Business Briefs

Industry briefs from the January issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, including Caldwell's new role at Renewable Fuels Nebraska, Marquis' USP production start, POET's adoption of FBN's digital grain origination and carbon-scoring platform, and more.
By Ethanol Producer Magazine | December 23, 2021

Renewable Fuels Nebraska names Caldwell executive director
Renewable Fuels Nebraska has hired Dawn Caldwell as its executive director. Caldwell assumed the role November 1.

“We are excited for Dawn to lead the organization into the future,” said Tony Leiding, RFN board president. “Dawn brings significant experience and credibility to our team with her strong background in agriculture and leadership skills. I know she will represent our producer and associate members exceptionally well, while growing demand for biofuels and their coproducts in Nebraska.”

Caldwell joins RFN with a wealth of experience in the agriculture and ethanol sectors. After attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in animal science, she worked in the Nuckolls, Thayer, and Fillmore Counties extension office before moving into the private sector as a feed specialist at Deshler Grain and Feed. Over the past two decades, Caldwell worked for Aurora Cooperative, moving from animal nutrition to corporate communications and, ultimately, head of government affairs.

USP-grade ethanol production begins at Marquis
Marquis Energy held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new 50 MMgy United States Pharmacopeia (USP) production facility in late October. The new facility, colocated with the company's Hennepin, Illinois, complex, will produce a GMO-free, pharmaceutical-grade alcohol that can be used in a variety of applications, such as personal, household, and fabric care products, as well as the medical and cosmetics industries. Marquis will be offering on-site customer support from technical account managers.

“Pharmaceutical grade alcohol is a way for Marquis to diversify product offerings. We look forward to becoming leaders in this space and working with new customers,” said CEO Mark Marquis.

ACE communications director takes on public affairs role
Former American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Communications Director Katie Muckenhirn has taken on the new role of vice president of public affairs at the organization’s office based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Muckenhirn will continue to manage the organization’s media relations, while assuming a larger role in ACE’s public policy efforts and planning of ACE’s Washington, D.C. fly-in and annual conference.

ACE CEO Brian Jennings says employing Muckenhirn’s experience as the organization’s communications director for nearly five years, to take on these additional activities is a natural transition as the organization restructures and seeks new staff roles. “We are ecstatic Katie is taking on this new and elevated role to showcase her work ethic and skill in continuing to oversee ACE’s communication strategy, while planning for our two main industry events each year,” Jennings said.

POET to adopt FBN digital grain sustainability technology
POET, the world’s largest biofuel producer, and Farmers Business Network, a global Ag Tech company and farmer-to-farmer network, have announced that FBN’s grain origination and carbon-scoring platform, Gradable, will be adopted at all 33 of POET’s ethanol bioprocessing facilities, creating the world’s largest integrated infrastructure to source and sell low-carbon grain for the biofuels supply chain.

Gradable will enable POET to track attributes of individual bushels of grain—including carbon intensity—to supply low-carbon fuel markets while providing farmers who grow low-carbon crops access to potential new revenue streams. POET sources more than 930 million bushels of grain annually from across the Midwest.

Gradable technology provides a modern digital infrastructure for efficient, transparent, and secure grain transactions for both farmers and grain buyers. It allows farmers to easily collect and securely submit verifiable production data, including nitrogen fertilizer use, which accounts for the largest share of emissions associated with grain production globally.

Red Trail Energy awarded first C02 storage permit in North Dakota
In mid-October, the North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a carbon dioxide storage facility permit for Red Trail Energy, a 65 MMgy corn ethanol plant in Richardton, North Dakota. The permit moves RTE’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) project closer to becoming the first commercial-scale CCS project in the state.

Red Trail plans to capture and permanently store nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 annually. The injection zone is within a more-than-200-foot-thick layer of sandstone nearly 6,400 feet below the surface. Immediately above the sandstone is a 1,000-foot-thick layer of shale, which is neither porous or permeable.

North Dakota is the first of just two states in the nation to take on CO2 storage permitting and regulatory oversight (outside of enhanced oil recovery). In 2018, EPA granted North Dakota primacy over the Class VI wells needed for CCS, and RTE’s project is the first Class VI well approved under state primacy in the nation.

Summit Carbon Solutions actively drilling CCS test wells
Summit Carbon Solutions announced in early December that it had commenced drilling multiple stratigraphic test wells for its landmark carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in North Dakota, a key milestone in its development of the world's largest project of its kind. Summit has formed relationships with local landowners and is now collecting data to guide the safe, permanent storage of carbon dioxide in deep subsurface formations.

The project will capture over 10 million tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants and other industrial facilities via pipeline aggregation. North Dakota was selected as the storage destination due to its abundant geologic storage capacity and well-established carbon management regulatory framework. The sites Summit is developing will ultimately become the largest CCS hub in the world with an estimated aggregate potential to store 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide safely and permanently. Three dozen Midwest ethanol plants are participating in the project.