Business Briefs

Industry news and announcements from the April issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, including Alto's new general counsel appointment, Italy's cellulosic ethanol production starting up, Fluid Quip's patent portfolio growing, and more.
By Ethanol Producer Magazine | March 18, 2022

Alto appoints new general counsel
Alto Ingredients Inc. has added Auste Graham to its senior management team as general counsel and corporate secretary. Graham reports directly to CEO Mike Kandris and succeeds Christopher Wright, who will remain with the company as senior vice president pending his retirement later this year.

“Auste has served in legal leadership positions in global manufacturing enterprises in several industries, including specialty chemicals, components and industrial coatings,” Kandris said. “Her deep experience in commercial affairs and her expertise in corporate securities, M&A and finance transactions made her an ideal candidate to join our company at this time.”

Prior to joining Alto, Graham held an executive role at Essentra plc, a global manufacturer and supplier of components, packaging and filters headquartered in the U.K.  Prior to that, she was senior legal counsel in the U.S. for AkzoNobel, a global paints, coatings and specialty chemicals company headquartered in the Netherlands. She holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and a B.A. from Vassar College.

Cellulosic ethanol plant online in Italy
Versalis, a chemical company owned by Eni, has reported that it is successfully producing ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass at its facility in Crescentino, Italy.

The plant, which was acquired in 2018 and overhauled after major investments, is now operational and producing ethanol from non-grain raw materials. The ethanol, produced using Proesa technology, is ISCC-EU certified and will be used to formulate gasoline with a renewable component.

The plant is capable of processing 200,000 metric tons of unspecified biomass per year, with a maximum production capacity of approximately 25,000 metric tons of ethanol per year. The facility cogenerates electricity and steam from an onsite thermoelectric power plant, which is fed with biomass and the lignin coproduced from the ethanol production process.

Fluid Quip Technologies expands patent portfolio
Fluid Quip Technologies, a subsidiary of Green Plains Inc., has acquired a family of patents from AB Agri which, along with other patents recently issued to FQT, will help the company develop, acquire and bring to market technologies which further enhance biofuels production.

The acquired patents cover technologies designed for the efficient separation of protein from whole stillage from the dry-grind ethanol production process. The entire patent family is extensive and encompasses multiple countries around the world.

“Our deep intellectual property portfolio, along with the latest issued patents combined with the suite of AB Agri patents, adds incredible breadth to our existing technology portfolio,” said Neal Jakel, managing director at Fluid Quip. “We are focused on developing great solutions to offer to the industry that further diversify and solidify revenues and are open to working with partners around the world to bring them forward.”

Since mid-2020, the facility has also been producing a branded hand and surface disinfectant, using ethanol as its active ingredient.

OSU receives patent for new fermentation process
Oklahoma State University was recently issued a patent that could significantly increase biofuel and chemical yields while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Hasan Atiyeh, professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, created the new co-fermentation method that turns sugars into alcohols, organic acids and ketones. This novel process adds naturally occurring microorganisms into the fermentation process of plant substances—such as corn, grass or wood—combining sugar- and gas-fermenting bacteria while capturing carbon dioxide, which is also fermented to create more biofuel.

The technology could potentially increase product yields by more than 15 percent while lowering carbon dioxide emissions compared with conventional processes. Atiyeh said his research estimated that using 2,000 dry metric tons of biomass per day with this novel co-fermentation process could increase a biorefinery’s net revenue by $33 million a year compared with traditional fermentation methods.