Maps, Abstracts, Energy Savings and Oxymorons

By Susanne Retka Schill | April 18, 2011

We’ve been busy at Ethanol Producer Magazine. With this issue, you’ll find the Spring Ethanol Plant Map, a project that had us calling a long list to update information and verify proposed projects. It never fails that, shortly after the deadline, we get a call or announcement that makes the list instantly out-of-date. For existing plants, we continually update the list found on the “Ethanol Plant” tab at

With the map project complete, the EPM team dove into helping review speaker abstracts for the upcoming International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, to be held June 27 to 30 in Indianapolis. It’s truly a shame we don’t have room for every one of those abstracts to be presented, but as it is, nearly 130 speakers will be featured in all sessions. Watch for more details on the 2011 FEW in the weeks ahead.

In this issue, we take a look at a big cost center for ethanol production—energy. Associate Editor Kris Bevill writes about feedstock modifications in corn and switchgrass that increase efficiency, not only in yield, but energy use as well. She also reports on energy saving hot spots in plants—areas where energy improvements yield nice returns. Associate Editor Holly Jessen talks with pioneers looking at using biomass for process heat through anaerobic digestion, gasification and direct combustion. It seems wise for the ethanol industry to continue to reduce fossil fuel usage, even while natural gas prices are substantially lower than when some of these projects were initiated. Contributing writer Michael Trakhtenberg explains the impact of technology improvements in recovering natural gas from shale resources. And, commodities page columnist Casey Whelan covers recent developments in the natural gas market.

On a lighter note—As writers, we become word nerds. Holly found a good one this month. The word dockage developed because farmers were docked for the extra material in their grain—weeds, chaff, broken seeds. With a new biomass boiler installed in Unity, Saskatchewan, farmers are getting paid for their dockage. That turns the word dockage into an oxymoron—it’s no longer an undesirable thing, but something with value for both sides. That’s the power of green energy. It takes something that was previously thought of as valueless and turns it into a natural resource.

Author: Susanne Retka Schill