Business Briefs

By Staff | October 22, 2015

American Coalition for Ethanol members elected two individuals to serve as new board directors at their Aug. 19 annual meeting: Kenton Johnson, representing Granite Falls Energy LLC, Granite Falls, Minnesota, and Mike Clemens, a Wimbledon, North Dakota, farmer representing the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Four were re-elected to the board including current ACE board president Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol LLC, Wentworth, South Dakota; John Christianson, Christianson and Associates, Wilmar, Minnesota; Doug Punke, CEO, Renewable Products Marketing Group, Shakopee, Minnesota, and Brian Wilcox, Nebraska Public Power District Columbus, Nebraska. 
 A five-year USDA funded research project is in its final year working on wood-based cellulosic ethanol and chemicals for the Pacific Northwest. The University of Washington-led research team has worked with five demonstration hybrid poplar tree farms on tree growth and multiple, broadly ranging research projects. Process improvements developed by the university have been tested at demonstration scale at ZeaChem’s demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon. Other collaborators include Washington State University, University of California, Davis, University of Idaho, Oregon State University, the Agriculture Center of Excellence, Greenwood Resources Inc. and the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Institute.    

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, received the American Coalition for Ethanol’s top honor, the Merle Anderson Award, at the Aug. 19 annual meeting. Other award winners were Husker Ag LLC, Plainview, Nebraska, Power by People award; Steve Roe, CEO, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Marcus, Iowa, President’s award; America’s Renewable Future, Policy & Legislative Leadership award; Kum & Go, Paul Dana Marketing Vision award; and, Tom Riter, WNAX Radio, the Media Excellence award.
A seven-member consortium in the U.K. is planning to demonstrate optimized enzymatic hydrolysis of Fiberight Ltd.’s cellulose extracted from municipal solid waste. Other partners include U.K.-based SME, the Centre for Process Innovation and Leeds University Institute of Process R&D. End-user application testing of the cellulosic sugar will be provided by UK Biotech SME ReBio Technologies Ltd., for ethanol production, and Aston University, for production of levulinic acid using heterogeneous catalysts. Two multinational companies will support the project, Knauf in applications testing for bioresin manufacture, and Novozymes in industrial enzymes.    

Pacific Ag, headquartered in Hermiston, Oregon, received a $7 million growth equity investment from Advantage Capital Partners, to accelerate the expansion of its operations in residue and hay harvesting. Ascendant Financial Partners LLC served as Pacific Ag’s financial advisor.
A member of the Cellerate process technology collaboration between Syngenta and Quad County Corn Processors will join the board of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. Founded in 2011 as the Advanced Ethanol Council, the ABBC’s mission is to help its members speak with one voice for the advanced biorefining industry. 
Plymouth Energy, Merrill, Iowa, has begun construction on a 300,000-gallon ethanol holding tank and a 40-car rail spur at nearby Le Mars. The community six miles away from the plant has worked with the shortline Burlington Junction Railway to provide transload services to several local industries, giving access to the Canadian National Railway.   

Alan Tiemann, a farmer and past chair of the Nebraska Corn Board, was elected chairman of the U.S. Grains Council during the organization’s 55th annual board of delegates meeting in Montreal. Three individuals were honored for 10 years of service to the organization, including Randy Ives, Gavilon, Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources, and Stan Garbacz, Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Jessica Johnson Bennet is rejoining the National Corn Growers Association as director of market development. She served as director of public policy from 2009 to 2011 and most recently worked for Bunge North America in its oilseed processing, oils and biofuels business units. Bennett serves as the lead NCGA staff member for the ethanol committee, responsible for market development programs with an emphasis on expanding domestic ethanol markets for corn.

DENCO II, Morris, Minnesota, received a $750,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Economic Development that will be run through the city of Morris. The grant will help the 24 MMgy ethanol plant improve its energy efficiency and install a fermenter, hammer mill and expand its cooling tower.         

Enerkem announced Robert Shaw has joined its executive team as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Most recently he was CFO at Southwest Oilfield Products and previously served as treasurer at Transocean and Air Liquide. Enerkem also announced it has raised CA $152 million in debt and private placements to be used for product expansion. The company says it has reached a pivotal operational milestone and initiated production of biomethanol at the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC, South Bend, Indiana, is back in production after a major reconstruction of the 100 MMgy plant. Noble Americas acquired the former New Energy Corp. plant in July 2013. Upgrades included conversion from coal to natural gas, installing a new regenerative thermal oxidizer, improving evaporation and upgrading the fermentation process. Energy Management Solutions provides day-to-day operational support.
Direvo Industrial Biotechnology announced its enzyme BluZy-P XL1000 has completed an extended commercial trial in the U.S. and shown an increased corn oil recovery of more than 20 percent over traditional mechanical separation and chemical addition. Additional ethanol yield improvements are now being validated in early adopter trials. The new enzyme is the company’s initial commercial launch of new value-added enzymes for the ethanol industry.