Elegant Solutions

Ethanol Producer Magazine's editor in chief reviews the lineup of articles in the December issue, adding commentary on the ethanol industry.
By Tom Bryan | November 16, 2016

It’s no surprise that the careful use of process chemicals has evolved on plane with other advancements in ethanol production over the past two decades. Our industry’s continuous quest for improvement has made smart chemical utilization a useful and necessary tool for yield optimization, product quality, consistency and more. However, we learn in this month’s cover story “Good Chemistry,” on page 28, that it’s not only the effectiveness and versatility of process chemicals that have improved, but the way in which chemicals are purchased, stored and dispensed. As EPM Associate Editor Ann Bailey reports, the industry’s drive to be better, leaner, safer and more efficient has resulted in chemicals being purchased in bulk, for example, and dispensed through sophisticated automation. Plus, rather than bemoaning change, producers tend to leverage regulatory compliance solutions to drive innovation into their plant chemistries.

At press time, the U.S. presidential election had not yet occurred. However, by the time you read this column in print, one of the most polarizing elections in modern history will be behind us—I hope. With so much focus on emails, temperament, salacious accusations and name calling before, during and after the presidential debates, climate change and carbon reduction strategies were given little attention. Perhaps that’s because the candidates’ views on climate change differed so vividly; perhaps the subject simply didn’t need parsing. In Canada, on the other hand, there is less political and public discord over climate change, and ethanol plants there are now jockeying for a seat at the low-carbon energy table. As EPM Managing Editor Susanne Retka Schill reports in “Canadian Producers Poised for Carbon Reduction Era,” on page 34, some of Canada’s top ethanol producers are now expanding and upgrading their plants in anticipation of greater demand brought on by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent dictum on carbon reduction.        

Our coverage of ethanol’s carbon-cutting attributes carries into our anchor feature, “Nanoscale Blending,” on page 38. In this story, we introduce Sylvatex, a California company that has discovered a way to combine ethanol and corn-oil-based free fatty acids, suspended in nanoparticles, to produce an oxygenated blendstock for gasoline, diesel fuel, biodiesel or other mid-distillates. The current idea is to blend it with diesel at 10 percent, but much higher blends are possible. Ethanol producers should like the idea. After all, our industry manufactures the product’s two key ingredients. 

Author: Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief