INSIDE: COMBATING PRECIPITATE FORMATION NOVEMBER 2015
2 DECADES OF INNOVATION ICM Builds Strong Legacy, Aims For Gen 2 Success Page 38
New-Generation High-Tech Tools Page 26
Shared Knowledge Strengthens Industry Page 32
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VOLUME 21 ISSUE 11
EDITOR'S NOTE Gadgets, Groups
Improve Maintenance By Tom Bryan
THE WAY I SEE IT
Government Confuses Me By Mike Bryan
New-gen tools keep fans, pumps, motors moving
By Susanne Retka Schill
10 VIEW FROM THE HILL
Networking Builds Strong Tool Belt
Maintenance managers band together to share best practices
By Holly Jessen
Slice Through Political Chatter This Presidential Election Season By Bob Dinneen
FFA Helps Build Next-Gen Leaders By Tom Buis
14 GRASSROOTS VOICE
16 GLOBAL SCENE
Designs on Success
ACE Members Pressure EPA, White House By Brian Jennings
Climate Change Top of Mind By Andrea Kent
Technology company ICM, in its 20th year, changes with the times to serve ethanol Industry
By Holly Jessen
18 BUSINESS BRIEFS 20 COMMODITIES 22 DISTILLED
52 BUSINESS MATTERS
Volkswagen’s Woes Could Affect Ethanol Plants By James L. Pray
Coming to Grips With Arterial Plaque
Inert, organic, inorganic, they all build up at fermentation facilities
54 MARKETPLACE ON THE COVER
Doug Rivers, Dave Vander Griend and Jeremy Javers of ICM. PHOTO: BRETT SCHAUF, T&J STUDIOS
Understanding Your Autopilot
Proper use helps minimize process upsets
By Alan Strauss
By Dennis Bayrock
Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) November 2015, Vol. 21, Issue 11. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ethanol Producer Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.
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Gadgets, Groups Improve Maintenance The tools being used by today’s plant maintenance professionals are giving ethanol producers virtual superpowers—technicians with x-ray vision—allowing them to see, diagnose and fix problems before production is disrupted. In “High-Tech Maintenance,” on page 26, EPM Senior Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief email@example.com
Editor Susanne Retka Schill reports on how ethanol plant maintenance teams are employing technologies like vibration, ultrasound, infrared and lasers to keep their plants running smoothly. And with a typical 50-MMgy ethanol plant having hundreds of bearing-laden motors, gearboxes and pumps, there are plethora opportunities to put these expensive gadgets to use. From electrical panel inspection, to ultrasound leak detection, to motor alignment, high-tech tools are making ethanol plant maintenance faster, safer and more efficient. Ultimately, producers say, the expense of these tools is justified by improved plant reliability, increased machinery life spans and fewer unplanned shutdowns. As Retka Schill reports, these tools are no longer discretionary purchases. They are necessary additions to the maintenance department’s modern tool chest. On page 32, we look at how ethanol plant maintenance managers and technicians representing more than 90 facilities have found strength in numbers through a sort of professional social network. In “TEAM M3: Networking Builds Strong Tool Belt,” EPM Managing Editor Holly Jessen provides us with a look at how about 120 maintenance professionals are working cooperatively to solve everyday plant problems through peerexclusive crowdsourcing. As the group’s past director says, “If you have a problem, all you have to do is send an email, post a question or make a call to one of the members and, within minutes, you will have an answer.” Even though the participants in TEAM M3 are competitors, they benefit by sharing without giving away proprietary information. They also use the network to exchange parts and share inventory burden. The usefulness of the group is evident in its rapid growth. Not only is TEAM M3’s maintenance network strong and growing, but an affiliated plant managers group is thriving as well with 160 members from 95 facilities. The success of TEAM M3 reminds us of the cooperative spirit the U.S. ethanol industry was built on. Finally, in “Designs on Success,” our page-38 cover story, we feature a longtime industry service provider celebrating a huge milestone. ICM Inc. is enjoying its 20-year anniversary. As Jessen reports, ICM started in 1995 as a 20-person company and went on to become one of the most prolific ethanol plant design companies in the world, putting its stamp on more than 100 facilities. Now focused on bolt-on technologies, next-generation ethanol, enhanced coproducts and plant services, ICM continues to build a strong legacy of innovation in the ethanol industry and beyond. Hats off to our friends in Colwich, Kansas.
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VOLUME 21 ISSUE 11
President & Editor in Chief Tom Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org
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Managing Editor Holly Jessen firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Editor Susanne Retka Schill email@example.com News Editor Erin Voegele firstname.lastname@example.org
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Integrated Environmental Solutions
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Chairman Mike Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org
Nalco, an Ecolab company
CEO Joe Bryan email@example.com
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Phibro Ethanol Performance Group
Vice President of Operations Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org
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Business Development Director Howard Brockhouse email@example.com
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NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 7
THE WAY I SEE IT
Government Confuses Me By Mike Bryan
It seems to me that governments work in conflict with their own stated policies. One segment of
government creates something new and another segment creates stumbling blocks to progress on the same issue. I understand that for many of you this will be a “duh” moment because most of us have been involved in one way or another with either local, state or federal government. I see that China will be importing well over a 100,000 metric tons of ethanol from the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s terrific, but it does beg the question, why? I’ve been to China several times and each time I have driven through miles and miles of corn as far as the eye could see. One of the stated reasons is that the price of corn is too high. Unless things have dramatically changed since I was last there, the government pretty much sets the price of corn. While capitalism has certainly crept into its economy, the government still rules. There is no shortage of people in China to work in ethanol plants, millions of people are what much of the world would term underemployed. Jobs that are created simply to create a job with very low pay and no benefits. In other cases, hand labor is used when it could be done by machine twice as fast. Again, underemployment. So, I’m confused why China would be importing ethanol from the U.S., while burning copious amounts of coal from Australia, requiring ethanol in their gasoline in many places, all while they have the people, the feedstock and the decision making ability to simply make more ethanol happen. Another example is here in Queensland, Australia. There is currently a bill in the Queensland Parliament to mandate the use of ethanol and biodiesel. A local sugar mill has had plans on the drawing board to incorporate cogeneration as well as ethanol production at
their plant. Those plans may now be halted, because there is a bill being considered by the very same Parliament that would change the way sugar can be marketed, which would significantly stifle the financial ability for sugar plants to fund ethanol production. Australia just tossed out yet another Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) and replaced him with a new one overnight (Malcolm Turnbull). So, there is a new PM and the party gave him a brand new fedora to wear so he looks much prettier than Tony Abbott. But his policies are essentially the same. In America, we have a stated policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the government has spent countless millions on developing a robust renewable energy industry. At the same time, the EPA seems to be bent on destroying it. I guess politics get in the way of good government. Communications between agencies seems stifled by self-interest, and long-range planning is only as far as the next administration. Somehow, we seem to have lost the purpose of good government. It’s gotten all tangled up in political posturing and a seemingly single focus on getting re-elected. A number of years ago, a three-man road crew spent the better part of a day painting railroad crossing and turn lane markings on the highway alongside our house. The new markers looked great and were badly needed. The next morning another road crew came and laid new blacktop over the entire project. Government confuses me! That’s the way I see it.
Author: Mike Bryan Chairman, BBI International email@example.com
8 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
National Ethanol Conference February 15-17, 2016 New Orleans, Louisiana This year’s program, “Fueling a High Octane Future,” will highlight how ethanol’s high-octane content is driving demand for the fuel both domestically and abroad. With a 113-octane rating, ethanol is the highest-rated performance fuel in the market and keeps today’s engines running smoothly. Tomorrow's downsized, high-compression engines will require higher octane choices at the pump. Ethanol and higher-level ethanol blends are uniquely poised to help automakers and consumers alike achieve stricter fuel economy and emissions requirements at a reduced cost. 202-315-2466 | www.nationalethanolconference.com
International Biomass Conference & Expo April 11-14, 2016 Charlotte, North Carolina Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop—the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
2016 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 20-23, 2016 Wisconsin Center Milwaukee, Wisconsin Now in its 32nd year, the FEW provides the ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-tobusiness environment. As the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world, the FEW is renowned for its superb programming—powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine —that maintains a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production, new technology, and near-term research and development. The 2014 event drew more than 1,800 people from over 31 countries and from nearly every ethanol plant in the United States and Canada. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
VIEW FROM THE HILL
Slice Through Political Chatter This Presidential Election Season By Bob Dinneen
Even a casual observer of the nightly news is more than likely aware that the presidential election season is under way. Right now, the political chatter is just an obnoxious buzz. As we get closer to 2016, the buzz will grow and get much louder. And, by this time next year, it will have transformed itself into a full-blown cacophony of sound bites and advertisements. As an unabashed political junkie, I get a particular thrill when the political chatter reaches its fever pitch and the intense national policy debates take center stage. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle it is often difficult to discern substance from superficiality. But it is imperative for those of us in the biofuels industry to pay close attention to what the presidential candidates are saying about how they would deal with the nation’s energy policy, in general, and the renewable fuel standard (RFS), in particular. In this effort, we are aided by the phenomenal job America’s Renewable Future has done in educating the candidates about agriculture and biofuels so that we have a pretty clear picture of where each of the presidential candidates stand on the RFS. So far, of the 18 candidates running for president from both parties, only one has indicated unadulterated opposition to the RFS. Not surprisingly, it’s Big Oil’s senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. Perhaps even he will come along, however, as he recognizes how out of step he is with voters who realize the RFS is lowering gas prices, reducing carbon emissions and making us more energy secure. But it is certainly notable that every other candidate for president has expressed some level of support for our nation’s most successful energy policy. But listen closely; there are many degrees of support among the candidates. Some simply recognize the importance of the
10 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
government keeping its promises and would end the RFS in 2022, whether there is a level playing field and consumer access for ethanol or not. Others support the RFS exclusively as a means to replace corn ethanol with what they believe will be better biofuels from cellulose, a false choice that diminishes the potential of both. America deserves a president who understands that the RFS has been a tremendous success and will fully and faithfully implement the program because of its tremendous economic, energy and environmental promise. Look for those candidates, and there are several, who support the RFS without qualification, who understand that this important program is driving innovation in both corn and cellulose technologies, that it is providing consumers with real relief at the gas pump, that it is re-energizing America’s Heartland, and that it is providing no small measure of defense against the dual national security threats of oil dependence and global warming. I certainly intend to keep my ears open to hear what the candidates are saying, and I will keep my eyes open to read what they are writing. It is imperative that we pay attention to the political chatter as we steadily move into 2016, but it is equally important that we are able to slice through that chatter and listen closely to what the candidates are saying with respect to how they plan on approaching our nation’s energy policy. Our future depends on it. Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association 202-289-3835
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FFA Helps Build Next-Gen Leaders By Tom Buis
Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture, and no organization prepares them to rise up and meet the challenges that lie ahead like the National FFA Organization. Not only is
FFA shaping the future farmers of America, it’s also shaping the future chemists, engineers and biofuel producers of America. Growth Energy is a proud partner of FFA for that very reason. We recognize the importance of investing in the next generation of hard workers who will fuel America and feed the world. Students whose lives are impacted by FFA and agricultural education achieve academic and personal growth, strengthen American agriculture and build healthy local communities, a strong nation and a sustainable world. FFA helps its members develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways. We want these educated, empowered leaders to know that our industry is looking for young people with their skill sets to help us improve our economy, environment and national security with homegrown renewable fuels. Growth Energy is thrilled to support several important FFA programs that help us achieve these goals. Our partnership with FFA focuses on assistance in supporting the Curriculum for Ag Science Education, as well as an online personalized career exploration and development resource called “My Journey.” Growth Energy also supports the TeachAg program and has committed an additional investment into a scholarship program in efforts to attract more teachers for the enhanced education of FFA members. There is a serious need for more agriculture teachers, an improved biofuels curriculum and updated facts about our industry. It is a need that we are determined to meet. We want these future leaders, who will someday live and
12 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
work in rural America, to be involved in the production of biofuel feedstocks and pursue careers in biorefineries, to hear our industry’s message now. We’re spreading our message in person at the 2015 National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Kentucky. As an Expo exhibitor, Growth Energy will have the opportunity to help thousands of young leaders explore career and educational opportunities in the biofuels industry. We will present information in a fun, engaging way and have created an outreach tool that allows FFA members to identify nearby ethanol plants and sign up for plant tours. That way, after learning about biofuels at our booth, students and their instructors will have the opportunity experience a plant first hand. In total, the National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 629,367 student members who belong to one of 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I was once an FFA member, and so was Jeff Broin, the cochairman of Growth Energy’s board of directors, along with many, many other leaders in the ethanol industry. I can say, without a doubt, that the programs and services FFA provides are invaluable and make a positive difference in the lives of students. We want the best and brightest to live and work in rural America, and we are proud to support FFA’s efforts to make that happen.
Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy 202-545-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org
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ACE Members Pressure EPA, White House By Brian Jennings
One reason I love working for members of the American Coalition for Ethanol is that they know success looks different on paper than it does in reality.
They have battle scars. In the face of adversity, they don’t give up. They quietly and calmly roll up their sleeves and work to overcome challenges. At ACE we call that power by people. It is what our members do and how they do it. It’s who they are, the heart and soul of ethanol. We launched our “Power by People” campaign to appeal to people’s hearts and minds, to share personal stories that convey ethanol shouldn’t just be valued by the barrels of oil and tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) it displaces. It should also be measured by the human good it delivers. Coincidently, success isn’t the only thing that looks different on paper than it does in reality. The same can be said for the renewable fuel standard (RFS). Under the U.S. EPA’s recent supervision, the RFS has been messy, slow-going, and hard work. We’re trying to be patient with the EPA. We’re trying to constructively help it come to grips with what the law does, and does not, allow the agency to do with annual adjustments to the blending targets. Remarkably, EPA’s current proposal sides with oil companies, whose ultimate goal is to repeal the RFS. EPA is expected to issue a rulemaking later this month, which will largely determine the future of the RFS. What are we to do if EPA’s decision is to keep riding the brakes on the program? Maintain pressure on them to keep the RFS on track? Absolutely. Last time I checked, 650,000-plus comments were submitted to EPA on its proposed rule and 100 of the 200-some people testifying at the EPA hearing in Kansas City this summer were from ACE-member companies. I’d call that pressure. What are we to do if EPA drives the RFS into the ditch? Do we take EPA to court if the final rule is based on the blend wall? We’ll have wait and see the final rule. The agency is expected to issue it by Nov. 30.
This fall, to keep pressure on EPA and the White House, ACE launched another round of ads to highlight the benefits of the RFS to everyday people. Many ethanol supporters joined us in a social media blitz, helping us extend the reach of our efforts on those platforms. In the face of this EPA-driven uncertainty about the RFS, we also have a responsibility to keep building momentum for other demand drivers. To that end, ACE members are promoting the clean octane benefits of ethanol, working to position blends such as E25 and E30 as higher octane fuels that can not only help automakers comply with CAFE-GHG standards, but also replace benzene and other toxic carcinogens in gasoline. ACE members are also getting the most out of technology innovations in corn and ethanol production to meet the demands for low carbon fuels in California and other Low Carbon Fuel Standard markets. We’d all prefer to use more ethanol here at home, but as long as EPA and oil companies erect artificial barriers, many ACE members are also promoting export demand for our products. When it comes to renewable fuel policy, the RFS is the gold standard, the envy of the world. Since the original RFS was enacted in 2005, more than 30 countries around the globe have followed suit in some shape or form. ACE was the first organization to support the RFS. Our devotion to making the RFS work is unquestionable. The question is whether EPA is going to hold up its end of the deal. No matter what EPA decides to do, my confidence in ACE members is stronger than ever. Let’s keep trying to help EPA get the RFS back on track, but let’s also have the wisdom to continue working on these other strategies to increase ethanol use. ACE will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you every step of the way. No fanfare, just hard work.
14 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
Author: Brian Jennings Executive Vice President American Coalition for Ethanol 605-334-3381 email@example.com
Climate Change Top of Mind Again By Andrea Kent
After a significant number of years out in the cold (pun intended) having been overshadowed by a global economic downturn, climate change policy is once again top of mind for many countries around the world.
A primary driver for this renewed attention is the upcoming December 2015 Paris Climate Conference, otherwise known as COP21, an annual international forum under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change. What is significant about the COP21 Paris meeting is many countries are positioning this discussion to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate, something that has not been advanced in the past 20 years since the Kyoto Protocol was signed at COP3 in 1997. This multilateral process is, of course, highly contentious. The world’s largest emitters (United States, China and India) have long signaled that they would not accept legally binding reductions. This prompted the Canadian federal government in 2012 to actually withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. The reversal in many respects was indicative of the differing points of view within Canada on this topic. In the context of the current federal election in Canada, this has certainly set the stage for serious debate over what direction the country should take on domestic climate change and energy policy as well as in the international climate discussions. And the discussion is not contained to the federal political parties alone. Many provinces have recently taken some form of action on climate change, whether it be a cap-and-trade system, low carbon fuel standards, mandates for renewable fuels or a carbon tax. In Ontario, this translated into an announcement by the provincial government April 13 that it will design a cap-and-trade system under the Western Climate Initiative, which includes Quebec and California. The challenge is obvious. The transportation sector is the province’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, accounting for over one-third of total emissions. Transitioning to a low carbon economy will require transportation sector GHG reductions through fuel innovation and diversification.
16 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
Ontario understands the importance of renewable fuels in reducing transportation emissions alongside economic growth. It is already a national leader in renewable fuels policy, including biofuel mandates and the very successful Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund. This has resulted in a vibrant, renewable fuels production industry in Ontario that produces about 75 percent of Ontario’s current demand for renewable fuels, removing the equivalent of 300,000 cars from Ontario’s roads from an emissions perspective. For Ontario’s cap-and-trade system to be successful, its policies need to continue to support the critical role that renewable fuels play as a low emission fuel option. This includes recognition that by its very nature the renewable fuels industry is helping to reduce emissions. Therefore, allowances should be made in the cap-and-trade discussion to continue to promote the development of the industry and use of its low carbon products. I anticipate that some stakeholders in the Ontario consultations will continue to argue that objectives between energy and environmental policy are contradictory. But as I have argued in past columns, that does not always need to be the case. The Canadian renewable fuels industry has long understood that we can diversify our fuel mix with clean-burning, renewable fuels in order to meet our energy needs, build our economy and protect our environment. Since Ontario is not a major producer of traditional hydrocarbon fuels, although it is a major consumer, the energyeconomy debate does not appear to be nearly as pointed as in oil rich provinces. This brings me to the equally interesting recent announcement by the government of Alberta, striking a climate change panel to make recommendations to the new premier on a path forward on energy and the environment. But that’s an issue for another column all its own. Author: Andrea Kent President Canadian Renewable Fuels Association 613-594-5528 firstname.lastname@example.org
I B E LI EVE I N
For years, we’ve been told that cellulosic ethanol is a “fantasy fuel.” And it is.
And now it’s going to change the world. For real.
So we’ve spent a decade planning, researching, and working hard to make that fantasy a reality.
BUSINESS BRIEFS American Coalition for Ethanol members elected two individuals to serve as new board directors at their Aug. 19 annual meeting: Kenton Johnson, representing Granite Alverson Falls Energy LLC, Granite Falls, Minnesota, and Mike Clemens, a Wimbledon, North Dakota, farmer representing the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Four were re-elected to the board including current ACE board president Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol LLC, Wentworth, South Dakota; John Christianson, Christianson and Associates, Wilmar, Minnesota; Doug Punke, CEO, Renewable Products Marketing Group, Shakopee, Minnesota, and Brian Wilcox, Nebraska Public Power District Columbus, Nebraska.
People, Partnerships & Deals
in Boardman, Oregon. Other collaborators include Washington State University, University of California, Davis, University of Idaho, Oregon State University, the Agriculture Center of Excellence, Greenwood Resources Inc. and the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Institute.
Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, received the American Coalition for Ethanol’s top honor, the Merle Anderson Award, at the Aug. 19 Sneller annual meeting. Other award winners were Husker Ag LLC, Plainview, Nebraska, Power by People award; Steve Roe, CEO, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Marcus, Iowa, President’s award; America’s Renewable Future, Policy & Legislative LeaderA five-year USDA funded research proj- ship award; Kum & Go, Paul Dana Marketing ect is in its final year working on wood-based Vision award; and, Tom Riter, WNAX Radio, cellulosic ethanol and chemicals for the Pacific the Media Excellence award. Northwest. The University of Washington-led A seven-member consortium in the U.K. is research team has worked with five demonstration hybrid poplar tree farms on tree growth planning to demonstrate optimized enzymatic and multiple, broadly ranging research proj- hydrolysis of Fiberight Ltd.’s cellulose extractects. Process improvements developed by the ed from municipal solid waste. Other partners university have been tested at demonstration include U.K.-based SME, the Centre for Proscale at ZeaChem’s demonstration biorefinery cess Innovation and Leeds University In-
stitute of Process R&D. End-user application testing of the cellulosic sugar will be provided by UK Biotech SME ReBio Technologies Ltd., for ethanol production, and Aston University, for production of levulinic acid using heterogeneous catalysts. Two multinational companies will support the project, Knauf in applications testing for bioresin manufacture, and Novozymes in industrial enzymes. Pacific Ag, headquartered in Hermiston, Oregon, received a $7 million growth equity investment from Advantage Capital Partners, to accelerate the expansion of its operations in residue and hay harvesting. Ascendant Financial Partners LLC served as Pacific Ag’s financial advisor. asdfA member of the Cellerate process technology collaboration between Syngenta and Quad County Corn Processors will join the board of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. Founded in 2011 as the Advanced Ethanol Council, the ABBC’s mission is to help its members speak with one voice for the advanced biorefining industry. Plymouth Energy, Merrill, Iowa, has begun construction on a 300,000-gallon ethanol holding tank and a 40-car rail spur at nearby
Over 200 ethanol secondary containment systems in use with the highest level of assurance.
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Le Mars. The community six miles away from the plant has worked with the shortline Burlington Junction Railway to provide transload services to several local industries, giving access to the Canadian National Railway. asdfAlan Tiemann, a farmer and past chair of the Nebraska Corn Board, was elected chairman of the U.S. Grains Council during the organization’s 55th annual board of deleTiemann gates meeting in Montreal. Three individuals were honored for 10 years of service to the organization, including Randy Ives, Gavilon, Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources, and Stan Garbacz, Nebraska Department of Agriculture. asdfJessica Johnson Bennet is rejoining the National Corn Growers Association as director of market development. She served as director of public policy from 2009 to 2011 and most recently worked for Bunge North America in its oilseed processing, oils and biofuels business units. Bennett serves as the lead NCGA staff member for the ethanol committee, responsible for market development pro-
grams with an emphasis on expanding domes- asdfNoble Americas South Bend Ethanol tic ethanol markets for corn. LLC, South Bend, Indiana, is back in production after a major reconstruction of the 100 asdfDENCO II, Morris, Minnesota, received MMgy plant. Noble Americas acquired the a $750,000 grant from the Minnesota Depart- former New Energy Corp. plant in July 2013. ment of Economic Development that will be Upgrades included conversion from coal run through the city of Morris. The grant will to natural gas, installing a new regenerative help the 24 MMgy ethanol plant improve thermal oxidizer, improving evaporation and its energy efficiency and install a fermenter, upgrading the fermentation process. Energy hammer mill and expand its cooling tower. Management Solutions provides day-to-day operational support. asdfEnerkem announced Robert Shaw has joined asdfDirevo Industrial Biotechnology anits executive team as senounced its enzyme BluZy-P XL1000 has nior vice president and completed an extended commercial trial in the chief financial officer. U.S. and shown an increased corn oil recovMost recently he was ery of more than 20 percent over traditional CFO at Southwest Oilmechanical separation and chemical addition. Shaw field Products and previAdditional ethanol yield improvements are ously served as treasurer at now being validated in early adopter trials. The Transocean and Air Liquide. Enerkem also an- new enzyme is the company’s initial commernounced it has raised CA $152 million in debt cial launch of new value-added enzymes for and private placements to be used for product the ethanol industry. expansion. The company says it has reached a pivotal operational milestone and initiated SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Busiproduction of biomethanol at the Enerkem ness Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, to Business Briefs, Ethanol Producer Magazine, Alberta Biofuels, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. if308available) Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to evoegele@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.
Shutdown Turnaround Cleaning
Dry Ice & Up to 40K Water Blasting Services
24-Hour Emergency Spill Response
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Serving the Ethanol Industry throughout the Midwest, Southern and Mountain Regions
Prices & Market Analyses
Natural Gas Report
Gulf storms can impact natural gas market Sept. 28—The Atlantic hurricane season has always been a point of interest for the natural gas market, due to potential damage to offshore producing wells or, in more extreme cases, longlasting outages and price spikes. Mid-September marks the traditional peak of Atlantic hurricane season, but so far the tropics have been mostly quiet. While there have been several named storms and even a few hurricanes, there had been no hurricane activity in the Western Atlantic into late September. This marks the latest in the summer since 1914 that this part of the Atlantic, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, has been without a hurricane. In general, hurricanes do not pose the same level of fundamental threat to the natural gas market as they once did. A product of the shale revolution—a boom of production in the Northeast and other nontraditional supply center—is a declining reliance on offshore natural gas. As overall U.S. production has risen to record levels north of 70 Bcf per day, total production that is sourced from offshore Gulf of Mexico wells has fallen since 2004 from more than 10 Bcf per day, or about 20 percent of total volumes, to less than 4 Bcf per day, or about 5 percent. During that same time-
by Andy Huenefeld
frame, overall dry production has risen by nearly 40 percent. To be sure, a Gulf storm can still usher volatility into the futures market as traders react. Still, reduced reliance on this area represents an important benefit of growing production in other regions of the country.
USDA yield projections may be justified
by Jason Sagebiel
Sept. 28—Do big crops get bigger? Early on, the USDA has the market will entice producers to hold onto inventory. This will been more optimistic with yield potential than most of the trade. offer times of support to both flat price and the cash market, which In August, the USDA pegged corn yield at 168.8 bushels per acre could negatively affect corn end-user margins. and then 167.5 bushels per acre in September. Most analysts have been releasing yield numbers below the latest USDA figures due to concerns in areas where excess rainfall was noted. However, with harvest getting started in other Midwest areas less affected by the heavy rains, yield outlooks look more promising. Overall, the USDA may be justified in their current yield projections. One of the limiting factors is world corn carryout. Global corn carryout is 189.69 million metric tons (MMt) versus 197.2 MMt last year but more than 13 MMt greater than 2013-’14. Overall global corn has been on an upward trend after seeing it lowest global stocks level in 2003 and 2006. In addition, global coarse grains carryout has continued to increase. So what to expect with prices? Corn feels like it has found a seasonal low at this time. More storage capabilities and carries in Comments in this column are market commentary and are not to be construed as market advice.
20 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
Regional Ethanol Prices ($/gallon) Front Month Futures (AC) $1.529
1.962 SOURCE: DTN
Regional Gasoline Prices ($/gallon)
China on the sidelines of DDGS buying Sept. 28—With October approaching, the DDGS market continues to move back down to the lower end of the spectrum as a percentage of corn. Chinese buying, which moved the market up through the spring and early summer, has been on the sidelines for the past several months. China’s recent absence, combined with the winding down of contracts booked earlier in the year, had put DDGS prices in a veritable no man’s land, with reduced Chinese demand, but also still at values that do not yet incentivize full-scale domestic buying. U.S. cattle demand, which comprises more than half the DDGS that is sold domestically, does not normally kick in until around the beginning of November. Prices should be around
by Sean Broderick
where poultry usage picks up, which would also happen closer to November. Dairy margins have been poor out West, so that demand is more nearby than deferred purchases. The hog sector in the Midwest is best situated to take advantage of falling prices, and have seen the best demand from them. Looking ahead, China’s buying decisions will affect DDGS to the upside, but its lack of buying has been mostly priced into the market today. The U.S. crop size is sure to affect demand, but currency and equity woes throughout the world will have the most impact on DDGS exports and pricing in the months to come.
Front Month Futures Price (RBOB) $1.386 Region
1.476 SOURCE: DTN
DDGS Prices ($/ton) Nov 2015
143 SOURCE: CHS INC.
Corn Futures Prices
(September Futures, $/bushel) Date
Aug. 28, 2015
Aug. 28, 2015
Sept. 28, 2014
116.34 SOURCE: FCSTONE
Cash Sorghum ($/bushel) Location
Ethanol priced at premium to gasoline Sept. 28—Ethanol supplies continued to erode through September, creating a tighter stocks situation than many had expected. Even though data for the week ending Sept. 18 showed a boost in inventory levels, the previous few weeks steadily decreased overall supply levels. At this point ethanol stocks are 1.7 percent over year-ago levels, which puts more focus on future demand and fourthquarter production levels. RBOB gasoline markets, on the other hand, continue to trend lower, faced with aggressive crude
by Rick Kment
oil supplies and slowing seasonal demand. The expectation is that additional pressure will be seen in gasoline prices during the last quarter of the year, allowing ethanol prices to remain at a strong premium to the gasoline complex. Currently ethanol prices are trading at a 14-cent premium to RBOB gasoline prices. Recent premiums are at the highest levels seen since January, and continue to focus on current and future market strength, in order to capitalize on the eroding energy market.
Sept. 24, 2015
Aug. 20, 2015
Sept. 26, 2014
SOURCE: SORGHUM SYNERGIES
Natural Gas Prices ($/MMBtu) Sept. 28, 2015
July 31, 2015
Sept. 28, 2014
SOURCE: U.S. ENERGY SERVICES INC.
U.S. Ethanol Production (1,000 barrels) Per Day
SOURCE: U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION
NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 21
DISTILLED N. D.
21 states receive USDA grants to expand E15, E85 infrastructure
S. D. Neb.
Ethanol News & Trends
Va. / Md. N. C.
BIOFUEL INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIP: Estimated pumps total 4,880. The map shows the estimated number of E15 or E85 pumps to be installed in each state on the preliminary list of finalists. SOURCE: USDA
USDA announced 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, first announced in May. USDA received applications for over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million made available. With a match of more than 1-to-1 from private and state resources, USDA estimates the grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations. USDA funds must be used for pump installation and related infrastructure while matching contributions may also be used for marketing, education and administrative costs. “The quality and geographic diversity of the applications, backed by supportive state and private partners, demonstrate the strong demand across the country for cleaner, more affordable fuel,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one approach USDA is using to aggressively pursue investments in American-grown renewable energy to create new markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, help Americans save money on their energy bills, support America’s clean energy economy, cut carbon pollution and reduce dependence on foreign oil and costly fossil fuels.”
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USDA evaluates biofuel use in international markets
USGC reports progress in ethanol export promotion
The U.S. has been the worldâ€™s leading exporter for biofuels since 2011, but lower domestic gasoline prices could create a challenge for future ethanol exports, according the USDA report, â€œBiofuel Use in International Markets: The Importance of Trade.â€? A period of prolonged low prices could discourage ethanol companies from expanding production, impacting the potential availability for exports. Changes to the U.S. renewable fuel mandate could also lead to a reduction in U.S. ethanol production infrastructure, which, in turn, could limit the availability of ethanol for exports. The U.S. became a net exporter of ethanol in 2010, when exports hit a record 1.2 billion gallons. A continued increase in the ethanol blending rate in Brazil, the worldâ€™s second largest ethanol producer, could result in less Brazilian ethanol being available to compete with the U.S. on the global market. Meanwhile, Brazil could continue to import U.S. ethanol to help meet its mandate, USDA said.
Global ethanol exports during the first 10 months of the current marketing year posted an 11 percent gain over last yearâ€™s number, according to U.S. Grains Council chief economist Mike Dwyer. â€œThe Council now expects full year 2014â€˜15 ethanol exports to reach 850 million gallons and to be valued at $1.9 billion, up from 768 million gallons just last year.â€? That would be the second largest on record as ethanol export promotion efforts ramp up by the USGC and its partners, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and USDAâ€™s Foreign Agricultural Service. While 2015 exports of U.S. ethanol to Canadaâ€”the top international customerâ€”are down 26 percent on a volume
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Ethanol Export Growth in Selected Countries
(First 10 mo. of 2015 marketing year, compared to the same period in 2014)
basis, all other major markets have shown increases due to strong demand and U.S. ethanol supplies that are competitively priced. Other countries among the top five importers of U.S. ethanol are Brazil, Philippines, India and the United Arab Emirates.
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DISTILLED Australian industry projected to run at 60% this year
German production rises, consumption falls
Australia will produce approximately 70 million gallons of ethanol this year, operating at about 60 percent capacity, according to a recent USDA Global Agricultural Information Network report. There were three ethanol producers, each distilling different feed stocks, in Australia in 2014. Manildra, which has a capacity of 80 MMgy of ethanol production, accounts for the bulk of Australiaâ€™s production of the biofuel, GAIN said. Ethanol use has declined in recent years due, in part, to consumer concerns, unavailability and the lack of a price differential between E10 and unleaded fuel. The Australian ethanol industry saw its production grant program ending in June. That same month, the Queensland government announced a 2 percent biofuels mandate. A New South Wales law requires wholesale companies to have 6 percent of their fuel supply come from ethanol and retailers with 20 or more outlets to offer ethanol blends.
German ethanol production from January through June totaled 370,484 metric tons (124 million gallons), a 5 percent increase from the same period a year ago, according to the German bioethanol industry federation (BDBe). At the same time, consumption decreased by 3.7 percent. Ethanol production from sugar beets rose by 21.1 percent while production from feed grains fell by 2.3 percent. Ethanol consumption declined by 3.7 percent to 562,500 metric tons during the first half. Sales of E85 fell 29.5 percent to 3.7 million metric tons and sales of Super E10 fell to 1.25 million metric tons, an 11 percent decline. The 1.25 million metric tons represented a market share of 14.1 percent, a 1.4
24 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
German Ethanol Production and Consumption Trends January-June 2015
Production Total consumption E85
% Change from 2014
5.0 -3.7 -29.5
percent decline from 2014. Sales of ETBE, meanwhile, fell by 20.2 percent to 57.9 metric tons. The decline in ethanol demand suggests the introduction of greenhouse gas abatement rates has not worked as planned, said BDBe CEO Dietrich Klein. He urged German decision makers to introduce the 4 percent emissions reduction targets for the fuel sector in 2016, instead of 2017 as planned.
DISTILLED Butamax, Gevo settle patent dispute Gevo Inc. and Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture between BP and DuPont, have entered into worldwide patent cross-license and settlement agreements, ending a patent dispute related to technologies for the production of biobased isobutanol. The cross-license agreement is structured to develop robust and sustainable isobutanol markets. The license will be royalty-bearing for Butamax in certain fields and royalty bearing for Gevo in other fields. There are also a number of fields that are royalty-free for both, plus they both can sell up to 30 MMgy royalty-free into any field. Butamax will take the lead role in developing the market for isobutanol as an on-road gasoline blendstock. Gevo will lead development of the jet fuel market. While cross-licensing all of their patents for making and using isobutanol, both parties will have their own biocatalyst and process technologies that they are free to license to third parties, who would be subject to terms consistent with the cross-license.
UN data confirms oil prices, not ethanol, increases food prices
The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, in analyzing recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Association data, pointed out the recent decline in global food prices casts doubt upon concerns about the impact of ethanol production. The decline in food prices has coincided with a period of record ethanol production expansion, which reached a high of 25 billion gallons in 2014 from 22 billion gallons in 2012, a 10 percent increase. â€œThis contrast clearly demonstrates that increased ethanol production has not driven up food prices,â€? GRFA said. The UN FAO Food Price Index averaged 155.7 points in August, down 5.2 percent from
July, representing the steepest monthly drop since December 2008 with virtually all major food commodities registering marked dips. This drop coincides with a fall in crude oil prices in July of 19 percent, closing at $48.25 per barrel July 31. GRFA said several international institutions have issued reports recognizing the strong relationship between oil and food prices. A 2013 World Bank publication, "LongTerm Drivers of Food Prices," concluded that almost two-thirds of food price increases are caused by rising oil prices.
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MAINTENANCE Ethanol plants tap into vibration, ultrasound, infrared and laser technologies. By Susanne Retka Schill
26 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
HIGH-TECH TOOLS: The maintenance department at KAAPA Ethanol uses a laser alignment instrument to measure the angularity and offset of the pump to the motor, pictured at left. Photos taken by the Elkhorn Valley Ethanol maintenance crew show how their high-tech tools help catch issues early. The black curly valve stem seal, top photo, was found to be leaking using ultrasonic detection. In the middle photo above, vibration analysis helped with catching the badly damaged fan shaft by indicating a loose bearing. The bottom photo shows a failed dryer trunnion bearingâ€”the shaft should be in the center of the bearing. PHOTOS: KAAPA ENERGY AND ELKHORN VALLEY ETHANOL
NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 27
MAINTENANCE A bearing race sits on a shelf at Elkhorn Valley Ethanol LLC in Norfolk, Nebraska, as a testimony to the maintenance department’s high tech tools. A technician using vibration analysis on a motor turning at 1,700 RPM told the maintenance crew that the front bearing had an inner race defect. “I laughed when he first told me that,” recalls Matt Werzyn, maintenance manager, “but we took it apart and, lo and behold, there was a hairline crack in the inner race of that bearing.” Vibration analysis, ultrasonic readings, thermal imaging and laser alignment are among the newer technologies in the toolkits of the maintenance departments at ethanol plants. Along with their impressive capabilities come impressive price tags—anywhere from a little under $2,000 for a single tool to $20,000 for a more sophisticated system with sensors and software. For Werzyn, those tools help his department stay ahead of the challenge of keeping equipment running smoothly. “We’re a 50 million gallon plant,” he says. “I have close to 125
motors, 80 pumps, five fans—and everything on that list has a least two bearings. There’s a lot of stuff moving in a plant.” Elkhorn Valley started using vibration analysis right away when the plant was commissioned in 2007, Werzyn says, so they had a better experience with reliability than he encountered at the first plant he worked at. Instead, he measures performance by tracking unscheduled downtime. “We have had zero unscheduled downtime for the past six months. So, having all those high-tech gadgets does pay off. The initial outlay is pricey, but it pays for itself.” High-tech tools and a new maintenance emphasis have also had an impact at KAAPA Ethanol LLC in Minden, Nebraska. “The reliability of the plant has exponentially increased,” says Dan Mainwaring, who began managing the maintenance department at KAAPA Ethanol a couple of years ago, with a goal of improving predictive and preventive measures. Like Elkhorn Valley, KAAPA Ethanol has a company come in monthly to do its vibration analysis, covering all the equipment at least once each quarter or six months, looking for early indications of bearing failures or other issues.
Some chemical companies focus on this
“A good example is cooling tower fan gearboxes,” Mainwaring explains. Enclosed in a cell on the cooling tower, there’s no direct access for a maintenance check on those gearboxes while operating. Remote vibration sensors were installed during a shutdown with wires running to a box outside of the cell, where the readings can be safely taken while running. The cooling tower fans are critical items, he adds, particularly in the summer when losing a cell might mean a fermentation would begin overheating, potentially killing off yeast and production. Infrared (IR) scans are also done at KAAPA, looking for issues with electrical panels, motor control centers and switchboards. “Obviously, that’s another one of those things you don’t normally access and open panels because of safety, so you don’t know where you have hot spots or loose wires or a breaker that’s ready to fail,” Mainwaring says. “We hire a company that comes in and they will get their arc flash gear on—and following other safety requirements—they’ll open the panels and use an IR scanner that will scan all the connections.” Ultrasound readings are another technology used to find electrical issues. Ultrasound
Buckman takes a wider view. Some chemical companies focus only on process. Some focus solely on water treatment. Buckman takes a comprehensive approach and looks at the bigger picture — return on investment and environment. We look at every aspect of your plant’s operation,
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28 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
tailoring chemistries to boost production and increase profitability — from evaporator efficiency to corn oil recovery to water treatment issues. To find out more or to schedule a system audit, contact your Buckman representative or email email@example.com.
detects the air disturbance created by a pressure differential or friction, explains Blake Canham, regional manager UE Systems Inc., and can detect those disturbances without opening panels. Ultrasound has other uses. Perhaps the simplest is finding leaks in compressed air lines or malfunctioning valves. The newest application catching on in the ethanol industry is using ultrasound-aided greasing. â€œItâ€™s helped us by answering the age old questionâ€”if it needs grease, how much do you put in?â€? says Werzyn. The old school of thought was two pumps, he explains, but using the new tool, â€œa lot of times it will only take less than a pump. Weâ€™ve been overgreasing.â€? Overgreasing, he adds, is considered the biggest cause of bearing failure.
High-tech tools aid other routine maintenance at plants. Laser alignment tools are widely used whenever pumps or motors or fans are worked on, to be sure they get put back together correctly. â€œBefore laser alignment everything would be aligned within tolerances with multiple sets of dial indicators,â€? recalls Werzyn, adding that alignment itself is as old as mechanics. The ethanol industry has
LUBE LISTENING: The Grease Caddy, an ultrasonic device by UE Systems, helps maintenance technicians apply the right amount of grease to this pumpâ€™s bearings. A sensor mounted to the bearing housing allows a technician to monitor the decibel level indicated on the display while applying grease. PHOTO: UE SYSTEMS
grown to see laser alignment as a must, he says. â€œYouâ€™ve got to have it, just for the sheer speed. If we go into a shutdown and my guys are going to open 14 pumps, thatâ€™s 14 alignments.â€? That many alignments might have taken two
days with old school methods, he says, â€œNow an alignment can be done in 15 minutes.â€? While some of these high-tech tools have been used in industrial settings for a couple of decades, new models are being designed with
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MAINTENANCE more features, requiring less-highly skilled operators. Operators for early models of vibration analysis take 12 to 24 months to acquire the skill set to use the equipment, explains Brian Shanovich, product line manager with VibrAlign Inc. With fewer highly skilled trades people available these days, particularly in rural areas where most ethanol plants are located, his company is increasingly focused on equipment with added capabilities. “Our shaft alignment and the Hawk (machine diagnostics) are designed for people who don’t need to have
that skilled or multiyear millwright or mechanic background. The tools are designed to help them go through it step by step. They are very tutorial in how it helps people go through the process.” As these high-tech tools become more user friendly, he stresses, proper training is essential to understand the fundamental principles. “These tools are not a panacea,” he says. “When we do alignment or vibration training, we talk about the basics before we get to actually touch the buttons and teach people
what to do.” The goal is to get machinery life to where it could be, he adds. “The bearing manufacturers say if you properly align and lubricate the bearing and balance the machine, it should last virtually forever.” And, while the average pump life is two and a-half to three years, according to one study, world class industrial plants get 10.5 years. Reducing overall maintenance cost is another big goal of the high-tech tools, says Dennis Uhl, a machine reliability specialist with R.S. Stover Co., working with the Emerson Process Group. Good software is a big part of the new systems, he says, describing how Emerson’s CSI 2140 allows a reliability technician to build virtual machines in the computer software. Readings gathered in the plant can then be used to analyze machine health. “This is about knowing the problem sooner,” he explains. “Plants want less parts on the shelf and to know ahead of time so they can go to the vendor and ship the parts in plenty of time— and not pay for that expedited service—and schedule the time to do the work.” He cites a reliability study that shows unplanned work involved about 25 percent wrench time which, when planned, goes up to 55 percent. “Planning the work, you get more done in a day and it’s more productive work,” Uhl says, adding that top tier industrial plants set a goal of keeping annual maintenance costs at 3 percent of the replacement value of the plant. Unscheduled downtime is a big expense. Werzyn says he hasn’t done the math for a few years, but at one time, he calculated the cost of unscheduled downtime at $35,000—per hour. “The rule of thumb is, it’s a year’s wages per hour,” he says, adding that it does vary. “The expensive tools are necessary. They’re not a luxury item—they are another tool in our toolbox. If you want to run and stay running well, you’ve got to have them.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Senior Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701-738-4922 firstname.lastname@example.org
30 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
TEAM M3: NETWORKING BUILDS STRONG
Almost a decade ago, ethanol industry maintenance managers started a movement, banding together to help individual plants become stronger as a whole. By Holly Jessen
32 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
Homeland Energy Solutions LLC’s maintenance manager Scott Bauer tells of a time when the company desperately needed a new thermal oxidizer combustion fan. Unable to immediately find the right part
through traditional suppliers, the company sent out a 6 p.m. SOS email to the members of a networking group for ethanol industry maintenance mangers. “We had a response back and we were on the road an hour later, driving to Big River Resources in Dryersville,” he says, adding that the part was back at Homeland by 11 p.m. that night. That’s not the only time the resource has helped an ethanol plant get back up and running or helped a maintenance manager out of a tight place. TEAM M3, which stands for Today’s Ethanol Advanced Maintenance, Maintenance Managers’ Meetings, got its start nearly 10 years ago, says Thomas Boeckman, who took over as director of the group this summer. TEAM M3 meets twice a year, with the meeting location rotating among member ethanol plants. A spring meeting is typically held in February or March and a fall meeting in August, says Boeckman, maintenance manager of Louis Dreyfus Commodities ethanol plant. It was most recently held in Loveland, Colorado. Darrell Pedersen, past maintenance manager at Corn LP and director of TEAM M3 until July, says there are a number of ways members can reach out to each other. “With over 100 maintenance personnel in the group, there is a wealth of knowledge at everyone’s fingertips,” Pedersen says, who now works for Victory Energy. “If you have a problem, all you have to do is send an email, post a question on the Ethanol Network website or make a call to one of the members and, within minutes, you will have an answer.” TEAM M3 has grown from modest beginnings in 2006, with around 10 members, to about 120 individual members from 90 participating North American ethanol plants and one plant in Hungary. “We’d like to have it grow even more,” says Boeckman. Although group was originally limited to ICM-Fagen facilities, it is now open to plants by any designer or builder and also expanded NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 33
from just maintenance managers to including other maintenance personnel.
Though the members work at facilities that are technically competing businesses, they share an unbelievable amount of information to help each other out, Bauer says. “You can do so much more as a team than you can as an individual.” For example, Bauer once told the group at a meeting that Homeland’s maintenance department had solved an issue with balancing a hollow-bladed fan. The fan was mounted on a cooling drum, a high-moisture area, and water would get trapped inside the fan, throwing it off balance. The solution was to drill holes in the fan blades. “There were like four or five other maintenance managers that looked
By the Numbers TEAM M3 120 members from 90 plants
Plant managers’ group 160 members from 95 plants
EH&S group about 50
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34 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
around and went, ‘I wish we would have thought of that,’” he says. Between meetings, an average of 10 to 15 emails are sent out weekly among the group. Each of those emails will bring in between 15 to 20 responses, offering help or advice. “It’s one of our biggest troubleshooting resources that we have, I feel,” Bauer says. “It’s hard to beat experience.” That kind of open sharing is definitely unique in industry, Boeckman says. He points out that other industries have established maintenance best practices for decades, while the ethanol industry is still relatively young, in comparison. That means many maintenance managers, including Boeckman, started the job with no previous experience in the ethanol industry. “We’re benefiting far more by sharing the information than we ever would be losing by sharing something,” he says, adding that it’s not about sharing trade secrets. Members also use the group to sell parts, Bauer says. That includes overstocked items or parts that are no longer needed because of changes or upgrades. And, some have banded together to share the load on certain high-dollar and highprofile items. One good example of that is a gear box agitator used on fermenters and various tanks. “They have an 18-week lead time,” he says. So, rather than an individual plant having to keep all the needed gear boxes in inventory, some group members agree to cooperate with other facilities that carry that same part, with each plant keeping one of the required gear box agitators on hand.
Then To Now
TEAM M3 got started in 2006, with the first meeting at Amaizing Energy in Denison, Iowa, which is now owned and operated by The Andersons Inc. Brian Evers, then maintenance manager at the plant, now working at E Energy Adams, organized the first meeting with the help of a few others, Petersen says. It was some-
thing that was definitely needed. “There were a lot of ethanol plants being built and the maintenance people that were being hired didn’t really have any experience in the ethanol industry,” he says. “We got all of our ‘plant training’ from various vendors that supplied equipment for our plants but nobody really knew what to expect in the way of problems.” The meetings swiftly attracted more maintenance members, including Petersen, who heard about it after the first meeting. Attendance about doubled at the second meeting, with about eight to 10 vendors on hand at Little Sioux Corn Processors LP, displaying products and talking to maintenance managers, Petersen says. The third meeting, held at Granite Falls Energy LLC, was the first big TEAM M3 event, bringing in about 35 maintenance personnel and 40 plus vendors. “After the Granite Falls event TEAM M3 just got bigger and bigger with more maintenance personnel and vendors wanting to attend,” he says. Plant managers started to take notice, and even started attending the meetings, asking to join up. The maintenance managers ultimately decided they wanted to keep the group exclusive to maintenance personnel. That was a good call, says Kevin Howes, plant manager at Homeland, as the plant managers ended up forming their own group, with the first meeting in 2010. “They kind of blazed the trail—set the path—and we were able to follow.” He adds that vendors are invited to meetings to help share costs. “It’s the discussions behind the closed doors, that’s where the rubber meets the road,” he says. Travis Strickland, plant manager of Blue Flint Ethanol, said the first plant managers’ group meeting had about 35 attendees. Now the group has grown to 160 mostly plant managers and production managers from 95 ethanol plants. Being a part of the group offers great networking opportunities. Questions are asked about anything from process-related issues to
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staffing and training. “I have sent out my fair share of SOS emails and the level of support that I have received from this group has been tremendous,” he says. Unfortunately, not all ethanol production companies see how valuable it is to participate. None of the Poet LLC, Flint Hills or Valero ethanol plants participate, Boeckman says. That means that when a plant is purchased by Flint Hills or Valero, they suddenly leave the group. “That I see as a big negative for the industry,” he says. Like TEAM M3, the hope is that the plant managers’ group will continue to grow. However, Strickland says, it is important that new members contribute to the value of the group. “We wouldn’t want to expand our group with individuals who aren’t willing to share information from time to time and chime in on topics of conversation and are only in it to receive information that may be beneficial to them,” he says. “We try to make sure that everyone knows that there is somewhat of an obligation to participate if you want to be a member of the group.” The maintenance managers’ and the plant managers’ groups both utilize the same ethanol networking website. Recently, another group was started for environmental, health and safety, which has about 50 members so far. In all, there are more than 300 members registered on the ethanol networking site, as part of those three groups. Additionally, the website is all set up and ready to go for a lab managers’ group, although that idea hasn’t become a reality yet. “You really need somebody that takes the ball and runs with it,” says Boeckman. “So we need a lab manager that wants to reach out and contact all the other lab managers and use their contacts in the industry to help facilitate that.” He adds that any ethanol plant lab manager should contact him for more information. Author: Holly Jessen Managing Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701-738-4946 firstname.lastname@example.org
Louis Dreyfus Commodities 36 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
Ironically, the latest breakthrough in the field of energy, is a field. While most innovation begins with the seed of an idea, the greatest advance in the making of ethanol starts with a seed. The first corn seed technology specifically developed to increase the efficiency of ethanol production, Enogen corn can reduce costs by up to 10% and helps generate more ethanol per bushel than any corn feedstock ever grown. Recently named AgriMarketing’s Product of the Year, Enogen is definitely making waves in the field of energy.
© 2015 Syngenta. Enogen®, the Alliance Frame, the Purpose Icon, and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368). www.FarmAssist.com MW 11115010-P1 02/15
DESIGNS ON SUCCESS
For two decades, ICM has adapted with the changing times, bringing technology solutions to the ethanol industry. By Holly Jessen
In 1995, ICM Inc. got its start with the purchase of the engineering, manufacturing and marketing divisions of High Plains Corp. located in Colwich, Kansas. On day one, 20 people reported to work, including 10 manufacturing employees. Also on the team were brothers Dave and Dennis Vander Griend, today CEO and senior process engineer, respectively; Randy Ives, now of Gavilon LLC, and Brad Box, now retired. What they didn’t have was a plan. Dave Vander Griend tells Ethanol Producer Magazine he had no concept the company would end up designing more than 100 ethanol plants. “You are kind of like a ship in the storm without a rudder,” he says, adding that in early 2000 the focus was on not tipping over and by the late 2000s, the goal was to keep from sinking. The team eventually zeroed in on an opportunity in the ethanol industry, the need for a better distillers grains drying system, and spent the first year developing a design. The first two ICM dryers were installed at the first two Delta-T plants in Winnebago and Benson, Minnesota. Actually installing the first dryer was a challenge for the team, Vander Griend said. For one thing, it was December in Minnesota, on the coldest winter on record. “We were pouring cement and everything else in the freezing temperatures, building a dryer that we’d never built before, outside in the freezing temperatures, trying to start it up in freezing temperatures,” he said. He recalled sleeping in the ethanol plant’s electrical control room for seven days, leaving only to eat. “We couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work,” he said. “We didn’t have any instruction manual, because we had never built before.”
20 YEAR HISTORY: Doug Rivers, Dave Vander Griend and Jeremy Javers share information about ICM's past and present operations. PHOTO: BRETT SCHAUF, T&J STUDIOS
NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 39
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BETTER DRYER: ICM’s first dryer system install, shown here in a 1997 photo, was at a Delta-T plant in Minnesota. To date, the company has installed more than 315 drying units. PHOTO: ICM ARCHIVES
(605) 428-4300 www.Direct-Automation.com 40 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
In the late 1990s, ICM worked with Phoenix Biosystems to develop an anaerobic digestion technology. That patented technology was installed in a number of ethanol plants. In 2009, the company built and began operating a commercial-scale demo gasifier. The technology was tested with more than 16 feedstocks over the next four years. In March the company announced an ICMdesigned gasification demo unit would be installed at a regional wastewater facility in San Jose, California. The first ICM-designed plant was built in 2011. Fagen Inc. was the primary contractor for the facility in Russell, Kansas, which is now owned and operated by White Energy. After that project, the design-build team of ICM-Fagen developed a partnership. Out of the more than 102 ethanol plants designed by ICM, Fagen built about 75 of them and the remainder were built by ICM, Vander Griend said. At the peak, in about 2006 to 2007, the build-out of the ethanol industry was happening so fast, companies like ICM and
‘You just literally could not keep up with the demand.’ —on the rapid build-out of the ethanol industry Fagen struggled to keep up with demand. At one point, ICM was actively working on 25 projects simultaneously. “We were doing a startup every week,” he says. “We were literally starting the plant up at its designed rate because, 10 days later, the team had to be somewhere else.” It was a difficult time. “You just literally could not keep up with the demand,” he says. As a result, it was difficult to do adequate startup and shutdown training. Besides which, the margins were so good at the time, plant management didn’t want to shut down the plant anyway. “They wanted to run and make product.”
FIRST OF IT'S KIND: Dave Vander Griend works on the first ICM dryer install, in this photo from the late 1990s. PHOTO: ICM ARCHIVES
It was frustrating and disappointing for all involved. “It was such a hectic time that nobody really got the attention they really deserved,” he says. “It took a lot to recover from that, with our customers at ICM-designed plants.” In 2008-’09 the industry was built out, for the market size. ICM shifted gears, while continuing to focus on work to support the ethanol industry or agriculture.
Today, ICM employs more than 325 people, some of whom work at the Colwich headquarters, some at ICM’s pilot plant and R&D facility in St. Joseph, Missouri, and others are field employees, working from various locations. The company sells parts and provides maintenance services for any ethanol plant, not just ICM-designed plants. In addition, ICM offers plant management services through Energy Management Solutions Inc. and is currently managing five ethanol production facilities. ICM’s first plant management opportunity developed by accident,
rather than design, Vander Griend says, after Tharaldson Ethanol LLC, an ethanol plant in Casselton, North Dakota, reached out to ICM for help solving a faulty dryer design. Over the years, the company has assisted multiple marginally designed plants improve operations, he says. Another big focus for ICM is providing bolt-on technologies to the first generation ethanol industry. That includes ICM’s patented Advanced Oil Separation, patented Selective Milling Technology and patent-pending Fiber Separation Technology, all trademarked technologies. In addition, the company has been working to validate its patent pending Gen 2.0 technology, for collocated cellulosic ethanol production, more than five years, Vander Griend says. As that technology was developed, it was realized that the same dilute acid front end process that worked to ferment traditional biomass cellulose, could also be used on corn fiber, which is also cellulose. ICM’s trademarked and patent pending Gen 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 41
VITAL RESEARCH: ICM employs 50 people in its R&D division, including 20 scientists and four with doctorate degrees. At left is Rick Brunner, a scientist. PHOTOS: BRETT SCHAUF, T&J STUDIOS
Ethanol Technology was proved out with a 1,000-hour run at full commercial-scale in 2012. In July, ICM hit another major milestone when it completed the second of two 1,000-hour performance runs of its Gen 2 technology, using first switchgrass and then energy sorghum as feedstocks. “The last nine months has been a whirlwind of activity, basically running this thing like a production facility,” says Jeremy Javers, director of technology development, about the pilot plant in St. Joe. The Gen 2.0 technology has two unique aspects worth noting. “Our approach to conversion of cellulosic biomass is, I think, fairly different from what others are doing,” says Doug Rivers, director of research and development for ICM, adding that the company has worked with multiple confidential partners to develop the technology. First, the ICM process utilizes a lowsolids pretreatment system, meaning, on a weight basis, for every 100 pounds run through the process, about 80 percent is
42 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
‘Our approach to conversion of cellulosic biomass is, I think, fairly different from what others are doing.’ water and up to 20 percent solids, Javers says. Other technologies may push through 30 pounds of solids per 100 pounds of cellulosic slurry. With recycling, ICM’s process uses about the same amount of water as other process designs. Next on the list is the production of an animal feed coproduct, Rivers says. The company made that feature a priority from day one, in an effort to offset the high cost of enzymes at the time. “In the meantime, the cost of enzymes has dropped dramatically, thanks to the ingenuity of the enzymes companies that are out there, and so now we have a coproduct that really does,
in fact, add to the bottom line, as opposed to offsetting another operational cost,â€? he says. ICMâ€™s focus on coproduct production with its cellulosic ethanol production process also comes out of its roots in the grain-to-ethanol industry, Javers says. Coproduct production is an important revenue stream for first-generation plants, helping keep the industry profitable. ICMâ€™s technology separates out the yeast used in the Gen 2.0 process, resulting in a highprotein, single-cell protein animal feed. It is 40 to 50 percent protein and can be fed to many types of animals, he says, including pigs, chickens and aquaculture. The company has also been working with outside partners on biochemical production technologies for both first-and second-generation ethanol plants, Rivers says. For example, plants that separate corn fiber could produce cellulosic ethanol or separate the cellulosic sugars for onsite chemical production or for sale to other companies for further processing. Cargill Inc.
and Archer Daniels Midland Co., are both ethanol production companies that already produce multiple products from corn, as well as sell products to other companies for further processing. ICM first installed its Fiber Separation Technology at ICM Biofuels, adjacent to the St. Joe R&D facility, followed recently by IGPC Ethanol Inc. in Aylmer, Ontario. Work is ongoing to install the technology at three additional ethanol production facilities, Redfield Energy LLC, in Redfield, South Dakota, Kansas Ethanol LLC in Lyons, Kansas, and E Energy Adams LLC, in Adams, Nebraska. The projects have proposed startup dates in mid-November, early 2016 and mid-2016, respectively. Author: Holly Jessen Managing Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701-738-4946 email@example.com
NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 43
Coming to Grips With Arterial Plaque Differences among carbonates, oxylates, MAP must be understood to effectively minimize and treat precipitates. By Dennis Bayrock
Precipitates are a real problem for all fermentation production facilities as they decrease the heat transfer efficiencies of heat exchangers, reduce volumetric flow within pipes and vessels, reduce mass transfer of chemicals within vessels, and harbor bacterial contamination. Periodic clean-in-place (CIP) between
fermentation cycles is required to remove precipitates that build up within process equipment. Annual CIP caustic costs at fuel ethanol plants can range from $490,000 to $890,000 at 100 MMgy plants and hydroblasting costs can run $45,000 for each treatment at a 50 MMgy plant. There are various precipitates found at industrial fermentation facilities that can be broadly classified into inert, organic and inorganic. Inert materials such as sand, fiber, mash and dead bacteria and yeast are the simplest. Once in the slurry, these inert materials can settle out over time, typically within liquefaction vessels, propagators/ fermenters, beerwell, evaporators, and recycle streams. Once built up, physical removal of these materials via a shutdown is the only certain way to remove them as there are no known CIP cleaning agents to effectively remove them. Limiting the amount of foreign material coming in with the feedstock is the easiest form of prevention. Inorganic precipitates can include sulfides, phosphorus compounds, carbonates and struvite. Organic precipitates can include proteins, oils, oxalates, phytic acid and succinic acid. Many are present in the feedstockâ€”corn contains proteins, oils, oxalates and phytic
PHOTO: SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL, BBI INTERNATIONAL
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).
44 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
PRECIPITATES acid—but they can also be produced by yeast or bacteria. Bacteria can also synthesize exopolysaccharides, creating an organic adhesive that allows the bacteria to cement to surfaces and form biofilms. More than 40 exopolysaccharides have been characterized from the lactic acid bacteria family, each with unique physical properties. All precipitates allow bacteria to colonize and adhere to the large surface area created by the precipitate scaffolding. To illustrate the dramatic increase in surface area, consider that a 1-cubic-foot solid sphere of material has a surface area of 0.4492 square meters. If replaced by an equal volume of sand particles (diameter of 0.1 mm), the surface area increases by 376 fold. If replaced by an equal volume of bacteria (diameter of 0.0005 mm), the surface increases by more than a million fold. Thus, smaller diameter particle sizes in precipitates exponentially increase the surface area for colonization by bacteria.
One inorganic precipitate at ethanol plants detected more recently is struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O), also known as MAP for its 1:1:1 ratio of magnesium, ammonia and phosphorus. The highest rates of MAP formation occur at temperatures above 99 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH greater than 7, but it will
PRECIPITATE COMPARISON: The precipitates were separated into highorganic and high-inorganic types. Both types and the effectiveness of PhibroAC and PhibroClean were compared to standard caustic and sulfamic acid treatments. The percent loss of precipitate was then calculated based on the initial and final amounts of precipitate after treatment. As expected, treatments that incorporated the Phibro formulations showed higher levels of precipitate loss at various locations within an ethanol facility. SOURCE: PHIBRO EPG
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PRECIPITATES form at lower rates at different temperatures and pH. MAP is off-white in color and has a soft, putty-like consistency, unlike most other inorganic precipitates, which are hard. Once formed, MAP is difficult to remove and does not solubilize in water, caustic or quat solutions. MAP formation is a chemical process that can be found as early as the liquefaction hydroheater. At a typical fuel ethanol plant, ammonia is added to slurry while magnesium is already present in the mash (about 1,500
parts per million are already present in corn, and with any magnesium salts added to methanators). Phosphate ion concentration is generally not elevated at an ethanol plant as phosphate-containing chemicals are not normally used. One potential source of phosphate is in well water. Another source is the corn itself. About 85 percent of the phosphorus in corn is bound as phytic acid that is released when phytases are added. With magnesium and phosphate present in the mash, MAP formation can also occur
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46 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
during fermentation when yeast and bacteria produce additional ammonia as they hydrolyze urea, or in the case of bacteria, hydrolyze protein. More worrisome is the real potential for MAP formation during inadequate CIP procedures. If all residual mash is not removed prior to treating with caustic, then ammonia is formed due to the hydrolysis of proteins with caustic. This liberated ammonia, together with the magnesium, phosphate, high pH and temperature during CIP, quickly forms and precipitates MAP. MAP production can be limited by reducing the concentration of at least one of the three required components—ammonia (or urea), magnesium or phosphate, or by reducing the kinetics by lowering the pH. MAP formation cannot be eliminated, however, and will still continue at less than optimal conditions. Oxalates—also known as beerstone, CaC2O4—are hard, white organic insoluble precipitates with well-defined crystals visible under the microscope. The acid form, oxalic acid, is soluble in water. Unlike MAP, oxalates are a normal part of metabolism in corn, bacteria and yeasts. Oxalates will solubilize metals in soil to provide a source of soluble metal ions required for metabolism. As oxylates and calcium concentrations cannot practically be limited or prevented at an ethanol plant, other means to prevent their formation must be used. At pH values below 4.27 it transitions from insoluble to the soluble oxalic acid form. This simple fact is employed at most ethanol plants to prevent scaling in the distillation system, either by acidifying the beerwell or ensuring that complete fermentation is achieved prior to distillation (target ferm drop at pH 4.5). Carbonates form hard, insoluble inorganic precipitates, created when carbon dioxide, produced in copious amounts by yeast, dissolves in water to form carbonic acid which can then participate in multiple reactions leading to the formation of carbonate ions. Significant amounts of carbonate ions are produced at pH 8 or higher, which can combine with the calcium, magnesium or iron in corn mash to form carbonate precipitates. In addition, caustic itself is very effective at solubilizing CO2. As in the case with MAP formation during CIP, carbonate precipitates
PRECIPITATES can quickly form if CO2-containing mash comes in contact with caustic.
Treating the Problem
Which is the worst precipitate to have? Chemically formed carbonates and biologically formed oxalates are easily created, if there is an overlap of caustic and mash. Prevention mainly relies on maintaining proper pH so that the insoluble forms do not precipitate. The chemically formed MAP is more complicated. Once formed, MAP is more chemically inert. In addition, due to its softness, MAP can coat and penetrate crevices and surfaces, is more mobile and can more easily be colonized by bacteria. Complicating the precipitate picture is the fact that most precipitates found within pipes and vessels at ethanol plants are sandwiches of multiple layers of organic and inorganic precipitates. Although caustic is extremely good at removing organic residues, it is not as effective at removing inorganic precipitates. Acidic solutions such as sulfamic acid are good at removing inorganic precipitates, but not as effective at removing organic precipitates such as proteins and oils. Traditionally, CIP procedures that alternate between caustic and acidic solutions that follow the optimal 4 Tâ€™s of CIPâ€”time, temperature, titration and turbulence have been used to combat all precipitates. Knowing these limitations of traditional acidic and caustic CIP chemicals, what can be done to improve the effectiveness of CIP? Scientists at Phibro Ethanol Performance Group have researched and developed two solutions for the fuel ethanol industry. The trademarked PhibroClean is a blend of surfactants that, when added to traditional caustic CIP solutions, significantly improves the penetrating and wetting ability of caustic against organic fouling. The trademarked PhibroAC is a custom blend of acids that can replace sulfamic acid to remove significantly more inorganic precipitates and does not influence the delicate microbial consortia within anaerobic digestors. Various precipitates from multiple ethanol plants have been tested at Phibro's R&D lab. The accompanying charts show the effectiveness of Phibroâ€™s treatments compared to the standard caustic and sulfamic acid treatments.
At one 100 MMgy ethanol plant where PhibroClean was permanently incorporated into the standard operating procedures (SOPs), annual savings in caustic costs of $403,200 were realized. The original caustic CIP concentration at this plant was 2 percent weight/weight. For the fuel ethanol plant, proper attention to pH and CIP SOPs can help prevent many organic and inorganic precipitates from forming. By definition, inert precipitates are not affected chemically by
caustic and acid wash solutions, but in many cases those inert precipitates are coremoved once the organic and/or inorganic precipitate sandwiches are taken care of. Author: Dr. Dennis Bayrock Global Director Fermentation Research Phibro Ethanol Performance Group 651-641-2826 Dennis.firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing author: Wayne Mattsfield Staff Scientist, Phibro Ethanol Performance Group
NOVEMBER 2015 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 47
Understanding, Your Autopilot
Ampliﬁcation of process upsets avoided when autopilot is used correctly. By Alan Strauss
The industrial Hydroheater is used to heat slurries over a wide range of viscosities and solid contents to a precise temperature. Many corn ethanol
plants use Hydro-Thermal’s Autopilot to help control their operations automatically. What exactly happens in auto operation, and how can you tell if yours is operational? First and foremost, the autopilot is designed to maintain a differential pressure (DP) set point of choice—nothing more and nothing less. This is done with the actual, current DP signal, which is calculated between the incoming pressure and the discharge pressure from the distributed control system (DCS). Establish the actual DP signal and the desired set point DP, and the combining tube (CT) moves accordingly—CT opens to lower DP or closes to raise it. This will achieve the desired set point in the auto setting, regardless of flow, temperature, percent solids or anything else. Process imbalances can lead customers to believe that the autopilot isn’t functioning correctly. However, what is occurring is that the process is upset and the autopilot is making it worse. For instance, if the flow drops, the CT will close in order to raise the DP. It will close it all the way down if left in auto mode and really restrict flow, thus making a bad situation worse, although it is functioning as it is designed to do. If there is a process upset, switch it into manual mode until the situation is under control, and put
it back into auto once stabilized. Auto is similar to cruise control in your car. You don’t start, stop or accelerate in cruise control. You turn on cruise when you are going down the road at a steady speed for a while and it will then maintain your speed going up and down hills. In the K5 Autopilot manual, there is a description of each mode. Look in the operation section for an explanation of the Automatic Run-Mode and Manual Operation Mode, for further explanation. Some plants have recently upgraded to the K600 and while the mechanics are different, the function on auto pilot is the same.
For troubleshooting, field service technicians first establish if the customer has the DCS hardwired and programmed to operate the Hydroheater in auto, plus verify that the function is turned on in the DCS. This is usually done during installation and startup. The autopilot needs DP, the DP set point, actual DP and enable signals in order to function in auto mode. The enable signal wire is the easiest of the three to find and to figure out if the Hydroheater is wired for auto mode. Open the autopilot electrical panel (following all OSHA rules and electrical safety practices) and check to see if there is a wire coming from the bottom of the panel, connected to the lower part of the blue terminal block, on terminal Input No.10. If there is no wire connected the K5/K600 will not
operate in auto mode. If there is a wire in that terminal location, the programming must also have been done to turn the unit off or on. A quick check can be done to see if the circuit is active. Have the DCS operator put the Hydroheater in auto from the control panel. While the K5/K600 electrical panel is open, watch the PLC for Input No. 10 to light up. With the DCS in auto and the Input No. 10 light on, turn the manual/auto switch to auto mode. Other considerations to know: Many customers have the PLC program called “pulse program,” which creates a pause in operation when the DP is within 5 PSI of the set point— the air motor on the CTA will run for 3 seconds and pause for 30 seconds, continuing until the set point is achieved. This prevents hunting, where the CT constantly moves above and below the set point. The very latest PLC program works with the K5/K600 and has a 2 PSI dead band. This change in program incurs less flow upsets, which assists in reducing wear. For your reference, the CTA digital display shows the percentage the combining tube is open. The pressure differential digital display shows the current and actual DP. Author: Alan Strauss Field Technician, Hydro-Thermal Corp. email@example.com 262-548-8900
Editor’s note: Ethanol Producer Magazine is introducing a new column that will appear periodically. It will offer industry-written best practices and troubleshooting tips for ethanol producers, diving into the details as this first one does, or covering broader topics from the frontlines of plant operations. 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).
48 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
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Volkswagen’s Woes Could Affect Ethanol Plants
By James L. Pray
The shocking admission by Volkswagen that it deliberately modified diesel engine emission control software in 11 million vehicles sold worldwide so that it could fake tailpipe emissions compliance will kick off years of civil and criminal litigation. But what does that have to do with ethanol plants and other industrial operations with air emission permits? Diesel-powered Volkswagen cars and ethanol plants share more than their common tie to the auto industry. Both must meet rigorous emission standards: For Volkswagen cars, it is the exhaust from the tailpipes; and for ethanol plants, it is the emissions from boilers, flares, scrubbers and thermal oxidizers. In both cases, the Clean Air Act gives the U.S. EPA and states significant regulatory authority with strict penalties for noncompliance. Federal and state prosecutors are also equipped with a wide variety of civil and federal fraud statutes if companies deliberately fake or modify test results. Unfortunately for the regulated industry, bad decisions by a few Volkswagen automotive engineers and managers are likely to affect ethanol plants and other industrial operations with air permits. There are three tools that the government can use to respond to corporate failures: tightened regulation, civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions. Regulatory Response Ethanol plants may see tightened oversight of stack testing and emissions monitoring systems. Regulators will not hesitate to suspect that anyone is capable of that level of deception. The federal government nearly always responds to major industry failures and accidents by significantly tightening enforcement. A good example is the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec involving a train carrying North Dakota Bakken crude that derailed and exploded, killing 42 people and leveling half of the nearest town. The Department of Transportation swiftly proposed new rules on tank car design that may pose significant problems with ethanol logistics as the rail industry switches to all new cars. Civil Litigation The Volkswagen debacle will likely unleash a torrent of litigation. Car owners, class action plaintiffs, environmental groups, state attorneys general, state regulators and the EPA are all now beginning investigations or preparing lawsuits. This will in turn create a cadre of experts who will soon be well-versed in calculating environmental costs associated with dodgy emissions testing. Any industry accused of similarly faking or altering emissions test will face a much more alert and prepared group
52 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | NOVEMBER 2015
of plaintiffs and regulators. The costs associated with an accusation (even if unfounded) of cutting corners on testing can generate massive litigation costs and penalties. Since 2009, the Justice Department has increased criminal convictions of Clean Air Act violations tenfold. This increase in convictions is largely a reflection of the current administration’s laserlike focus on environmental enforcement. Volkswagen chose a very bad time in which to become a target for a criminal prosecution. Normally, a prosecutor’s greatest obstacle to getting a criminal conviction is proving to a jury that a corporate defendant intentionally committed a criminal act. The admission by Volkswagen is extremely rare and criminal indictments will be swift to follow. As an attorney with three decades of experience in this field, I know what happens when a client is accused of an environmental crime. You do not want to go through that experience. What To Expect The existing regulatory scheme already allows government oversight of many emissions tests. However, the Volkswagen problem will trickle down to other industries. The EPA frequently enacts new regulations to pacify environmental groups and, less frequently now, Congress. I fully expect ethanol plants will face regulators strongly considering requiring additional certifications from senior management that stack tests and emissions monitoring devices are functional and working properly. Assume that unannounced inspections of emissions systems may become more regular. What To Do It is no surprise that Volkswagen forced its CEO to resign soon after the fraud revelations were disclosed. A culture of compliance must come from senior management. Also, full disclosure and clarity are the keys to avoiding any accusation that a stack test was faked or doctored. Document all aspects of your emissions monitoring and testing. Communications with consultants handling stack testing must be absolutely clear and there cannot be any misunderstanding regarding the testing parameters or environment. Disclose all conditions that could affect the integrity of a stack test to the regulators in the report. Companies handling stack testing ought to be equally diligent in making sure that their results have not been compromised. Author: James L. Pray Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm 515-242-2404 firstname.lastname@example.org
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