Business and People

By | November 11, 2009
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>Enzyme developer Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, has completed a $52 million project to expand its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enzyme manufacturing plant and add a grain processing application center to the facility. Genencor said the 20,000-square-foot Grain Processing Applied Innovation was installed to allow its customers to work on solutions to real-world challenges.

>KL Energy Corp. has appointed two research scientists to its team. Lisette Tenlep has extensive experience in pre-treatment strategies for cellulosic ethanol, including the development of new methods for biomass using supercritical fluids, microwave irradiation and ionic liquids. Qin Zhang specializes in fermentation science and has extensive experience in cellulose production and recovery as well as fermentation piloting and scale-up.

In addition, the company has agreed to proceed with a long-term off-take agreement with Fair Energy for its second-generation cellulosic ethanol in the U.S. and Europe.

>California-based process technology provider EdeniQ Inc. has partnered with E Energy Adams LLC to install its three-step yield enhancement technology at the company's Nebraska production facility. E Energy Adams CEO Carl Sitzmann said the company installed EdeniQ's technology because of its potential to assist in achieving and maintaining healthy margins.

EdeniQ has also formed a technology agreement with Brazilian producer Comanche Clean Energy, marking its entry into the Brazilian market as well as the sugarcane-to-ethanol process.

>Green Plains Trade Group LLC, a subsidiary of Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc., has agreed to provide third-party ethanol marketing services for Lincolnway Energy LLC's 55 MMgy production facility in Nevada, Iowa. With the addition of the Lincolnway plant, GPRE now provides ethanol marketing services to four third-party producers with a combined operating capacity of 360 MMgy.

GPRE also recently unveiled its algae production project at its Shenandoah, Iowa, ethanol production plant. BioProcessAlgae LLC is a joint venture between GPRE, water filtration group Clarcor Inc. and others and was created to commercialize advanced photobioreactor technologies for the growing and harvesting of algal biomass.

>Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. was ranked as the 20th top biotechnology and pharmaceutical employer of 2009 by Science magazine. The ranking is the result of research done to determine which companies have the best reputations as employers. This was the first year Syngenta has ranked in the Top 20; 575 companies were considered.

Syngenta is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and has biotech facilities in the U.S. and China. More than 400 people are employed at the North Carolina facility, with more than 60 percent of its current employees hired in the past five years.

>Global investment bank Deutsche Bank and Czarnikow Group, the world's leading independent sugar market services company, have formed an alliance to offer sugar-based ethanol products and services to their combined client base. The objective of the alliance is to blend financial and intellectual capital and use the skills of both parties to offer clients a structured approach to price risk management and funding.

>The Missouri Renewable Fuels Association (MoRFA) has appointed Ryland Utlaut as its 2009-'10 president. Utlaut was a founding board member of Mid-Missouri Energy Inc., a 40 MMgy ethanol production plant in Malta Bend, Mo. He currently serves as the plant's president and general manager. Utlaut replaces Golden Triangle Energy Co-op Inc. chairman Gene Millard as president of MoRFA.
Other elected officers for 2009-'10 include: David Vogt of Poet Biorefining-Laddonia as vice president, Dave Durham of Show Me Ethanol LLC as secretary and George Quinn of LifeLine Foods Inc. as treasurer.

>Construction began in September on a $10 million advanced energy research facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. The facility, which is being jointly developed by the City of Edmonton and government of Alberta, will be located adjacent to Enerkem Inc.'s proposed 10 MMgy waste-to-ethanol plant and the City of Edmonton's municipal waste processing facility. Research at the new facility will focus on the conversion of various types of waste into renewable fuels and chemicals. Construction is expected to be complete within the first quarter of 2010.

>Municipal solid waste (MSW)-to-ethanol technology provider Masada Resource Group LLC has partnered with entrepreneur Robert H. J. Lee to build MSW-to-ethanol production facilities throughout Asia, Denmark and France. Donald Watkins, CEO of Masada, said Lee brings broad international experience and a clear vision of how to turn Asia's waste streams into ethanol to the partnership. Masada believes China alone can provide enough MSW to supply 690 of the company's ethanol production facilities.

>Colorado-based Gevo Inc. recently announced the formation of Gevo Development LLC, which will develop a fleet of biorefineries that employ Gevo's retrofit package. Gevo's technology focuses on retrofitting existing ethanol plants to produce biobutanol. According to Gevo spokesman Jack Huttner, Gevo Development is working to procure a facility and has begun the process of raising money to finance the company's first commercial-scale retrofit.

The company also recently announced it has completed retrofitting ICM Inc.'s 1 MMgy demonstration-scale facility in St. Joseph, Mo. The plant began producing biobutanol in late September.

>Cambridge, Mass.-based Joule Biotechnologies Inc. recently elected Graham Allison to its board of directors. Allison is the Douglas Dillon professor and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has served as assistant secretary of defense in the first Clinton administration and as a special advisor to the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan. Allison's background in the energy sector includes serving as director of the Getty Oil Co. and Belco Oil and Gas, a member of the advisory boards of Hydro-Quebec and the International Energy Corp., and executive director of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Commission of Eminent Persons.

>In September Mansfield Oil Co. announced the addition of Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC to C&N Companies' portfolio of ethanol marketing partnerships. According to Douglas Haugh, Mansfield Oil's executive vice president, the partnership with Heron Lake BioEnergy marks the first new plant relationship since Mansfield Oil acquired C&N in July. Heron Lake BioEnergy's facility has a production capacity of 50 MMgy and produces 160,000 tons of DDGS annually.

>Massachusetts-based Qteros and Israel-based Applied CleanTech have entered into a joint development project to produce cellulosic ethanol. ACT's technology focuses on producing Recyllose, a recycled solids-based cellulosic feedstock manufactured from municipal wastewater. Qteros has developed a cellulosic conversion technology based on the naturally occurring QMicrobe. Initial work on the joint project has focused on improving how the two technologies work tougher. To date, research has shown that Qteros technology can produce 120 to 135 gallons of ethanol per ton of Recyllose processed. The joint project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.

>Suncor Energy Inc. is resuming the expansion of its St. Clair Ethanol Plant, located near Sarnia, Ontario. The project seeks to double the plant's capacity from 200 million liters per year (53 MMgy) to 400 million liters per year. The estimated $120 million project was initially announced in mid-2007 with the expansion officially beginning in mid-2008. The project was later put on hold. According to Suncor, the expansion is expected to be complete in late 2010 or early 2011.

>On Nov. 16, Thomas C. Dorr began serving as the president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. Dorr was formerly employed as the undersecretary of rural development at the USDA, where he led programs to expand rural infrastructure, including electric, broadband and water services, rural entrepreneurial efforts and rural housing. In addition to spending seven years at the USDA, Dorr also spent 29 years as the president of a family farm and agribusiness company in Iowa. Dorr succeeds Ken Hobbie, who served as USGC's president and CEO for the past 19 years.

>Verenium Corp. recently announced the addition of Carey A. Buckles as vice president of biofuels operations. In this position, Buckles will have full site operations responsibility for the Jennings, La.-based pilot plant and demonstration facilities. Prior to joining Verenium, Buckles served as director of manufacturing and engineering at NatureWorks LLC, a sustainable plastics company that is wholly owned by Cargill Inc. In addition, he has served as the lactic acid plant production leader at NatureWorks and has held various positions at Dow Chemical Inc.

>A partnering between Colorado-based PureVision Technology Inc., a renewable technology developer, and Australian microbiology company Microbiogen means PureVision's fractionation technology can produce biofuel and protein products simultaneously in biorefineries, according to the company. PureVision's patented fractionation process separates cellulosic biomass into three streams inside one pressurized reaction chamber, according to the company. The fractionation process can produce Mibcrobiogen's nongenetically modified yeast organism, which will be utilized in the fermentation process, and also has the ability to clean the waste stream generated by it.

>Murphy Oil Corp. has announced its acquisition of a 110 MMgy ethanol plant in Hankinson, N.D. The plant, formerly owned by VeraSun Energy Corp., was purchased for $92 million. The purchase will be financed primarily through non-recourse debt offered via the sellers. Murphy Oil intends to use the corn-based ethanol it produces to blend in its own fuel. The site was chosen for its proximity to feedstock and rail service. The plant began grinding corn October 21.

>The U.S. DOE has increased funding for one of Poet LLC's existing grants by $6.85 million. This is the first of two funding increases from the DOE to help establish a market for corn cobs. The second, expected next year, is estimated to provide an additional $13.15 million. The additional funds will be used to develop the feedstock infrastructure for cellulosic ethanol production. Poet will work with equipment manufacturers to help speed the process of getting cob-harvesting technology into fields near its Emmetsburg, Iowa, facility and will incentivize early adopters of cob harvesting.

>White Energy Inc.'s 110 MMgy Plainview Bioenergy ethanol production plant, located in Plainview, Texas, began grinding corn Oct. 12 after several months of not producing. The plant uses a combination of corn and milo as feedstock for the facility and typically operates on a 10 percent to 30 percent blend of milo with corn. White Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, along with its subsidiaries in Plainview and Hereford, Texas, and Russell, Kan.

>The Renewable Fuels Association has elected officers and members to its board of directors for 2010. Chris Standlee, executive vice president of Abengoa Bioenergy, was re-elected chairman of the board for a third term. Nate Kimpel was re-elected as treasurer. Bob Dinneen was also re-elected as president of the association, a post he has held since 2001.

>Kutak Rock LLP has formalized a practice group dedicated exclusively to alternative and renewable energy matters, including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, battery technology, biofuels, energy grid and waste-to-energy. The Alternative and Renewable Energy Group serves the green energy industry and focuses on clients seeking to expand the technological and commercial possibilities of alternative and renewable energy. The firm intends to provide effective, innovative and timely advice to its clients.

>Archer Daniels Midland Co. announced its board of directors elected three new corporate officers. Michael Baroni was elected vice president and will be responsible for all commercial activity, operations and production for the company's corn processing business unit. Domingo Lastra has been elected vice president and will oversee ADM's South American operations. Joseph Taets was elected vice president and will be responsible for ADM Grain Company within the agricultural services business unit. EP