Business Briefs

By | December 27, 2010
Verenium Corp. appointed Alexander Fitzpatrick senior vice president and general counsel. Fitzpatrick has represented several publicly traded biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including Verenium, in numerous collaborations, licensing agreements and financing activity, advising on biotech intellectual property and patent disputes. Katie McKenna has joined the staff at Ferm Solutions Inc. as a technical support technican. McKenna has a degree in biology from Centre College in Danville, Ky., and is trained in all aspects of fermentation. Danville-based Ferm Solutions is a fermentation product provider, offering support from its staff with backgrounds in the microbiology and biochemistry of fuel ethanol production. Lignol Energy Corp. appointed Colin South chief technology officer. He will continue to serve on the board of directors. South was the founding president of Mascoma Corp. and held senior leadership positions in the life sciences industry with Fonterra Cooperative Group and ViaLactia Biosciences. Separately, Lignol announced that its vice president of research Alex Berlin is leaving the company to join Novozymes as manager, protein chemistry division. Lignol and Novozymes have an active joint development program to make cost effective cellulosic ethanol from wood and remain committed to the collaboration. Enerkem Inc. appointed Bruce Aitken, president and CEO of Methanex Corp., to its board of directors. "As the CEO of the world's largest supplier of methanol, Bruce will bring to Enerkem invaluable managerial experience as well as a strong industrial experience and knowledge of the chemicals market," said Enerkem CEO and President Vincent Chornet. Enerkem's proprietry waste-to-biofuels technology produces biomethanol as an intermediate for the production of ethanol. The company operates a pilot facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a demonstration plant in Westbury, Quebec, and has a commercial plant under construction in Edmonton, Alberta. The company is simultaneously developing a similar project in Mississippi, for which it received $50 million from the U.S. DOE. Enkerm also appointed Dirk E. Andreas senior vice president of business development, North America, and promoted Patrice Ouimet, to senior vice president, continuing in his role as chief financial officer. Andreas most recently worked at the world's largest owner-operator of wind generation facilities, Iberdrola Renewables Inc. Patrice joined Enerkem as chief financial officer in February. Jim Nussle, former eight-term Congressman and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, was named president and chief operating officer of Growth Energy. Nussle, who has served on the board of directors of Growth Energy since February 2009, started in the newly created position on Nov. 1. Poet LLC plants in the Eastern Corn Belt have new faces in the top management positions. Steve Pittman is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining-Portland, Ind. Before joining Poet, Pittman spent more than 20 years in engineering, quality and plant operations management, including 12 years in plant general management. Pittman's experience includes project management, new plant launches, turnaround activities, and realignment assignments. Cliff Brannon is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining-Marion, Ohio, replacing Dave Brooks who moved to manage Poet's newest plant in Cloverdale, Ind. Brannon worked for 23 years with Sony in the optical media manufacturing group, including leadership in plant construction and management, quality assurance, process improvement and business development Prior to joining Poet in 2009, Brooks served in leadership positions with Sabert Corporation, Hilex Poly Co. and Sonoco Products Co., all manufacturers of plastic products. The Cloverdale plant was acquired by Poet from AltraBiofuels in June of 2010. Poet is currently completing $30 million in process and plant design changes. The plant is expected to reopen in spring of 2011. GTL Resources USA Inc. and its subsidiary, Illinois River Energy LLC, have appointed Jeffrey Lemajeur chief financial officer. He will provide financial oversight for both GTL and IRE and participate in overall strategy and business development initiatives. The company's strategy is to adopt emerging technologies in the 115 MMgy plant in Rochelle, Ill., and to become an advanced biorefiner, adding revenue streams to the base ethanol business. GTL's goal is to further grow by applying these new technologies to other ethanol plants through merger, acquisition and licensing. Bob Randle, formerly a commercial development expert with Genencor-a Danisco division, has joined Genera Energy LLC as vice president of business development. Wholly owned by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Genera provides a vehicle to leverage state and federal funding with private research and development and strategic partnerships, including a joint venture with Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC in Vonore, Tenn. Archer Daniels Midland Co. has realigned its senior leadership in support of a commitment to significantly grow shareholder value, according to Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz. John Rice, who leads the company's commercial and production teams, was named vice chairman. He will focus on extracting value from existing assets and driving operational excellence. Steven Mills, chief financial officer since 2008, was named senior executive vice president, performance and growth. Ray Young will take over the role of chief financial officer and become a senior vice president. Young comes to ADM from General Motors Co., where he most recently served as vice president, international operations, based in Shanghai, China. Previously, he served as GM's chief financial officer. Live ethanol and biodiesel trading kicked off Oct. 28 on the web-based U.S. Biofuels Exchange, the US-BX. Registered users can post, buy, sell and place offers on biofuels for sale or biofuels wanted at Although there are other online trading exchanges for biofuels, US-BX is unique in utilizing "cloud computing," requiring no software to purchase, download or install. "We offer biofuels producers, brokers, blenders, distributors, importers, exporters and marketers the ability to anonymously buy and sell ethanol and biodiesel as well as the ability to make, receive and choose between multiple offers on listings," said James Kaufman, US-BX vice president. ICM Inc. has signed a contract with Hereford Renewable Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Murphy Oil USA Inc. to retrofit the 115 MMgy Panda Ethanol plant in Hereford, Texas. Hereford Renewable Energy LLC acquired the uncompleted plant from the lenders of its former owner, Hereford Biofuels LP, which filed for bankruptcy. The retrofit is anticipated to be completed by the end of the first quarter 2011. Texas-based Celanese Corp. announced plans to build one or two coal-to-industrial ethanol plants in China and one natural gas-to-industrial ethanol plant in Clear Lake, Texas. The company uses elements of its core acetyls technology combined with advancements to make industrial ethanol out of basic hydrocarbons, including natural gas, coal and pet coke. While the company is focusing on industrial uses at this time, such as ethyl acetate production, it is exploring opportunities for fuel ethanol applications. DuBay Biofuels-Greenwood LLC, a proposed 3 MMgy ethanol plant in Greenwood, Wis., recently received a $1.7 million Wisconsin Energy Program loan and $300,000 from the city of Greenwood for land development. DuBay Biofuels, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caseus Energy LLC, will produce ethanol from whey permeate, a cheese production waste product. The company is in the permitting process and expects the ethanol plant to be up and running in the fourth quarter of 2011. Didion Milling Inc., a producer of fuel ethanol and food-grade milling products, has implemented Intellego Grain software at its processing plant in Cambria, Wis. Christianson & Associates PLLP, a developer of enterprise resources planning (ERP) software implementation for biofuels producers, partnered with the Didion team to develop the fully automated ERP system, which integrates the procurement of corn, production, tracing of food and fuel, and the delivery of financial statements. Groundbreaking took place Oct. 15 in Danville, Va., for a Sustainable Energy Technology Center. The new center will conduct research and development projects for ethanol, biodiesel and bioproducts, evaluating how southern Virginia's land could be used for renewable energy projects. It is funded by a grant from a Virginia Tobacco Indemnification Commission and Community Revitalization Commission. Research on biomass including hybrid poplar, switchgrass and Jerusalem artichoke will be extended to incorporate biofuel conversion research at the new center. In its legal battle to protect its patent, GreenShift Corp., and its subsidiary, GS CleanTech Corp., added Flottweg AG and Flottweg Separation Technologies Inc. to its list of suits. ICM Inc., GEA Westfalia Separator Inc. and 14 ethanol plants in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota are also being sued for patent infringement. Those cases were consolidated in August and will be tried in the Southern District Court of Indiana. Using a proprietary gene construct, California-based iDiverse has successfully modified yeast to be highly resistant to a suite of lethal stresses including heat and osmotic stresses, acetic and lactic acid stressors and, in cellulosic processes, furfurals, resulting in ethanol yield improvement of 5 to10 percent. "Our technology is applicable to current fuel ethanol manufacturing processes using corn and sugar cane as starting materials, and also to those being developed to use cellulosic biomass. Our technology keeps cells alive in extreme conditions, including those found in biomass processes," explained Richard Schneeberger, director of business development. For the second year, Kansas Ethanol LLC, Lyons, Kan., received the Award of Honor from ERI Solutions Inc. for demonstrating the highest commitment to safety, receiving the highest combined scores in the areas of ERI safety audit scores, OSHA incident rates and workers compensation. The second tier Award of Excellence-those plants ranking in the highest 10 percent-included Advanced BioEnergy South Dakota LLC, Huron, S.D.; Adkins Energy, Lena, Ill.; Bonanza BioEnergy, Garden City, Kan.; East Kansas Agri-Energy, Garnett, Kan.; and Western Plains Energy, Oakley, Kan. The ERI safety group is made up of more than 65 ethanol producers. Sheetz Inc., a family-held convenience store chain, has established an East-West Clean Fuel Corridor where E85 can be purchased between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa. "We are taking this step to help our customers who want to use E85," said Stan Sheetz, president and CEO. "They shouldn't have to search for E-85 locations as they travel. Our goal is to expand the use of E-85 into more locations and to extend the corridor and help our customers." The company operates more than 380 convenience locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. AE Advanced Fuels Keyes Inc., a California ethanol plant currently being retrofitted, has signed an exclusive marketing agreement with Kinergy Marketing LLC, a subsidiary of Pacific Ethanol Inc., to sell all ethanol produced by the 55 MMgy plant when it becomes operational again in early 2011. Brazil's Petrobras has signed a 10-year contract to supply hydrated ethanol to Toyota Tsusho Corp. Brazilian sugarcane ethanol will be used as a feedstock to produce the biobased plastic, Bio-PET, that Toyota Tsusho is deploying with a partner in Taiwan. The contract calls for 143,000 cubic meters of ethanol per year (about 38 MMgy). Midtex Oil LP utilized Protec Fuel LLC's turnkey E85 fuel program for its E85 stations, the latest opening in Kerrville, Texas. Midtex now has three E85 stations in Texas. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., Protec provides turnkey ethanol programs for retailers, fleets and fuel distributors throughout the U.S., including site selection, station design, equipment and installation, conversion, grant assistance and support with marketing and sales. Pall Corp. has developed a modeling system to help researchers and process developers. The specialist in filtration, separation and purification has developed a research and modeling scale (RAMs) crossflow filtration system that integrates a high level of data collection with a small batch production capacity to facilitate large-scale process and economic modeling during early stages of development. The RAMs system will help developers understand how membranes can be applied to their processes, and can be used to develop early stage guidance for the use of membranes in several applications areas. Emerson Industrial Automation has released a video using a humorous story line to describe global water issues and the company's new system. Using a specially engineered polybutylene material, the System Plast New Generation helps producers move from a soap- and water-lubricated system to a dry-running system, saving water expense, eliminating the cost of lubricants and improving safety. Fluid Components International announced its ST75 flow meter, designed for process gas, fuel gas, inert gas, waste gases and air in small line sizes, has received FM Global and CSA International approval for safety in rugged process industry plant environments. In hazardous factory areas and crowded plants where explosive, flammable or toxic gases may be present near transmitting electronics, the ST75's remote mounting capabilities ensure an accurate and low-maintenance measurement solution for small line size gas and air flow applications in hard-to-reach locations. The company also announced that it has opened a subsidiary in Beijing. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC has opened a biobutanol technology laboratory in Brazil. Tim Potter, CEO Butamax, was joined by Ricardo Vellutini, DuPont do Brasil's president, for the ribbon cutting and media tour of the new facility Nov. 3. Butamax has developed an all new technology which will enable economic production of biobutanol through existing sugarcane mills, according to the company. Butamax was formed to develop and commercialize biobutanol as a next generation renewable biofuel combining DuPont's proven industrial biotechnology experience and BP's global fuels market knowledge. In addition to Brazil, Butamax is conducting research in India, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. named Calvin Stewart to serve as its chief accounting and compliance officer. Before joining Aventine, Stewart served as chief financial officer of White Energy Inc. He also worked at Dresser Inc., a global manufacturer of highly engineered energy infrastructure and oilfield products and services, and at Siemens Maintenance Services. Share your industry briefs To be included in Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos if available) to: Business 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.