Selling Points

Ethanol Producer Magazine editor in chief reviews the content available in the May print edition of the magazine, as well as appearing online at
By Tom Bryan | April 27, 2017

This industry has gotten smart to the point where it can redirect DDGS exports to opportunistic buyers when China shuts its doors and prices fall. No longer do we simply sulk and wait. We build new markets and keep things flowing. As EPM Managing Editor Susanne Retka Schill reports in “Pushing DDGS,” on page 26, the relative low price of distillers grains, painful as it is, has spurred a wave of buying from new and established customers around the world. And despite China’s virtual import freeze, the overall volume of DDGS shipping abroad this year is holding steady as countries such as Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and Japan pick up the slack. With the U.S. Grains Council’s help, buyers in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and elsewhere are also taking larger-than-usual volumes of distillers grains while discounts are good.

Historically, the price of ethanol’s principal coproduct has been tied to global demand and its value relative to other feed ingredients. Now, we’re learning that the environmental benefits of using DDGS might also factor into the product’s overall worth. As Ann Bailey reports in “Untold Story of DDGS’ Positive Environmental Impact,” on page 32, utilizing DDGS reduces methane emissions from cattle, minimizes phosphorus levels in manure and lessens the risk of unwanted nutrient runoff into waterways. It’s another great selling point for DDGS, but time will tell whether the product’s green traits will give it new value.

We turn from essential coproducts to derivatives of the future in “Ethanol’s Opportunity in the Chemical Market,” on page 40. In this story, Luke Geiver reports on two companies, one in Nebraska, another in Brazil, aiming to use ethanol as a building block for intermediate chemicals. The American project—a technology bolted onto an Archer Daniels Midland Co. wet mill—will convert undenatured ethanol into ethyl acetate, while the South American company finds markets for its polyethylene made from sugarcane ethanol.

On page 48, we look at the “Intersecting Trends of Oil and Ethanol,” asking if low-octane crude oil from shale has created a greater need for ethanol’s octane. As Patrick Miller reports, however, the theory has yet to prove out because refiners have good methods of refining light, sweet crude, and they’re also exporting much of it. Ultimately, ethanol might benefit less from the prevalence of low-octane shale oil than the development of E15, new engines and new fuel economy rules.

Finally, please check out our “FEW Technical Sessions Planner,” a 10-page overview of all 30 panels taking place at this year’s International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo and National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo, taking place June 19-22, in Minneapolis.

Author: Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief