People, Partnerships & Deals

By By Ethanol Producer Magazine Staff | May 12, 2011

1. Sanat Shetty has joined Victory Energy Operations LLC, an industrial boiler company, as its vice president of end market product development. He will coordinate the end market department’s initiatives with engineering and thermal design resources to lead the development and introduction of new products and engineered solutions for new and existing customers.

2. David Thomas is the new chief lobbyist and Letica Phillips is the North American representative for UNICA (The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association).  Based at UNICA’s Washington office, they replace Joel Velasco, who left UNICA in January to become senior vice president for external relations at California biotech company Amyris. Thomas is a former deputy director of legislative affairs for Vice President Al Gore and director of congressional relations at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. More recently, he served as chief of staff for U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. As a senior strategist with Washington law firm Mehlman, Vogel, Castanetti, Thomas was directly involved with UNICA’s 2010 campaign against U.S. tariffs on imported ethanol. In her continuing role overseeing institutional and government affairs for North America since 2008, Phillips will now lead UNICA’s efforts as its representative for North America on a variety of fronts.

3. Morris, Minn.,-based Superior Industries, manufacturer of conveyor systems and components, introduced an extension to its line of Chevron wing pulleys. The company is now building and distributing a style that meets specifications of the rated Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association. CEMA applications are often light duty, portable conveyors that make infrequent starts and stops. With their patented v-shape construction, Chevron wing pulleys are designed to deflect material and prevent it from lodging better than standard wing pulleys. Less opportunity for trapped fugitive material between pulley wings means longer lasting wing pulleys and less belt damage.

4. Montreal-based Circuit Design Corp. introduced its BPAL software for biomass feedstock procurement management. Developed for the pulp and paper industry, BPAL functions allow advanced automation and integration of administrative and operational functions of a bulk feedstock procurement process, such as purchase planning, contract creation and control, truck reception and scaling, sample extraction and random laboratory testing, unloading site control, payments to parties under contracts.

5. Rockwell Automation has developed a free, online tool that gives a manufacturer a complete analysis of its current water, air, gas, electric and steam (WAGES) management performance, allowing comparison with industry peers and across other sectors. Available at, the 20-minute online assessment generates a baseline report. The results facilitate identifying and implementing strategic changes, and setting improvement goals. Users also can continuously access their report and update information to track their progress. In other news, Rockwell announced the release of FactoryTalk Historian Machine Edition version 2.2, which includes additional functionality to help users quickly and easily optimize machine-level data collection. The company also announced its Centerline motor control centers can now be integrated with EtherNet/IP, facilitating more detailed production data collection. This allows plant engineers to predict potential problems and help prevent equipment downtime.

6. Ralph Christie, president and CEO of Merrick & Company, has been named the 2011-’12 chair of the national energy and environment committee of the American Council of Engineering Companies. The committee’s purpose is to develop industry-wide consensus positions and national leadership on a wide range of issues important to engineering firms in the United States, 5,000 of which belong to ACEC. The committee also undertakes a proactive legislative and regulatory advocacy program, develops public and private market informational programs of interest to membership, and communicates with ACEC members on vital environmental and energy issues that will affect their businesses.

7. Poet LLC recently announced new general managers at three plants, appointed to supervise professional, technical and support staff at the ethanol plants, responsible for ensuring efficient production and that all rules and regulations are met. Ken Osmonson is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining–Ashton (Iowa). Before joining Poet, he spent more than 26 years in manufacturing and operations management positions in the flexible packaging industry and the U.S. Army. Gary Eischied is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining–Gowrie (Iowa). Before coming to Poet, he worked for more than 35 years at Bridgestone Firestone in several production management positions, including distribution manager. Eischied has also completed a 35-year tour in the Iowa National Guard and Army Reserve, reaching a rank of brigadier general. Chris Oehler is the new general manager at Poet Biorefining–Lake Crystal (Minn.) Before joining Poet, he worked for more than 10 years with Del Monte Foods in Sleepy Eye, Minn. and Mendota, Ill. in a number of roles including field supervisor, assistant plant manager and area manager, overseeing business and plant operations, marketing and personnel.

8. Mark LeBel has joined Jansen Combustion and Boiler Technologies Inc., working out of the Atlanta area as a senior consultant. LeBel has had a long career with Combustion Engineering/ABB/Alstom Power Inc., most recently in the position of manager of boiler engineering services. He has broad experience in design and operation of power, waste-to-energy and chemical recovery boilers as well biomass-fired circulating and bubbling fluidized bed boilers.

9. The global Buhler Technology Group grew markedly in its anniversary year, 2010. Order intake increased 21 percent, sales revenue 11 percent, and operating profits grew at a higher-than-proportional rate to 10.6 percent of total sales. The company says this success is attributable to the identification of market trends such as improved food safety and higher energy efficiency. Both the advanced materials and grain processing divisions of the Switzerland-based firm achieved significant sales growth, with the greatest strength in the Americas, Asia and Africa, while Europe and Eastern Europe markets contracted.

10. Flint Hills Resources has opened a new regional office in Ames, Iowa, which will focus on supporting the company’s four newly acquired ethanol facilities in Iowa through corn purchasing and selling throughout the state. As many as 20 new jobs will be created to handle operations, human resources and purchasing. Flint Hills Resources, an independent subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc. and producer of transportation fuels in the Midwest, acquired four Iowa ethanol plants since 2010 in Shell Rock, Menlo, Fairbank, and Iowa Falls. In addition, the company distributes refined fuels throughout the Iowa and owns a fuel terminal in Bettendorf and operates asphalt plants in Algona, Davenport and Dubuque.

11. Jiao Jiao has joined Fluid-Quip Inc. as a process engineer to further develop Fluid-Quip’s coproduct separation technologies for dry-grind ethanol plants and corn wet-mills. Prior to joining Fluid-Quip, she conducted research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on alcohol aerobic oxidation catalysts and fuel cell catalysts.  In addition to working on coproducts and wet fractionation systems, she will work with the UW Department of Animal Sciences to conduct and evaluate feed studies on new coproducts.

12. Lechlers Inc. is offering a new low-flow, axial, hollow-cone spray. When very low flow rates and extremely small droplets are required for an application, the hydraulic nozzle performs. Applications include disinfection, humidification, and coating with water, oil, or other fluids in very low amounts. This nozzle comes with a cylindrical strainer that helps avoid clogging of the small orifice and in two grades of stainless steel.

13. Sandmeyer Steel Co. recently made a number of personnel announcements. John Curley was appointed to the newly created position of vice president, international sales and global marketing. With the company since 1985, his latest position was general manager, sales and marketing. Shawn Fenerty has the new position of vice president national sales. He will be responsible for both the inside and field sales teams in the United States. Beginning with Sandmeyer as an officer messenger at age 18, Fenerty was most recently a regional sales manager. Mary Osborne has joined Sandmeyer Steel as district sales manager in the West, bringing 22 years of sales experience, mostly with HVA LLC and MDC Vacuum Products.

14. BinMaster Level Controls of Lincoln, Neb., introduced BinView, an innovative inventory management system that offers real-time bin level monitoring for solid materials over the Internet or via a company LAN or VPN. The components include BinMaster’s SmartBob sensors mounted on the bins, a wireless or wired data communications network, a gateway to provide connectivity to a personal computer or IP network, and data collection software that can be viewed securely by any authorized individual.

15. Asahi/America Inc. introduced the PE100 ball valve to its industrial piping products line as an innovative solution for gas, sewer and water applications to replace metal ball valves. The PE100 ball valve is 50 percent lighter than comparable metal valves and offers corrosion-resistant internal and external parts. Available in 1-to 2-inch sizes, the valve uses a two-step planetary gear system to ensure smooth opening and closing, eliminating water hammer. It is suitable for below-ground service, and valves larger than 2 inches are available with an integrated gear box.

16. Krohne Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of measuring instruments for process industries, has created a new vodcast describing leak detection systems. In it, Joe Incontri, director of marketing, describes different leak detection systems and details the factors engineers should take into consideration when selecting one.

17. Martin Engineering has introduced a new generation of modular conveyor guards, enabling workers to do their jobs with reduced risk and greater efficiency. The new EVO Conveyor Guards are self-supporting and feature a rugged modular design. Standardized panels in a range of sizes, combined with wedge clamps for quick installation, provide the flexibility to fit virtually any conveyer design, and comply with safety standards. The Neponset, Ill., company also holds a Foundations Workshop series to teach bulk-materials handling personnel how to operate and maintain clean, safe belt conveyors.

18. The Indian River BioEnergy Center ethanol plant under construction near Vero Beach, Fla., will utilize a solids separation system developed by SmartFlow Technologies, that results in a high concentrate of cells and proteins as well as 100 percent pure ethanol and water. Rather than using a centrifuge, which uses gravity for cell concentration, the SmartFlow system uses a physical barrier in the membrane. This is the first contract to work on a commercial-scale project, but the Apex, N.C., company’s technology is being used in research and trials within corn ethanol and a number of cellulosic ethanol plants, and some cellulosic biochemical and cellulosic butanol plants. Ineos Bio and its joint venture partner, New Planet Energy, are constructing an 8 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant with plans to start producing ethanol in mid-2012.

19. The U.S. DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and industrial processing firm Nalco Co. struck a licensing agreement for a novel electrodeionization technology that can be integrated into biorefineries to convert biomass into fuels and chemicals. According to Seth Snyder, Argonne biochemical engineer whose group led the development of the technology, the patented separation technique allows for the deionizing, or the continuous removal, of charged products like organic acids aqueous streams and eliminates the requirement to continuously add neutralizing agents like lime. This, Snyder said, is a dramatic improvement over conventional bioprocessing technologies that typically require significant capital expenditure on energy-intensive steps to recover bioproducts, while generating large volumes of waste streams. “In our process, we’re actually separating the organic acid as it’s synthesized in the fermentation and it’s separated as the acid moves across the membranes.”

20. Mettler Toledo introduced a new product suitable for the ethanol industry. The new iRO (intelligent remote operation) data logger records real-time measurements from in-line process analytical sensors. Designed for temporary installation, the unit is fully compatible with Mettler Toledo’s range of intelligent sensor management digital sensors, and covers measurement of pH, oxygen and conductivity from up to two sensors, simultaneously.

21. Alberta-based Highmark Renewables Research received its sixth patent, this one for its trademarked Integrated bioRefinery technology. The system integrates an anaerobic digester with other bio-production systems for ethanol, biodiesel or algae, plus other possibilities. CEO Evan Chrapko said the anaerobic digester and biogas plant at his family’s feedlot was recently expanded in anticipation of linking it to a proposed 40 MMly (10 MMgy) wheat-to-ethanol plant.

22. Indore Oil Co. has joined forces with Protec Fuel in opening their 14th E85 fueling location in the Atlanta area. Indore Oil partnered with Protec Fuel to offer E85 through the group’s turnkey E85 infrastructure program. “We at Indore Oil Company are energized on the prospect of working with Protec to bring E85 to this Chevron,” said Mihir Patel, general manager.  “Our relationship with Protec and our customers continues to grow as we bring more alternative fueling options throughout the Atlanta market together.”

23. Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels, was honored with the Biofuels Leadership award at the Third Annual Sustainable Biofuels Awards in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Horton was recognized for providing thousands of drivers with convenient access to low-carbon, domestic fuels through Propel’s growing network of renewable fuel stations. California-based Propel’s business model is to build and maintain retail fueling islands for E85 and biodiesel, cited at filling stations with sufficient space. It also developed a CleanDrive system that allows drivers to track the amount of carbon emissions reduced, and imported oil displaced, through their purchases of renewable fuels. In early May, Propel’s website reported the cumulative total of CO2 reductions for CleanDrive users was 16.7 million pounds and 1.18 million gallons of imported oil displaced.

24. A new photosynthetic bacteria-based process for biobutanol production now belongs to Phytonix. The North Carolina company developed the process with the help of the Angrstrom Laboratories at Uppsala University in Sweden, and recently received global licensing rights. The bacterium used to create the biobutanol only requires CO2, sunlight and water, according to Bruce Dannenberg, founder and CEO of Phytonix. The cyanobacteria are genetically programmed to self-destruct/die in the natural environment. If for example, Dannenberg explained, these bacteria are exposed to nitrogen in the natural atmosphere, a gene inside of them collapses the cell membrane, and the organism dies.

25. Mascoma Corp. named Stephen Kennedy its executive vice president of research and development. An industry veteran in research and development and commercial production experience, he will help move the company towards commercialization. Prior to joining Mascoma, Kennedy was most recently executive director at the Novartis/MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing. For many years, he was involved with Genzyme Corp.’s biologics operations.

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