Business and People

By | September 23, 2010
>The executive committee of Renewable Products Marketing Group LLC announced that Doug Punke has accepted the position of CEO. Punke is charged with creating and executing RPMG's strategic growth plan, which includes adding to both its production and downstream customer base. RPMG is a U.S. ethanol and distillers grains marketer, currently marketing 900 million gallons per year of ethanol. A 27-year veteran of Cargill Inc., Punke's background includes commodity trading, grain processing and energy risk management. Most recently, he was vice president of Cargill's Energy Risk Management Solutions group.

>BlueFire Renewables Inc., which until a name change in mid-August was known as BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc., has appointed Roger Petersen as a new board member. Petersen has more than 20 years of experience dealing with corporate mergers and acquisitions, development, finance, operations and engineering/construction. He served as president of PPL Global LLC, a company he helped create in 1995, and most recently served as president and CEO of Montana Horizons LLC, a company he founded to support utility mergers and acquisitions and energy development projects. BlueFire is currently in the process of developing two cellulosic ethanol facilities in Lancaster, Calif., and Fulton, Miss.

>Evolution Markets Inc. has expanded its coverage of the U.S. renewable fuels trading markets and has added three employees. John Dall will serve as the director of the group's commodity brokerage operations and Tom Solon and Jonathan Auerbach will focus on facilitating structured physical trades of ethanol and biodiesel. Dall, a partner in the company, will lead the biofuels commodity brokerage desk. Solon will lead Evolution's efforts to build and expand market opportunities for structured transactions and physical biofuels markets. Auerbach's focus will be to develop and build the firm's physical biodiesel structured transaction business.

>Fourteen ethanol plants and two technology/manufacturing companies named in a patent infringement lawsuit will have their cases tried in the Southern District of Indiana after a U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the cases will be consolidated. GreenShift Corp. and its subsidiary, GS CleanTech Corp., are suing ethanol plants in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota for allegedly infringing on its patented corn oil extraction technology. Also being sued are ICM Inc. and GEA Westfalia Separator Inc. GreenShift announced Aug. 17 that it has settled the lawsuit with one ethanol plant, Center Ethanol LLC of Sauget, Ill. The company entered into a license agreement for use of GreenShift's patented corn oil extraction process.

>Start-up company Xylogenics Inc. and Lallemand Ethanol Technology have signed an exclusive agreement to develop and commercialize yeasts for the first-generation ethanol industry. Xylogenics, with its knowledge in genetically enhanced ethanol-producing yeasts, will work in cooperation with Lallemand to engineer a new class of industrial ethanol yeast strains. The goal will be to increase fermentation yield and capacity and reduce fermentation costs. Lallemand, a U.S. business unit of the Canadian yeast and bacteria producer Lallemand Inc., will be responsible for process development, manufacturing and commercialization of the new yeast. Xylogenics will receive patent license fees and royalty payments, under the terms of the agreement.

>The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed Randy Klein as its new director of membership. Klein joined RFA from the Nebraska Corn Board where he served as director of market development. He will be based out of the RFA's Omaha office."We are pleased to have someone of Randy's experience and passion for ethanol as part of our team," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "Randy will hit the ground running as the RFA's representative to the dozens of ethanol producers all across the nation."

>Pursuit Dynamics PLC has contracted to install and validate its Ethanol Reactor System at the 44 MMgy Mid America Bio Energy & Commodities LLC ethanol plant in Madrid, Neb. Installments at Marquis Energy LLV and Pacific Ethanol Inc's Boardman plant, which were announced this spring, are progressing well with deployment expected in October, according to the company. All three plants will run the ERS for up to 10 weeks to quantify the operational benefits in a commercial environment. Pursuit also announced Bill Schafer and Cary Veith will work jointly as general managers of the company's biofuels business. Schafer brings more than 30 years of energy industry experience including his most recent position as a founder and officer of Range Fuels Inc. Veith has more than 30 years experience in innovations, most recently having led the research and development department at Myriant Technologies LLC, a biotech developer and manufacturer of renewable biochemicals.

>ADF Engineering Inc., headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, has hired Brian O'Toole as a process engineer. O'Toole is a recent graduate of the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. With experience in research and process design, he will be focusing on energy conservation and process safety in the bioscience industry.

>Dan Simon, co-founder and former executive vice president and chief operating officer of BioFuel Energy Corp., recently left the company to launch Elevant Advisors LLC, a consulting firm that targets the energy, technology, infrastructure development and manufacturing markets. Elevant specializes in capital raising activities, corporate strategy and development, buy and sell-side transactions, crisis management and operational management. Simon is president and CEO of the company.

>Ethanol industry veteran Jeff Roskam, has been named founding CEO of the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy. Formed last year through a $4.1 million grant from the Kansas Bioscience Authority's Centers of Innovation program, KABB will focus on resolving technical issues related to the production of biochemicals and biofuels, from harvesting feedstocks through the processing and marketing of organic chemicals. As Kansas' bioenergy center of innovation, KABB will also develop alternative fuels and chemicals and improve carbon capture.

Roskam's career in the ethanol industry spans two decades and includes positions at some of the most well-known companies, including what is now Poet LLC and the now defunct VeraSun Energy Corp. He also co-founded and served as CEO of CAP CO2 LLC, a CO2 enhanced oil recovery firm.

>Poet LLC has appointed Mitch Krebs director of public policy for the company's public policy and corporate affairs group. Krebs formerly served as press secretary for S.D. Gov. Mike Rounds and as assistant vice president of media and community relations for Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. In his position at Poet, Krebs will communicate with state legislators, industry groups and community leaders on initiatives that will increase the use of ethanol.

>U.S. Water Services has relocated its headquarters to St. Michael, Minn. The company's sales, marketing, engineering and equipment manufacturing staff moved into the new corporate facility in June. The facility also houses an expanded research and analytical laboratory as well as operations staff originally located in Cambridge, Minn.
U.S. Water Services said the relocation was necessary in order to bring all of its operations, product development and support staff under one roof. The move also allows the engineering and equipment division opportunity for increased production capacity.

>The Merrick Consultancy, part of Merrick & Co., announced that Daniel Robinette has joined the group as a senior consultant, specializing in water, wastewater and energy. Robinette has more than 30 years of experience in these areas and has expertise in all aspects of water production and treatment, water properties and chemistry, according to the company. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the National Association of Corrosion Engineers.

The Merrick Consultancy serves the renewable, refining and utilities markets with management, technical and operations consulting services.