SEPTEMBER 2017 AUGUST 2017
POLISHED PROCESS DCS CS Replacement l Reﬁ ﬁned d for Optimized Transition Page 16
Evolution in Dryer y Design Page 24
Farm Bill: Funding What Matters
Added Extraction for Diversiﬁcation
Renewable Fuels Transportation Solutions
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SEPTEMBER 2017 VOLUME 23
VIEW FROM THE HILL
Integrators, producers share advice for smooth transition to a new DCS By Lisa Gibson
Channels of Change By Tom Bryan
A Refresher on Ethanol’s Many Beneﬁts By Bob Dinneen
KENNY WIRTS, COMMONWEATLH AGRI-ENERGY LLC
Turning the Screws on Drying
12 Years of Global Leadership on Clean, Aﬀordable Fuels By Emily Skor
A new distillers grains dryer technology hits the market By Susanne Retka Schill
Message and Messenger By Brian Jennings
CLEARING THE AIR
All Eyes on Energy
Industry weighs in on Energy Title expectations, fears By Keith Loria
A Major Moment for Ethanol in Europe By Emmanuel Desplechin
More is Less By Doug Durante
Variety in Value
Technologies exist for separation at multiple stages of ethanol production By Ann Bailey
Seeking Progress? Ditch Comfort Zones By Donna Funk
CEREAL PROCESS TECHNOLOGIES LLC
CONTRIBUTION ON THE COVER The Siemens PCS 7 control cabinet at Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
PHOTO: WKDZ/WHVO RADIO
4 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
Computerized Management System Simpliﬁes Repairs Routine checks, reports and mobile applications streamline tasks By Heather Wilkerson
Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) September 2017, Vol. 23, Issue 9. 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.
VOLUME 23 ISSUE 9
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2108 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo BetaTec Hop Products Buckman D3MAX LLC DuPont Industrial Biosciences Fagen Inc. Fluid Quip Process Technologies, LLC Growth Energy Hengye Inc. Hydro-Klean LLC ICM, Inc. J.C. Ramsdell Enviro Services, Inc. Leaf - Lesaﬀre Advanced Fermentations Mole Master Services Corporation Nalco Water POET LLC Premium Plant Services, Inc. R.S. Stover StoneAge Trinity Rail Group
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6 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
Channels of Change Virtually every aspect of ethanol production has been made better by new technology, and distributed control systems (DCS) are no exception. In this month’s cover story, “Optimized Upgrade,” on page 16, we learn Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
that ethanol plants running 10, 15 or 20 years on their original control systems are reaping immediate gains from quick DCS upgrades. As EPM Managing Editor Lisa Gibson reports, these systems are being installed with impressive speed—it takes just two or three days—by experienced integrators that make “one system talk to another” while replacing all or part of a plant’s existing control platform. The story includes candid feedback from producers who have recently experienced system overhauls, and helpful tips for those preparing to make the leap. We turn from improved technology to novel equipment in “Turning the Screws on Drying,” on page 24. In this story, Susanne Retka Schill introduces us to an emergent distillers grains drying system that’s catching the attention of U.S. ethanol producers. The story explains how Rayeman Elements serendipitously discovered, and ultimately developed, a method of drying wet cake at low temperature using steam from an extrusion-inspired compression process. Already, Lincolnway Energy, a 62 MMgy ethanol plant in central Iowa, is planning to employ the gentle, scalable drying process to manufacture a highprotein feed product. Other plants, too, are sizing up the system, which can be deployed in combination with existing gas-fired dryers to boost throughput. On page 28, we examine the impact and fate of the Farm Bill’s Energy Title, talking to policy experts about whether Congress will restore or even revamp the title before it expires next year. As Keith Loria reports in “All Eyes On Energy,” the Energy Title’s reach in bioenergy is deep, extending from blender pump funding to biomass crop assistance and biorefinery support. The current fear, real or perceived, is that spending restraint in Washington will leave the Energy Title weakened or stranded in 2018. Anchoring this month’s feature lineup, you’ll find “Variety In Value,” a story about the myriad ways value-added components can be derived from the dry-mill corn ethanol process. On page 32, Ann Bailey reports on how diversification can be pursued at different stages of production: fractionating the corn kernel on the front end or separating its elements within the thin or whole stillage. Ultimately, it’s all about breaking the feedstock into its basic ingredients—starch, fiber, protein and fat—to increase yield and manufacture higher-margin products.
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VIEW FROM THE HILL
A Refresher on Ethanol’s Many Benefits By Bob Dinneen
As summer winds down and Congress returns from its August recess, it’s a good time to provide a refresher on ethanol’s many benefits and why consumers benefit when there’s a choice at the pump. For starters, ethanol helps reduce air pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions. According to a January analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn-based ethanol reduces greenhouse emissions (GHG) by 43 percent compared with gasoline, including hypothetical land use change emissions. The same analysis found that by 2022, corn ethanol could reduce GHG emissions by 76 percent compared with gasoline. Additionally, the use of 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol in gasoline in 2016 reduced carbon dioxide-equivalent GHG emissions from the transportation sector by 43.5 million metric tons—the equivalent of removing 9.3 million cars from the road for an entire year. Meanwhile, ethanol provides a boost to local economies. Last year, the production of 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol supported 74,420 direct jobs and 264,756 indirect and induced jobs. In 2016, ethanol generated $9 billion in tax revenues, some of which went toward schools, roads and first responders. Additionally, ethanol added $42 billion to the 2016 U.S. gross domestic product and boosted household incomes by $23 billion. Ethanol also has made a significant dent in the goal for U.S. energy independence. Net petroleum import dependence fell from
8 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
60 percent before the Renewable Fuel Standard was passed in 2005 to just 25 percent in 2016 and would have been 33 percent without the addition of 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol to the fuel supply. Ethanol also is helping to fuel and feed the world. On a net basis, the U.S. ethanol industry will use just 2.94 percent of global grain supplies—an eight-year low. More grain is available for both food and feed use worldwide today than ever before and food price inflation has averaged just 2.5 percent annually since the RFS was implemented in 2005, compared with the 3.5 percent average from 1980 to 2004. In fact, the World Bank has concluded oil prices, which impact everything from fertilizer to transportation, have a far greater impact on food prices than biofuels. It is important to note that one-third of every bushel of grain used to make ethanol is enhanced and used as animal feed. Another benefit to ethanol’s use is its octane boost. With a 113 octane rating, ethanol is the highest-rated performance fuel on the market and keeps today’s engines running smoothly. Without ethanol and the RFS, Big Oil would continue its nearmonopoly at the pump, leaving consumers without any choices. I want to make sure consumers continue to have access to the cleanest, lowest-cost, highest-octane source of fuel in the world.
Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association 202.289.3835 email@example.com
EVENTS CALENDAR 2018 National Ethanol Conference February 12-14, 2018 JW Marriott San Antonio San Antonio, Texas The National Ethanol Conference (NEC) is the most widely attended executive level conference for the ethanol industry. Since 1996, the RFA’s NEC has been recognized as the preeminent conference for delivering accurate, timely information on marketing, legislative and regulatory issues facing the ethanol industry. In 2017, 1,000 industry leaders and professionals attended the NEC, representing 38 states, the District of Columbia and more than 14 countries. Networking and business development have been the leading factors promoting attendance since the NEC’s inception. 202-315-2466 | www.nationalethanolconference.com
2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 11-13, 2018 CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production— from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and ﬁscal management. The FEW is the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research ﬁndings. The program covers cellulosic ethanol while remaining committed to optimizing existing grain ethanol operations. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
2018 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo June 11-13, 2018 CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska Colocated with the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
Please check our website for upcoming webinars www.ethanolproducer.com/pages/webinar
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 9
12 Years of Global Leadership on Clean, Affordable Fuels By Emily Skor
Twelve years ago, the Renewable Fuel Standard was enacted, launching an American success story that has continued today. I have been fortunate in my time
as Growth Energy CEO to celebrate many significant milestones with our members, from 10-year anniversaries to 500 million- and 1 billiongallon production landmarks. By passing the RFS in 2005, Congress set the stage for this country to benefit from American-made biofuels. Ethanol is now blended into 97 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. By using more ethanol, we’ve added jobs and grown our economy. In 2005, the ethanol industry supported around 150,000 jobs and contributed less than $18 billion in economic output. By 2016, our industry supported more than 339,000 jobs and added more than $41 billion in economic activity. The RFS also has helped drivers across the country save money at the pump by creating options and increasing competition. By protecting drivers from market manipulation and global spikes in the price of oil, ethanol has saved consumers anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 per gallon. But ethanol doesn’t just save people money—it’s the smart choice for their engines. Its naturally high-octane rating delivers power and performance while also burning cleaner and cooler. Drivers have certainly noticed the benefits, and are taking advantage of higher ethanol blends such as E15. Earlier this year, American drivers surpassed 1 billion miles driven on E15. Because of this demand, E15 is now available in 29 states at more than 900 retail locations. We are proud to work with a group of leading retailers who are providing customers with this 21st century fueling option, including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuels, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz and Thorntons. Higher ethanol blends present a great opportunity for these retailers who want to offer their loyal customers the best possible options. For example, E15 allows retailers to offer a fuel that cuts carbon emissions and has a higher octane content than regular unleaded gasoline, all while being less expensive. In short, it adds an extremely competitive
fuel option to the station’s offering, which is a win for them and their customers. The growing availability and adoption of higher blends—by both retailers and consumers—is the clearest sign we have of the progress that has been made under the RFS in the past 12 years. In that time, we have seen that the RFS is the nation’s most successful energy policy. That success should be celebrated, but I know the ethanol industry, Growth Energy and our dedicated members will not merely pat ourselves on the back. Why? Because the future is even brighter—we will strive for more. Innovation and technological developments are making biofuels even greener and more efficient than they already are, both for firstgeneration and advanced biofuels. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has found that advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, can cut carbon emissions by as much as 100 percent. As cellulosic production ramps up, we have an opportunity for more biofuel gallons to meet the growing demand for higher ethanol blends. This industry is truly driving positive, meaningful change in the U.S. We are fueling people from points A to Z and to everywhere in between, and we’re doing it with an engine-smart, Earth-kind fuel. The RFS is a bipartisan policy that has worked as intended. It has made us more energy independent, grown our economy and allowed for the use of more environmentally friendly, American-made biofuels. With continued support, the benefits will only expand in scope and impact. Leaders in Congress should continue to support this successful policy and build on these gains, allowing consumers to use higher ethanol blends such as E15 all year long. The past 12 years show just what’s possible when America’s biofuel industry is given a chance to prosper. So, while I am tremendously excited by all that has been accomplished in the past dozen years, I am even more excited to see what’s possible in the years to come. If the past is any indicator, a cleaner, greener world awaits us. Author: Emily Skor CEO, Growth Energy 202.545.4000 firstname.lastname@example.org
10 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
Message and Messenger By Brian Jennings
For the past few years, the public relations and paid advertising strategy of the American Coalition for Ethanol has centered on finding the right messenger to deliver the right message. We are grateful to have a diverse membership base and strong alliances with corn growers, retailers and fuel marketers, rural electric co-ops, industry vendors and service providers. When people from all walks of life are part of the movement to support renewable fuels, it is a real testament to the fact that we’re stronger. That’s what ACE’s Power by People campaign is about: Putting a human face on ethanol; making connections with people on their terms; appealing to people’s hearts in addition to their minds. And it goes beyond having a message that’s persuasive to both the left and right side of the brain. If we want to influence the public opinions that inform political decisions, we also need to think about our audience and have the right messenger deliver the right message. That’s why Power by People has highlighted mothers, grandfathers and millennials, and why our advertising has featured retailers who are offering E15 and flex fuels to their customers. Retailers have become an incredibly important ingredient as we try to convince Congress and the EPA to provide Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15 and higher blends. Take Charlie Good for example. He’s an ASE-certified mechanic who has owned a gas station for more than 30 years. During much of that time, Charlie was tied to a ConocoPhillips contract that limited the types of fuel he could sell. When he broke free from the contract restrictions and began offering E15, E30 and E85, E15 became one of his bestselling fuels. The trouble is that Charlie, like too many other station owners, is handcuffed because the EPA refuses to provide summertime RVP relief to E15 and higher blends. ACE has prominently featured these real-life experiences in D.C.-based ad buys to focus attention on the need for RVP relief. Scott Zaremba is another retailer featured in our advertising. Since Scott was the first retailer in the country to offer E15, he’s been a
particularly effective messenger in our efforts to convince other retailers to make the switch to higher ethanol blends. Retailers trust and respect the opinions of their peers, and Scott is someone experienced with E15. That’s why Scott’s success with higher blends has been highlighted in the ad buys we do in petroleum and retailer media. Our strategy of right messenger for the right message has been validated by a survey done by Roll Call, a D.C.-based publication. When it compared ACE’s RVP ad featuring Charlie to those from Koch Industries and the National Beer Wholesalers, among many others, ACE came out on top. Seventy percent of Capitol Hill staff remembered seeing our ad and 60 percent of them recalled reading it. Ethanol opponents spend a lot of time and money trying to create an alternative reality, scaring people about the “harm” ethanol causes and stereotyping the ethanol industry as some monolithic government program and the Renewable Fuel Standard as a heavy-handed EPA mandate. They are masterful at playing to people’s emotions, particularly the mistrust people have of the EPA. While ethanol opponents appeal to people’s fears, ethanol advocates often fight fear with facts. A common refrain within our industry is: “The facts are on our side, we just need to get the facts out there. We just need to tell our story.” Our story is important, but our storytellers are equally important. Surveys confirm that people are most likely to be convinced by people to whom they can relate. That’s why we continue to rely on people from all walks of life in our Power by People advertising, telling the stories that support the facts. Retailers have been particularly effective messengers and ACE plans to incorporate more of them in our future public relations efforts. Author: Brian Jennings Executive Vice President American Coalition for Ethanol 605.334.3381 email@example.com
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 11
A Major Moment for Ethanol in Europe By Emmanuel Desplechin
The next few months are sure to be a crucial period for the European ethanol industry, as European Union policymakers grapple with new legislation that could phase out crop-based biofuels after 2020.
The moment is especially important as the EU tries to assert its leadership in the global fight against climate change after the U.S. government’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement. But even as it touts its continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the European Commission is making a strange push with its Renewable Energy Directive II to ensure a dominant place for fossil fuel in the EU’s 2030 transport energy mix. The Commission’s proposal is now in the hands of EU member states and the European Parliament. The EU’s legislature is considering amendments to the proposal in its various committees, leading up to a full plenary vote by the end of the year. And some policymakers are waking up to the fact that sustainable biofuels need to remain in the EU’s decarbonization toolkit. That’s especially true for EU ethanol, which keeps improving its ability to reduce GHG emissions. In 2016, European ethanol use delivered an average of more than 66 percent GHG savings over fossil petrol, according to new certified data from European ethanol producers. The number represents the latest of several annual increases in the climate-change-fighting potential of European ethanol, which has shown improved performance for five straight years. The statistics confirm that renewable ethanol plays a crucial role in achieving EU climate ambitions—and is only getting better at it. Instead of pushing to phase out this sustainable European biofuel, the European Commission should be extolling ethanol as a homegrown source of clean-burning transport energy. Remember: Road transport accounts for 20 percent of EU emissions but is still 95 percent reliant on oil. It is the one sector in which even the European Commission admits the EU is lagging behind when it comes to decarbonization. Key members of the European Parliament (MEP) clearly realize this. MEPs on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee in June adopted an opinion on the European Strategy for
12 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
Low Emission Mobility, and showed clear support for keeping cropbased biofuels such as renewable ethanol as part of the EU transport energy mix. In their opinion, MEPs sent a strong signal that Europe should focus on phasing out fossil fuels as well as biofuels that drive deforestation, such as those made with palm oil, but should not sacrifice sustainably produced European biofuels that have high GHG savings and low risk of indirect land use change. That view is in line with the overwhelming majority of Europeans who, as polls show, believe EU policy should promote biofuels with high GHG savings, like renewable European ethanol. At a time when Europeans are worried about climate change, urban air quality and economic growth, we need the most effective tools if we want to make better progress toward decarbonizing transport. Like the members of the Parliament’s ENVI committee, ordinary citizens believe the EU should not throw the baby out with the bathwater by abandoning good European biofuels such as ethanol, leaving European transport reliant on fossil fuel—still more than 90 percent reliant in 2030 if the European Commission’s proposal is accepted. Even at a time when European citizens are hugely concerned about air quality in the wake of the “dieselgate” scandals, there is support for using ethanol blends to reduce emissions. A poll taken in the U.K.— where the government is proposing to ban the sale of cars with diesel and petrol engines by 2040—82 percent of motorists supported using E10 ethanol blend as a method of lowering transport emissions. There is a better way forward—one that increases the EU’s level of ambition for renewables in transport, maintains policy continuity on biofuels in order to better ensure investment in new technology such as advanced biofuels, strengthens sustainability requirements, and promotes the use of conventional biofuels with high GHG savings. That is the road that Europe should take in its energy policy—one that clearly maintains the EU's place as a global leader. Author: Emmanuel Desplechin Secretary General ePURE, the European Renewable Ethanol Association firstname.lastname@example.org
CLEARING THE AIR
More is Less By Doug Durante
A curious myth follows ethanol around like a slow-growing weed in the yard beginning to encroach on living space. I am referring to the notion that we need ethanol-free gasoline. As a boat
owner, I have seen this nonsense perpetuated for years—claims that ethanol is corrosive and causes everything from phase separation to clogged fuel lines. Similarly, small engines ranging from lawnmowers to chainsaws have been assumed to have problems with ethanol. In both these examples, it is simply not true—whether it is a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower or a Mercury Marine outboard, they clearly and unequivocally are approved for the use of E10. If either of those sectors have concerns about blends above E10, that is a matter of choice. But going all the way back to zero is ridiculous. For these falsehoods to gain any kind of traction in the 140 billion-gallon gasoline market is beyond ridiculous—it is expensive and unhealthy. We need more ethanol in gasoline, and in so doing, we will get less drain on our wallets, less toxic aromatics, less carbon, less sulfur, less particulates and fewer related health problems. What makes this so discouraging for all of us who have worked to provide cleaner fuels and a better environment is that it is coming at a time when all signs are pointing in a completely opposite direction. It is like putting the umbrella away as storm clouds race in. I refer to a recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health that builds on a study funded by the Urban Air Initiative in 2013. It shows that exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM) presents a significant health risk. We already knew children were vulnerable to these emissions, but this new study finds that even minor reductions could save 12,000 lives annually in what would otherwise be classified as premature death in older Americans. What we now know is that the U.S. EPA has grossly underappreciated the role of gasoline in forming these fine particulates and has tended to focus solely on diesel and stationary power. Not only do we have direct PM emissions from gasoline in the form of ultra fine particulates, but we also have secondary organic aerosols from the combustion of aromatics. These aromatics are the true bad guys in the
oil barrel. Classified as toxics, they are known or suspected carcinogens and can make up more than 35 percent of a gallon of gasoline in some cases, and that’s with ethanol in the mix. The obvious question is if that's the case, why are they in there? Octane. High-octane fuels mean high aromatic levels. The Health Effects Institute, which had a hand in this new Harvard report, has helped raise the curtain on this issue in terms of getting EPA to grudgingly admit the connection between gasoline, air toxics and aromatics. Furthermore, EPA often unwittingly has conceded that splash blending ethanol to achieve higher octane would reduce particulate toxics. There is not enough space here to document the growing body of scientific evidence that connects the dots of gasoline emissions and negative health impacts, but it could fill this magazine. Another growing body of evidence proves we need higher-octane fuels to meet fuel-efficiency standards. Downsizing engines via turbocharging and adjusting compression will be the norm and those engines require higher octane. Even putting the health issue aside, increasing gasoline octane at the refinery level might be impossible without prohibitive cost impacts. As it is, ethanol-free gasoline is a niche fuel and is anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than E10 or E15. Ethanol has the highest octane blending value of any available additive and is considerably lower in cost. Are you willing to pay $6 to $10 more per fill-up to increase cancer-causing emissions? But unless we open the door to a competitive octane market and, in the process, enforce laws on the books to limit the toxics in gasoline, get ready to see those statistics in the Harvard study rise. Higher ethanol blends are the answer. Remember—more is less. Author: Doug Durante Executive Director Clean Fuels Development Coalition 301.718.0077 email@example.com
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 13
BUSINESS BRIEFS Glacial Lakes Energy celebrates 15 years Glacial Lakes Energy LLC, a 100 MMgy ethanol plant in Watertown, South Dakota, is celebrating 15 years of production. It also recently completed a unit train shipPHOTO: GLACIAL LAKES ENERGY LLC ping facility. GLE was formed in May 2001 and began production at its Watertown plant in August 2002. The operation had an initial production capacity of 40 MMgy, but underwent an expansion in 2007. The Watertown plant uses more than 43 million bushels of locally grown corn every year and also produces nearly 340,000 tons per year of highquality distillers grain. GLE also operates a second 100 MMgy in Mina, South Dakota. “We are excited to have reached this milestone,” says GLE CEO Jim Seurer. “For the past 15 years, we are proud to have made a significant contribution to our local economy, the value-added agriculture industry, our national energy security and ultimately to consumers. We look forward to serving our communities and the U.S. ethanol industry for many more years to come. Our new state-of-the-art unit train shipping facility is a perfect fit for our future and well-positions the company for the next 15 years.”
People, Partnerships & Projects
University of Wisconsin-Madison, ExxonMobil extend research agreement The University of Wisconsin-Madison and ExxonMobil have announced a two-year renewal of an agreement to research the fundamental chemistry of converting biomass into transportation fuels. The research is part of a broad effort to identify scalable and commercially viable solutions to help meet increasing global energy demand with a renewable resource. The project leverages the university’s expertise with ExxonMobil’s resources and strong technological capabilities. A new approach to cellulosic biofuels with the potential to reduce the number of processing steps will be explored. The work will focus on the potential of solvents to dissolve the entire biomass, which might make it possible to convert the whole biomass into fuel-sized molecules in a single reactor. The research also will explore the catalytic transformation of bioderived ethanol into bioderived diesel and jet fuel.
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Alliance Bio-Products gets approval to buy IneosBio plant Alliance Bio-Products Inc. has received apPHOTO: INEOSBIO proval from the USDA to purchase an existing cellulosic ethanol plant in Vero Beach, Florida. The purchase includes the 8 MMgy plant, about 143 acres and the equipment and vehicles from the previous plant, which was owned by IneosBio. The plant was built in 2012, but IneosBio idled it in 2015 and put it up for sale, citing production challenges. The new plant will use the existing fermentation and distillation system. Alliance Bio-Products plans to expand at the site as production increases. Alliance Bio-Products will convert the plant to support its cellulose-to-sugar process, using trash, yard clippings, agricultural waste and other materials through an agreement with the Indian River County landfill.
Pacific Ethanol to acquire Illinois Corn Processing Pacific Ethanol Inc. will acquire Illinois Corn Processing for $76 million, which includes $15 million in working capital, according to Pacific Ethanol. ICP is a 90 MMgy fuel and industrial alcohol manufacturing, storage and distribution facility adjacent to Pacific Ethanol’s Pekin, Illinois, plant. ICP produces fuelgrade ethanol, beverage and industrial-grade alcohol, dry distillers grain and corn oil. The facility has direct access to end markets via barge, rail and truck. Combined, the two facilities represent 250 million gallons of production. “ICP has a history of consistent profitability operating at betterthan-average industry margins,” says Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol president and CEO, in a statement. “As such, we expect the ICP acquisition to be immediately accretive to earnings. To further enhance the plant’s value, we have identified several improvement initiatives. As we apply the best practices developed at our plants, we expect to improve yields, increase plant capacity utilization and continue to enhance ICP’s production processes through additional capital investments.”
Innovation that drives ethanol forward. Buckman is helping ethanol fuel the future with a full line of industryleading solutions and a dedicated research team relentlessly pursuing new innovations. You can look to us
to enhance processes, water systems and productivity, so you can extract more from every kernel of corn. Contact your Buckman representative or visit buckman.com to learn more.
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SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 15
UPGRADE The ethanol industry is evolving, equipment is aging and integrators are polishing their processes for complete distributed control system replacements. By Lisa Gibson By Luke Geiver
Kenny Wirts says the distributed control system (DCS) replacement at Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will result in a return on investment. The new system has vastly more capabilities, more automation and operates at a higher speed. Wirts, plant manager, says he has heard no negative feedback from his staff on the new DCS. “Not one time have I heard someone say, ‘Man, I wish we had that old system back.’” Commonwealth Agri-Energy’s DCS was completely replaced during a routine shutdown that began June 13. Trident Automation handled the replacement, following through on its promise to have the new equipment installed and ready to function within 36 hours. The company had completed its part in the task in only 24, Wirts says. “Comfortably within their 36-hour allotted period, we were up and running.” As recently as just a few years ago, an entire DCS replacement would shut an ethanol plant down for up to 10 days, Wirts says. Now, most integrators such as Trident have polished the process so thoroughly that they can get it done during normal plant shutdowns, he adds. Jason Hurst, co-owner of Trident, agrees.
16 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
OPERATOR TRAINING: Paul Zweifel, owner of Direct Automation, explains new DCS features to plant operators at Glacial Lakes Energy LLC in Mina, South Dakota. PHOTO: DIRECT AUTOMATION
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 17
DCS DISPLAY: The graphics displays on new distributed control systems are more user-friendly and come with multiple options, integrators say. PHOTO: DIRECT AUTOMATION
The company started doing DCS upgrades in ethanol plants in 2010 and has completed about 45 since, Hurst says. It averages about 10 per year. Sometimes the entire system is replaced, sometimes just certain parts. Most of the time, Trident sells the software and hardware to its customers, but sometimes is hired simply to install and make sure all the components communicate well with each other for an efficient and optimized production process. “We’re an integrator. We’re very good at making one system talk to another,” Hurst says. A DCS should have a lifespan of about 20 years, he says. “The system will show you signs of what needs to be upgraded. You’ll start to see failures.”
Why, When and How The popular APACS+ DCS installed in a large number of plants about 20 years ago is reaching its obsolescence date, prompting a wave of upgrades and replacements 18 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
across the industry, Hurst says. But that doesn’t mean the parts won’t be available. “I’m not too worried about the wall,” he says. “It’s a motivational force (for DCS replacements), but it doesn’t have to be.” The APACS+ equipment is “rock solid,” he says, and doesn’t fail. “The market is saturated. … It’ll just be more expensive.” Or many plants might decide on a DCS upgrade because they hit a horsepower wall, says Carson Merkwan, business development manager for Direct Automation. They can’t expand or add capacity with their current horsepower and investing in an old system doesn’t always make sense, he says. “Sometimes it gets so cost prohibitive to expand your current platform that that might be something that might trigger DCS replacement,” Hurst says. “They can get a whole new system for the same price to expand.” Trident uses a phased approach to total DCS replacement. “We’ll get their most
critical systems going and then we schedule around the rest,” Hurst says. Merkwan says Direct Automation has a “rip and replace” option, as well as two phased approaches: the first starts with replacement of the servers and uses those servers to run the hardware underneath; and the second runs two systems, replacing different parts individually. “We recommend rip and replace because then you know you’re not getting a Frankenstein system,” Merkwan says. Like Trident, the company boasts a two-day replacement time. Direct Automation brings about 30 people to a site for the main switchover, lessening staff as the plant becomes familiar with its new system. Both companies offer training and support for as long as the plant needs it. While Direct Automation might make certain suggestions for its customers, based on individual needs and current regulations or standards, the decisions are left to the producers. “Ul-
timately, it comes down to what the customer wants,” Merkwan says. “As long as it’s safe and we don’t see an ethical reason with programming something the way they ask for it, we give it to them.”
Advice From the Experts When an entire control system is replaced and a whole staff of people needs to learn the new one, mishaps and miscommunication can happen. Merkwan, Hurst and Wirts have a few pointers for ethanol producers to help avoid any major setbacks: • Be engaged: Plant staff need to be actively involved in the upgrade, asking questions, getting input and talking to the integrator handling the transition, Hurst says. “They need to take ownership of the upgrade. I think that’s the biggest thing I see—they’re too busy with what they’re doing. Ethanol, in general, is usually pretty understaffed around the controls area.” Sometimes nobody mans the controls, he says, but someone needs to be there during the replacement. “It’s really important that you be engaged in the upgrade. Listen. Have a dialogue.” Merkwan says it’s crucial to get a schedule from the integrator. “And make sure you’re getting a clear list of expectations to him.” Talk about how the trending works, how much automation the new system includes, which parts are being completely replaced, etc. • Choose a champion: A plant should choose one employee to engage with the transition and handle decision-making. “There are a lot of decisions to make,” Merkwan says, adding the entire plant staff might not agree on each one. The champion can make the important calls and actively work with the integrator. He or she can be a manager, operator, etc., but the role is crucial, Merkwan says. • Shop around: Be sure to select the right integrator and the right equipment. A plant is not obligated to use the incumbent integrator, Merkwan says. Get multiple
OPERATOR SPECIFICATIONS: An operator at Plymouth Energy LLC in Merrill, Iowa, requests speciﬁc preferences for his new DCS. PHOTO: DIRECT AUTOMATION
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AT THE CONTROLS: Nathan Nutter, controls designer II for Trident Automation, demonstrates a control system in Trident’s integration lab.
quotes on services and equipment, and compare those quotes. “They might be leaving money on the table. They might be installing a system that’s already got 10 years lifespan on it, setting themselves up for another migration in 10 years, when it shouldn’t be less than 20.” Wirts says, “The best advice is find somebody you’re absolutely confident has the ability, the knowledge and the experience to install them.” • Get feedback: Both Wirts and Merkwan recommend that plant managers talk to other plant managers who have been through the transition with the same brand, integrator, etc. Research and read the reviews. • Keep internal communication open: Don’t neglect regular meetings with all stakeholders after the upgrade, Merkwan says. Communication lines should remain open as the plant familiarizes itself with its new capabilities. • Use the new features: New DCSs come
PHOTO: TRIDENT AUTOMATION
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with a vast array of capabilities and options. Use them. “Don’t force the integrator or manufacturer into copying what your old system did,” Hurst says. “Your old system probably didn’t do as much. You’re kind of hamstringing your new system right out of the gate.”
Obvious Improvements With a new DCS in place of a 20-yearold one, plants will see a number of changes. Likely the most significant are the automation capabilities and real-time reports. In fact, Merkwan says the biggest complaint he hears about the upgrades is that the operators don’t know their systems as well because they don’t have to initiate each action in the process. “The operator had to click to make something happen on the screen, whereas, nowadays, they can be as automated as they want,” he says. “And that does make some plant managers nervous.”
Merkwan suggests detailed training for operators, to ensure they still understand a process that doesn’t require constant action from them to maintain itself. Sequencing and data integration are simpler now, too, Merkwan says. And there’s always the improved speed. “Our old system was much, much slower than the new system,” Wirts says. “So the way that the valves were responding on the old system is not the way they do with the new system. The new system has a lot faster refresh rate.” The new system also has more functionality and is far more userfriendly, he adds. Wirts is happy with the new DCS and the service provided by Trident. “They knew what our issues would be, they knew what their issues were going to be, and they delivered a finished product to me in 36 hours. But just because we’ve got it on a computer screen doesn’t mean we know
how to use it.” Commonwealth Agri-Energy still had someone on site in mid-July, checking valves and ensuring optimal efficiency and control over the entire ethanol-production process. “I think we’ll have them come back every year to make sure we’re running as efficiently as possible,” Wirts says. “I think there will be a return on investment.” Author: Lisa Gibson Managing Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4920 firstname.lastname@example.org
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 21
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TURNING THE SCREWS ON
DRYING Rayeman Elements has introduced extrusion technology as a radically diﬀerent means of drying distillers grains. By Susanne Retka Schill
Mike Thomas was working on pelletizing wet distillers grains when the steam escaping from the extruders he was using got him to thinking that with some modifications, he could dry the wet cake as well. Five years and $20 million later, he’s
writing several proposals for ethanol plants looking at installing a Rayeman Compression Dryer. Three sections of the dryer filling a corner of the exhibit hall at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in June in Minneapolis also sparked a lot of interest he’s now following up on. Shortly before the FEW, Lincolnway Energy announced it will be installing the dryer, and Thomas says another purchase agreement should be finalized shortly. Using extrusion as a dryer technology might be new to the ethanol industry, but it’s not altogether a new technology. Earlier in his career as an engineer, Thomas worked with extruders in making plastic and rubber products, and nearly two decades ago figured out how 24 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
to combine wood flour with plastics to make composite decking boards—an engineering feat every bit as challenging as pelletizing DDGS. As a consultant, he was approached to solve the problem of making range cubes from DDGS without the use of binders. Adapting the extrusion technology he’d been working with for years, he succeeded. But the sponsors of that research weren’t interested in the price tag for the twin extruders and development costs, says Samantha Western, whose help he enlisted to set up Rayeman Elements Inc. Western serves as CEO and president of the company and Thomas is vice president and director of technology. Western recalls the first FEW where they introduced their idea, showing the range cubes saved from their first, low-budget setup on rented equipment. “We literally had a table, a stool and our bucket of range cubes we saved. The rest was sold to a rancher to test out. We had no building, no equipment, but everybody who came to the booth, we said, ‘This is what we can do.’ And every one of our current customers, we met at that FEW show seven years ago in Indianapolis.”
One of those interested parties was a group willing to buy some equipment and a building to help develop the system. Thomas and Western partnered with Furst-McNess Co. to sell McNess Bovine Range Cubes. “FurstMcNess would sell everything we could make and it worked, and if we weren’t spending $20 million in development, we might have made a profit,” Western says. Three distillers range cube systems are in service, she says, noting that while the densification technology is just beginning to generate interest among ethanol producers, the dryer appears to be catching on much faster.
MECHANICAL DRYING: Rayeman Elements has introduced an innovative dryer for distillers grains that revolves around speciﬁc cutouts along the barrels enclosing the screws. PHOTO: RAYEMAN ELEMENTS
The dryer concept was one of those serendipitous discoveries. Thomas explains he was asked by an ethanol plant if the equipment could handle wet cake, since the plant didn’t dry its distillers grains. While running wet grains through without the die unit at the end to form range cubes, Thomas noticed steam, which made him wonder if grains could be dried by tapping into the mechanical forces created in the screws.
How It Works
The technology, Thomas says, lies in the geometry of counter-rotating, enmeshed twin
extruders, with strategically placed cutouts in the barrel enclosing the screws. As the wet grains move through, some of the water is squeezed out, but the core technology lies in another principal. The mechanical forces in the compressing and shearing of the material create heat and pressure that, when relieved, flashes off as steam that is vacuumed away. The analogy he uses may be apt, though not comforting. “If you’ve flown in a commercial jet liner, … if you had an immediate release of pressurization in the cabin, the first thing that happens is you would have a fog so dense you couldn’t see your hand in front of your
face.” Inside the barrel containing the screws, something similar happens. When compressed moisture in the grains is released, the water molecules saturate the air as fog or steam. The geometry of the dryer screws and surrounding barrel compresses and releases the material hundreds of times, removing the moisture without having to reach the heat of vaporization, he explains, effectively drying the grain at relatively low temperatures. The modular Rayeman Compression Dryer, built in long and narrow sections, drops the moisture content of distillers grains between 8 and 14 percent per section, depending SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 25
SECTIONAL APPROACH: One motor and gear box drives the screws in dryer sections. The diameter of the screw determines the volume, and the number of sections varies with the targeted dryness. PHOTO: RAYEMAN ELEMENTS
upon configuration. “The system is less than 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall at the highest point,” Thomas says. “The length will vary. Each section could be from 13 to 29 feet long, depending on what we’re trying to do.” The diameter of the extruder determines the volume—a 160 mm (6 inch) screw has a capacity of 100 to 300 dry tons per day, while the largest, at 360 mm, has a daily capacity between 900 and 1,500 tons. The sections are aligned horizontally, with the number of sections dependent upon the target dryness. “In an average dryer, to go from 65 to 12 percent moisture would need six to eight sections,” Thomas says. The
system offers the flexibility to produce modified distillers, instead of dry, by using fewer sections. While the compression dryer could potentially replace a drum or ring dryer, Lincolnway Energy is planning to supplement its steam tube dryer to handle a new feed product in development, trademarked PureStream Protein. “The steam dryers are not the right kind of dryer for the product,” because of the increased protein content, says CEO Eric Hakmiller. “In the steam tube dryer, there’s a tendency to snowball through the dryer and make clumps that dry on the outside, but not
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the inside.” Hakmiller adds they’ve run enough of the new feed product through the Rayeman dryer at its research and development facility to run three feed trials. The company expects to roll out the new feed product later this year, once the system is operational. “What we liked about this dryer is it gives you lots of flexibility in capital decisions and your product,” Hakmiller says. “It produces a very nice product because it doesn’t overly heat the material. That’s critical whenever you’re doing animal feed, because you don’t want to damage the proteins. And, it’s eminently scalable. You can buy the dryer size you think you want to start a market.” Unlike a drum or ring dryer that has to be replaced to increase capacity, the REI dryer can be scaled up incrementally. The dryer is unusual in its long footprint, he adds, but Lincolnway happens to have a long building—the coal building that has not been used since the facility converted from a coal-fired to natural gas-fired boiler a few years ago. Another application being considered by some plants, Western says, is to add sections before or after an existing natural gas-fired dryer to partially dry the distillers grains, increasing the capacity of the overall system.
The low-temp operation, less than 220 degrees Fahrenheit, is a major selling point, Thomas says. “One of the biggest attributes people are going after is trying to preserve the protein product. And there’s a pay grade based on the color when you ship it overseas. [The compression dryer] produces the lightest and brightest color of anything on the market. So that’s very attractive.” Western adds there are a number of other benefits. Capital costs are relatively low, with a payback of six to 18 months, depending upon the configuration. Operating costs are low as well, estimated at $12 per ton in an average situation drying distillers from 65 to 12 percent moisture. That is figuring 171 kilowatts per ton and an electric rate of 7 cents per kilowatt hour. “That’s far below a gas dryer, plus we’re not using gas,” Western says. “Electricity can be more expensive, but in the long run, we’re using less energy, and the fact we’re running on low temperatures and not on gas, there’s no chance for explosions, which is a big issue in the industry. It couldn’t be any safer.” She adds the system has low labor costs, and could be run by one person, although as a safety precaution, they would not recommend that. She says
another benefit was demonstrated at the FEW in June: They brought in three sections to display and were able to install, level and wire the units within three days. Besides reducing explosion risk, replacing natural gas with electricity changes the emissions profile from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “The VOCs are two-thirds less than a gas-fired dryer,” Thomas says. “The main reason is we’re not burning gas and we’re not running high temps.” Initial emissions testing shows the lion’s share of the VOCs in the steam vacuumed away while the unit is running are ethanol, with very small amounts of other compounds. “One of the things we’re working on next is to see if we can eliminate the use of scrubbers,” Western says. And, as they’ve talked with plants, they also are examining the potential for water recycling. Thomas says the water squeezed out is 180 degrees, with about 90 percent purity, with the remainder having a VOC profile similar to the steam, plus distillers particles. The system offers flexibility in the amount of water removed as steam or liquid, he adds. The new system’s reliability and maintenance requirements will largely determine how
Ove Optim r 70 iza Projec tion Availa ts ble
the radical new technology will catch on in the ethanol industry. Thomas is confident it will. “With distillers grains, because of the oil, and particularly if wet, it provides a lot of lubricity, so there’s very little wear. We have coatings on the screws and barrel and, as we see any wear on that on an annual basis, it’s minimal money to provide additional coatings,” he says. The screws last from four to six years, and replacement costs are not expensive, he adds. “The plastics/rubber industry has proven it. They run all year round on a continuous basis and that’s been done since the 1950s. That’s why I took that technology and figured out how to adapt it to this industry.” Thomas has already begun working on the next challenge. “I’m looking to apply the same technology to biomass for ethanol production, because I believe the screw geometry and what we do with all that compressing and releasing and shearing breaks down that biomass to get a higher yield from cellulosic plants. That’s where I’m headed next.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Freelance Journalist email@example.com
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ALL EYES ON
ENERGY With the 2014 Farm Bill set to expire in the midst of hesitancy in federal spending, ethanol producers and advocates contemplate the fate of their invaluable Energy Title. By Keith Loria
The 2014 Farm Bill—otherwise known as the Agricultural Act of 2014—places a larger emphasis on energy than past farm bills have. It includes the most recent ver-
sion of the Energy Title, which was first enacted in 2002. The 2014 Energy Title allocated $694 million to programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biobased Markets Program and the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, among others. The 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire in 2018 and discussions on its next iteration are picking up momentum. But with a Congress focused on federal spending restraint, and the oil industry’s influence on the current administration, the ethanol industry is voicing concern about the prospects for the Energy Title and programs that are necessary for ethanol’s success. 28 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol, admits it’s still too early to know what will or won’t make it into a potential Energy Title, but he lauds its effectiveness in the past few years. “The Energy Title has provided important support for advanced biofuel technologies and for infrastructure (blender pump) development in the past, and it would be important for Congress to consider continuing that sort of support in the future,” he says. REAP, for example, has led to more than 15,000 projects nationwide, with more than $2 billion in leveraged investments in rural America.
“A new Farm Bill should be taken up soon to ensure that program authorizations and mandatory funding are fully in place when the current Farm Bill expires in 2018,” says Lloyd Ritter, founder and managing partner of Green Capitol LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in public policy development in clean
energy sectors. “In addition to the reauthorizations and sensible, stable mandatory funding, we want to see some technical corrections and improvements to certain programs.” Ritter says, specifically, the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program should fully support standalone renewable chemical biorefineries. REAP should better support “underserved technologies” such as smallscale wind and biogas systems, BCAP should be resuscitated with a focus on hazardous fuels reductions in the western U.S., and the biopreferred program should be strengthened. Of the overall Farm Bill, Jennings says: “We’d like to see the Conservation Title con-
POLICY PREDICTIONS: The ethanol industry has hope for the new Farm Bill, but it also has concerns about the current federal spending restraints. PHOTO: BBI INTERNATIONAL
tain incentives to reward farmers for activities that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we’d like an Energy Title to reward energy efficiency activities at biorefineries and on farms and to provide some support for continuing to develop infrastructure for the use of higher ethanol blends.” John Fuher, senior director of government affairs for Growth Energy, says the organization is most concerned about a farmer safety net in the next Farm Bill, emphasizing support for those struggling to make a living. Jennings says ACE agrees. “As for ethanol-specific items, the last Farm Bill had a permanent stream of funding for energy and lots of things targeted to
help us advance biofuels, and that’s what we’re also concerned with,” Fuher says. “This bill has a pretty significant amount of resources dedicated toward renewable energy and we’re focused on that as well. We’re going to fight for the largest, most robust funding level we can for these energy programs.” A reduction in programs that restricts resources for the growth of agriculture and renewable energy is a step backwards, he adds. “The ideal Farm Bill would continue and improve successful Farm Bill clean energy programs by helping to advance energy efficiency, on-farm energy production and to increase rewards for environmental benefits that are undervalued in the marketplace,” says Andy
Olsen, senior policy advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We would also see substantially more funding, given the widespread popularity of these programs.”
In 2002, Jennings worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He notes that the U.S. was enjoying a budget surplus at that time, contributing to the implementation of an Energy Title. “The other key was that there were forward-thinking senators … who worked to craft the Energy Title,” he says, citing Sens. Thomas Harkin, D-Iowa; Richard Lugar, RSEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 29
SUMMARY OF 2014 ENERGY TITLE PROGR AMS
Section 9002: Biobased Markets Program
• Federal preference for procurement of biobased products and labeling program • Mandatory funding of $3 million and discretionary funding of $2 million for each fiscal year through 2018
Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing
Repowering Assistance Program
Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels
• Loan guarantees to accelerate development of advanced biofuel, renewable chemical and biobased product manufacturing facilities
• Encouragement for existing biorefineries to use biomass for heat and power
• Encouragement of advanced biofuels production, excluding corn starch ethanol
• Education and outreach on biodiesel use
• $12 million for 2014, plus $10 million in discretionary funding for each year for 2015 through 2018
• Grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency and renewable energy of all sorts
• Mandatory funding of $15 million per year for 2014 through 2018, and an additional $20 million per year in discretionary funding
• Mandatory funding of $100 million for fiscal year 2014 and $50 million per year for 2015 and 2016, and discretionary funding of $75 million per year for 2014 through 2018
Section 9008: Biomass Research and Development
• Support for advanced research to improve bioenergy
Feedstock Flexibility Program
Biomass Crop Assistance Program
• Sugar import management program
• Assistance to stimulate energy crop plantings
• Such sums as necessary
• Mandatory funding of $25 million per year through 2018
• $12 million over five years in mandatory funding, and discretionary funding of $20 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018
Biodiesel Fuel Education Program
• Mandatory funding of $5 million from 2014 to 2018
Rural Energy for America Program
• Mandatory funding of $50 million per year through 2018, with an additional $100 million in five-year discretionary funding
• Grants to state or local governments to install wood energy systems in community facilities
• Mandates a report on energy use and audits from USDA headquarters and major regional facilities, energy efficiency efforts to date and potential plans
Community Wood Energy Program
• Discretionary funding of $5 million per year for 2014 through 2018
Energy Efficiency Report for USDA Facilities
SOURCE: ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER
Ind.; Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; and Tim Johnson, D-S.D. “We are in a very different place today in terms of the budget environment.” “In the current budget climate, the urge to downsize or to hold the line on spending is perhaps understandable,” Ritter says. “Our concern is that certain programs will be targeted for cuts unfairly. The Energy Title represents less than 1 percent of Farm Bill spending. Yet it has had enormous economic impact, leveraging matching private investments in energy production and energy efficiency, 30 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
building new manufacturing facilities in rural communities, and creating thousands of new jobs, along with opportunities for economic growth.” Olsen says efforts to continue clean energy programs face an uphill fight in the next Farm Bill because fossil fuel interests have enormous influence with the current Congress and White House. Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition in Bethesda, Maryland, cites President Donald Trump’s
administration and an anti-ethanol stance as reason for the concern. “If there’s one thing we know about Trump, he does truly seem to be an anti-regulatory guy, for better or worse. And it’s hard to make the case with this administration that we need biofuels. We need to find things to continue to open the door to allow biofuels—and ethanol particularly—more access to the market.” Durante also notes things change rapidly in the industry and the mood surrounding the last Farm Bill was significantly different than it
is now. “There was a great appetite in the last Farm Bill to do stuff and the Energy Title was extremely aggressive,” he says. “I think it worked and there was so much good stuff, from R&D to the REAP Program to the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership, but I don’t know if the appetite exists for any of that stuff to come back.” Many experts say the ethanol industry won’t be able to count on the government for forward-moving policy. Durante notes that members of Congress will need to see the benefit in order to authorize programs in the Farm Bill. And right now, they don’t. “I am chagrined to see these myths continue to perpetuate on the Senate floor about ethanol—it raises food prices, hurts engines, increases emissions—and every single one of those things is not true and can be disproven,” he says. “I don’t want to be overly negative, but you have to be realistic. As we see what their appetite is on the Hill to repeat any of these things, there needs to be a constant barrage of reminding them of the benefits.”
When Trump tapped Scott Pruitt, a strong ethanol opponent, to head up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many worried about the industry’s immediate future. But by bringing Sonny Perdue on board as Agriculture Secretary, who insists “ethanol is here to stay,” things might not be so dire. “He’s someone who has gotten high reviews from people we respect on Capitol Hill,” Fuher says. “We view him as a very good partner and as someone we look forward to working with. We look to him as someone who supports us.” Jennings says Perdue seems to have a strong grasp on the importance of renewable fuels to the economic well-being of rural America, and ACE is hopeful that, like his predecessor, Secretary Thomas Vilsack, Perdue will be a vocal advocate for renewable fuels in the administration. Perdue even held his first public address event in Nevada, Iowa, with DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol facility as a backdrop. In his speech, he highlighted the key role of innovation in ag-based energy, manufacturing and clean energy technology. Many ethanol advocates say Perdue understands the value of the rural renewables industry to those communities, providing them new markets for agricultural products, incentives to develop new crops, and opportunities for economic growth and preservation. They also hope for clean energy to be embraced broadly as a bipartisan solution to multiple national problems, and say Perdue will help. “The Energy Title has always had solid bipartisan support, and hundreds of groups around the country believe they are important and deserving of continued support as well,” Ritter says. “The Trump Administration budget wasn’t very helpful due to proposed cuts but these innovative, job-creating programs speak to his top goals of helping build jobs, manufacturing and energy dominance, especially in areas hurting like much of rural America.” Author: Keith Loria Freelance Journalist firstname.lastname@example.org SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 31
IN VALUE Value-added components can be separated from the ethanol-production process at multiple stages. Technology developers continue to improve on their systems to expand markets and increase their customers’ revenues. By Ann Bailey
The ethanol industry can re- production process, as some technology dehave demonstrated. Multiple systems duce market risk by producing velopers exist to carry out the task. Some are brand new, more diverse and value-added while others are available for integration now, products, says Michael Regier, but their developers agree: Separating valuable vice president of Cereal Process coproducts adds revenue. Technologies LLC. “The main benefit Added Value is diversification, not only diversification of coproducts, but of the industry,” he says. CPT has a fractionation technology employed at the National Corn Ethanol Research Center in Edwardsville, Illinois, and in four commercial plants. “The ethanol industry, as a whole, is the only commodities processing industry that doesn’t employ some sort of initial component separation,” Regier says. “The ethanol industry right now just has a few markets: ethanol, DDGS, CO2, distillers corn oil.” Fractionation can help plants create more value-added products, increase capacity and reduce operating costs. But fractionation isn’t the only option. Separation of valuable components can happen throughout the ethanol32 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
CPT’s technology was developed in the 1950s for industrial fermentation by a chemical engineer and first employed in the 1960s. The system was implemented specifically for ethanol in 2007 at a 108 MMgy Valero ethanol plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin. CPT’s process involves milling corn into three components: endosperm, germ and bran. Coproducts include the bran, highprotein distillers dried grains with solubles, food-grade vegetable oil and food-grade dry products such as de-oiled corn germ meal. During the CPT process, conditioned corn is de-germed into four to six large pieces, then the cracked corn enters a roller mill, where the
germ remains whole while the endosperm is crushed. The remainder moves along a conveyer to sifting, again passes through milling where the germ and endosperm are sized, and is sent through aspiration for bran removal. The finished streams are then collected, weighed and transferred. Removing bran and germ results in an endosperm with a 14 to 15 percent higher starch content than corn, Regier says. “With fewer nonfermentables, the resulting DDGS is high-protein.” The higher-protein, higherquality DDGS have less protein degradation because particles contain less oil, resulting in more consistent drying. The process also reduces the load in the dryer by half, allowing for better control. After the CPT process, the DDGS can be sold as protein replacer, instead of a starch, and marketed at a discount to soybean meal, Regier notes. The corn germ contains 80 percent of the oil in the corn kernel and is the most abundant unused source of vegetable oil in the ethanol
IN FRACTIONS: Cereal Process Technologies LLC oï¬€ers a fractionation process that separates the corn kernel into its main components: germ (top), bran (right) and endosperm (bottom). PHOTO: CEREAL PROCESS TECHNOLOGIES LLC
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 33
HEAVILY EQUIPPED: CPT’s fractionation technology is installed in four commercial ethanol plants. PHOTO: CEREAL PROCESS TECHNOLOGIES LLC
STILLAGE SOLIDS: ICM Inc.’s new Thin Stillage Solids Separation System creates three products from thin stillage. From left: eﬄuent, feed and concentrate. PHOTO: ICM INC.
industry, Regier says. The bran provides water absorption for syrup, reduces toxins fermentation and is an ideal combined-heat-and-power system feedstock. The cost of employing CPT’s technology at ethanol plants is determined on a case-bycase basis. “There are parts of the project that are site-specific that would affect costs significantly,” Regier says. The technology might require a higher capital investment, but the potential return on the investment also is greater than other bolt-on technologies, he says. “We market this (technology) to the entire ethanol industry as well as the biochemical industry.”
34 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
3 Steps to Separation
ICM Inc.’s technologies focus on separating more starch and oil, through a three-step process: Selective Milling Technology V2; Fiber Separation Technology Next Gen; and Thin Stillage Solids Separation System (TS4). SMT frees more starch critical for enzyme conversion to sugar by selectively targeting and flaking larger starch particles into smaller ones, or separating starch away from fiber, protein or fats, says Jesse Spooner, ICM process engineer II. Spooner says ICM’s SMT systems are being used at 26 ethanol plants around the world with more coming on board. The system increases ethanol yield by up to 3 percent, with a 15 percent increase in distillers
oil, Spooner says. And that means more revenue, too, he adds. FST has a patent pending and is designed to separate nonfermentable fiber from slurry before fermentation. It is operating in six ethanol plants and results in an ethanol capacity increase of up to 14 percent, as much as a 25 percent increase in oil separation, and more efficient use of inputs per gallon produced, Spooner says. “FST also provides the ability to produce purposely made feed products with the production of tailored distillers grains with a high-fiber stream and high-protein stream, which can bring significant value.” TS4, recently released with multiple design configurations, is a separation technique
COPRODUCTS set to be installed at its first ethanol plant later this year. It’s designed to remove oil and suspended solids from stillage. The process improves plant efficiency by increasing dryer capacity, improving evaporator operation, and increasing plant throughput, according to ICM. “Employing the SMT V2 technology has limited impact on an ethanol plant’s operation, while implementing FST Next Gen and TS4 are more involved,” Spooner says. “The ICM technologies are all designed to help a plant capture the value.”
Almost to Market
Harvesting Technology LLC has been developing the bolt-on CoProMax process for five years. The process involves separating distillers corn oil from whole stillage, while eliminating the use of decanters to produce thin stillage, according to Harvest Technology’s George Bolton and Chuck Jepson, both agriculture industry veterans. During the process, whole stillage is diluted, then processed with a fiber separating device and the resulting wet fiber, containing about 80 percent of the corn kernel fiber, is squeezed with a press. This liquid is combined with the effluent from the initial fiber separation and treated with a proprietary polymer, then introduced into a dissolved air flotation (DAF) machine. “As the DAF float is collected, it is heated to about 205 degrees and pumped to a tricanter, which separates the high-protein faction of the distillers grain and the distillers corn oil. The resulting effluent from this process is combined with the 2 percent solids DAF effluent for use as backset for the ethanol process, and also allows for dilution of the incoming whole stillage and provides a low-solids effluent for the evaporators to maintain the water balance of the process,” Bolton says. CoProMax provides a greater opportunity to increase coproduct value by starting with whole stillage, Bolton says. “This change allows the production of corn oil to be raised to a new level, about double what the average plant is getting, so we’re looking at around 1.3 pounds per bushel of corn processed,” Bolton says. “That is one of the highest levels available.” The CoProMax process also produces a 26 percent protein, 6 percent fat distillers grain, called CKFiber, containing more than 60 per-
cent nondetergent fiber (NDF). The product is good feed for high-lactating dairy and feeder cattle. The high levels of NDF also make it an excellent and readily available feedstock for the new cellulosic ethanol technologies being developed, Bolton says. It has a protein level in the range of 45 to 54 percent, allowing for greater pricing and market flexibility. Because it has a substantially higher protein than standard distillers grains, plus a lower level of fiber, it can be used at higher inclusion rates in monogastric animals, making it an ideal feed for the aquaculture and poultry industries, Bolton says. “When compared with soybean meal in poultry diets, CKFiber has about 60 percent more digestible energy,” he says. Harvest Technology is in the final stages of testing CoProMax. The company will conduct a mass balance in conjunction with the National Corn Ethanol Research Center, which will ensure third-party verification of the mass balance and the materials resulting from the process, Bolton says.
“From there, we plan to introduce it into the commercial market. We expect to be done in two to three months,” Bolton said during a late July interview. “We’re running at a commercial ethanol plant (Adkins Energy in Lena, Illinois) right now. We’re taking a fraction of their whole stillage and proving the process there. “We’ve had a lot of interest,” Bolton says. “Since we started our commercial pilot operation, there’s been a tour about every day. Our starting goal was to develop a profitable solution for ethanol coproduct production. Our next step will be finalizing novel financial approaches to introduce the CoProMax process to the ethanol industry.” Author: Ann Bailey Freelance Journalist email@example.com
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SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 35
COMPUTERIZED MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
For most ethanol plants, a CMMS could be an easy, cost-eﬀective solution to maintaining equipment, ensuring regulation compliance and repairing broken machinery. By Heather Wilkerson
Equipment maintenance is an integral part of ethanol production. Machine downtime can cost a plant thousands of dollars an hour. The good news is downtime can easily be prevented or minimized by using a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). A CMMS is a software program that keeps detailed records of all assets. It also is used to create and send work orders, schedule preventive maintenance tasks and record historical data. Big River Resources, located in Boyceville, Wisconsin, has used Mapcon Technologies Inc.’s CMMS for nearly 11 years. Joe Boesl, the company’s CMMS administrator, says the plant would be “lost without it.”
Preventive Maintenance Perhaps the easiest and most costeffective way to maintain equipment is by scheduling regular preventive maintenance (PM) tasks. These are equipment checks and procedures that need to be done on an ongoing basis. For example, a technician might schedule a PM on a motor every
three months to check and possibly replace a belt. Since the belt is being monitored regularly, it is less likely to break down suddenly, reducing the likelihood of costly reactive maintenance and machine downtime. Boesl’s team routinely checks all the meters on the machines to make sure the readings are within the safe zone. Neglecting to complete this PM task could lead to equipment overheating, or worse. Many systems will show users what they have scheduled for that day right when they login, which makes it easier to stay on top of PM checks. Additionally, within Mapcon, a report can be run that will show the PM work orders scheduled over a specific length of time, which can be helpful for shift planning. Along with keeping equipment running, PM tasks are important for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulatory audits. When a PM is completed within Mapcon, users can select a field noting that the PM was part of a certification requirement. Then, when an audit is done, a report can be run showing what maintenance was done on equipment as part of
the certification. For example, the EPA might require Big River to monitor the meters on its machines to make sure chemicals such as sulfur dioxide are kept at safe levels. Big River can simply run a PM report and it will show how often those meters were checked, making it easier for them to pass the audit.
Mobile Requests Routine preventive maintenance cuts down on the frequency of reactive repairs, but it doesn’t eliminate them completely. When a piece of equipment breaks down, the most efficient way for workers to notify someone of the needed repairs is to submit a work request through their CMMS. The request details which piece of equipment needs repairs, where it is located and what the problem is. A mobile CMMS, such as Mapcon Mobile, can speed this process along by allowing the request to be created right from the floor. A mobile notification will be sent to the correct worker for review. In addition, using a mobile app will allow the user to take a photo of the needed repair and add it to the request or order for added clarity. If Big River Resources has
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).
36 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
IDENTIFYING ISSUES: A computerized management system can reduce equipment downtime and save money. Companies will come up with their own codes, but in this sample, ELEC would mean electrical; MECH is mechanical; IC stands for instruments and controls; OP is short for operations; and NOGO is not a good code. IMAGE: MAPCON
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 37
a minor crack in one of its fermentation tanks, instead of making multiple phone calls to find someone who can complete the repairs, workers simply put the information in a work request and submit it. Once the work request is submitted, the maintenance manager will receive a notice to look at it, and turn it into a work order, which can then be assigned to a technician to complete the repairs. Estimates for
repair time and tools required to complete the work can be added to the work order as well, making it easier for the employee to prepare for the job before trekking all the way out to the tank. If the plant does not have the necessary parts on hand, workers can check the inventory of their other locations within the CMMS to see if they have spares. Plants also can set up their CMMS to notify them and create a purchase order
when they are running low on a certain part, which minimizes downtime and ensures a critical spare is always available. After the work is completed, the repairs are noted and the order is closed. The use of a mobile CMMS makes this part even easier. Instead of having to walk back to an office computer, trying to remember exactly what repairs were done so they can be noted, the employee
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MOBILE MAINTENANCE: A mobile component can speed up the repair process, allowing personnel to report a problem from the ﬂoor and request repairs. IMAGE: MAPCON
38 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
can enter the information right from the floor, immediately after the repair is completed. This helps eliminate human error. Once the order is closed, it is sent to history and can be viewed at a later date. All the work orders on a piece of equipment can be viewed directly from the equipment screen, which can be beneficial for business intelligence analysis. And when Big River Resources
is trying to decide whether a piece of equipment should undergo more repairs or be replaced altogether, that history is invaluable. It will show how often repairs are needed, how much the repairs cost, and who completed the repairs. If the cost of the repairs outweighs the cost of a new piece of equipment, the solution is obvious. Equipment maintenance is of the utmost importance for ethanol plants. A
breakdown in just one piece of equipment costs time and money. A CMMS is an easy, cost-effective way to keep equipment up and running. Author: Heather Wilkerson Marketing Coordinator Mapcon Technologies Inc. 800.922.4336 email@example.com
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 39
Seeking Progress? Ditch Comfort Zones By Donna Funk
For most producers, 2017 is shaping up to be an average-to-good year profit-wise, with steady supplies and market prices. When things are moving along well, it’s easy to let the proverbial squeaky wheels in a business attract all the attention, and leave alone the parts that seem to be working fine. But focusing only on the most demanding aspects of a business can dramatically impact profitability. Sometimes the most valuable path to a company’s sustainable growth is to lift the hood on the parts of the business that appear to be working well, and see if they could run better, faster and more efficiently. Here are some areas that frequently get ignored when business is smooth, but could bring more value through a few tweaks: • Internal controls, processes and procedures. Focus can be so centered on what is being done that how it’s done is completely ignored. Don’t do things in a particular way because it’s comfortable, or because it’s just always been done that way. Sometimes even tiny shifts in a process can make an enormous difference in efficiency and cost. Keep in mind, the greatest process and procedure suggestions might come from line staff who are on the floor, down in the details. Giving the power of suggestion to every person in a company might yield unanticipated advantages. • Areas outside normal production. In some respects, biofuels operations are like boats: If turned upside down and analyzed from the underside, they look exactly the same. So think about what can be different. What could advance the plant or set it apart from the competition?
40 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | SEPTEMBER 2017
• New markets. Just because no one’s doing it yet doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. What new markets can be created that might not be attractive to others in the industry? Brainstorm big. And don’t be scared to step out ahead of competitors to try something new. • Internal structure. Just because a business was founded with a specific structure doesn’t mean it’s still an effective way to operate. Does the current organizational structure still make the most sense for shareholders? If not, be bold in moving to something new that will add value. • Spending. Materials don’t always need to be purchased from the same place, or in the same volume or shipment style. Most people shop around for value when making personal purchase decisions, so why not do that in a business? Consider rethinking purchasing processes and policies, or engaging in conversations with vendors regarding different options. That includes staples like grain procurement. Don’t get so focused in the day-to-day business that the future gets ignored. Ditch the comfort zones and let the squeaky wheels squeak for a while. The growth opportunities might be surprising. Author: Donna Funk Principal, K-Coe Isom 400.303.3241 firstname.lastname@example.org
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