Everything Comes Back to the FEW

FROM THE AUGUST ISSUE: Ethanol Producer Magazine Editor Lisa Gibson previews this issue of the magazine, including a recap of the 2018 FEW, features on membrane technologies, the potential of a high-octane fuel standard and more
By Lisa Gibson | July 17, 2018

In June, I attended my second International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, signifying I’ve already been in this industry one year. My first FEW, in 2017, came just a month into my employment at Ethanol Producer Magazine. Baptism by fire, as they say.

At my first FEW, I likely crammed more knowledge, names and faces into my head than it could hold, but left with helpful contacts, story ideas and a grasp on basic, as well as specified, aspects of the ethanol production process. In the past year, I’ve attended several other industry conferences, toured more ethanol plants and lengthened my list of contacts. But this year’s FEW seemed to bring my experience full circle—I came back with a better understanding of the process, the product and the intricacies that fuel the ethanol industry, from field to tank. At the close of the show, I again had learned even more about ethanol. It’s a complex industry and I expect to keep learning about it for years to come.

The 2018 FEW drew more than 2,200 attendees and 350 exhibitors to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, June 11 to 13. Feedback from attendees tells us it might have been one of the best in the event’s history, with more people both listening to discussions in the breakout sessions and milling around the trade show floor. We’ve put together a photo collage of some of the highlights. It starts on page 34.

Shifting our focus a bit, our cover story, “The Way Forward,” page 18, explores the increased use of membrane dehydration technologies. Whitefox Technologies Ltd. is working on up to five installations this year alone. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. wants to bring its membrane system to the U.S., having already installed it in seven ethanol plants in Europe and Japan. Both companies exhibited at the FEW, sharing their expertise on the new technology and its benefits, including replacing or complementing mole sieves. Find out how they work, who’s using them and where the technology might be headed.

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing in April that addressed the potential of a high-octane fuel standard. It seems like a win for ethanol, oil, automakers, convenience stores and almost all parties involved, but it’s not so straightforward. Some high-octane supporters want such a standard to completely replace the RFS (Can you guess who?).

And, without the assurance of the RFS, there’s no guarantee that the octane used to satisfy an octane standard would be ethanol, or anything more than a 10 percent blend. Any legislation is early in development and has a long road ahead, but it’s on the minds of multiple industries. In fact, speakers on the policy-focused general session panel at the FEW discussed the topic extensively. Coverage of the high-octane fuel standard starts on page 26.

Nope, this issue isn’t exclusively about the FEW, but it seems all topics are covered there. All the important contacts and technology leaders are present there. It’s easy to tie anything ethanol to that conference. Everything comes back to the FEW. And I’ll keep going back, too.

Author: Lisa Gibson