Into November and Welcoming Winter

FROM THE NOVEMBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about technologies used for producing coproducts, plant expansions, current ethanol construction projects, and more.
By Lisa Gibson | October 18, 2018

The president of Calgren Renewable Fuels in California uses the word “elegant” to describe a biodiesel production process he’s installing at his ethanol plant. He’s referring specifically to the avenue for processing feedstocks high in free fatty acid. Traditionally, it’s inefficient, with multiple steps and phases. “Yuck,” he says.

While his word choices result in delightful quotes (and journalists love that), it’s more important to note that he’s right. In our cover story, we explore two technologies that produce biodiesel and renewable diesel from distillers corn oil. One uses supercritical conditions, the other uses hydrogen. Both diversify the revenue stream for ethanol plants and, as one source notes, make a product that can’t be turned into an ag commodity. Find out more about the processes and who’s installing them, starting on page 16.

Following the coproducts feature is a look at properly planning and executing expansions. One source tells me that most ethanol plants are willing to share their tough lessons learned—anonymously, of course—to help another plant avoid the hardships. He lists a few major blunders he’s seen and suggests ways to prevent them. Another source recommends solid partners, brainstorming and willingness to change and improve ideas. Don’t fall so utterly in love with your own ideas that you can’t recognize when a better one comes along, he says. The article also examines a software program that can help plan expansions, down to the smallest details. It starts on page 24.

One of this month’s themes is 2018 Ethanol Projects Report, so that’s what we’ve brought you. It’s important to point out that Ethanol Producer Magazine considers a plant “proposed” only if it has made progress in the previous two years. Without progress, we consider that plant’s development halted. This year, just four greenfield plants meet the criteria for classification as “under construction” or “proposed.” Turn to page 30 for the full list.

Finally, on page 38, we remember Dennis Vander Griend, who passed away in July. Vander Griend developed staple technologies for ethanol plants and could manually run a plant to mystifying precision. He was a genius, his friends and colleagues say. He’ll certainly be missed.

And that does it for November. We’re heading into a long winter, likely with high snow accumulation, at least here in North Dakota. But this time of year, I welcome winter. I’m ready. There’s something about a slow snowfall that I find—what’s the word—elegant.  

Author: Lisa Gibson