Business Briefs

By Tom Bryan | March 30, 2017

ACE names 2017 executive committee members
The American Coalition for Ethanol Board of Directors elected its officers and executive committee members for 2017. Reelected to serve as officers are: Ron Alverson (current president), representing Dakota Ethanol LLC; Duane Kristensen (current vice president), general manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels; Dave Sovereign (current secretary), representing Golden Grain Energy; and Brian Wilcox, of Nebraska Public Power District, who will serve as treasurer.

Two additional directors were elected to round-out the executive committee: Troy Knecht, representing the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, and Greg Krissek, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Knecht operates a diversified farming enterprise in Houghton, South Dakota, and serves as president of the SDCGA. Krissek has nearly 30 years of experience in agriculture and ethanol.
“ACE is fortunate to have strong leaders on our executive committee who are committed to representing the interests of our grassroots members,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president.  “We welcome the addition of Troy Knecht and Greg Krissek. Their voices will be pivotal as we work to grow demand for ethanol.”

Fletcher joins ACE as communications director 
Former bioenergy magazine editor Katie Fletcher has joined the American Coalition for Ethanol staff as communications director  in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“We are excited that Katie Fletcher is bringing her exceptional communication skills, experience in agriculture and biofuels, and enthusiasm for ethanol to the ACE team,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings “Katie is going to develop a stronger and more recognized communications strategy for ACE and our membership.”

Fletcher joins the ACE after three years with BBI International publications including Ethanol Producer Magazine, Biomass Magazine and Pellet Mill Magazine.

Lincolnway Energy hires new process engineer 
Mike Nepple has joined Lincolnway Energy LLC, in Nevada, Iowa, as process engineer. Nepple grew up on a small farm outside Carroll, Iowa, and attended Iowa State University where he earned a chemical engineering degree. Following an internship with Bunge in Council Bluffs, he spent five years working as a process engineer at Penford Products in Cedar Rapids.

At Lincolnway, Nepple will join a team responsible for the plant’s process systems. He will contribute to the staff’s process optimization efforts, working to improve product quality, lower costs and maximize throughput. “I am thrilled to be a member of the team and excited about the opportunities here at Lincolnway Energy,” he said.

Lincolnway Energy is a 50 MMgy ethanol plant that’s been in operation for nearly 11 years.

RFA releases 2017 Ethanol Industry Outlook  
The Renewable   Fuels Association’s annual summary of production and markets is now available. Included in the 2017 Ethanol Industry Outlook are data on ethanol and coproduct production, capacity and trade. The report also includes overviews of ethanol’s economic impact, its octane and energy security value, and a special focus on the 2016 election.

As a convenient counterpart to the report, the RFA has made available a Pocket Guide to Ethanol, an abridged reference tool. Both publications provide readers with facts and analysis on last year’s record-breaking production, the expansion of E15 and higher blends, exports and more. The publications are available online. To order hard copies, contact Matt Stuckey at mstuckey@ethanolrfa.org.

Neil Koehler receives RFA’s Industry Award   
Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler received the Renewable Fuels Association’s 2017 Industry Award at the trade group’s annual gathering in February. Koehler, who is also vice chairman of the RFA board of directors, accepted the award at the 22nd Annual National Ethanol Conference in San Diego.

Before launching Pacific Ethanol, Koehler cofounded and managed Parallel Products, California’s first ethanol production company, which made ethanol from beverage waste. He also founded Kinergy Marketing, an ethanol marketing company. Pacific Ethanol, founded in 2003, is now comprised of eight ethanol plants in five states with a combined production capacity of 515 MMgy. The company is known as a progressive, early adopter of technologies associated with clean energy and cellulosic ethanol.

Growth Energy honors Vilsack
Growth Energy awarded former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with its highest honor, the America’s Fuel Award, at the eighth annual Executive Leadership Conference in Miami. Past winners of the award include Growth Energy Co-chairman Tom Buis, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (now U.S. ambassador to China), retired Gen.  Wesley Clark, and Richard Childress.

“We are thrilled to recognize Secretary Vilsack with the America’s Fuel Award for his remarkable commitment to the nation’s most successful energy policy, the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We thank Secretary Vilsack for his unwavering dedication to the growth and success of the American ethanol industry throughout his time as Secretary of agriculture and governor of Iowa.

Two major gasoline retailers join Growth Energy  
Two leading U.S. fuel retailers, Kum & Go and Thorntons, have joined Growth Energy as associate members. Kum & Go, one of the first major gas station chains to adopt E10, has been an active participant in the Prime the Pump program to expand the use of both E15 and E85. Thorntons has introduced E15 at more than 40 of its stations in the Chicago area alone. Both retailers say the cost advantages and environmental benefits of higher ethanol blends deliver improved value and more customer options at the pump. 

E15 Reid vapor pressure bill introduced
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent, a move that would give E15 year-round market presence. Sens. Deb Fischer,  R-Neb., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act in early March. The bill would allow retailers across the country to sell E15 and other ethanol blends year-round.

Currently, the EPA regulates RVP for gasoline and ethanol-blended gasoline from June 1 until Sept. 15. During these months, the EPA restricts the retail sale of fuels with ethanol above 10 percent. Only fuel blends that go through extra refining may be sold to consumers during this time. The proposed law would allow retailers to sell E15 all year.

ACE Ethanol installs D3MAX pilot plant in Wisconsin
ACE Ethanol LLC is installing a pilot plant capable of converting corn fiber and residual distillers grains starch to cellulosic ethanol. At press time, the D3MAX pilot facility was being installed at the 48 MMgy plant in Stanley, Wisconsin. Installation was expected to be complete by April, or sooner, with startup and testing taking place over the ensuing two months.

Operation of the skid-mounted unit, constructed by Ohio-based AdvanceBio Systems, will help narrow operating parameters such as pretreatment time, temperature and pH. Upon completion of testing and data collection, D3MAX intends to complete a full detailed commercial design, and then license the technology across the United States and Canada.

“We are very excited to take this next step in developing the D3MAX technology,” said Mark Yancey, chief technology officer for D3MAX. “ACE Ethanol has been an excellent partner in the lead-up to the installation and running of the pilot facility.”

Neal Kemmet, president and general manager at ACE Ethanol, said the technology offers a clear path forward for cellulosic ethanol. “Of course, much will be determined during the next phase of pilot testing,” he said. “However, if successful, we feel the D3MAX process will be key in allowing current producers to lead the way for the next generation of ethanol production.”

ICM releases new details about showcase biorefinery  
ICM Inc. plans to build a state-of-the-art biorefinery—dubbed ICM Element—next to its headquarters in Colwich, Kansas. The facility would feature the company’s cutting-edge technologies including its patented gasifier and its patent-pending Generation 1.5 Grain Fiber-to-Cellulosic Ethanol Technology. It would also employ ICM’s selective milling and fiber separation technologies.

The proposed corn and sorghum ethanol plant would have a capacity of 70 MMgy and cost $175 million to build. ICM is in discussions with project investors but will likely retain majority ownership. As planned, the facility would add more than 50 new jobs to the Colwich community and significant construction employment during its construction.

A substantial volume of the ethanol produced at the facility would qualify for D3 RINs, cellulosic tax credits and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits.