August 2008

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Business Briefs

Praj to supply technology in Central America



The Swedish people take the environment and their need to reduce oil use seriously. That attitude is reflected in their use of flexible-fuel vehicles, which has increased from 717 in 2001 to more than 100,000 today.

A top modularizing firm, Roeslein & Associates Inc., has formed a partnership with BlueFire Ethanol Inc. to integrate its concepts into the construction of a new ethanol biorefinery. They have now opened a door into the world of renewable energy—serving as a short cut to the market.

As mainstream media continues its tirade against biofuels in the food-versus-fuel debate, many aren't aware of or ignore distillers grains and how it fits into the picture.

Valesco of the Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association, said only 1 percent of arable Brazilian land is used to grow sugarcane for ethanol, the same percentage of arable land used globally to grow feedstock for ethanol.

The Truth About Food and Fuel

By Ron Kotrba, Dave Nilles, Kris Bevill, Jessica Sobo

The 24th International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo was held June 16-19 in Nashville, Tenn., in the midst of record-busting energy prices and serious charges against the industry posed by Big Oil and "Big Food."

In two recently reported research projects, scientists describe how they have taken cues from microbes that may ultimately lead to more efficient and cost-competitive production of biofuels.

Victaulic Depend-O-Lok coupling for stainless steel systems

Connecting the Pipes

By Jessica Sobolik

Ethanol plants may vary in design, but they all need one thing: piping. There are different types of piping that connect the many processes within the facility, and each offers its own advantages. Although this equipment is essential it isn't without its challenges when it comes to labor, maintenance, safety, education and cost.

National Watermelon Association Executive Director Morrissey scans a watermelon field in Mexico.

In Pursuit of Fruit

By Bryan Sims

As the food-versus-fuel debate rages, ethanol producers are searching for nonfood and food-based waste products to make renewable fuel. This has led researchers to take a closer look at watermelons that don't ripen in time for harvest or fail to make the grade for grocery store produce aisles.

Students at Biofuels Automation University in Plymouth, Minn., receive industry-specific training in ethanol plant maintenance. Here they assemble at work stations in the rear of the classroom after receiving instructions from a power-point presentat

The Hand That Turns the Wrench

By Timothy Charles Holmseth / Photos By Howard Pfefer

Ethanol plant technicians who are able to avoid unexpected shutdowns are like money in the bank. Instructors at the Biofuels Automation University in Plymouth, Minn., believe that with highly trained technicians and the technology available today, there should be no unscheduled downtime in an ethanol facility.

The PureMash disinfection system is skid mounted for simple installation. The automated injection point tying the system into the plants' water system is on the right of the photo.

Beating Back Bad Bugs

By Jerry W. Kram

Bacterial contamination is one of the banes of ethanol production. Producers spend a considerable amount of money on sanitation and antibiotics trying to control bacteria in their fermentation tanks. A new system will not only reduce bacteria in the fermentation tanks, but also prevent re-infection. As a bonus, the new system leaves distillers grains free from antibiotic residues.


The Value of Branding

By Rona Johnson

In a growing industry having preferred status with customers is essential. A Sioux Falls, S.D., company has developed a way to help renewable energy companies define their brands and distinguish themselves among their competitors.

One can easily drive through the U.S. Midwest and run across an E85 station before it's time to refuel. There may even be a couple different stations to choose from. Ethanol marketers in the Northeast can only dream about that kind of distribution, but they're working hard to make it a reality.

Whether it's enzymes for degrading cellulose, microbes for fermenting sugars into ethanol or solid particles for the reforming of syngas to ethanol, the development of highly active and selective catalysts for biofuels production will be key to the success of the industry.

An Indy Racing League official fills a tank with racing-grade ethanol.

Indy's Super Fuel

By Craig A. Johnson / Photos by Craig A. Johnson

Since 2006, Indy Racing League competitors have been using ethanol to fuel their hopes for a checkered flag. Making sure that quality is never sacrificed in the process is the job of PerkinElmer Inc. EPM goes to the Milwaukee Mile to experience the power of Indy racing and to see firsthand what goes into testing the fuel for this high-octane environment.


Embracing the Carbohydrate Economy

By Susanne Retka Schill

Industry and academic research leaders share new research leads and emerging technologies for corn use at the 2008 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference.

Are European biofuels producers being disadvantaged because some countries won't allow the production or importation of genetically modified crops?

With the advent of cellulosic ethanol, design/build teams are gearing up for the commercialization of the next generation of biofuels, and at the same time are continuing to be involved in corn-based ethanol, where they built their reputations. EPM talked with some of the big names in the industry to get their view on this challenging transitional period.

With unwavering mettle, John Rivera of Sustainable Power Corp. intends to introduce a biocrude oil product, called Vertroleum, into the global fuel supply chain. Despite its detractors, the company continues to refine what it refers to as the "Rivera Process" at its Texas demonstration facility. Biomass Magazine traveled there to see how the production process works.

From Problem to Profit

By Jerry W. Kram

The biomass gasifier at Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. is fuel-flexible by design. Thisrequires a handling system engineered to move feedstocks of varying volumes and densities. Biomass Magazine speaks with Rapat Corp., the engineer of the bulk conveyance system, and equipment vendor Robert White Industries Inc., about the project.

If you were going to create the perfect biofuel, what would you make? When the founders of San Carlos, Calif.-based LS9 asked the question, their answer was quite simple, says Gregory Pal, senior director for corporate development. "You would make petroleum."

Railroad ties are treated with creosote, a hazardous wood preservative that is difficult to remove.

Sprucing Up Wood Waste

By Anna Austin / Photos by Elizabeth Slavens

Wood chips are commonly used as a feedstock in the biomass industry-but what processes must waste wood undergo before it is suitable for use? How is contaminated wood treated to meet standards and obey regulations? Biomass Magazine investigates the old and new processes some companies are using to clean and recycle waste wood.

Four research alliances received grants from the U.S. DOE to optimize thermochemical biofuels production. Biomass Magazine offers an overview of those projects.

The large stainless steel tanks used by American Crystal for producing methane are located on the fifth floor of the building, which prompted the company and its collaborators at the University of Florida to devise a way to convey feedstock verticall

A Sweet Energy Source

By Kris Bevill / Story and Photos

A few years ago, American Crystal Sugar Co. began supplying the University of Florida with sugar beet waste for a research project that, if realized, could change the way the company does business by turning some of its waste into energy. While the project is still in the pilot-plant phase, all signs point toward a successful turnaround from waste product to green energy.

Passenger diesels were a hard sell in the United States more than a generation ago. Even though the diesels of today are not those of yesterday, will the experience be different this time around?

Neptune Industries grows hybrid striped bass for restaurants and retailers. The waste from the fish and uneaten food fertilize the company's algae production system.

From Fish Farm to Fuel

By Jerry W. Kram / Photos By Charlotte Southern

The steep rise in fuel prices is creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and discover new low-cost feedstocks for biofuels production. Neptune Industries, a Florida company, is looking to collect waste generated byits fish farming operation to fertilize algae production for biodiesel feedstocks.

Dumpsters used to store yellow grease are usually found behind restaurants, often as far away from the back door as possible. Some are concealed behind privacy fences, but many are out in the open to allow the collector easy access to the dumpster. T

Grease: Worth Its Weight in Gold?

By Kris Bevill / Story and Photos

Biodiesel producers aren't the only ones feeling the sting of high feedstock prices. As the cost of biodiesel feedstocks increases, grease thieves have started to take notice. Grease thefts are on the rise across the country.

Sustainability is an all-encompassing, hard-to-define term that is acquiring fuller meaning for the palm oil industry as it prepares to ship the first certified sustainable palm oil to European markets.

Corn oil from distillers dried grains contains a variety of impurities, some of which have settled out and are visible at the bottom of the bottle.

A Synergistic Pairing

By Dave Nilles

Ethanol and biodiesel have more in common than just a geographical footprint. With corn oil, the industries are edging closer to a relationship that could aid both as feedstock prices rise.

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