Business Briefs

By Ethanol Producer Magazine Staff | January 17, 2011

1. RangeFuels Soperton Plant has garnered an award for Merrick & Company, which assisted in the engineering of the 11 MMgy cellulosic biofuel plant completed this past year in Soperton, Ga. Merrick received the Grand Conceptor Award for excellence in engineering, the highest level award offered by the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC) Colorado Chapter, the state where RangeFuels and Merrick are based. Merrick assisted Range Fuels in obtaining a $76 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to help fund the project. The firm supported early pilot plant testing, assisted with the operations of the second generation pilot plant, and designed and engineered all process systems for the plant in collaboration with Range Fuels. When industry suppliers could not provide the necessary equipment within schedule and budget constraints, Merrick provided custom built-to-print designs for the indirect gasification devolitization and reformer units, which together, make up the heart of the two-step thermo-chemical conversion process. 

2. UK-based Pursuit Dynamics PLC has contracted with four U.S. ethanol producers to install its ethanol reactor system, the company announced in its year-end report. Tests at an installation at a Pacific Ethanol Inc. plant were favourable, resulting in the ethanol producer’s agreement to install the system in its three other plants. “Initial early performance measures, including ethanol concentration, residual sugars, glycerol, and lactic acid, from the first Pacific Ethanol plants are consistent with ICM uplift results and have demonstrated a considerable reduction in cycle times,” the company said. Contracts were also signed with Mid America Bio Energy and Commodities LLC at Madrid, Neb., and Marquis Energy LLC at Hennepin, Ill.

3. PhyMetrix Inc. has found a new application for its two-year-old handheld PPMa moisture analyzer. “An end-user tried the PPMa in ethanol, and had excellent results,” said spokesman Ani Omer. “He called us back excited that this will be a great solution for the ethanol manufacturing industry.” That company uses a Karl Fischer titrator to measure the moisture in the ethanol coming out of the drier, Omer said, adding the Karl Fischer method requires working with chemicals, and is slow and not really portable. “Our PPMa is a compact, hand-held device weighing less than two pounds, that responds quickly, measures accurately and reproducibly and is priced less than some Karl Fischer titrators.”

4. University of Minnesota researcher Pavel Krasutsky will be working with partners Crown Iron Works and GlycosBio over the next three years to design a pilot-scale plant to convert distillers grains into biodiesel, additional ethanol and a high-protein feed suitable for animals from pigs to poultry to fish. “We are jumping from lab to pilot scale,” Krasutsky said. Supported by the university’s Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment, the project has already produced a patent for biodiesel production. The pilot project should lead directly to construction of a commercial plant, Krasutsky says. Industrial-scale production will mean not only greater profits, but also high biofuel production.

5. Extech Instruments Corp. has introduced two new electrical dataloggers, the DL150 single-channel and DL160 dual-channel true RMS AC voltage and current dataloggers. The new handheld tools are designed for professionals who need extended recording of in-depth readings for electrical motors, components or circuits. They can log up to over a quarter million readings with adjustable sampling rates. Readings can be downloaded via USB to a computer for analysis or exported to an Excel format using the dataloggers’ software application.

6. Mike Bishop is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining-Fostoria, Poet LLC’s 69 MMgy ethanol plant at Fostoria, Ohio. A native of Van Buren, Ohio, Bishop is completing a doctorate in business administration at Northcentral University. He served as a director of operations and plant manager during a 22-year career in the automotive industry.

7. Walter Howard is the new CEO of Ze-gen Inc, replacing Bill Davis who founded Ze-gen in 2004. Howard has held executive positions with utility leaders including General Electric, American Water, US Generating, Noble Power and others. Davis will remain on Ze-gen’s board of directors and stay actively involved with the company. Howard will be leading Ze-gen’s efforts to reach commercialization of its gasification and syngas technologies.

8. Carlos Fadigas will become the new CEO of Brazil-based Braskem S.A. In 2010, Fadigas headed operations of Braskem America, the polypropylene business acquired from Sunoco Chemicals. In 2010, Braskem began producing polyethylene from sugarcane ethanol at its facility in Brazil, becoming the largest biopolymer producer in the world, according to the company.

9. Randy Ives has joined Gavilon Group LLC as director of ethanol services. He will be responsible for promoting Gavilon’s physical margin management services, including corn procurement, ethanol and distillers grains marketing. Ives brings to Gavilon more than 25 years of renewable fuels industry experience, most recently as senior vice president of distillers grains at Hawkeye Gold LLC. He has also served as president of ICM Marketing Inc., and as senior vice president of United BioEnergy LLC. Headquarter in Omaha, the privately-held Gavilon was formed by investors in 2008 after acquiring ConAgra Trade Group, which earlier had acquired Peavey Co.

10. Agrivida Inc. will be collaborating with Syngenta Ventures to develop advanced crop technology to provide low-cost sugars for a variety of industrial applications. Under the terms of the agreement, Syngenta licenses access to crop technology and intellectual property to Agrivida in return for Agrivida equity. Agrivida will bolster its existing technology portfolio, including its proprietary intein trait platform, with technology licensed from Syngenta. The company is developing new traits for multiple crops, including corn, sorghum, switchgrass and miscanthus with the goal of significantly decreasing biomass processing costs. This summer, Medford, Mass.-based Agrivida announced breakthroughs in its development of sugar production from enzyme expressing crops.

11. Castle Rock Renewable Fuels officially became Marquis Energy-Wisconsin LLC, on Jan. 1. Mark Marquis, president of Marquis Holdings and Marquis Energy LLC announced that the family business, which founded and developed the Marquis Energy ethanol plant at Hennepin, Ill., has acquired a second ethanol plant. Marquis took over operation of the 50 MMgy plant in July, pending closing of the equity, management and marketing deal. Marquis Management Services President Jason Marquis said several operational changes at the Necedah, Wis., plant resulted in a 12 percent increase in ethanol output and significant profit gains. Marquis management will also provide ethanol marketing services for both facilities.

12. The Iowa Power Fund and Iowa Office of Energy Independence have awarded $2.5 million to SynGest Inc. for the design and engineering of a biomass-based ammonia facility to be built and operated in Iowa. Replacing imported, natural gas-based ammonia fertilizer with domestically produced, biomass-based ammonia will not only reduce energy imports, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions 150 percent compared to conventional ammonia production methods, according to Syngest CEO Jack Oswald.

13. LPP Combustion LLC has successfully demonstrated the clean generation of electrical power using 14 different liquid fuels in a commercial gas turbine, all processed through the same LPP fuel skid prior to injection into the gas turbine. The tests included anhydrous ethanol, aqueous ethanol up to 25 percent water, on- and off-spec biodiesel, waste product solvents and petroleum-based liquids. The skid-based technology vaporizes liquid fuels to form LPP Gas, a substitute natural gas, which can be used without alterations in a gas turbine. Emissions from the Capstone C30 gas turbine operating at full load on LPP Gas are lower in nitrogen oxides than with natural gas operation, regardless of the liquid fuel used, according to the company.

14. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC has been granted patent number 7851188, “Fermentive Production of Four Carbon Alchohols,” encompassing its isobutanol producing biocatalyst. “This biocatalyst patent is a reflection of our first-mover position in isobutanol. As more of our patent portfolio matures, our patents will play an important role in our efforts to develop and commercialize biobutanol for the global transport fuel market," said Tim Potter, CEO. Butamax’s technology laboratory in Paulinia, Brazil, opened in November and its demonstration facility in Hull, England, is in the start-up phase. The company is combining DuPont’s industrial biotechnology experience with BP’s global fuels market knowledge to commercialize biobutanol.


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