Business & People

By | March 05, 2009
›Propel Fuels has installed four E85 pumps at retail gas stations in Elk Grove, Rocklin, Citrus Heights and Sacramento, Calif. The pumps also dispense biodiesel and hydrogen, with electric car chargers soon to follow. Prior to the installations, the company also unveiled its latest version of CleanDrive, which tracks and displays carbon emissions reductions from the use of biofuels, such as ethanol, purchased at Propel Clean Fuel Points. The company moved its headquarters from Seattle to Sacramento in order to better serve California's biofuel demand.

›Omaha, Neb.-based cellulosic ethanol development company NextStep Biofuels Inc. has signed a 20-year feedstock procurement contract with Arkansas-based wood processor The Price Cos. The agreement calls for The Price Cos. to supply NextStep Biofuels with up to 500,000 tons per year of wood-based residues such as woodchips, bark, pulpwood and other tree-based waste products for conversion into cellulosic ethanol. NextStep Biofuels is evaluating sites in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas for the possible construction of cellulosic ethanol plants that will utilize The Price Cos.' feedstocks, according to Russell Zeeck, chief operating officer for NextStep Biofuels.

›A Charlottesville, Va.-based Stop In Food Store became the nation's 1,900th E85 fueling station, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition announced in January. The NEVC also elected five members to its board of directors: Shirley Ball of Ethanol Producers and Consumers, Don Borgman of Deere & Co., Tom May of MFS Oil Co., Dave Weber of Abengoa Bioenergy Trading and DeVonna Zeug of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

›Milwaukee-based fermentation ingredients supplier Lallemand Ethanol Technology recently hired Carl Gandolfo and Craig Ammann as sales managers. Gandolfo will serve as Lallemand's eastern regional sales manager. He previously worked as a national sales manager at Bode Blue Corp. and ICOP Digital Inc. Ammann will serve as Lallemand's western regional sales manager. He previously worked for a biofuels project management and engineering company. In their new roles, Gandolfo and Ammann will be responsible for leading regional sales teams.

›The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment named renewable fuels veteran John Sheehan its scientific program coordinator for biofuels. He has much experience in renewable energy development, having spent nearly 20 years with the U.S. DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conducting work on system dynamic models for strategic and policy decision-making related to ethanol and biodiesel. In his new position, he will focus on the direct and indirect consequences of biofuels production on land use across the world.

›Dayton, Ohio-based Rex Stores Corp., a consumer electronics and appliances retailer, will sell 39 of its stores and inventory to Appliance Direct Inc. and instead focus on ethanol interests. Rex Stores is also negotiating to have Appliance Direct take over an additional 44 stores. "We have invested in several ethanol facilities, and we have previously announced that we are in the alternative fuels business and moving in that direction," said Zafar Rizvi, vice president of Rex Stores. The company is part-owner in current producers Levelland Hockley County Ethanol LLC in Levelland, Texas; Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC in Annawan, Ill.; and Big River Resources LLC in West Burlington, Iowa. It's also part-owner of Big River Resources-Galva LLC in Galva, Ill., and One Earth Energy LLC in Gibson City, Ill. , both under construction.

›The ethanol industry lost two valued members in the past four months. David Kelsall, 62, passed away Dec. 23. He first worked with alcohol production in the early 1980s as brewmaster for G. Heilman Brewing Co. in La Crosse, Wis. Later, he worked for Alltech before joining Lallemand Ethanol Technology in 2004, following the company's acquisition of the Alltech Alcohol Division. Kelsall helped start the Alcohol School.

Gary Vermeer, 90, founder of Vermeer Corp., passed away Feb. 2. In 1948, he launched Vermeer Manufacturing Co., which manufactures agricultural, construction, environmental and industrial equipment with dealerships in more than 60 countries.

›Danish enzyme developer Novozymes A/S reported strong financial results for 2008 and expects satisfactory sales growth in 2009 despite market uncertainty. The company reported revenue of approximately 8.14 billion krones ($1.4 billion), compared with 7.43 billion krones ($1.29 billion) in 2007. Net profits for 2008 were 1.06 billion krones ($185 million), and assets totaled 9.92 billion krones (approximately $1.72 billion).

In early February, Novozymes and Chinese partner COFCO Ltd. announced they had signed an agreement with Chinese oil and energy company Sinopec to develop a commercial-scale process that converts agricultural waste such as corn stover into ethanol. Novozymes expects to have cellulosic ethanol enzymes ready for large-scale production by 2010.

›DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC announced four additions to its expanding management team. Kyle Althoff has become director of feedstock development. He will assist in plant siting and develop grower delivery business models, as well as help formulate feedstock strategies. Most recently, he managed client projects at BBI International Inc.

Barbara Fatina was named chief financial officer. She most recently served as vice president of operations and CFO of Verety LLC. Stuart Thomas is now director of technology development. Previously, he was business development manager for DuPont Clean Technologies. Keith Brazzell was named site manager of DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol's pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant under construction in Vonore, Tenn. Most recently, he served as plant manager of Tate & Lyle in Loudon, Tenn.

›Ethanol producer Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. has acquired majority interest in Houston terminal operator Blendstar LLC from Bioverda U.S. Holdings LLC for $9 million.

GPRE operates four ethanol plants in Iowa, Indiana and Tennessee with a combined production capacity of 330 MMgy, along with an ethanol marketing service. The terminal acquisition will provide GPRE with more than 200 MMgy of throughput capacity for biofuels in four states. Bioverda is an affiliate of GPRE's largest shareholder NTR PLC.

›ZeaChem Inc. announced the raising of $34 million in initial Series B financing led by venture capital investors Globespan Capital Partners and PrairieGold Venture Partners.

Further "follow-on" investments were made by MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, Firelake Capital and Valero Energy Corp., the major U.S. petroleum refiner that made a $280 million bid on five of Verasun Energy Corp.'s ethanol plants in early February (see pages 26-27 for more information). ZeaChem, a biorefinery developer, plans to begin construction in 2009 on its first cellulosic ethanol plant to be located in Oregon. It will incorporate a hybrid process that merges thermochemical and biochemical conversion platforms.

›Vivergo Fuels, a joint venture company created by BP Amoco PLC, British Sugar and DuPont, signed exclusive contracts with grain marketer Frontier Agriculture Ltd. to procure wheat for an ethanol plant under construction in Hull, England, and with feed supplier KW Trident to market the facility's distillers grains. Slated to begin production in 2010, the wheat-to-ethanol plant being built by Praj Industries Ltd. will produce 420 million liters annually (110 MMgy). British Sugar and KW Trident are part of Associated British Foods PLC, which also jointly owns Frontier Agriculture with Cargill PLC.

›Danish biotechnology firm BioGasol ApS was recently awarded 78 million krones ($13.36 million) from the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program under the Danish Energy Agency for the construction of a demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol project in Denmark. Working with an organism found in Icelandic hot springs, BioGasol said it's achieving ethanol conversion rates close to 86 percent of the C5 sugars contained in cellulosic feedstocks, made possible through an effective microorganism whose ability to produce acetic acid and other byproducts has been removed. BioGasol expects to complete construction of its demonstration facility in 2009. Project partners include Siemens AG, Grundfos AS, Agro Tech AS and Alfa Laval AS. BioGasol's work was recently recognized in the Red Herring Global 100 list.