The Efficiency Issue

FROM THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about emissions control, pump design and technology, finances and risk management, and more.
By Lisa Gibson | August 15, 2019

Generally speaking, an ethanol plant that runs efficiently and isn’t using added measures to cut costs on emissions control devices will easily meet its emissions requirements. But the prospect of saving up to a quarter of a million dollars per year on utility costs is alluring. It can be done by reducing temperature or recycling more process liquids, but that comes with decreased pollutant destruction efficiency.

In our cover story, starting on page 16, freelancer Susanne Retka Schill explores the task producers face in controlling both emissions and costs. She addresses testing methods in detail and discusses the importance of maintenance and operations. “A lot of facilities try to walk the line between the lowest temperature they can run and still meet emissions limits,” one of her sources says. Those operating at 50 percent of limits and those operating at 90 percent of limits see substantial differences in their environmental control costs, he adds. Read the full story for the details.

Keeping with our efficiency and monetary savings theme, next we slip into the world of pumps. The feature starting on page 24 takes a look at technologies that reduce leaks, offer a high turndown ratio and operate at lower speeds for simpler maintenance and increased safety. Associate Editor Matt Thompson also lists several key considerations for pumps, including material compatibility, explosion-proof ratings and slurry applications. If you’re evaluating pump options, you won’t want to miss this one.

Last, we look at finances. With low margins plaguing our industry, a risk management and technology investment feature seems relevant and timely. Those plants that planned ahead around 2014 are the leaders today, experts say, and a combination of hedging and investing can restore cash reserves. A point I found particularly interesting is one from a consultant who says we’re in a margin trajectory, a “well-trodden path toward commoditization where tight, smart markets favor vertical economy of scale.” It’ll transform us into a “traditional, consolidated competitive structure composed exclusively of top quartile EBITDA performers.” Turn to page 34 and put your economist hat on. You’ll need it. 

Emissions, equipment, margins—they’re all about efficiency. Efficiency is king and we’ve addressed it along all these topics in this issue. We’ve also laid it out efficiently for your optimal reading pleasure. (See? It applies here, too.) Enjoy.

Author: Lisa Gibson
[email protected]