Business & People: Ethanol Briefs

By | June 03, 2009
›Cupertino, Calif.-based AE Biofuels Inc. recently announced the signing of a strategic agreement to supply San Diego-based Pearson Fuels with cellulosic ethanol and biofuels for use at renewable fuels filling stations in various locations throughout the state. Pearson Fuels constructed California's first E85 fueling station six years ago. The two companies said they will also work to utilize available government programs to develop additional renewable fuels filling stations in the state.

›Dutch energy company Bateman Litwin N.V. and Delta-T Corp. founders Bibb Swain and Robert Swain recently announced that litigation between the parties has been settled. The litigation was related to the Swains' July 2007 sale of Delta-T stock to Bateman Litwin. The lawsuit filed by Bateman Litwin in Dec. 2007 alleged that the Swains misrepresented Delta-T's financial status during the sale. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, a statement issued by Bateman Litwin states the company recognizes that the Swains acted properly during the sale of Delta-T.

›Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has appointed Robert Bonnie as senior advisor to the Secretary for Environment and Climate. In this position, Bonnie will help guide broad policy and program decisions with an emphasis on those concerning the nation's natural resources and climate issues. Bonnie has 14 years of experience working with the Environmental Defense Fund, where he most recently served as vice president for Land Conservation and Wildlife. Bonnie is a leading national expert on the use of markets as a means to reward stewardship on farms, ranches and forest lands, including carbon crediting and conservation banking for endangered species.

›Enzyme developer Genencor, a division of Danisco AS, recently announced the commercial availability of three new products for its Accellerase enzyme product line. Accellerase XY, XC and BG are accessory enzyme products for small-scale process development that enhance ethanol production from a variety of biomass feedstocks, including agricultural and forestry residues, paper pulp, sugarcane bagasse, corn stover and cob, wheat straw, wood chips, waste paper and switchgrass. Accellerase XY and XC are designed as accessory enzymes to blend with whole cellulases, while Accellerase BG can be used to supplement enzyme complexes for improved beta-glucosidase activity for improved hydrolysis outcomes.

›Annawan, Ill.-based Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC recently announced the company has commenced international shipments of containerized DDGS, including shipments bound for Thailand, Taiwan and China. Prior to international shipment, each container is sampled by a USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service certified inspector. When operating at nameplate capacity, Patriot Renewable Fuels can produce approximately 320,000 tons of DDGS annually.

›Omaha, Neb.-based Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. and BioProcess Algae LLC have executed a grant award agreement with the Iowa Office of Energy Independence for a $2.1 million research and development grant with the Iowa Power Fund to construct a pilot algae plant. The facility will be co-located with the Green Plains' ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa. Grant funding will be used to support the installation of a series of photobioreactor units, which will utilize water, heat and carbon dioxide recycled from the ethanol manufacturing process to support continuous algae growth.

›Quincy, Mass.-based BioEnergy International LLC has appointed Chris Tewell to the company's senior management team as chief financial officer. BioEnergy International is a privately-held developer of next-generation biorefineries and has developed proprietary technology to convert cellulosic sugars into chemicals and fuels. Tewell specializes in the finance and operation of transportation assets and the development of energy and infrastructure projects. Previously, he worked at American Steamship, the Great Lakes shipping unit of transportation leasing company GATX Corp. Tewell also served as president and CEO of Triton Container International Ltd. and president of GE Capital Asia Pacific.

›Minneapolis-based Broadhead + Co. has been chosen by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to provide domestic marketing strategy for a new sorghum checkoff program.

Initially, the company will focus on increasing the use of sorghum for ethanol and opening new edible-uses markets for crop. Broadhead + Co. will also partner with the Renewable Fuels Association to build infrastructure for ethanol distribution within key sorghum geographies. "We see sorghum as the natural fit for an advanced biofuel because it's a viable and available alternative to other grains," said Bill Greving, USCP chair. Collections for the new checkoff began in July 2008; a referendum is planned for 2011.

›Canada's ecoENERGY for Biofuels program plans to provide up to $72.8 million to Greenfield Ethanol Inc.'s Chatham, Ontario, facility and up to $14 million to its Tiverton, Ontario, facility to be used for technological advancements. GreenField Ethanol's facility in Tiverton produces 3.5 million liters (900,000 gallons) of ethanol per year and is a test site for research and development projects. The Chatham facility, one of three dry mill continuous ethanol production plants in North America, produces between 103 and 133 million liters (27 and 35 million gallons) of ethanol per year. The ecoENERGY for Biofuels program supports and provides incentives for renewable fuels production.

›Poet Biorefining-Bingham Lake, Minn., announced it has reduced its water use and eliminated water discharge through the use of zero-liquid discharge technology. The 35 MMgy facility has traditionally required approximately 3.42 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol, but according to Poet, the plant has reduced its water usage by 23 percent and now uses an estimated 2.64 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced. Water leaving the plant is limited to steam and the water content present in coproducts produced at the facility.

›BNSF Railway Co. recently honored 86 shippers with its annual product stewardship award for safely transporting hazardous materials by rail during 2008. Honorees included: Abengoa Bioenergy SA, Advanced BioEnergy LLC, Aventine Renewable Energy LLC, Bushmills Ethanol Inc., Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc., CHS Inc., Husker Ag LLC, Nebraska Energy LLC, Plainview Bioenergy LLC, Poet LLC, Red Trail Energy LLC, Valero Energy Corp. and VeraSun Energy Corp.

Forty Norfolk Southern Corp. customers received safety awards for 2008. The award winners included: The Andersons Inc., Cargill Biofuels, and Global Ethanol LLC.

The Canadian National Railway Co. also announced winners of its 2008 Safe Handling Awards. Among those honored: Amaizing Energy LLC, Aventine Renewable Energy, Ethanol Grain Processors LLC, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Platinum Ethanol Co., and VeraSun Energy Corp.

›William Bathe, president of U.S. Energy Services, has been named as one of 40 Minnesotans on the Move by Minnesota's Finance & Commerce magazine. Business leaders selected to receive the honor were chosen because it is believed they will make business history. Bathe is one of the founders of U.S. Energy Services and its sister company, U.S. Energy Engineering.

›James (Jamie) E. Levine has been appointed executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cambridge, Mass.-based Verenium Corp. Prior to joining Verenium, Levine held various positions with Goldman Sachs & Co., most recently as a managing director in the Power and Utilities Group in New York. Prior to that, he was a managing director in the company's energy group in London. The majority of his tenure at Goldman Sachs focused on investment banking in the oil and gas industries, with a particular focus on the refining and marketing sectors. Levine previously held positions with Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Industrial Economics Inc.

›Todd J. Guerrero has joined Minneapolis, Minn.-based law firm Fredrikson & Byron P.A. as a partner in the firm's renewable energy group. Guerrero's experience and industry expertise will help expand the firm's leadership in wind, biomass, and biofuels project development. Guerrero previously served as lead counsel for a farmer-owned cooperative while it developed, financed, and constructed the nation's first 30 MMgy biodiesel plant. He will continue to serve as outside general counsel for biodiesel, ethanol and agribusiness clients, assisting them to resolve corporate, finance, and governance issues.

›Dr. Jose Laplaza has been appointed director of strain engineering and lab operations for microbial metabolic engineering company Integrated Genomics Inc. He will lead the company's internal metabolic engineering research. Prior to joining Integrated Genomics, Dr. Laplaza served as both bioscience team leader and scientist at Cargill Inc.'s Biotechnology Development Center, where he was involved in a variety of new product development, fermentation and enzymatic optimization projects. Prior to Cargill he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Jeffries at the U.S. Forest Service, developing genetic tools and yeast strains for the fermentation of wood-derived sugars into ethanol.

›French financial services giant Société Générale Group acquired the unfinished 115 MMgy Panda Ethanol Inc. plant in Hereford, Texas, in April for a $25 million credit bid in bankruptcy court. At press time, the deadline for closing the sale had not been determined. The unfinished plant was designed to be fueled by manure furnished from nearby cattle feedlots and to supply wet distillers grains with solubles to local feedlots.

›Big River Resources Galva LLC completed its first grind May 14 at its new 100 MMgy ethanol plant in Galva, Ill., and was expected to begin shipping ethanol by June 1, according to Raymond Defenbaugh, president, CEO and chairman for parent company Big River Resources LLC. The $172 million plant is expected to process over 35 million bushels of corn annually.

›Carbon Green BioEnergy purchased the former VeraSun Energy Corp. 40 MMgy ethanol plant at Woodbury, Mich., in early May. A lending group led by AgStar Financial Services had acquired the plant during a bankruptcy auction in March. Carbon Green BioEnergy is a partnership between Chicago-based carbon credit management and consulting firm Carbon Green LLC and Energetix LLC. Energetix is headed by Mitch Miller, who will manage the Woodbury facility as CEO for Carbon Green Bioenergy. Previously, Miller held leadership roles at Corn Plus LLLP in Winnebago, Minn., Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company LLLP in Benson, Minn., and Central Indiana Ethanol LLC in Marion, Ind.

›Stoel Rives LLP has published a guide to federal clean energy opportunities made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The guide, "Show Me the Money," reviews the various programs and potential sources of funding opportunities for biofuels and other renewable industries. The firm's lawyers will also track program updates and funding notices. According to the law firm, the guide was created because funding does not apply uniformly to all sectors of the renewable industry and opportunities for particular projects can be difficult to discern.

›BBI International has announced that a Caring Bridge Web page for Kathy Bryan, company president and co-founder, has been established to offer updates on her health. Bryan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2008 and has undergone chemotherapy to treat the disease. Caring Bridge is a nonprofit Web-based service established for the purpose of connecting people during times of critical illness. Visitors to www.caringbridge.org can access Bryan's information by entering kathybryan when prompted.

›Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Ceres Inc. has partnered with the University of Georgia to develop new high-yielding switchgrass seed varieties and improved crop management techniques for the southeastern United States. Georgia researchers will provide regional experience and a collection of switchgrass breeding materials and germplasm. Ceres, which is funding the multi-year project, will maintain commercialization rights for products developed. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will also participate in the project.

›Homeland Energy Solutions LLC has begun production at its 100 MMgy Lawler, Iowa, ethanol facility. Construction of the facility began in 2007. The plant is expected to utilize 37 million bushels of corn annually and will employ 45 people. Homeland's chairman of the board said the company is grateful it missed the volatile markets of 2008 and plans to make risk management one of its top priorities. The facility is the 39th ethanol production facility to be located in Iowa, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

›South Dakota-based KL Energy has partnered with Brazilian renewable energy business developer add blue Ltda. The companies plan to construct a demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil. The 1.3 MMgy plant will implement KL Energy's enzymatic process to utilize sugarcane bagasse as feedstock. The facility will be integrated into a sugar mill and will be expanded to commercial-scale when targeted yields are achieved, according to the company. The demonstration facility is expected to be operational by 2010.

›Potential cellulosic ethanol producer California Ethanol & Power LLC has appointed several people to its management team. CE&P executive vice president of operations, O. Wayne Mitchell has been appointed to the management committee. Mitchell previously served as senior vice president of technology and business development for Fagen Inc.

Larry Gilbert will serve as executive vice president of the company's agricultural operations. Gilbert operates a California agri-business and will contribute his expertise in the areas of sugarcane growing operations and water conservation.

Jeffrey Flynn has been retained as the company's sugarcane variety advisor. Flynn has worked in sugarcane entomology, seed cane production and scheduling, and quality control for more than 30 years.

›Minnesota-based Aqua Power, a hydro-blasting and vacuuming services provider that specializes in cleaning ethanol production equipment, has created a new hydro-blasting services company - Premium Plant Services - as the result of a business restructuring plan. According to owner Mark Parenteau, the new company's personnel have a combined 30 years of experience in the cleaning of process equipment and are committed to exploring new technologies that will improve the safety and efficiency of hydro-blasting.

›PerkinElmer Inc., a Massachusetts-based diagnostic instrumentation technologies provider focused on developing technologies and services to improve the quality and sustainability of the environment, has expanded its biofuels analytical solutions portfolio to include new testing systems for ethanol. The company's line of EcoAnalytix systems includes a metals analyzer, an alcohol system to determine the right blend of ethanol in gasoline and a fermentation broth monitor. All systems are accompanied by the company's pre-configured software application and onsite training.

›The U.S. Senate recently confirmed U.S. DOE nominees Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman and Under Secretary for Energy Kristina Johnson. Poneman served as a principal of The Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm, since 2001 and has also held several positions on the National Security Council. Johnson was previously the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University.