Business Briefs

By Staff | February 14, 2013

Novozymes has appointed Peder Holk Nielsen as its new president and CEO, effective April 1. Nielsen will replace current president and CEO, Steen Riisgaard, who is stepping down after 12 years leading the company. Nielsen has served seven years as executive vice president and head of Novozyme’s enzyme business. He has also held management positions in Novozymes and Novo Indstri/Novo Nordisk in business development, research and development, quality management, and sales and marketing. According to Novozymes, its executive management will organize into a functional structure with all current executive vice presidents, joined by Andrew Fordyce, who currently serves as vice president of sales and customer solutions.


The Scoular Co. has sold a portion of its interest in Pratt Energy LLC, a 55 MMgy facility in Kansas, to Pratt Biofuel Investors LLC, which has related ownership to Calgren Renewable Fuels. Scoular remains part owner of the ethanol plant, and will continue to operate the grain facility as well as procure all feedstock and provide distillers grains marketing services for the facility. Scoular acquired the Pratt ethanol plant and adjoining 1.8 million bushel shuttle facility in 2011 from Gateway Plant LLC. Since that time, Scoular has operated the grain facility while seeking an operating partner for the ethanol plant. PBI will take the lead in renovating the facility, with completion expected in the spring of this year. As of the close of the transaction, Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels, has also been named president of Pratt Energy. He will provide general management and production expertise at both plants.


Metso has acquired software company ExperTune Inc. The company’s products are widely used as software tools to analyze and monitor the performance of industrial processes. They are also used to identify maintenance and improvement opportunities. ExperTune’s products will be sold as stand-alone solutions that can be used in any automation system environment, and as part of Metso’s performance business solutions, targeted to optimize plant performance.


A group of Iowa businesses and organizations have announced the formation of the Iowa RFS Coalition. Members of the coalition are committed to protecting and preserving the federal renewable fuel standard  (RFS) through cooperative efforts of advocacy, outreach and education. Current membership includes DuPont, the Iowa Biodiesel Board, the Iowa Biotechnology Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa Soybean Association, Monsanto and Syngenta.


The 100 MMgy Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC ethanol plant in Annawan, Ill., is no longer for sale. The plant’s owner, Patriot Holdings LLC, took the facility off the market earlier this year. In mid-2012, the company retained Ascendant Partners Inc. to explore strategic options and in October announced it was exploring a potential sale. While marketing efforts did result in a number of offers, those offers did not meet shareholder expectations. Patriot intends to continue to operate the plant independently for the foreseeable future.


California and Nebraska became home to new E85 fuel pumps in January. A grant awarded by the Nebraska Corn Board supported the installation of two flex-fuel pumps at the Stop N Go in Hartington, Neb.. In California, Pearson Fuels was awarded a $1.35 million grant from the California Energy Commission to add E85 dispensing equipment at 19 existing fuel stations throughout the state.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been selected as chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition for 2013. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association congratulated Branstad and noted that his leadership has been instrumental in helping Iowa lead the nation in renewable fuel production and policy. Branstad served as the original chair of the organization, which was then called the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition.


Eco-Energy Inc. has announced marketing agreements with two ethanol plants. The company has entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with Lincolnway Energy LLC, a 50 MMgy facility in Nevada, Iowa. Eco-Energy has also formed a marketing agreement with Winnebago, Minn.-based Corn Plus Ethanol, a 49 MMgy plant. Eco-Energy is an integrated supply chain company that is focused on marketing, trading, transportation and distribution of biofuels.


Cellulosic sugar producer Sweetwater Energy Inc. is partnering with Wisconsin-based Ace Ethanol to produce cellulosic ethanol at its plant for up to 16 years. The contract has a potential value of more than $100 million and requires a minimal capital outlay by Ace Ethanol. As part of the agreement, Sweetwater will place one of its cellulosic facilities adjacent to Ace Ethanol and deliver enough refined monomeric sugar to produce up to 3.6 million gallons of ethanol per year during the initial phase of the partnership. Sweetwater has formed a similar deal with Colorado-based Front Range Energy.


Pacific Ethanol Inc. has contracted to install Edeniq Inc.’s Cellunator technology at its 60 MMgy plant in Stockton, Calif. In the initial phase, the Cellunator will be used on corn grind to increase efficiencies in yield. In the future, the Edeniq agreement will allow for the integration of propriety enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production. The company has also closed on a transaction to improve its debt portion and increase its ownership interest in the four plants it operates. Under the agreements, the company purchased $21.5 million of secured term debt of the Pacific Ethanol plants and extended the maturity date of the purchased term debt from June 2013 to June 2016.


LifeLine Foods Inc. has received the Safe Quality Food program certification, providing a boost as it moves forward following a financial restructuring. In the restructuring, LifeLine raised $25 million through the sale of preferred stock, and established a $20 million revolving credit facility with Wells Fargo Capital Finance NA. In addition, $26.5 million in Chapter 100 Bonds were issued with the support of the St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership.


Freez-it Cleen has announced its proprietary dry ice cleaning process is now protected by a U.S. patent. The technology uses dry ice pellets to clean exchange surfaces on a wide variety of equipment found in biofuel production facilities, including thermal oxidizers, boiler tube coils, stack coil economizers and other fin and tube bundles.


The National Corn Growers Association has announced winners of the 2012 National Corn Yield Contest. The contest is in its 48th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program. With 8,262 entries, the 2012 NCGA National Corn Yield Contest neared the participation record of 8,425 set in 2011. The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 316.32 bushels per acre. The projected national average was 122.3 bushels per acre for the year. Yields from the first, second and third place farmers overall production  categories topped out at 384.36.