Business Briefs

People, Partnerships & Deals
By Ethanol Producer Magazine Staff | July 10, 2012

1. Biofuels marketer Eco-Energy Inc. has entered into a supply agreement with Propel Fuels to meet the retailer’s E85 demands for the next three years. Propel currently operates a network of self-serve biofuels filling stations and Clean Mobility Centers, which introduce renewable fuels blends alongside conventional fuels, in California and Washington. According to Propel, integrating the producer-to-pump supply chain will reduce the cost of procuring, storing and delivering renewable fuels. “Eco-Energy’s extensive supply and distribution capabilities and access to low-cost feedstocks strengthens our ability to provide great value to our customers,” Propel CEO Matt Horton said. “They are the perfect fit for us as we plan and execute the expansion of our fueling network.” As part of the agreement, Propel and Eco-Energy will collaborate to expand Propel’s renewable fuels retail network substantially. Propel expects to grow its retail network to more than 200 stations over the next five years.

2. Codexis Inc. has appointed John Nicols to serve as president and CEO. Prior to joining Codexis, Nicols was employed for more than 20 years at Albermarle Corp., a specialty chemicals company, where he managed multiple divisions throughout his career and most recently served as senior vice president of strategic development and catalysts. From 2007 to February 2012, he served as Albermarle’s vice president of the catalysts division and was responsible for growing that division’s segment income by $200 million from 2006 to 2011. In his new role at Codexis, Nicols said his first priority will be to complete the development of the company’s trademarked CodeXyme cellulase enzymes and CodeXol detergent alcohol. “I envision that Codexis’ CodeEvolver directed evolution technology platform will continue to generate differentiated commercial products in the pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fuels markets,” he said.

3. Visalia, Calif.-based biomaterials and biofuels company Edeniq Inc. recently promoted Tom Griffin to chief technology officer. Griffin joined the company in 2010 and served previously as vice president of technology. Griffin’s promotion follows continued market growth of the company’s products and services to existing ethanol plants as well as commercial development and scale-up of its cellulosic processes. In his new role, Griffin will lead Edeniq’s technology developments and future growth strategy. “In the short two years Tom has been at Edeniq, he has played a key role in our success,” Brian Thome, president and CEO, said. “His new role as CTO ensures that Edeniq will benefit from his continued leadership and hands-on approach to invention and implementation.” Griffin is a chemical engineer and has spent the past 20 years actively involved in technology development and deployment in the alternative energy and environmental technology sectors. His accomplishments include co-founding Pennsylvania Sustainable Technologies, integrating bioprocess and thermochemical reaction engineering elements toward advanced biofuels process configurations.

4. Lallemand Ethanol Technology and Mascoma Corp. will market the Mascoma Grain Technology yeast product under the trademarked name TransFerm. The product is a bio-engineered substitute for conventional fermenting yeast and is expected to lower the cost of corn ethanol production by reducing the amount of enzymes currently required for ethanol production. It is the first commercial application of Mascoma’s proprietary consolidated bioprocessing technology platform. Lallemand serves as the manufacturer and distributor of the product. Mascoma and Lallemand will share marketing and sales roles under an exclusive partnership. TransFerm has been used to produce more than 50 million gallons of ethanol by nine corn ethanol producers, according to the companies.

5. The American Coalition for Ethanol will honor Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., with the Merle Anderson Award during the group’s annual ethanol conference Aug. 10 in Omaha, Neb. Nelson was selected to receive the award in recognition of his leadership in supporting the renewable fuels industry while serving as governor and senator of Nebraska. Nelson established the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition in 1991, assisted in creating the first energy title in a Farm Bill, and played a key role in passing the 2005 and 2007 renewable fuels standards. “Senator Nelson has been a great champion on behalf of the ethanol industry,” ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings said. “His work and leadership during his time in office really gave a boost to rural economies in Nebraska as well as across America.” The Merle Anderson Award is named in honor of ACE’s founder and first president, Merle Anderson, who serves as chairman emeritus of the group’s board of directors.

6. ICM Inc. has been issued a U.S. patent for its Advanced Oil Separation System, which employs both mechanical and chemical separation to increase the volume of non-food-grade oil recovered from an ethanol plant’s process. Ethanol is used as a solvent to break the emulsion and free oil that would not otherwise be recovered, thus eliminating the need for other additives. Kurt Dieker, director of product development, said the AOS System processes a smaller product stream post-centrifuge, providing a competitive advantage on processing costs. The systems have been installed at nine ethanol plants, with seven more installations scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. Customers who have installed the system so far are experiencing a return on investment rate of six months or less, according to the company.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. announced June 21 that it will install ICM’s AOS system at its 60 MMgy Magic Valley facility in Burley, Idaho. Installation will be complete by the end of the year. The company expects to begin generating revenue from corn oil separation early next year and intends to implement the technology at its three other plants by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

7. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded a nearly $400,000 grant to a group of university researchers to conduct ongoing research on biofuel crops that could be used as an alternative to corn. The group’s research began last summer and will be funded through the grant for two more years. Joshua Campbell, an assistant biology professor at High Point University in North Carolina co-authored the grant and will be examining pollinating insects and how their populations and diversity are affected by various types of biofuel crops. “Currently the effects of biofuel crops on pollinators and other beneficial insects are largely unknown,” he said. Other researchers in the project are professors at Mississippi State University.

8. Wayne, GE Energy’s fuel dispenser and technology company, has launched a new line of fuel dispensers that will serve as the global platform on which all future Wayne dispenser models will be based. The Wayne Helix fuel dispenser line represents an inside-and-out redesign, incorporating high-quality materials and advanced fuel-dispensing technology which will accommodate gasoline/ethanol blends and higher-ethanol content fuels, according to Russ Haecker, Helix product manager. “For dispensing ethanol grades higher than E15 per UL [Underwriters Laboratories] requirements, the Helix fuel dispenser is equipped with coated meters and stainless steel tubing, the same as our current dispenser product offerings,” he said. “In addition, the Helix dispenser will be able to provide variable blending of both ethanol and gasoline, outputting up to five blended fuel products.” Ethanol blending configurations for the dispensers will be available early next year.

9. Gevo Inc. has signed a collaborative agreement with Malaysia’s East Coast Economic Region Development Council, Malaysian Biotechnology Corp., and Malaysian state government officials to develop a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in the State of Terengganu. Gevo has been conducting development work in Malaysia for the past year to develop strategic partnerships along the supply chain and is in the final stages of evaluating additional partners to complete that value chain. “The technology for sustainable cellulosic feedstock is expected to be commercially viable this year, so now is the appropriate time to begin our cellulosic platform,” said Chris Ryan, Gevo president and chief operating officer. “We’re excited to follow the demand, especially since Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing chemical markets, and Malaysia provides an excellent growth opportunity for Gevo.”

10. Beta Renewables, a joint venture between Italy’s Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and TPG, received the Innovation Award for its Proesa technology during the 2012 ACHEMA conference held June 18-22 in Frankfurt, Germany. More than 100 companies applied for awards in 10 categories at the chemical engineering, environmental protection and biotechnology industries conference. Winners were selected based on innovation, usability, quality, efficiency and economy. Beta Renewables’ Proesa technology converts a variety of inedible feedstocks into fermentable sugars which can be used to produce biofuels and chemicals. The technology will be used at Beta Renewables’ commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy, which is scheduled to begin production by the end of this year. The technology will also be installed at facilities to be constructed by GraalBio in Brazil.


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 email it to Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.