Business Briefs

People, Partnerships & Deals
By Ethanol Producer Magazine Staff | June 12, 2012

1. Steve Christiansen is the new CEO and general manager at Granite Falls Energy LLC in western Minnesota. He succeeds Tracey Olson who served in the position since the plant opened in 2005. Christiansen had managed Western Wisconsin Energy since August 2005. The 57 MMgy plant at Boyceville, Wis., was purchased by Big River Resources late last year. Granite Falls Energy is currently installing a loop track that will facilitate the loading of unit trains at the 62 MMgy plant.   

2. David Weaver has been appointed the new CEO of United Kingdom-based cellulosic ethanol developer TMO Renewables Ltd. Weaver joins TMO with a deep background in the energy sector, holding executive roles in energy companies CMS Energy International, Southern California Edison and British Petroleum (BP) Gas Power and Renewables, where he pioneered BP’s renewable energy program and led the development of BP’s first renewable energy project and wind farm. He has also led several energy development initiatives in Asia, Australia, Middle East, China and India.

3. ZeaChem Inc. has named Peter Cheesbrough its chief financial officer. He brings more than three decades of experience leading private and publically traded companies in the biotechnology, information technology and mining industries through commercialization, international transactions, venture capital fundraising and IPO execution. “Time and again, Peter has shown the ability to lead companies through periods of robust financial growth,” said Jim Imbler, ZeaChem president and CEO. “With his addition to the team, we are better positioned for long-term growth as we move from demonstration scale to commercial biorefining.”

4. The Andersons Inc. has appointed John J. Granato to the newly-created role of chief financial officer, reporting to Mike Anderson, chairman and CEO. Most recently Anderson served as a principal of finance and operations for Global Infrastructure Partners in New York. His 20 years of experience spans diverse industries, both domestically and internationally, including multibillion dollar conglomerates and industrial companies as well as private bank/private equity firms.

5. Bob Casper, president of Poet Ethanol Products, was named chief commercial officer of Poet LLC. In this newly created position, he will oversee the marketing and distribution of all products as well as risk management for Poet. Before joining Poet Ethanol Products, Casper spent 21 years leading several energy-related divisions for Koch Industries.

6. Jennifer  Holmgren, CEO of Lanzatech, has joined the board of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Services Foundation. The foundation is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization formed to manage a broad range of operational activities implementing the RSB’s global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuels. It will manage the certification process, the use of trademark and oversight of licensing for the RSB Standards Body.

7. Antonio de Padua Rodrigues has been named interim CEO of UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, until the conclusion of a selection process for a new CEO to replace Marcos Jank, who has served since 2007. A member of the executive team at UNICA since 1990, Rodrigues has served as the organization’s technical director since 2003. Prior to that he held government positions supporting sugarcane development.

8. The Renewable Fuels Association has gained three new board member companies since the first of the year. Aemetis Inc. operates a 55 MMgy facility in Keyes, Calif. Bushmills Ethanol Inc. is a cooperative made up of 415 farmers that produces 65 MMgy in Atwater, Minn. E Energy Adams is a locally owned company consisting of nearly 800 investor owners that produces 50 MMgy in Adams, Neb. With the addition of these three, the RFA board of directors consists of 50 companies. Every producing member of the RFA receives one vote on the board. The RFA is the largest trade association for ethanol producers in the world.

9. Eco-Energy Inc. has signed an ethanol marketing agreement with Quad County Corn Processors, a 35 MMgy ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa. Eco-Energy markets for 15 ethanol plants across North America and is focused on adding value by vertically integrating the supply chain, from producer to consumer.

10. Canadian energy company Husky Energy Inc. commissioned a CO2 capture facility in March at its 130 MMly (35 MMgy) ethanol plant in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. It will capture 250 tons per day of CO2 emissions, which will be utilized to increase heavy oil production. The CO2 is stored in containers, cooled and compressed into a liquid form. It is then transported to fields by truck, where it is injected into reservoirs to increase oil recovery.

11. Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies Inc. has agreed to pay $5.5 million for an expansion of the nonexclusive license agreement first struck with enzyme developer Dyadic International Inc. in 2009. The expanded license agreement gives Abengoa worldwide rights to use Dyadic’s C1 platform technology to develop, manufacture and sell enzymes for use in both first- and second-generation biorefining processes to convert biomass into sugars for the production of fuels, chemicals and/or power. In addition to the license fee, Dyadic is entitled to receive royalties and Abengoa will have the right to work with third-party sublicensees to further develop C1 enzymes.

12. KmX Chemical Corp., a privately held Ontario company founded in 2005, will provide Fiberight LLC exclusive rights to its membrane-aided concentration and dehydration technologies for the conversion of municipal solid waste into ethanol. These membrane technologies replace the need for energy-intensive distillation columns and molecular sieves in refining cellulosic ethanol, according to KmX. Through the selectivity of KmX’s hydrophobic membranes to ethanol molecules, the small fraction of cellulosic ethanol in the fermented broth of around 6 percent can quickly be concentrated to 50 percent, and then to fuel-grade quality using KmX’s hydrophilic membranes. Fiberight is developing a 6 MMgy cellulosic ethanol facility in Blairstown, Iowa.

13. DuPont Industrial Biosciences has chosen Fagen Inc. to build its commercial cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa, adjacent to the existing Lincolnway Energy LLC corn-ethanol plant. Fagen, which has constructed more than 85 ethanol plants (approximately 60 percent of U.S. facilities), also recently entered into a collaboration with Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture between BP and DuPont, for a retrofit project to commercially produce biobutanol.  KBR Inc. will execute the front-end engineering, procurement and detailed engineering design work for the Nevada project, which plans to use corn stover to produce 27 MMgy. The company is operating a fully integrated cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Vonore, Tenn., in collaboration with the University of Tennessee and Genera Energy, plus ongoing stover supply chain testing with Iowa State University.

14. Cellulosic sugar developer Virdia opened a demonstration facility at its new technology center in Danville, Va., located in the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, established by the state in 2002. A private, venture-capital backed company, Virdia has developed its CASE process to convert a wide range of cellulosic feedstock, including plantation/industrial wood, energy crops and agricultural residues, into highly refined sugars and lignin. The low-temperature process delivers a high yield of sugars from biomass, according to the company, and has a very light environmental footprint due to the near complete recycling of acids and solvents used in manufacturing. In March, the company announced a name change from HCL CleanTech and introduced its new CEO, industrial biotech veteran Philippe Lavielle who replaces Virdia’s co-founder, Eran Baniel. Baniel is now acting as Virdia’s vice president of business development.


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