July 2008

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Business Briefs

Monsanto, Mendel partner



Kor, left, works closely with plant manager Matt Rynearson to keep operations running smoothly at the plant.

Minnesota's Innovative Ethanol Man

By Ron Kotrba / Photos By John Cross

Novel energy sources and coproduct streams abound at Corn Plus LLLP, an average-sized ethanol plant in southern Minnesota that functions in a far-from-average way. That's because the man at the helm, industry pioneer Keith Kor, is willing to take chances. This is his story.

International journalists learn about integrated pest management strategies for palm oil production in a plantation tour prior to the International Sustainable Palm Oil Conference in Malaysia.

Promoting Positive Perceptions

By Susanne Retka Schill

As the world grapples with the weighty issues of energy independence, climate change and food versus fuel, corn ethanol and palm oil's roles are often unfairly criticized or misunderstood. EPM takes a look at how palm oil and corn producers deal with negative publicity.

China's energy needs are expected to increase by nearly 50 percent in the next 12 years. Because much of this energy will be used by the country's burgeoning middle class to fuel its cars, keeping up with new demand for transportation fuel is going to be challenging.

In national forests from Arizona to Montana, thousands of slash piles left by the timber industry could be used to produce cellulosic ethanol. Before that can happen, the language in the Energy Independence & Security Act must be changed.

Instructor Randy Sigle, left, shares information with student Tammy Suckstorf

What Comes First?

By Hope Deutscher

In the past five years ethanol plants have popped up across the countryside, but the vast number of employees required to run those plants has not materialized as quickly. That has led renewable energy companies, ethanol plants, technical colleges and universities to collaborate and provide the much-needed training of tomorrow's ethanol producers.


Sweet Harvest

By Timothy Charles Holmseth

Many years have passed since sweet sorghum made its debut in the 1800s as a possible substitute for sugarcane. The crop is now back by popular demand, this time as a potential ethanol feedstock.

Ethanol is the fuel of choice for Greg Poe but rather than use it in his flexible-fuel vehicle he uses it to fuel up his high-performance aerobatic Fagen MX-2 airplane.

North Dakota State College of Science's new electron microscope will allow biofuels and nanoscience students to see deep into their subject.

Workforce Future

By Tom Bryan and Craig A. Johnson / Photos By Craig A

Growth projections in the ethanol industry are being scaled back in response to the slowdown in new plant construction. As the current generation of ethanol companies mature, locating highly-skilled employees may be challenging.

The first facility used by Poet (then Broin Companies) to produce ethanol on a commercial scale was located in Scotland, S.D. The plant had an operating capacity of 1 MMgy in the first year of operation.

Poetry in Motion

By Kris Bevill

With 23 plants in operation and three under construction there's no doubt Poet LLC has been growing constantly since it first began producing ethanol from corn 20 years ago. EPM takes a look back at the company's early years and explores its future.

The latest controversy over food versus fuel started in February when two different studies theorized that demand for corn to make ethanol would not only increase food prices but also alter global land-use patterns and could have a devastating affect on climate change. But some researchers say the recent hike in food prices is the product of agriculture and trade policies that have caused global land-use patterns to shift over several decades.

Not many people were familiar with Coskata Inc. when General Motors Corp. announced its partnership with the Chicago-based ethanol technology company in January. Since then, Coskata's business has accelerated at a rapid pace, making thermochemical ethanol production from biomass a near-term reality.

In the midst of rising oil prices, the economics of producing cellulosic ethanol are becoming increasingly favorable and several companies are steadfastly moving to commercialize various process technologies. It would be easy to view this development as a race pitting one technology against the other but is that really the case? Is one approach better than another?

We know cows like it—and by eating certain varieties, they give more milk. So do these grasses' higher sugar content also mean greater ethanol output?

Seventy-five percent of U.S. oranges are grown in Florida. The Sunshine State's citrus processing industry produces nearly all of the orange juice consumed in the country, resulting in up to 5 million tons of citrus waste each year. Options for turning that waste into something useful are limited, so the possibility of using citrus waste as a feedstock for ethanol plants is being closely monitored.

Three pipeline projects developed by different investor groups in anticipation of an increase in Brazilian ethanol exports have been put on hold.

Pipeline Projects On Hold

By Elizabeth Ewing

Brazilian ethanol pipeline projects are budding, but not all will bloom.

The boiler at the Royal Brewery employs a unique conical, rotating grate. Fuel is fed from underneath to the center of the grate.

Feeding it Back

By Diane Greer

The U.K.'s food industry is discovering the economic benefits of using combined-heat-and-power systems fueled by biomass or biogas. New technologies to convert wastes to renewable energy are gaining in popularity due to the high cost of energy and waste disposal, pressure to reduce carbon emissions and divert waste from landfills.

Not many people were familiar with Coskata Inc. when General Motors Corp. announced its partnership with the Chicago-based ethanol technology company in January. Since then, Coskata's business has accelerated at a rapid pace, making thermochemical ethanol production from biomass a near-term reality.

Biomass-derived fuels are garnering a lot of attention because they are chemically similar to petroleum-based fuels and can be used in existing engines and moved through the pipeline system.

We know cows like it-and by eating certain varieties, they give more milk. So do these grasses' higher sugar content also mean greater ethanol output?


Sizing-Up Anaerobic Digestion

By Bryan Sims / Photos By Jim Manganella

Environmental Power Corp. aims to become a premier player in the biomass industry by developing large-scale anaerobic digestion systems. Biomass Magazine talks with company officials about their thriving business model and how it could become the standard for others who want to convert waste into energy.

Pellet fuels had to be tested using methods designed for other fuels such as coal. With the publication of the new standards, pellet testing will become uniform between testing labs.

Pellet Properties

By Jerry W. Kram

Economists exhort consumers to gather as much information as possible before making a purchase. But for those buying fuel pellets for residential or industrial heat, basic information such as heat content, ash and chloride can be hard to obtain. The Pellet Fuels Institute is helping pellet manufacturers create testing programs to help consumers know what they are buying.

With a short growing season and low harvesting costs, Camelina sativa could hold a small market in the western Canadian biofuels industry. Despite those advantages, limited research has been done to determine its full agronomic potential. While it's been touted as a potential feedstock for biodiesel, it remains an under-exploited crop, and with an industry entrenched in canola-based biodiesel, is there enough room to consider camelina?

Nova Biosource Fuels Inc. is headquartered in Houston-the heart of America's oil industry. The biodiesel company has several former oil executives and industry professionals on its payroll who think there's room enough in Texas for both fuels.

Rising in the East

By Khalila Sawyer

With a number of new developments in the biofuels sector, eastern Canada is making waves with new funding, projects, opportunities and hope. But, with a lack of provincial government support and biofuel initiatives, the renewable fuels industry in the Maritimes is struggling to catch up to the rest of the country. Nevertheless, eastern Canada continues working to establish its presence in the biofuel industry with a variety of resources and opportunities.


The Nature of Standards

By Jerry W. Kram

A significant effort has been made by the biodiesel industry to create quality standards and encourage producers to adhere to those standards. But why are standards necessary in the first place? What do they contribute to the industry that makes all the time, effort and negotiations worthwhile?

The Malaysian palm oil industry is partnering with the country's stock exchange, government and environmental groups to establish the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund. The industry has taken a beating from critics blaming deforestation a

Palm Oil Fights Back

By Susanne Retka Schill

Malaysian oil palm growers try to turn the tide of public criticism with a conference devoted to discussing the tropical oil crop's sustainability and carbon footprint.

Rising fuel prices and the need to conserve resources and protect the environment make excellent motivators for fleet operators to reconsider how they refuel.

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