Business Briefs

News and business announcements from the September issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, including Blue Flint Ethanol's grant to study biomass energy, USGC's new chairman, GranBio's new alliance with NextChem, and the 15-year anniversary of the RFS.
By Ethanol Producer Magazine | August 24, 2020

ND ethanol plant receives grant to study biomass thermal energy

The North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission has awarded Blue Flint Ethanol $155,000 to assess the viability of using biomass as a fuel and power source for its 70 MMgy ethanol plant near Underwood, North Dakota.

Blue Flint Ethanol, owned by Midwest AgEnergy, currently sources water and steam from Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station, an 1,100 megawatt coal-fired power plant that’s set to retire in 2022. In a quest to evaluate various forms of alternative thermal energy, Midwest AgEnergy is assessing all available clean and renewable options and will use the NDAPUC funds to evaluate wheat straw and corn stover as thermal energy feedstocks. The use of biomass as a primary fuel would help Blue Flint lower the carbon intensity (CI) rating of its ethanol, better positioning the company in low-carbon fuel markets.  


USGC elects Raben chairman of board of directors
The delegates of the U.S. Grains Council elected Jim Raben, an Illinois farmer representing the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, as chairman of its board of directors at its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting, held virtually in late July.

“It’s always been my way to cultivate relationships because together we are stronger, our collective voices are heard more loudly, and we can work together to achieve our common goals,” Raben said in his incoming remarks. “The council works around the clock, and around the globe, to find and expand new pockets of demand for the products we offer. That’s why I’ve chosen for my theme ‘Building Relationships, Building Trade.’”

Raben will chair the USGC's 14-person board comprised of ag industry leaders from several states.  


GranBio, NexChem partner on cellulosic ethanol

GranBio has announced a strategic alliance with NextChem, a subsidiary of Italian engineering giant Maire Tecnimont, to co-license its patented technology for the production of second-generation ethanol. The partnership will focus on commercializing GranBio’s technology, combining its knowledge of biomass and second-generation biofuels with NextChem’s engineering intelligence and global presence. The joint venture will offer an array of integrated services including feasibility studies, project development, engineering and construction.

GranBio operates a next-generation ethanol plant in the Brazilian state of Alagoas, and two facilities in the U.S., one of which is a demonstration plant. GranBio also developed a proprietary process for harvesting and preparing residual biomass (cane straw) and has registered 11 varieties of energy cane, the most competitive biomass in photosynthetic efficiency known to the world.

Industry celebrates 15-year anniversary of RFS

On Aug. 6, the ethanol industry celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which was initially signed into law by President George W. Bush as The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and later expanded with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The Renewable Fuels Association marked the date by releasing a report on the success of the program. According to the RFA, the number of U.S. ethanol plants has increased by 153 percent since 2005 to more than 200 facilities. Ethanol production has expanded by 305 percent, from 3.9 billion gallons to 15.8 billion gallons per year. The production of distillers grains has expanded 247 percent to nearly 40 million metric tons. And the gross value of overall industry output, just $8 billion in 2005, is now greater than $28 billion.