Another Big Harvest, More New Rules

Editor's note outlines the content of the October print edition from Ethanol Producer Magazine.
By Tom Bryan | September 22, 2016

As the Food Safety Modernization Act takes effect, ethanol producers will be required to ramp up their corn and DDGS testing practices—many already have—and document their actions meticulously. As we report in our page-30 feature, “Mycotoxin Monitoring in the FSMA Era,” the infrequent but always lingering risk of mycotoxins is experiencing regulatory amplification through FSMA’s new hazard analysis and recordkeeping rules. As a result, the ethanol industry will be subject to more stringent recordkeeping on inbound corn and outbound DDGS, even in low-toxin years. Our story lays out a few practical resources for predicting, detecting and dealing with the various mycotoxins that thrive in different conditions.

Weather aside, it’s probable that we will see some mycotoxin events in the U.S. corn supply this fall given the sheer volume of grain that’s going to be harvested. The coming harvest is expected to be the largest on record at an estimated 15.2 billion bushels (see “Bin-Busting Bushels” on page 34). Carryover is also expected to top previous highs, and so there will be a whole lot of grain in storage, of all manner, over the next several months. As a result, there likely will be some grain stored outdoors or in inadequate confines, which might lead to increased occurrences of spoilage.       

Ethanol plant labs are, of course, our industry’s first line of defense when it comes to monitoring and responding to corn quality issues when they occur. Ethanol production is a biological process, after all—our industry turns plant matter into alcohol using live organisms, water, heat and pressure. That alone explains why ethanol plant managers have to be steeped in the sciences of biology and chemistry. Add to that the responsibilities of inspection, quality control and regulatory compliance and you’ve only begin to describe the role of lab managers like Heartland Corn Products’ Jennifer Roepke, the focus of our page-24 story, “At the Heart of the Process.”

On page 38, we catch up with West Coast ethanol producer and next-gen biofuels technology investor Aemetis, which is acquiring a well-known company with a conceivable pathway to cellulosic ethanol. Concurrently, but on a different front, Aemetis is preparing to deploy a waste-to-fuels and chemicals gasification technology adjacent to its corn ethanol plant in Keyes, California.

Deeper in the magazine, on page 42, you’ll find a story on Russia’s on-again/off-again ambition to increase the share of ethanol in its domestic motor fuel supply to 10 percent, as well as contributions on lab best practices and emissions mitigation.  

Author: Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief