Events and Ideas

FROM THE APRIL ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about bacteria research, cooling tower maintenance and cleaning, coverage of IRFA's January Renewable Fuels Summit, and more.
By Lisa Gibson | March 27, 2020

One of my favorite things about attending ethanol industry events is the pile of story ideas that comes back to this desk with me. I’m still pulling ideas from The Alcohol School in Montreal last September, this time about bacteria.

I don’t know a lot about bacteria, and it turns out many ethanol producers don’t either, beyond the required knowledge to get rid of it. Jayne Kalbfleisch, technical development manager for Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits, delivered somewhat of a Bacteria 101 at The Alcohol School, including a slide representing some research by her colleagues into the characterization of bacterial communities in ethanol plants, throughout the process from cooled mash to beer well. The results are a conversation starter. They show varying diversities, both among different plants and different parts of production. I reached out to those researchers and asked them to put their findings in layman’s terms (a gentle way of acknowledging my ignorance of bacteria).

In our first feature, starting on page 14, we detail the research and explain the reasons behind the variances. We review a little of Kalbfleisch’s Bacteria 101, and discuss contamination control methods. Kalbfleisch told me humans are made up of 90 percent bacterial cells, by the way, and just 10 percent human cells. I want to be Spirillum. They just seem like they’d be the bad boys of bacteria.

Next, we look at cooling towers. Many producers see that area of their plants as a cost, but that thought process could change with proper cleaning and maintenance, our sources say. Optimized cooling optimizes the entire process, and thereby, revenue. Find the details on page 22.

Finally, this issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine includes coverage of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. Associate Editor Matt Thompson attended the January event and brings us a summary of the discussion topics. He also explains why the overall mood of the show was positive. Find it on page 30.

We try to get to as many events as we can, to keep our fingers on the pulse of our industry, to stay in touch with the people who make this industry what it is, and to bring back ideas for stories that are relevant to this industry.

If you see us at a show, say hello. And pitch a story.


Author: Lisa Gibson