A Bit of Everything

FROM THE JUNE ISSUE: Managing Editor Lisa Gibson previews this issue of the magazine, including features about Brazil's ethanol market, U.S. ethanol industry job market, progress on ethanol plants under construction and more.
By Lisa Gibson | May 30, 2018

When Brazil comes up in conversation in the U.S. ethanol industry today, the topic eventually turns to the tariff implemented last year. At 20 percent for all U.S. ethanol imported above 600 million liters, it could impact the No. 1 foreign market for the industry—a market that imported 450 million gallons (1.7 billion liters) in 2017.

But Brazil is also noteworthy in a few other ethanol-related areas. The country’s sugarcane ethanol industry is booming, helping to support a 27 percent blend in every liter of fuel sold. In our cover story, starting on page 24, we take a close look at Brazil’s industry, as well as the biofuels-production targets laid out in its RenovaBio policy. Notably, even Brazil's corn ethanol production is on the rise, with the help of a U.S.-based company. And, of course, the feature delves into the tariff with some input from UNICA to explain the country’s attempts to burgeon its own markets.

Shifting coverage back to the U.S., the feature on page 34 evaluates the ethanol industry’s job market. While most of the Midwest struggles with ongoing staffing shortages, ethanol seems to have an opposite reality—plant employees are settled, satisfied and stay where they are, leaving few open positions within companies for advancement. A member of EPM’s editorial board says hiring for new plants likely means transfers from other companies, as employees try to advance their careers around supervisors who are staying put.

And the industry does have a few new plants coming up. Construction of Element LLC, a widely publicized partnership between ICM Inc. and The Andersons, is well underway. Developers say it’ll be fully operational by the end of 2019. The project showcases a myriad of ICM’s innovations in gasification, kernel separation, coproducts and more. The name Element, in fact, represents the project’s purpose: to demonstrate the separation and use of corn kernel elements, as well as the integration of all the elements necessary for an efficient ethanol plant design. We cover the project and its progress, starting on page 42. Don’t miss the sidebar that details other plants under construction.

The feature on page 52 is a roundup of the recent developments on the Renewable Fuel Standard. If you’ve been trying to keep up, you’re aware of the discussion and attempts to change or completely dismantle the legislation. Trade groups tell us it’s a constant battle, but the recent Philadelphia Energy Solutions bankruptcy and renewable volume obligation waiver have intensified it. Politics are at play and ethanol advocacy to fight misinformation is crucial.

On page 62, we’ve compiled a Q&A about EcoEngineers’ Kernel Fiber Now program, which helps producers navigate the D3 RIN registration process. The service also includes market analysis and pathway expertise. It’s well-timed, with increasing interest in corn fiber-to-ethanol opportunities. Jim Ramm, EcoEngineers’ director of engineering, answers all our questions about Kernel Fiber Now, as well as markets, pathways and potential struggles. 

And finally, we round out this issue with profiles of our 2018 Ethanol Producer Award winners. In their inaugural year, the awards attracted excellent nominees, all deserving of recognition. Turn to page 70 to learn about the winners, chosen by our editorial staff and editorial board.

At 96 pages, this is our biggest issue of the year. It will be prominent at the largest ethanol conference in the world—the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, June 11 to 13 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. So, we’ve made sure to pack these pages with well-rounded and relevant coverage to appeal to multiple sectors of our industry—a bit of everything. We’re eager to present it to you.

See you at the FEW.

Author: Lisa Gibson
Managing Editor
lgibson@bbiinternational.com