A Break From the Bad

FROM THE OCTOBER ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about South Dakota's new ethanol plant, a look at E15's market trajectory, tips about lab maintenance and more.
By Lisa Gibson | September 20, 2019

As I write this, I’m digesting yet more news of plants idling, trade groups and legislators insisting that the U.S. EPA restore ethanol demand obliterated by frivolous small refinery exemptions, and investor calls where producers try to stay optimistic while reporting dismal margins. It’s a tough time in ethanol country.

But there are still gains being made and we’re reporting it this month, specifically in a profile of a brand-new plant, and coverage of our biggest recent win: E15’s Reid vapor pressure waiver.

Ringneck Energy & Feed started up this spring with efficiency in mind, employing a re-engineered ICM design with evaporator innovation and Selective Milling Technology. It’s a new spin on the tried and true ethanol plant, ready to succeed even in a challenging  environment. Lower inputs, more outputs, feedstock security and coproduct markets team up with the efficient design and operation to give reason for optimism at the Onida, South Dakota, plant. Turn to page 16 for the full story.

May 31 brought an RVP waiver for E15 and, subsequently, June brought higher year-over-year sales. With no summer slump, planned increases in offerings by existing retailers, and new retailers looking to offer E15, the market looks favorable. Analysts say meaningful sales jumps could be a few years out yet, and several factors—including SREs—will play a role in the speed and level of E15 market development. Find out what the experts are predicting, starting on page 24.

Next, we head into the lab, with some pointers about maintenance that might be surprising. Even micropipettes need a little regular TLC, and we’ll tell you why. We’ve included a simple chart to help organize the maintenance schedule of each piece of lab equipment. The story starts on page 30.
Finally, we explore combined-heat-and-power (CHP) applications in the ethanol industry. Cogeneration is uncommon and is an investment, but it’s also a cost saver and potential revenue stream. Find out more on page 36. CHP is one of a few options that can help keep plants afloat in trying times like this one.

But ethanol is hanging in there, and if you’re a producer hoping idled plants will free up market share for your product, you’re not alone. Hopefully this issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine can provide a break from the bad news, while the industry works on its next big win.

Author: Lisa Gibson
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