More to Learn

FROM THE NOVEMBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about analyzing lab data, an update on LBDS' Alcohol School, and a new corn hybrid for the ethanol industry.
By Lisa Gibson | October 17, 2019
FROM THE NOVEMBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about analyzing lab data, an update on LBDS' Alcohol School, a new corn hybrid for the ethanol industry, and more.

In the weeks leading up to putting this magazine together, I learned quite a bit about ethanol plant labs, their roles and procedures. And I must admit, I’m a little afraid of the lab. The pressure, the importance of each crucial step, the details, the margin for error. It takes passion, patience, dedication and extreme intelligence to work there.

The data produced in the lab is vital to the plant’s operation and can be handled many ways. In our cover story, starting on page 20, Associate Editor Matt Thompson relays advice from the experts on collecting, interpreting and acting on data. He goes through a list of factors that can contaminate samples, strategies to improve monitoring in the lab, equipment maintenance and communication among personnel. Check page 23 for tips on how to ensure strong data and what to do with that data, whether it’s unexpected or normal.

Most of what I’ve learned recently about labs and the work done in them comes from The Alcohol School, a Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits event held in Montreal, Quebec, every year. I got an invitation to the school this year, expecting to learn about yeast, enzymes and fermentation. And I did. But I also learned about details in almost all steps in the ethanol-production process. The speakers, many from research and academia, detailed the process steps so clearly that I do feel more knowledgeable about my industry having listened to them. It’s about educating everyone on the entire process, for a better overall understanding, says Angus Ballard, president and CEO of LBDS. I even came home with a certificate of my Alcohol School completion. It hangs in my cubicle. Find out more about the event on page 26.

Our third and final feature in this issue looks at a partnership that brings new corn hybrids to ethanol. The varieties are higher in oil content and essential amino acids. The partners are running trials in ethanol plants to track increases in corn oil extraction and distillers grains nutrients. We’ll bring you up to date on the results. Find it on page 30.

I learn new things with each magazine we put together, and each event I attend. Our industry is vast and I continuously marvel at the chemistry and complexity of the ethanol-production process. It seems there will always be more for me to learn. And that’s a good thing.


Author: Lisa Gibson
Editor
lgibson@bbiinternational.com