All Revved Up in South Dakota

19th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Trade Show Set its Sights on 'Strategically Planning the Ethanol Plant of the Future' and Set the Stage for 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2004.
By Tom Bryan | July 01, 2003
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - An international crowd of over1,200 gathered here in mid-June for the 19th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Trade Show (FEW), the most highly attended and longest-running ethanol industry conference in the World.

The FEW, one of the U.S. ethanol industry's "big three" annual events, is hosted by a different city each year, typically Midwest hubs within an hour's drive of at least one ethanol plant. The conference is coupled with the industry's first and largest trade show, which remarkably brought together 150 exhibitors this year.

Event organizers say the success of this year's FEW, June 16-19, set the stage for its 20th anniversary celebration next year in Madison, Wisconsin, where BBI International, in association with Ethanol Producer Magazine, will welcome an expected 1,400 attendees and nearly 200 exhibitors at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center, June 22-25, 2004.

Mike Bryan, President of BBI International and publisher of Ethanol Producer Magazine, said, "Next year, the FEW in Madison will mark a notable milestone for BBI International but, more importantly, for the companies and individuals that support the conference. It represents 20 years of hard work, 20 years of collaboration and 20 years of faith in the promise of ethanol."
Success in Sioux Falls

In the heart of ethanol country, the Sioux Falls Convention Center played host to a truly dynamic conference and the largest trade show in ethanol industry history.

Presenters and attendees from all over the North America, as well as those from around the world - India, Asia, Europe and South America - brought a global presence to the FEW and produced a well-rounded program typical of the event. The sold-out trade show, too, was full to capacity with ethanol industry suppliers and service providers that enjoyed heavy traffic July 16, 17 and 18.

Pre-Workshop Seminars
The FEW began with two "pre-workshop seminars" for ethanol and biodiesel beginners Monday, June 16, at the convention center.

"It seems like every time I check my e-mail there's another ethanol plant going up somewhere," said Ralph Groschen, ethanol specialist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture who spoke at the pre-workshop ethanol seminar. "There's been 41 plants built since 1993. . . To me that says the industry has come a long way."

Later the same day, hundreds of attendees took advantage of an opportunity to tour Dakota Ethanol, LLC, a 40-mmgy ethanol plant near Wentworth, S.D., designed, built and managed by Broin Companies of Sioux Falls.

Three days later, at the close of the conference, another large group of attendees toured Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC, a 40-mmgy ethanol plant in Watertown, S.D., built by Fagen, Inc., utilizing an ICM, Inc. process technology.

"We are very appreciative of the management and staff of both Dakota Ethanol and Glacial Lakes Energy for arranging the tours," said Angela Damman, BBI International's director of conference & meeting planning. "The FEW is based on the idea of making practical production information accessible to everyone. . . these tours would not be possible without the producers' support and cooperation. Both facilities put forth tremendous effort to make it happen."

A Mayor's Welcome

Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson entered the opening session with. . . well, a lot of attitude June 17, riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle in tune with the 2003 FEW theme celebrating the 100th anniversary of Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

"What a great way to enter this group of people, to come in on a motorcycle. It's the first time I've been on a motorcycle and it's a great thrill," he said to the crowd's amusement. "I give you a warm welcome to our city and applaud you for what you're doing. It's so important - not only for South Dakota but for the entire country."

Munson continued to praise the industry, saying, "Not only are we truly pleased that you have chosen Sioux Falls for this conference, but we feel it is so important for you to come here and talk about your work and share your knowledge with each other and with us."

Munson, who served in the South Dakota state legislature "in the early years" of ethanol production, has been a longtime advocate of ethanol in South Dakota, and was presented with an honorary FEW hard hat in appreciation for his efforts.

"This is something I will wear with pride," he told the crowd upon receiving the gift from Mike Bryan.

Raising the Bar
In his opening remarks, Mike Bryan thanked the crowd for supporting the FEW and commented on the growth of the industry and the event.

"I've been in this industry now for 20 years and just looking around the room and seeing the number of people here today is amazing," he said. "In fact, we have more gold, bronze and silver industry partners (event sponsors) this year than we had attendees at the first workshop 19 years ago. I think that's testament to how the industry has grown."

Bryan also introduced the conference theme: "Strategically Planning the Ethanol Plant of the Future."

"This conference is designed to address the key issues - to challenge, to probe and to question the norm and certainly to raise the bar and increase the threshold of excellence for the industry," he said.

Daschle Speaks from Washington
Renewable Fuels Association President (RFA) Bob Dinneen lauded Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., for his unequaled efforts to pass meaningful renewable fuels legislation.

"I want to tell you without equivocation that there has been no more committed, no more articulate, and no more effective leader for farmers - and for ethanol - than Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle," Dinneen said while introducing the Senator. "Because of the vision of Tom Daschle, because of his leadership and his commitment, we are close to reaching our goal. South Dakota, and American farmers, are lucky to have him as an advocate."

Speaking live via satellite from Washington D.C., Daschle thanked Dinneen for his "extraordinary leadership" and also thanked BBI International for hosting the FEW. He also made kind mention of Mayor Munson and Rural Electric Cooperative leader Glenn English, and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

A statement from Daschle's office, released before the conference began, stated, "The ethanol workshop being held in Sioux Falls this week highlights the enormous opportunities the increased use of ethanol will bring to South Dakota, creating jobs and wealth for our state. At no time in our nation's history has ethanol played such a prominent role in meeting our nation's energy needs, and that role will increase dramatically in the years to come."

"Teddy Roosevelt said, 'The best prize that life offers is a chance to work hard at work worth doing,'" Daschle began. "There is no better way to describe the work that we've done over the past two decades to create and grow the ethanol industry. . . We are raising the hopes and fortunes of farmers and small towns throughout America. We are reducing the strain that energy production puts on our environment and we are approaching the day when we will finally break the habit of foreign oil dependency."

Daschle said the ethanol industry still has "a long way to go," adding, "but the future looks very exciting. . . MTBE is on the way out."

He spoke proudly of the RFS legislation that has been included in the pending energy bill. "Sen Dick Lugar and I introduced (the RFS) as a concept three years ago and it is now widely accepted as part of a mainstream energy plan. . . We will continue to push this legislation forward in this Congress."

Daschle said he is hopeful that an energy bill will pass, but said he will "spare no efforts" and "pursue every vehicle to enact an RFS into law" if the energy bill does not move.

"We will attach (the RFS) to other bills, or present it as a stand alone bill," he vowed, saying he would have an updated report on the status of the RFS at the ACE Annual Meeting & Ethanol Conference at the end of this month in Sioux Falls.

"We cannot fail, and we won't," he said.

Distinguished Serviced Award
Perhaps one of the most venerable events of this year's FEW was the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, an honor extolled on an individual who has shown remarkable dedication and vision to the ethanol industry over a significant period of time. This year's recipient of the Distinguished Service Award was Dave Vander Griend, President and CEO of ICM, Inc., of Colwich, Kan.

Touched by the gesture of his peers, a humble - and nearly speechless - Vander Griend projected the praise onto his brother and his company, saying, "I would like to recognize my younger brother Dennis (Vander Griend, ICM's chief engineer). He is probably the one more responsible for the success of our company, for the growth of the industry, and dedication to the fuel ethanol movement."

He continued, "ICM continues to be committed to this industry, committed to this conference, and we will maintain that support as the years go by."

'Weekend Marketplace' Taped Live at FEW
For the third straight year, the FEW has played host to a live taping of Ag Day Network's "Weekend Marketplace," the most watched agricultural television show in America.

This year, Weekend Marketplace host Al Pell discussed pressing ethanol industry topics - alternative feedstocks, natural gas prices, lending practices and a plethora of front line topics - with RFA leader Bob Dinneen, Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and Jeff Kistner, business development manager for CoBank of Omaha.

The television show aired nationwide in late June (See full article, "Ethanol Discussed on National Farm Television Show," page 31).

Biorefining Concepts Discussed

On Tuesday, June 17, panelists Mark Yancey, BBI International Consulting, Paul Sebesta, University of California-Desert Research Center, and Ted Aulich, Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), presented ideas on biorefining concepts and opportunities.

Yancey discussed the concept of a "renewable energy park," presenting an overview that included data on dry mill energy use and plant processes, and renewable energy options for cogeneration (e.g., anaerobic digestion, gasification).

"Cogeneration powered by anaerobic digestion of manure and animal fat appears to be more cost effective than a traditional natural gas-fired boiler and electricity purchased form the grid," Yancey said, adding, ". . . With continuing upward pressures on natural gas prices, alternative energy sources are looking more attractive."

Sebesta captured the attention of FEW participants with a presentation about a concept to use sugar cane grown in the desert of Imperial Valley California to produce ethanol.

"What started as a simple research project has resulted in a number of firms having an interest in developing renewable energy projects in the Imperial Valley," Sebesta said. "The focus now is not to use cane for the production of sugar, but for its use as a renewable energy feedstock. . . Commercial interests have brought us to the threshold of a dream."

Novozymes scientists Gregg Crabb and Eric Allain unveiled their immaculately drawn "Road to the Ethanol Plant of the Future," a concept that involves fiber optic probes, "chemometrics" and the development of "super enzymes" that will, in theory, drastically improve ethanol yields.

Aulich's presentation, "Ethanol Market Opportunities Beyond Gasoline," was centered on extracting valuable chemical intermediates as coproducts of ethanol production through dual fermentation biorefining, direct esterification, and a method called Guerbet catalytic condensation. He also spoke about ethanol utilization in fuel cells, diesel fuel and aviation fuel.

Diverse Breakout Sessions
Breakout sessions, divided into four tracks each day, began Tuesday, July 17, with simultaneous panel discussions on international opportunities in biorefining, environmental and air quality requirements for ethanol production, risk management, and an in-depth discussion of hybrid corn as a feedstock for ethanol production. Later in the day, groups of panelists discussed new production technologies, emissions control, new equipment and emerging technologies for production.

Wednesday, June 18, breakout sessions continued with speakers addressing traditional and alternative feedstocks for ethanol production, ethanol plant case studies, education and training, and ethanol issues in California.

Special Events
Special events at the FEW began Monday, June 16, with a reception and grand opening of the FEW trade show. Kathy Bryan welcomed the crowd as Teri Ellis-Schmidt, head of the of the the Sioux Falls Convention & Visitor's Bureau, did the honors of cutting the ceremonial ribbon to the show, where hundreds of attendees mingled with exhibitors, dined and enjoyed cocktails.

The good times continued Tuesday evening with a special dinner and live music at the J&L Harley Davidson dealership in Sioux Falls. Several FEW attendees donned their leathers trying to win the "best-dressed biker award," which was won by Lubrizol's own. . . Frank Magazine. Out in the parking lot, Dave Vander Griend and Jeff Broin, CEO of Broin Companies, went head-to-head in a fiercely competitive race in the spiffy mini-motorcycles. A spectator made the final call: "Neither of them should give up their day jobs."

Technical College Given Industry Donation
Keeping in theme with the 100th Anniversary Harley Davidson celebration, winners of this year's Ethanol Scholarship Fundraiser raffle drawing won Harley Davidson leather jackets and a Harley Davidson commemorative collectors set.

The Ethanol Scholarship Fundraiser began with a dunk tank at the 1999 FEW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and has garnered in excess of $7,000. This year's raffle alone raised $1,340 for the fund.

On day three of the conference, Kathy Bryan, vice president of BBI International and editor-in-chief of Ethanol Producer Magazine, presented a $2,000 check to the Minnesota West Technical & Community College's Process Plant Technology Program. Bryan said Minnesota West has been "a pioneer in developing a curriculum that allows people to secure good jobs in the ethanol industry."

Duane Carrow, program director at Minnesota West, thanked the industry for its support, especially local companies - Fagen, MCP (now ADM), CVEC, and others - that have provided invaluable resources and guidance over the last four years.

Carrow said every member of the program's first and second graduating classes (2002, 2003) are working in the ethanol industry. "Recruiting students into the program is our [prime concern] now. So many people still don't know the school exists," Carrow said.

World Outlook
BBI's Angela Damman led an international discussion in the grand ballroom of the convention center Tuesday, July 17, entitled, "World Outlook for Fuel Ethanol Production and Use."

Panelists Klaus-Holger Dunker, Norzucker AG, Germany, made predictions for ethanol production and use in Europe; Dave Tupper, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, gave an overview of the Canadian ethanol industry; and Alvaro Martinez, Compania Licorera de Nicaragua, spoke about fuel ethanol programs in Central America.

The Family Fuel/ Forum of Futuristic Thinkers
Survey says. . . lot's of fun and valuable information.

To build the foundation for meaningful discussion, "The Family Fuel" (the FEW's rendition of The Family Feud game show) made its debut June 19, when a team of ethanol producers faced off against a team of ethanol technical providers.

Gunter Brodl, Vogelbusch U.S.A., Dave Vander Griend, ICM, Inc, Bibb Swain, Delta-T Corp., and Greg Heuer, an ethanol producer turned consultant, formed the technology-providers team. Greg Hayes, Cargill, Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources, LLC, Danny Allison, Abengoa Bioenergy, and Russ Abarr, New Energy Corp., made up the ethanol producer team.

Before the show began, the audience was polled, choosing answers to various ethanol production-related questions. The answers were later used as food for thought during the FEW's Forum of Futuristic Thinkers. The results of the polling will also help shape the 2003-2004 Ethanol Producer Magazine Editorial Calendar.

While the completed results of the Family Fuel polling were not immediately available at EPM press time, a sample of the polling found that a majority of participants at this year's event believed that genetically altered corn would be the primary feedstock of the "Ethanol Plant of the Future" in 2015. A majority also believed the enzymatic process would remain the most highly implemented cellulosic hydrolysis technology; C5 conversion would be the most significant change in cooking and fermentation processes; the biorefining concept would be the most important technological advancement; and special additives and chemical intermediates would, perhaps, be predominant over distillers grains as the leading new coproduct of ethanol production.

Next month's issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine will further explore the finalized results of the this year's polling.

Forum of Futuristic Thinkers
The show closed June 19 with an important discussion led by a diverse panel of industry leaders who sought to explore the topics addressed in the earlier session.

The panel was comprised of Ryan Heuer, technical services, Novozymes, North America; Dr. Mike Ingledew, alcohol fermentation specialist, University of Saskatchewan; Ron Lamberty, market development director (and interim executive director), American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE); Mark Luitjens, marketing alliance manager, Aventine Renewable Energy (formerly Williams Bioenergy); Mike Knauf, industry manager for fuel ethanol enzymes, Genencor International; Richard Hanson, plant manager, Badger State Ethanol; Klaus-Holger Dunker, ethanol plant project coordinator, Nordzucker (Germany); and Brian Duff, biochemical process engineer/project manager, BBI Consulting.

A complete report on the Forum of Futuristic Thinkers, "Panel of Industry Leaders Discuss Future of Industry," can be found on page 41. EP

Registration information for the 2004 FEW in Madison, Wisconsin, is available online at www.bbiethanol.com/few/.