June 2008

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Business Briefs

Pacific Ethanol releases quarterly results



Tanker cars are filled with ethanol at a loading facility at the Manly Terminal in Manly, Iowa.

Riding the Rails

By Kris Bevill / Photos by Arian Schuessler

Railways are essential to an ethanol producer's business. Ships are a viable option for only a small number of facilities and trucks can't handle all of the volume. So rail it is. As the ethanol industry expands, so must the railroad's capability to handle this commodity.

A surprise visit from the ethanol compliance inspector doesn't have to be an adversarial event. A Minnesota woman is trying to make her regulatory work educational, proactive and fine-free—wherever possible. Her simple advice is to know your permit's inclusions and limitations, keep your records organized and up-to-date, and appoint a point person responsible for your plant's compliance. And, if your plant receives a warning letter, act quickly, cooperate with regulatory authorities and take immediate corrective measures. A lapse in compliance doesn't have to escalate into a fine.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer is optimistic about the Farm Bill and the support it will provide for biofuels. Shortly after he was appointed, the former North Dakota governor talked to EPM about his new role and the Farm Bill negotiations.

Two recently released genome studies are expected to provide answers to how to bolster the production of ethanol from corn and biomass.

The Other Factors

By Tom Bryan

As the media pegs corn ethanol as a principal driver of high food prices and escalating world hunger, are more powerful causes being overlooked?


Microwavable Distillers Grains

By Bryan Sims / Photos By Doug Wollin

Winnebago, Minn.-based Corn Plus LLLP is interested in an innovative distillers grains microwave drying technology that could bring the facility one step closer to becoming energy independent.

Plants intending to swap their natural gas boilers for those capable of combusting solid fuels must consider which fly-ash abatement technology will best meet their needs at the right price.

The clock is ticking on public acceptance of ethanol as the United States' corn-based industry is under relentless attack. With cellulosic conversion technologies as the ostensible lone saving grace for ethanol, EPM takes a look at what fruits the first-quarter '08 produced.

Up in the Air

By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy

The Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 was passed in December, and the U.S. EPA is scrambling to meet its December 2008 deadline to issue the rule. Answers to the myriad of questions on the rule's details will have to wait until then.

Pictured is ADM's 420 MMgy wet-mill facility in Cedar Rapids Iowa.

A Quiet Giant

By Craig A. Johnson / Photos by Mark Tade

Archer Daniels Midland Co. has kept the nameplate capacities of each of its plants a closely guarded secret for many years. After discovering its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, facility could produce as much as 820 MMgy, EPM wondered how such a large plant might impact the industry.

Brazil's ethanol icon spreads out, adding biodiesel to its expertise, crossing the border to Colombia and experimenting with acid-wash lignin processing.

Prospects for ethanol trade over the coming three to five years are probably good. As to the specifics—it's anybody's guess.

Hughes (left) and Margetts worked together at chemical giant ICI before setting out to break ground with the UK's biggest ethanol plant.

Wheat Dreams at Ensus

By Michael Kenward

Its feedstock is a staple, yet backers of the UK's biggest ethanol venture did their sustainability homework and claim little net impact on food.

One goal of the ecological intensification project at UNL is to capture the maximum amount of energy from the sun and convert it to corn. This photo shows three plots in continuous corn rotations, at three fertilizer levels with the population densit

Ecologically Boosting Corn Yields

By Susanne Retka Schill

Nebraska researchers studying intensified corn management systems believe it's possible to increase corn production by 50 percent without using any more land, and at the same time improve its environmental impact.

Using the world's best farmland to grow biomass for fuel can lead to indirect land-use changes that accelerate global warming and increase competition for food worldwide-but that's only part of the story, said three experts at the International Biomass '08 Conference & Trade Show held in April in Minneapolis.

A collaboration of Colorado-based researchers is taking the next step toward the synthesis of carbon-negative biofuels.

Influential forces work quietly behind the scenes on Capitol Hill in favor of biomass power producers. These forces-organized people with an important message-are not often sensationalized in the newspapers, but their work is important and lawmakers know who they are.

Representatives from around the world came to Washington, D.C., to pledge their support for promoting and developing renewable energy sources. As part of the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference 2008, attendees committed their nations, organizations and businesses to make significant gains in supporting renewable energy. Many of these pledges are aimed at growing the role of biomass in the world's energy supply.

Japan's gorgeous cultural emblem has taken on a new level of meaning. It will help the resource-poor island nation generate more of its own energy.

The first McGyan process biodiesel manufacture system fit on a desk in the chemistry department of Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

A Column of Support

By Jerry W. Kram

What started as a student research project at Augsburg College may become a major change in the biodiesel industry. A team of scientists and engineers have turned a tool for purifying and separating chemicals into a six-second process for turning the poorest quality vegetable oil into biodiesel. The first commercial-scale plant using the process should come on line this year.

The mere mention of moving biodiesel through pipelines brings so many related aspects into question that Biodiesel Magazine decided it was time to address the totality of these interrelated concerns.


Multidimensional Moringa

By Susanne Retka Schill

The oil from the Moringa tree is considered to be a more sustainable biodiesel feedstock than jatropha oil by those who argue that sustainability is better served by feedstocks that can yield both food and fuel.

As relative newcomers to the industrial world, biodiesel producers, who are generally regarded as environmentally friendly, need to be good neighbors when it comes to properly disposing of byproducts. Although the scientific and regulatory communities have yet to agree on the toxicity of biodiesel byproducts, the industry should be prepared as the regulatory framework for the fledgling industry materializes.

Verry, right, and George Martin, United Soybean Board director, answer questions at the BioTrucker Fuel Card press conference on March 25 at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Card-Carrying Biotruckers

By Timothy Charles Holmseth

A new breed of truckers is emerging among the ranks of the transportation industry and their numbers are increasing up and down the lanes of U.S. highways. The biotrucker has arrived. Although the moniker may sound like some kind of futuristic fictional character from another planet, these men and women are red-blooded Americans.

In an industry born from grease, oil and animal fat, men have traditionally led the opening and operating of biodiesel plants. In Tennessee, however, one woman is determined to make a difference for her children and the world by creating biodiesel communities.

Can a thriving industry collapse because of tax policy? That appears to be happening in Germany and perhaps elsewhere. If true-what does it mean for biodiesel worldwide?

Co-locating biodiesel and ethanol plants provides economies for both and helps a global ethanol leader meet biodiesel mandates.

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