Business Briefs

By Erin Voegele | September 22, 2016

DuPont and The Dow Chemical Co. announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held in July, stockholders of both companies voted to approve all stockholder proposals necessary to complete the merger of equals transaction—a key milestone in the process to merge the two companies and subsequently pursue the intended spin-offs of three highly focused, independent companies. The companies expect the merger transaction to close in the second half of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.   

Valero Energy Corp. has added H. Paulett Eberhart and Kimberly S. Greene to its board of directors. Eberhart is chair and CEO of HMS Ventures, a privately held business involved with technology services and the acquisition and management of real estate. Greene is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Co., which serves 9 million electric and gas utility customers in nine states through its subsidiaries.

American Science and Technology has been awarded a patent for a system and method for the extraction of chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass, which reduces the cost of Organosolv processing and increases the incentives to use renewable resources for chemical production. AST’s Organosolv process fractionates lignocellulosic biomass to produce pure lignin, biochemicals, and high-quality pulp. The patented process delignifies the lignocellulosic biomass by dissolving lignin into organic solvent, converting most of the hemicellulose to biochemicals (such as furfural, butyl acetate, etc.), and producing high-quality pulp.      

The U.S. Grains Council elected Chip Councell as chairman. Councell is a 10th generation farmer from Talbot County, Maryland. Through work with the USGC and the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, he has become a leading farm educator and conservationist. Prior to being elected chairman, Councell served two years as an officer with the USGC. He has also served in community and farm organization leadership positions both locally and nationally. After his election, Councell told delegates the USGC will continue to focus on its core market development mission for feed grains while building export markets for U.S. ethanol and communicating to customers about the work the U.S. grains industry does to produce reliable, high-quality crops. 

McCord Pankonen has joined Valicor as sales manager and will help the company further develop its portfolio of North American ethanol producer accounts. Pankonen has spent the past nine years developing business in various biorefining roles. He also previously held management roles with Dakota Ethanol and U.S. BioEnergy. Pankonen was instrumental in developing and introducing distillers corn oil additives to the industry, for which he is assigned as an inventor. He joined Valicor after its recent unveiling of five new corn oil extraction solutions.  

A group of 21 land-grant institutions and partner organizations are collaborating to provide extension professionals, regulators, feed industries and producers with up-to-date, research-based information on the nutrient needs of agricultural animals. Since forming in 2010, the National Animal Nutrition Program has created a database of animal feed ingredients. The database is a vital tool to inform cost-effective production decisions, animal welfare policies and procedures, and to guarantee the safety and nutritional value of consumers’ food. So far, the program has collected and sorted 1.5 million feed ingredient records to create a reliable database that is used by organizations in over 30 countries, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

The American Coalition for Ethanol has re-elected four board members and elected three new representatives to its board of directors. Current board members re-elected to serve three-year terms are Owen Jones of Full Circle Ag Cooperative, Duane Kristensen of Chief Ethanol Fuels, Dave Sovereign of Golden Grain Energy and Dale Tolifson of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. The three new directors elected to serve three-year terms are Scott McPheeters of KAAPA Ethanol LLC, Rick Schwarck of Absolute Energy and Chris Studer of East River Electric Cooperative.  

Red Trail Energy LLC and the Energy & Environmental Research Center have been awarded $490,000 by the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Renewable Energy Program in support of a study examining the integration of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at a North Dakota ethanol facility to reduce the carbon footprint associated with ethanol production. The study will determine the technical and economic parameters of installing and operating a commercial CCS system at RTE’s ethanol manufacturing facility near Richardton, North Dakota. The facility produces approximately 63 MMgy of ethanol The Broom Creek Formation, located approximately 6,400 feet below the RTE facility, will be considered the main target injection point for potential geologic storage of the CO2. According to previous studies conducted by the EERC, this formation is expected to be an ideal storage target. 

California Ethanol & Power LLC has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Imperial Irrigation District, a public agency that provides water and energy service to the communities it serves. The IID board of directors unanimously approved the competitive grant at its meeting on July 19 with a 4-0 vote. The grant will allow CE&P to further develop its low-carbon renewable energy company with intentions of becoming the first sugarcane-to-ethanol facility in the United States.  

The Renewable Fuels Association has announced that HWRT Oil Co. will become the first company in the United States to offer pre-blended E15 at the terminal level. The development is a game changer that can rapidly open the market for E15 in the Midwest. Beginning Sept. 16, HWRT included E15 in its slate of product offerings at terminals in Hartford, Illinois; North Little Rock, Arkansas; Norris City, Illinois; and Seymour, Indiana. RFA has been working with HWRT on a number of issues related to offering E15 at the terminal, including regulatory compliance, participation in the EPA’s required fuel survey, and adoption of RFA’s Misfueling Mitigation Plan.  

Sappi has entered an agreement with Valmet for the construction of a second-generation sugar extraction demonstration plant. The facility, to be located at Sappi’s Ngodwana Mill in South Africa, will extract hemicellulose sugars and lignin from the company’s existing dissolving pulp line. Startup of the facility is scheduled for early next year.