Business Briefs

People, Partnerships & Deals
By Ethanol Producer Magazine Staff | November 15, 2011

1. Aaron Potter has been promoted to engineering manager for Innovative Processing Solutions. His responsibilities include customer relations, project management, systems and component design, and estimating. Innovative Processing Solutions, an affiliate of Stedman Machine Co., provides custom solutions for processing systems and specializes in enhancing bulk material-handling systems.

2. ERI Solutions Inc. acquired the environmental affairs department from ICM Inc. in July and, with it, Bill Roddy, Andrea Foglesong, Adrien Kogut, Lauren Taylor and April Lockwood, who have joined the ERI team. In addition, three process engineers have begun working to develop and tailor comprehensive process safety management programs for the ethanol industry. Jay Beckel, Jim Lane and Gary Lium have engineering and on-the-job experience working for ethanol companies. The lack of process safety is the leading cause of catastrophic events in the chemical processing industry, and is a current emphasis for OSHA inspections around the ethanol industry, says ERI spokesman Nathan Vander Griend. The company is staffing up to help meet industry challenges in tightening regulations from both the U.S. EPA and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, he adds.

3. Larry MacDonald has joined the board of Enerkem Inc. He will bring 30 years of experience at Nova Chemicals Corp. in senior executive functions to the cellulosic ethanol developer. “With his extensive knowledge of the chemicals market, Larry represents a strong addition to Enerkem’s board of directors”, said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO.  “We will benefit from his global industry expertise as we strengthen our leadership in biofuels and chemicals.”

4. Verdezyne Inc. appointed Brian Conn chief financial officer (CFO) and Steve Jackson chief operations officer (COO). As CFO, Conn will head up Verdezyne’s finance, human resources, information technology and corporate communications functions. Jackson will be responsible for the scale-up of manufacturing operations and commercial production of all biobased chemicals. California-based Verdezyne, an industrial biotechnology company, is developing yeast strains for cost-effective production of biobased chemicals and fuels.

5. Codexis Inc. named Achilles Antonio Clement director, Latin America. He will head the newly-formed Codexis do Brasil Participacoes Ltda., with responsibility for managing Codexis’ expanding role in Latin America. The announcement follows the signing of a joint development agreement between Codexis and Raizen Energia S.A, Brazil’s largest sugar and ethanol producer, to develop an improved first generation ethanol process with enhanced performance economics. Clement joins Codexis after working more than 40 years in operations, sales and business development with DuPont in Latin America. He was also active in developing new biofuels, including ethanol and butanol in the region.

6. Illinois corn grower Gary Niemeyer, Auburn, is the new president of the National Corn Growers Association, taking office Oct. 1 at the start of the association’s fiscal year. Niemeyer emphasizes that his highest priority in 2012 will be the drafting of a farm bill that continues to protect growers from loss due to adverse weather, crop disease and volatile markets. He commends efforts to improve consumer knowledge on important subjects such as ethanol and food production, including the NASCAR partnership and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The NCGA reached a record number of members at 37,160 this year, topping last year’s record of 36,216.

7. ArborGen Inc. has named Edward Shonsey chairman of the board. He brings 38 years of senior management experience and has a track record in guiding emerging companies into commercial success. Shonsey is cofounder and CEO of L1 Agrosciences Inc., developing agricultural traits such as nitrogen utilization and drought and salinity tolerance in plants. He has had top executive positions with Diversa Inc., Novartis/Syngenta Seeds Inc. and Pioneer Hybrid Inc. ArborGen is working on woody feedstock development for cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels.

8. Proterro Inc. recently established a three-member advisory board to aid the company in the development and commercialization of Protose, a fermentation-ready sugar feedstock using a novel microorganism and photoreactor system. Harrison Dillon is president and chief technology officer of Solazyme Inc., a renewable oil developer. Thomas Dries is founder and managing partner of NCN Partners, consultants in the renewable chemicals and fuels markets. He also worked as vice president of business development for Gevo Inc. Christos Papadopoulos, a chemical engineer with almost four decades of experience in petrochemical industry research and production, led BP Chemical’s efforts on the green olefins project.

9. Bill Brady, Mascoma CEO and chair of the Advanced Ethanol Council, was welcomed to the board and executive committee of the Renewable Fuels Association at its annual meeting held in October. Chuck Woodside, CEO of KAAPA Ethanol, Minden, Neb., was re-elected chairman. Also re-elected as officers were Vice Chairman Neill McKinstray, vice president and general manager, ethanol division of The Andersons Inc.; Treasurer Randall J. Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, Claremont, Minn.; Secretary Walter Wendland, CEO of Golden Grain Energy, Mason City, Iowa; and President Bob Dinneen.

10. Bin Yang, an assistant professor at Washington State University, received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency award, which is a two-year $300,000 grant supporting his research converting lignin into biobased jet fuel. Feedstock for processing could be accessed from lignin byproduct resulting from cellulosic ethanol production, among other sources. Co-locating the production of cellulosic biofuels and lignin jet fuel creates efficiencies that drive down production costs, according to Yang. 

11. In October, Chemetex announced developments on cellulosic ethanol projects—one under construction in Italy and the second planned in Brazil. The 13 MMgy plant under construction in Northern Italy, expected to be operational in June, was transferred to BETA Renewables, a joint venture between Chemetex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mossi & Ghisolfi Group, TPG Capital and TPG Biotech. The new company was formed to exclusively license the trademarked Proesa technology. In Brazil, Chemetex will collaborate with GraalBio Investimentos S.A. to develop and construct the country’s first industrial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility, which will produce 20 MMgy from bagasse with expected startup in 2013. 

12. Faegre & Benson LLP and Baker & Daniels LLP announced they will merge law firms to form Faegre Baker Daniels LLP effective Jan. 1.  The consulting arm of Baker & Daniels will be changed to FaegreBD Consulting on the same date.  The alignment of practice overlap, including energy and agribusiness, acted as a major factor for the merger, which will expand the depth of legal expertise to a broader geographical footprint. 

13. Pinal Energy LLC constructed a $250,000 pilot plant to test sweet sorghum viability for ethanol production next to its 50 MMgy corn/milo ethanol plant in Maricopa, Ariz.  Locally available, sweet sorghum potentially yields 900 gallons of ethanol per acre compared to 300 gallons from corn, according to Pinal Energy General Manager Keith Kor. As a joint venture with the University of Arizona, the plant operates as an ongoing research facility and is available for lease by other ethanol producers seeking future testing of various feedstocks. 

14. Gevo Inc. received $5 million from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop biojet fuel from woody biomass and a $600,000 contract to supply 11,000 gallons of fuel to the U.S. Air Force. Gevo will use the funds to optimize its cellulosic fermentation process through research done at Washington State University.  When operational, Gevo’s demonstration plant in Silsbee, Texas, will convert up to 120,000 gallons of isobutanol per year into jet fuel, which will be used for engine testing and demonstration with A-10 aircraft at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

15. Yokogawa released a new wireless multi-input temperature transmitter. Built on the ISA100.11a industrial automation wireless communication standard, the YTMX580 is battery powered and features eight analog input channels. The YTMX580 is a cost-effective way to measure multiple temperature points in distant plant locations where there is no signal cabling or power available for traditional wired instrumentation. The company also released a new touch screen operator interface as part of a new model series for its DXAdvanced R4 data acquisition and display station.

16. On track to break ground soon on the proposed 36 MMgy advanced biofuels plant, Highlands EnviroFuels LLC announced receiving its air permit on Sept. 28 and completion of an economic impact study on Oct. 4. The facility, which will be located near Lake Placid, Fla., will initially have a nameplate capacity of 30 MMgy and utilize locally derived sugarcane and sweet sorghum feedstocks. The project will generate 60 full-time and 700 indirect jobs while providing Highlands County with $51 million of gross domestic product annually.

17. LanzaTech NZ Ltd., a New Zealand firm with a novel fermentation technology converting gases to ethanol and chemicals, has developed another joint venture in China. The partnership with Shougang Group and New Zealand Shougang TangMing will build a demonstration plant at one of Shougang’s steel mills in China with plans to quickly scale to a fully commercial facility. Beijing-headquartered Shougang is one of the largest steel producers in China. LanzaTech received two global awards this fall for its technology, named to the Global Cleanteach Top 100 and Company of the Year Asia Pacific. It was also judged “Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise” in the global ICIS Innovations Awards. ICIS, a global energy, petrochemical and fertilizer market intelligence provider, is part of Reed Business Information Ltd.

18. ZeaChem Inc. was named to the Global Cleantech 100 list, produced by Cleantech Group, a research firm focused on global cleanteach innovation, in collaboration with the UK’s Guardian News and Media. To qualify for the list, companies must be independent, for profit and not listed on any major stock exchange. ZeaChem’s 250,000 gallon cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant is nearing completion in Boardman, Ore.

19. Cim-Tek Filtration announced its Hydroburn PSR has been used to restore more than $4 million worth of ethanol-blended gasoline in less than two years. For years, the company has provided alcohol monitor dispenser filters to aid in detecting phase separation. The addition of the proper amount of Hydroburn PSR restores separated fuel, and eliminates the need to replace the fuel. An average station owner can save $19,000 to $27,000 on an underground tank containing 5,000 gallons of phase-separated fuel, according to the company.

20. Marquis Energy LLC, Hennepin, Ill., is a two-time recipient of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Thoroughbred Safety Award. The company qualified by having zero defects and at least 1,000 carloads of hazardous materials shipped without a shipper-caused incident.  Marquis Energy actually exceeded the minimum requirements with 2,733 carloads of hazardous material, approximately 79.3 million gallons of ethanol, shipped without any safety incidents.  Additionally, Marquis Energy in Illinois and Marquis Energy-Wisconsin LLC are celebrating new safety records.  Marquis Energy-Wisconsin has gone more than 700 days without a lost time-incident and Marquis Energy over 370 days without any such incident.

21. Eco-Energy Inc. announced signing service agreements with several ethanol plants recently to provide value-added marketing and distribution services and international sales opportunities. Siouxland Energy and Livestock Cooperative, Sioux Center, Iowa, signed on in late September and Utica Energy LLC, Oshkosh, Wis., in early November. Two others were added to the portfolio in 2011, Iroquois Bio-Energy Co. LLC, Rensselaer, Ind., and Aberdeen Energy LLC, (Glacial Lake Energy LLC, Mina, S.D).

22. Verenium Corp. secured up to $16 million in new secured financings, which will allow it to borrow up to $10 million against its eligible foreign receivables and up to $3 million against domestic receivables and inventory. It also received up to $3 million in secured equipment financing to help support the planned build-out of its research and bioprocess development laboratories and corporate headquarters in San Diego. The developer of high-performance enzymes also announced it has repurchased its remaining secured 9 percent notes, leaving an aggregate $34.9 million in outstanding unsecured notes. The repurchase was part of its strategy to address debt, strengthen capital structure and promote growth.

23. Dyadic International Inc. completed a private placement of $3 million in convertible notes. The company will use the funds for working capital as it continues the development of its proprietary technologies for the discovery and manufacturing of enzyme and protein products for the bioenergy, industrial enzyme and bio-pharmaceutical industries.

24. Weaver LLP, an independent accounting firm in the Southwest, is expanding its energy credit brokering services as part of the renewable and energy compliance practice. Services include assisting clients with the purchase and sale of various energy credits, including renewable identification numbers (RINs), sulfur credits, benzene credits and Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits. These services will be managed by Sandra Dunphy, a director in Weaver’s energy compliance practice, and Candace Loesby, who recently joined the firm from a multi-national energy company. Together, they will work with clients to market or purchase credits, negotiate and prepare contracts, prepare and upload transactional data and validate credits.

25. Grundfos Pumps opened its Water Technology Center in Fresno, Calif., in September. The facility offers a space for government, academic institutions and startups to share and gather information on irrigation, water monitoring, wastewater treatment and other water technology. The center will offer research entities access to Grundfos resources, helping to catalyze solutions to water scarcity challenges. It will function as a hub for linking research with business development.

26. BinMaster Level Controls introduced a newly designed Pro Remote capacitance probe that offers the ability to mount the sensor’s electronic components up to 75 feet away from the sensing probe. This point level indicator is designed specifically for hostile applications such as high temperatures or excessive vibration, featuring a unique split configuration that houses sensitive electronics away from extreme conditions that may interfere with proper probe operation. The Pro Remote can be used for high-, mid- and low-level detection of solids, liquids or slurries.

27. Rockwell Automation Inc. unveiled a new line of programmable automation controllers for process applications. The Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 5570 Series controllers significantly improve the amount of information that can be exchanged between the control and supervisory layers, while allowing more control strategies to be executed. Further model releases in the new line are being planned for December and January for safety-related functions and operations in extreme environments. The company unveiled the new line as part of the 20th annual automation fair hosted by Rockwell Automation, Nov. 16-17 in Chicago.

28. Indeck Power Equipment Co. has a new line of trailer-mounted O-Type rental boilers for planned or emergency outages. The new trailer-mounted fleet ranges in size from 40,000 to 60,000 to 75,000 PPH capacities with design pressures of 395 psig.  While unforeseen power outages are devastating to plants, Indeck understands the critical mandate to keep a facility operating with boilers for emergency, temporary or back-up usage.  The new O-Type boilers are designed for ease of delivery, installation and set-up.  Installation of the boilers is simple with easily accessible piping connections and a single electric connection. Indeck also offers a no obligation, boiler emergency preparedness program.


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