FEW recognizes Abbas, Buis for contributions to fuel ethanol

By Susanne Retka Schill | June 21, 2016

Tom Buis and Charles Abbas were honored at the 32nd annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Buis, co-chair and past CEO of Growth Energy, received the High Octane award which acknowledges a person whose passion and unstoppable pursuits significantly have benefited the ethanol industry. Abbas, director of yeast and renewables research at Archer Daniels Midland Co., received the Award of Excellence in recognition of significant contributions to the fuel ethanol industry through research, technical advisory or development activities.

High Octane award winner Buis was Growth Energy’s CEO from March 2009 until July 2015. Before working for Growth Energy, Buis worked for National Farmers Union, serving as its vice president of government relations and, later, was the organization’s national president. Buis also has years of experience working on agricultural and legislative issues for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., U.S. Rep. Jim Jontz, D-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind. Before moving to Washington D.C. in 1987, Buis farmed full-time with his brothers Mike and Jeff in Putnam and Morgan counties in west-central Indiana. They continue to operate the family grain and livestock farm.

Under Buis, Growth Energy expanded and grew which helped advance the ethanol industry in many ways including developing foreign market development initiatives that included partnerships with the U.S. Grains Council for marketing and trade missions, Growth Energy’s involvement in the Prime the Pump and its work with the USDA Biofuels Infrastructure Program, which brought thousands of blender pumps into the marketplace, and the submission and approval of the Green Jobs Waiver allowing E15 into 21st century engines.

“This honor doesn’t go to me, but to all those at Growth Energy, the board, the staff and the members, for their passion and their commitment,” Buis said after receiving the honor. “I’m just happy to be a small part of it.”

Abbas, winner of the Award of Excellence, has written more than 100 abstracts, scientific articles, book chapters, review articles, patents and patent applications.

“I greatly appreciate your vote of confidence and recognition of my work on biofuels,” Abbas said.  His areas of expertise include industrial biotechnology, fungal chemistry and biochemistry. He has nearly 30 years of experience in industrial technology, most recently as Yeast and Renewables Research director at Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, Illinois. Abbas chairs the International Yeast Commission, serving in that role since 2012. He is the only scientist from the ethanol industry to chair the commission, which was organized in the early 1960s.

A leading expert in yeast, large-scale fermentation and biorefining, Abbas is credited for proposing the widely used biorefinery term in the early 1990s to illustrate the bioprocessing of commodity crops to high value-added products.