics.” He adds the pace at which ethanol producers update and change their processes has required yeast producers to keep up. “They’re always trying to do things better and better [and that] presents a cool challenge for us.” Author: Matt Thompson Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922 mthompson@bbiinternational.com


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Profile for BBI International

2020 March Ethanol Producer Magazine  

Issue focused on: Yield Maximization, Bacteria/Biofilm Control Ethanol Producer Magazine is the #1 Source of News and Information About Etha...

2020 March Ethanol Producer Magazine  

Issue focused on: Yield Maximization, Bacteria/Biofilm Control Ethanol Producer Magazine is the #1 Source of News and Information About Etha...