January 2010

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Business Briefs


Business and People



Representatives of the ethanol industry often list an increase of domestic jobs as one of the many reasons why ethanol production would benefit the United States. While these jobs are often thought to be new jobs, ethanol could also play a significant role in replenishing jobs that have been lost in other industries.

Back by popular demand, EPM presents the results of its recently conducted salary survey of U.S. ethanol plant personnel.

Like most businesses, ethanol companies employ a variety of white-collar professionals. However, ethanol plants also need skilled workers who possess knowledge of ethanol-specific process technologies and plant operations. To fill this niche, an increasing number of community colleges have begun to offer biofuels-specific training programs.

Rewarding Greener Biofuels

By Susanne Retka Schill

A long-time sustainable agriculture advocate proposes a producer tax credit tied to performance.

Fiscalini installed a complete-mix digester system on his dairy that cost double the original estimate of $2 million. PHOTO: JOHN FISCALINI, FISCALINI FARMS

Methane Migraine

By Anna Austin

Are stringent air quality regulations impeding dairy digester implementation in California?

Mention Jerusalem artichoke in some farming communities in the Midwest and there's a good chance you'll be run out of town on a rail. The tubers' reputation was tarnished in the early 1980s by scandal, but some people still believe in its potential as a biomass resource.

The Russell Biomass LLC power plant will be built in Russell, Mass., on the site of a paper mill that was shut down about 15 years ago.

Stack Attack

By Lisa Gibson

Biomass power plant emissions, if not properly controlled, can cause health problems and stir up opposition groups that can impede a plant's development.

The biomass industry is flourishing in and around Sacramento, Calif., where new biomass-based technologies are nurtured and innovative proven processes are embraced.

A Continuing Effort

By Nicholas Zeman

Product life-cycle analysis is a relatively new but important science to the renewable fuels industries. In conjunction with the USDA, University of Idaho researchers have produced a new energy balance study for soy biodiesel concluding that methyl ester manufacturing returns more than four times the fossil fuel energy it requires. Biodiesel Magazine talks with UI¡¦s Dev Shrestha about the study¡¦s details.

WFU chemistry professor Abdu Lachgar teaches a class in biodiesel production and conducts catalyst research with the help of his undergraduate students. PHOTO: KEN BENNETT/WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Sweet Catalysis

By Susanne Retka Schill

A chemistry professor at Wake Forest University has been working on a new catalyst for biodiesel production, and catalyzing his students to become biodiesel boosters.

Ed Burke Burke Oil

Reinventing Oilheat

By Ron Kotrba

Oilheat leaders convened in September and resolved to clean their industry's image by greening its fuel. Ultra-low sulfur fuel oil and biodiesel blends are the tools prescribed to get the job done.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson fills up a drag car during a Blue Sun Biodiesel promotional event. PHOTO: BLUE SUN BIODIESEL

Biodiesel Brand Names

By Nicholas Zeman

As the industry evolves, companies are trying to distinguish themselves with branding campaigns that emphasize service, additive packages and premium quality.


A flour made from distillers dried grains used in the flat bread being baked at the food science lab at South Dakota State University. The flour could be a solution to global hunger.

In switching from coal to biomass power, the most challenging issues facing the Mt. Poso Cogeneration Co. plant have been receiving and ensuring reliable sources of quality biomass that can be handled within the plant's operating, storage and recovery parameters.

The rediscovery of the switchgrass moth indicates that native prairie plants are just as vulnerable to insects as other crops are, and that pest management programs will be needed if these prairie grasses are going to be produced commercially.

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