Business and People

By | May 21, 2010
>Growth Energy is growing. The ethanol industry association announced five new hires in March. Katy Ziegler Thomas joined the group as chief of staff. She previously worked as vice president for government relations at the National Farmers Union. Roger Conway, chief economist at the ethanol group, is a former director of USDA's Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. Houston Ruck, creative director, was a designer for U.S. News & World Report. Stephanie Dreyer, public affairs associate, had been deputy press secretary for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Kelly Manning, vice president for development, was the general manager for KSFY TV.

>AgriCharts, the agricultural division of Inc., which provides market data, Web site hosting and technology solutions to agribusinesses, launched GrainProfessional, a month-ly print publication for grain merchandisers, procurement managers and other buyers of grain featuring topics important to buyers, hedgers and basis traders. In addition to the print publication, GrainProfessional will offer weekly live educational webinars.

>Chinese Academy of Sciences and LanzaTech, headquartered in Parnell Auckland, New Zealand, have signed a letter of intent on a number of projects including technology services and technology innovation. LanzaTech was founded in 2005 to develop and commercialize proprietary technologies for the production of lowest cost fuel ethanol and high value chemicals. A delegation from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Zhibin Zhang, director of the Bureau of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, visited the LanzaTech laboratory and pilot plant in New Zealand at the beginning of March, after which the agreement was forged.

>ICM Inc. hired Matt Gibson as vice president of the feed division. He brings an extensive 20-year history in the feed and livestock production industries to the company. His most recent positions were with Poet LLC, as the nutrition vice president of technical services and with the Dakota Gold Research Association as executive director.. The Deer Park, Texas, native was appointed to the National Grain and Feed Association Biofuels Committee by chairman Hal Reed. "NGFA committees are one of the most important membership benefits offered by the association, as they proactively address, for the mutual benefit of the industry, issues that are of bottom line importance to all NGFA-member companies," Reed said.

>Larry Russo Jr., with the U.S. DOE Biomass Program, suffered a massive heart attack and died March 20 at the age of 54. Russo had a strong industry background in the ethanol industry. He was a chemical engineer for the U.S. DOE in Washington, D.C., for the past five years and was involved in biomass conversion and bioenergy for nearly 30 years. He also had several patents, awards and publications regarding ethanol research and biofuels.

>Gamajet Cleaning Systems, an automated tank cleaning company, has appointed Andrew Gallo as a sales manager dedicated to ethanol. Gallo will be responsible for the growth and development of ethanol industry service as well as the maintenance of current customers. "This is a new position, and a necessary one," said Gerald Ryan, Gamajet's vice president of sales. "Andrew has shown great interest within the industry and we feel his energy will be appropriately directed in the rapidly growing ethanol industry."

>Fluid Components International has introduced a compact product for continuously verifying flows within liquid or gas process analyzer sampling systems. The FS10A Flow Switch/Monitor has a space-saving design incorporating advanced electronics and no moving parts to foul, clog or maintain. The FS10A Analyzer Flow Switch is designed for use with nearly all types of process and emissions sampling systems, including gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, optical spectrometers, photometers and others.

>Air Resource Specialists Inc. recently launched a "Compliance Tip of the Month" feature on its Web site. An environmental compliance project manager will prepare and post a short, useful tip monthly for industry managers regarding a wide variety of compliance or permitting needs. The tip will be a brief summary of a new or pending regulation, a reminder of an upcoming reporting deadline, or a useful hint to assist environmental managers with recordkeeping or training.

>Extech Instruments, a wholly owned subsidiary of FLIR Systems Inc., recently announced several new handheld test and measurement tools. The Extech EX845 with new trademarked Meterlink technology and a built-in infrared thermometer wirelessly connects to FLIR infrared cameras to quickly locate problems with electrical components such as motors, fuses, breaker panels and more. The company also introduced its new MA620 and MA640c lamp meters, an infrared thermometer with "color alert," the DT300 laser distance meter and RC200 Tweezer Multimeter.

>Tom Kopp has joined Hawkeye Gold LLC as an export manager for Asian markets. Most recently he served as vice president/general manager of North Star Grain International LLC. He has more than 20 years experience in export and domestic sales, merchandising, procurement, and marketing. He earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin where he majored in ag education/dairy science and minored in business. Greg Hibner was recently named president of Hawkeye Gold, and Chris Ludwig and James Sneed are new members of the ethanol marketing team.

>SST Systems, specializing in software solutions and services for piping design and analysis since 1983, has introduced HOTclash, a simulation software for PDMS (AVEVA's 3D Plant Design software). HOTclash helps plant owners/operators avoid costly post-commissioning repairs and shutdowns by simulating "real-world" conditions so PDMS can pinpoint pipe clash issues with adjacent equipment, cable and duct trays, structural and concrete support structures, and other piping systems.

>PowerStock, a provider of biomass feedstock solutions to renewable energy generation and advanced biofuels development, announced it has appointed Harrison Pettit, to the position of vice president of business development. Most recently, Pettit was director of business development for Pacific Ethanol Inc., where for four years he was instrumental in the development of the company's 220 MMgy of ethanol production and was the lead developer for its 60 million gallon plant in Burley, Idaho, completed in May 2008.

>GFI Group Inc. established Latium Capital, a new commodities division, which trades in ethanol, natural gas liquids and other energy and agricultural markets. The team, based in New York, is comprised of five traders: Robert Esposito, Robert Rozzi, Evan Kornhauser, Joseph Verdi and Ron Deal. The new team has a combined 75 years of experience in the commodities markets, the company said.

>Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. announced its successful emergence from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization process. In February of 2009, Aventine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware due to unfavorable markets, driven down by high corn prices and low petroleum costs. The company also announced it would resume construction at ethanol plants in Aurora, Neb., and Mt. Vernon, Ind., that were nearing completion when construction ceased in 2009.

>With the renewable fuels standard now in place, all producers of ethanol, regardless of feedstock, will be required to register with the U.S. EPA. In an effort to help ethanol producers understand what they will need to do, the Renewable Fuels Association has created two informational documentsa rundown of the steps ethanol plant producers must take as well as a summary checklist of needed steps. These documents, intended for informational use only, detail necessary steps and the deadlines by which they must be completed.

>North Sea Group, the largest independent fuel supplier in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, has started a new subsidiary, North Sea Global Ethanol. The company will focus on ethanol sales and distribution. Located in Zug, Switzerland, the new group also hopes to maintain responsible and sustainable CO2 reduction by concentrating on waste-based biodiesel and sugarcane-based ethanol. In addition to the focus on fuel-grade ethanol, it will also develop industrial, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.

>Clean Burn Fuels LLC, the first corn-based ethanol producer in North Carolina, has partnered with Perdue AgriBusiness Inc. Perdue will source nearly 20 million bushels of corn as feedstock and merchandise approximately 175,000 tons of distillers grains from the plant located near Raeford, N.C. Perdue will purchase the corn mostly from local farmers and receive the rest via rail from the Midwest. The distillers grains will go to area feed mills at North Carolina hog, turkey and chicken operations.

>Qteros Inc. and University of Massachusetts Amherst announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued U.S. Patent titled "Systems and Methods for Producing Biofuels and Related Materials" describing the novel creation of products, including biofuels, through the fermentation of biomass by a unique, naturally occurring anaerobic microorganism. The patent is based on the trademarked Q Microbe (Clostridium phytofermentans). Qteros, the exclusive licensee of the patent, has demonstrated that their Q Microbe technology offers ethanol producers significant cost reductions by streamlining the biomass-conversion process.

>Valero Renewable Fuels, the third largest ethanol producer in the U.S., donated more than $40,000 in money and equipment to 10 Midwestern fire departments located near existing Valero facilities. "At the ethanol plants, the staff isn't big enough to have on-site firefighting operations," said Bill Day, director of media relations at Valero. So, Valero will provide equipment such as firefighting foam and portable foam monitors, and will work closely with the local fire departments to ensure they are equipped and trained to respond to emergencies at the plants. In April, Valero also provided training for two members from each of the 10 departments.

>Over the next seven years, the GreenField Ethanol plant in Vareness, Quebec, will receive up to $79.75 million from the Canadian government's ecoENERGY for Biofuels program. Besides the Varennes facility, which has a capacity of 39.6 MMgy (150 MMly), GreenField operates three other corn-to-ethanol ethanol plants in Ontario, including Chatham, Johnstown and Tiverton. GreenField Hensall, a fifth ethanol plant is under construction in Ontario. Canada's ecoENERGY for Biofuels was established in 2008 and will run through March 31, 2017. The program will invest up to $1.5 billion to support biofuel production in Canada.

>The University of Toledo, Ohio, has established an Institute for Sustainable Engineering Materials to bring together research teams to solve materials development-related problems, such as converting biomass sources to fuel. The institute was formed in response to a growing corporate interest in environmentally friendly products and the development of sustainable ways to manufacture goods. It will function as a separate office within the school's College of Engineering and will bolster the school's standing as a center for green technology and innovation. "We want to be a problem solver for industries," said Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering.

>GTL Resources and its subsidiary, Illinois River Energy (IRE), announced changes in the senior leadership to augment the company's combined business development resources. Neal Jakel joined the IRE team as general manager. He is a chemical engineer by training and has worked for Cargill and Monsanto. Vince Kwasnieski, past general manager, is transitioning into the role of vice president of business development and commercial director for GTl.

Share your industry briefs To be included in Business & People, send information (including photos and logos if available) to: Industry Briefs, Ethanol Producer Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks ND 58203. You may also fax information to (701) 746-8385, or e-mail it to Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.