A Satisfying Event

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 22, 2011

The 27th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo is history. For many, the FEW is about hearing the latest from the experts and learning about new technologies. For exhibitors, it’s about the opportunity to meet customers face to face and make new contacts. For many others it’s all about the networking—seeing old friends, making new ones. Over a quarter of registrants were ethanol producers this year, a satisfying proportion for us at Ethanol Producer Magazine. One of our frustrations is that the event is so packed with important speakers and topics to cover that we barely have a chance to seek out and speak to our prime target audience—the men and women who work in ethanol plants in both North America, and around the world. The 2,000 registrants came from 45 states, six Canadian provinces and 24 countries. We must not forget the 300-some exhibitors. Without the expo, the FEW would never attract such a broad representation of the ethanol industry. In this issue, you’ll read reports on the keynote and breakout sessions from the editors of this magazine and our colleague, Ron Kotrba, editor of Biodiesel Magazine.

Also in this issue, we have the first of what we hope will become a regular feature. Sabrina Trupia, an expert in fermentation and laboratory training at the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, writes about the basics of troubleshooting fermentation from the viewpoint of the laboratory analyst. The biological process of fermentation lies at the very heart of ethanol production and is a fitting start to a periodic article written by industry experts covering the basics of plant systems with a special focus on troubleshooting. Thanks to her article and the FEW presentations, I’m gaining a greater appreciation for the finely tuned ethanol plant—no small feat.

We’re also pleased to share an article from Julia Olmstead who works with the Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The organization invited a small group of environmentalists, farmers and ethanol producers, along with IATP staff, to tour Brazil, where they learned more about indirect land use and each other. Olmstead asked three participants about their views following the trip. We think you will find their comments most thought-provoking.

Author: Susanne Retka Schill
Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine