Senate Committee Considers Energy Tax Reform

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing today on Reforming America’s Outdated Energy Tax Code, led by chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“It’s past time to replace today’s crazy quilt of more than 40 energy tax incentives with a
modern, technology-neutral approach,” said Wyden at the start of the hearing, adding that the disparity in how the tax code treats energy sources needs to end. “Traditional sources benefit from tax incentives that are permanently baked into law. But clean energy sources are stuck with stop-and-go incentives that have to be renewed every few years.”

The main goal of the hearing is to focus on extending the dozen or so tax incentives for alternative energy sources such as advanced biofuels, wind, and solar.

aeclogo“The title of the hearing is right,” said Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman. “Investors are highly sensitive to protections offered by tax law, and today’s energy tax regime drives investment away from viable petroleum alternatives like cellulosic biofuels because oil tax breaks are richer and permanent. The short term fix is extending recently expired and existing tax incentives for clean energy this year, to buttress against those offered to fossil fuels permanently. But any broader discussion about America emerging as the leading energy innovator in the world starts and ends with the federal tax code. It simply won’t happen without serious energy tax reform.”

Among those testifying at the hearing today was former Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), now a lobbyist who has represented several energy companies, who spoke against continuing wind energy tax incentives.

Dueling RFS Ads Have Same Tune

President Obama needs to overrule this misguided proposal from the EPA before it is too late and these new technologies move overseas. The fate of America’s advanced biofuel industry, along with the President’s clean energy legacy, are resting on his decision. Fuels America USA Today print ad

“Tell President Obama, stop playing politics – fix the RFS.”
American Petroleum Institute TV ad

fuels-americaBoth the American Petroleum Institute and Fuels America unveiled new media campaigns this week targeted at telling the White House what to do when it comes to volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Both organizations held conference calls with reporters to announce the new campaigns.

The single, full page, USA Today ad that will run during Climate Week September 19-21 is a sharp contrast to the oil industry’s multi-million dollar television, radio, and online advertising campaign. “This has been a David and Goliath struggle all along,” said Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization on behalf of Fuels America. “The biofuels industry has been struggling against this Goliath oil industry that has spent millions and millions of dollars on ads.”

The biofuels industry ad stresses the opening of the first large, commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants this year and warns that “the companies and investors looking to deploy the next wave of cellulosic ethanol facilities have put U.S. investment on hold” until a decision on the future of the RFS is made. The API ad calls the RFS “Washington red tape” and blames ethanol for raising food prices and contributing to hunger, even though corn prices are lower than breakeven for farmers this year, according to National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett. “We are selling corn today at about 35% of what we did just a couple of years ago, certainly below the cost of production for many of our growers,” he said.

API’s Bob Greco says they launched their campaign in part because of recent statements from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that the agency will raise ethanol requirements based on the latest gasoline demand figures for 2014. “Unfortunately, the administration seems to be playing politics with the RFS rule instead of doing what’s best for consumers,” Greco said. “You don’t have to be a political insider to see how the Iowa Senate race—and the White House fear of losing control of the Senate—plays into this decision.”

“Politics are being played on this issue by both sides,” said Doggett. “I don’t think anyone should be surprised.”

Fuels America is a “coalition of organizations committed to protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard and promoting the benefits of all types of renewable fuel already growing in America.” API is the “only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry.”

Listen to the Fuels America call, which also includes comments from POET-DSM’s Steve Hartig: Fuels America RFS Campaign call

Introducing Cellulosic Technology Cellerate

During the cellulosic ethanol celebration event at Quad County Corn Processors ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa yesterday, Syngenta unveiled the new brand for the cellulosic ethanol technology: Cellerate™. Enhanced by Enogen® corn enzyme technology, Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC.

Cellerate is unique in that it is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by Cellerate cellulosic ethanol technologyallowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. Ethanol plants can easily integrate Cellerate process technology into their existing production process. Cellerate, in conjunction with Enogen corn, will deliver notable benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.

“The combination of Cellerate and Enogen represents the next leap forward in ethanol production,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Enogen corn enzyme technology at Syngenta. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lower prices at the pump, improve the environment with lower emissions, and grow the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced. Together, these technologies will make ethanol more sustainable.”

In July 2014, collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), produced the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol in Iowa.

“The synergy of Cellerate and Enogen will decrease natural gas usage and increase ethanol throughput, while reducing a plant’s carbon footprint,” said Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer of QCCP. “These advantages, combined with higher protein DDGs and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Quad County Processors Host Grand Opening

The first refinery to produce cellulosic ethanol with a bolt-on process officially opened its doors today.

quad-open-group“This is a historic day not just for the ethanol plant, but for the entire region,” said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa. “This is a perfect example of cutting edge technology, right here in our backyard and we are thrilled to have our plant using this ingenuity.” The Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project, newly re-named “Cellerate,” allows QCCP to produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol each year from corn kernel fiber at their plant in Galva, Iowa.

“Today’s grand opening is a direct result of the ingenuity and hard work of the employees and shareholders of QCCP, but it’s also a direct result of the kind of innovation that occurs when a policy like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is in place,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “More than any other policy enacted by Congress, the RFS has been a catalyst for innovation, including the kind of technology advancement developed at QCCP to make cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber.”

quad-open-bob-brianRenewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen participated in the grand opening ceremony and praised QCCP, noting, “To the management, staff and investors of Quad County Corn Processors I say a hearty congratulations on your vision and your commitment to seeing it through. To EPA I say get out of Washington and see what is happening in places like Galva, Iowa.”

Dinneen tweeted from the event, “Quad Co cellulosic plant can tell Big Oil “we told you so” and make them eat their words!”

Groups Congratulate Project LIBERTY’s Success

Groups from all around the country are congratulating POET-DSM Advanced Bioenergy on their successful start-up of Project LIBERTY, a 25 million per gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant located in Emmetsburg, Iowa. This is the first commercial-scale biorefinery in the country that uses agricultural waste, such as residue from corn fields, to produce cellulosic ethanol.

Project Liberty Grand OpeningThe Department of Energy helped to support the project with approximately $100 million in investments and research. The Project LIBERTY ethanol plant uses biochemical conversion technologies such as yeast and enzymes to convert cellulosic biomass into transportation fuels.

“The Energy Department’s investments in projects like the LIBERTY biorefinery are helping to bring innovative, cost-cutting biofuel technologies online and diversify our transportation fueling options,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Home-grown biofuels have the potential to further increase our energy security, stimulate rural economic development, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.”

The biofuels industry came out in force to congratulate POET-DSM for their achievement. Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, of which POET is a member, said of the milestone, “Congratulations to POET-DSM. Growth Energy and the entire biofuels industry recognizes this massive achievement in the development and commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol, as well as the steadfast determination of innovative thinkers and leaders like those at POET-DSM who have made it possible. Years of research, ingenuity, perseverance and sheer determination have built the game changing cellulosic ethanol plant we are celebrating today.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, vice chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, was at the event and while IA Gov Terry Branstad during Project Liberty Grand Openingonsite called on the nation to recognize the accomplishment of the Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels cellulosic ethanol plant, and other plants that have now come into production, in helping transform the nation’s energy future.

“The cellulosic ethanol industry has arrived and is an important avenue for adding value to agricultural products and spurring economic and family income growth in rural America,” said Governor Branstad said. Companies such as Poet and DSM have invested more than $1 billion to build the next generation of ethanol plants that can make biofuels from non-grain feedstocks. In addition, companies like Poet-DSM, Abengoa, DuPont and others have constructed advanced biofuel plants, putting thousands of Americans to work in building these plants,” Governor Branstad remarked.

Attendees were able to tour the plant and Gov. Brandstad said of this experience, “Walking through this complex biorefinery today is inspiring. This plant demonstrates the innovative spirit and technological skill needed to meet the nation’s energy challenge. It’s an important milestone on the nation’s road to clean fuels, diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio, rural economic growth, giving consumers choices at the fuel pump.”

Project Liberty Opens Its Doors for Business

After years of hearing about the future of ethanol and Project LIBERTY, the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant located in Emmetsburg, Iowa using corn stover and corn cobs is officially open for business and in production. The POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels project is a joint venture between POET and Royal DSM.

Project Liberty Grand OpeningProject LIBERTY, was formally opened in the presence of His Majesty Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Under Secretary Michael Knotek of the Department of Energy, Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, other dignitaries and thousands of guests.

“Some have called cellulosic ethanol a ‘fantasy fuel,’ but today it becomes a reality,” said Jeff Broin, POET Founder and Executive Chairman. “With access now to new sources for energy, Project LIBERTY can be the first step in transforming our economy, our environment and our national security.”

The cellulosic ethanol facility converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. The plant has now officially started up, processing its first batch of biomass into cellulosic ethanol and is moving forward toward continuous operation. At full capacity, it will convert 770 tons of biomass per day to produce ethanol at a rate of 20 million gallons per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during the event, “The Project LIBERTY opening demonstrates that America is ready for advanced renewable energy production. USDA invested to help bring this facility online because it is boosting America’s energy independence, cutting carbon pollution, and holds great promise for our domestic agriculture and energy industries. This facility has already created local jobs and opportunities for farmers, and it will continue to spur local investment and open the door for new technology and job growth across rural America. I congratulate the POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels team on their grand opening and for all they have done and the opportunities they will continue to create for farmers and rural communities.”
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Enogen Corn Passes 300,000 Acres

In one year the acres planted in Enogen corn will expand from 100,000 acres in 2014 to more than 300,000 acres in 2015 and that means that ethanol production will be expanding too. To learn more about how Syngenta achieved this feat, I spoke with David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta during Farm Progress. Not only are ethanol plants excited about Enogen corn (Syngenta donates $1 per acre planted to the renewable fuels industry), but corn farmers are excited about it as well – they receive a 40 cent premium. So assuming an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, Enogen corn will generate approximately $6.6 million of additional revenue for the local growers who have signed contracts in 2014.

What is interesting is that only 15 percent of a farmer’s acre is planted with Enogen corn because the “sweet” spot for ethanol production is 15 percent. David Witherspoon Syngenta:EnogenSo how is Enogen different? As Witherspoon explained, the Enogen corn enzyme technology offers ethanol plants an opportunity to increase their per bushel ethanol production as well as improve energy efficiency during the production process.

“The ethanol plant needs an enzyme for ethanol production at 15 percent and then this corn is mixed with the other corn that comes into the plant,” explained Witherspoon. “And the way we found this out is that we tested plants in the lab and looked at what the optimal dosage at that plant to get the maximum performance enzyme. And if we go higher than that, we found that we don’t need anymore.”

When you look at a farmer’s field growing Enogen corn you can’t tell the difference. The corn has the exact same benefits (pest control, disease control, etc.) that other Syngenta hybrids have.

Another application that Witherspoon said that Enogen corn is really excelling in is when used with the “ACE” technology, or Adding Cellulosic Ethanol, that separates the fiber from the corn kernel and produces cellulosic ethanol. It’s the first technology of its kind in the world and the Galva, Iowa plant went online with commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production this summer. Syngenta was so impressed with the technology that they have partnered with the plant to sell the technology.

So here’s the scoop. Several ethanol plants who are buying the Enogen corn have sold out their acres for the 2015 growing season but there are still a few acres left for some other ethanol plants. In addition, Witherspoon said there are quite a few farmers who would like to plant Enogen corn but need to partner with their local ethanol plant to implement the program. So, all ethanol plants that would like to pursue the program need to contact Syngenta soon to get in the program before it sells out this year. And if you are interested in seeing first-hand how Enogen corn performs, then come to the Quad County Corn Processors grand opening on September 9, 2014.

To learn more about Enogen corn and its benefits for farmers and for ethanol plants, listen to my interview with David Witherspoon: Interview with David Witherspoon

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

Iowa Gov Blames EPA for Deere Layoffs

fps14-govIowa Governor Terry Branstad paid a visit to the 2014 Farm Progress Show Tuesday and had some harsh words for the Environmental Protection Agency, which just last week sent a final version of the 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard to the White House for review. He blames uncertainty created by the proposed rule for the recent layoffs at Deere and Company. “The result is the price of corn has dropped so much that farmers are not buying equipment,” he said. “What the EPA has done is not only damaging farm income, but it’s costing us jobs in farm machinery and manufacturing.” Deere announced more than 100 people will be laid off indefinitely from its plant in Ankeny and 460 people will be laid off at its tractor factory in Waterloo.

Branstad also notes that cellulosic and other advanced biofuels production is moving forward with the first gallons produced this summer by Quad county corn processors and two more plants opening soon. “I’m going to the POET grand opening of their new cellulosic ethanol plant and then we have DuPont Pioneer that’s also opening one in Nevada,” he said. “The problem is the oil companies control the distribution and they’ve done everything they can to discourage retailers from offering blender pumps and E15 because ethanol is a lot cheaper than gasoline.”

Listen to my interview with the Governor here: Interview with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

2014 Farm Progress photo album.

No RFS = Gas Prices Decided by Foreign Chaos

With oil prices on a roller coaster because of the deteriorating situation in the Mideast, Americans United for Change stress that Americans need the EPA to stand by a secure, safe, reliable energy source the U.S. has complete control over: clean-burning, homegrown renewable fuels. Preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and cheaper choices at the pump for American consumers means more stability in gas prices, even in times of instability.

The turmoil in the Middle East is continuing causing volatility in gas prices. And with Labor Day around the corner, gas prices are expected to jump just in time for drivers to hit the roads. One solution to keep gas prices lower? Ethanol. As Jeremy Funk, communications director for Americans United for Change points out, the RFS would ensure ethanol is still available for consumers to choose at the pump.

Americans United for Change logoYet again, The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) has just announced the final biofuel volumes of the RFS for 2014 and it seems unlikely the EPA will announced its proposed RFS volumes for 2015 by mid-November as required.

“If anything should give the EPA pause before deciding to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard as they have proposed, it’s the bubbling turmoil in Iraq,” said Funk. “That’s why the nation can’t afford to scale back the RFS now and put all our eggs in Big Oil’s basket.”

Funk explained that the oil industry has spent millions to rig the system against the homegrown competition. Those companies’ efforts — aside from leading to higher gas prices — would move American jobs overseas, reduce air quality, and contribute to climate change. That’s why American farmers, renewable energy leaders, veterans, nonprofit organizations, and others have come together to demand protection for the RFS. And Funk said they want consumers to join the fight for the RFS and demand lower gas prices and choice at the pump.

Prez: Don’t Undermine the RFS

Fuels America is asking President Obama to not undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) especially as it relates to the development of cellulosic ethanol. The coalition has placed a full page ad in the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette to tell the president how a proposal by his administration — if it is not fixed — will inadvertently cause investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol to shift to China and Brazil, undermining his effort to tackle climate change.

Fuels America Marthas Vineyard RFS adThe advertisement is an open letter focusing on the achievement of a major milestone in the president’s clean energy push as commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production becomes a reality this year as four large advanced biorefineries come online in 2014. While this could be just the beginning of a new American industry, private sector investment in the technology has paused due to a proposal by the EPA to fundamentally alter its approach to implementing the RFS. If the proposal isn’t changed before it is finalized, the letter warns, that investment will likely shift to China and Brazil, depriving the President of a key accomplishment.

The ad ends, “You have always been a strong champion of advanced biofuels and we know it is not your intent to undercut investment. It’s not too late to get the final rule right, so together we can make the United States the leader in producing the cleanest fuels in the world.

Quad County to Host Grand Opening

It’s the month of celebration for cellulosic ethanol in Iowa. On Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00 am Quad County Corn Processors will be hosting a grand opening event for its new “bolt on” biorefinery that produces cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber. Quad County is the site of Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons and the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol, a process that was invented by Plant Engineer Travis Brotherson and patented by Quad County Corn Processors.

Quad County Corn Processors Team“After four years of research and development, financing hurdles, waiting on EPA rule clarifications and construction, we are excited to see the ACE project working and are proud to be producing the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol gallons and Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons,” said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors. “This state-of-the-art technology will create 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernel cellulose, a feed stock that we already have on site.”

“In addition to creating 4 new full-time jobs in Galva, this process will increase our ethanol yields by six percent, increase our corn oil removal by three times and create a feed product that is much higher in protein and lower in fiber,” add Johnson. “In essence, we will create more value out of the corn bushels we already process which increases our efficiency so we can continue to be a leader in the ethanol industry.”

Confirmed speakers for the ceremony include: Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, DC; Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; Brian Jennings, Executive Vice-President of the American Coalition for Ethanol; and David Witherspoon, Head of Renewable Fuels for Syngenta.

The public and media are invited. Event attendees can meet by the tents on the west side of the plant which is located at 6059 159th Street. Quad County is situated two miles south of Galva at the intersection of Highways 20 and M-25. Due to limited parking and truck traffic safety, guests are asked to park in the field northwest of the plant and enter the parking area from Highway M-25.

Project Liberty to Celebrate with Grand Opening

POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY is celebrating the ethanol plant’s production of cellulosic ethanol produced from corn stover and corn cobs during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. The event will be held in Emmetsburg, Iowa and will showcase what POET-DMS calls a “first-of-its-kind technology that is poised to dramatically expand the world’s resources for transportation fuel”.

POET-DSM Project Liberty July 2014The Grand Opening will feature plant tours, a formal ceremony, a flyover by the ethanol-powered Vanguard Squadron, booths, music and more. The public is invited to attend and lunch will be provided.

Project LIBERTY will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk daily to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year. Plant personnel are currently running biomass through the pretreatment process and preparing for the first gallons of ethanol. Project LIBERTY will be the flagship plant in POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ plan to license this technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.

Public tours will be available from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:45 pm to 4:00 pm. A grand opening ceremony will take place from 11:00 am to 12:20 pm. Lunch will be provided and visitors can also view booths and equipment from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Location is 777 Main Street in Emmestburg, Iowa, 50536. There will be no public parking at the site. Free parking and regular shuttles will run from the Wild Rose Casino parking lot.

Increasing Ethanol Plant Throughput

ace14-enogen-lopezSyngenta’s Enogen corn trait technology is the first genetically modified output trait in corn specifically for the ethanol industry and in the past two years since it has been released the industry has seen increasing adoption.

“We’re a new product that’s been adopted by 6-8 plants already,” said Paul Lopez with Syngenta who gave a break out session at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference on how Enogen is helping plants increase throughput. Giving the presentation with him was Tory Kort with Chief Ethanol Fuels in Nebraska, which uses Enogen corn, who shared the results they have seen. “Our enzyme is pretty unique in terms of how it works … it really reduces starches down, making more sugars available, increasing the plant’s efficiencies, so increasing yield and increasing throughput,” added Lopez.

The first plant to adopt Enogen was Quad County Corn Processors, which produced the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol just last month. “They’ve been using our product for two years now,” said Lopez. “This is a win-win. The ethanol plant wins, the local grower wins, the local community wins.”Interview with Paul Lopez, Syngenta Enogen

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Ethanol Plant Innovators

Four ethanol producers who are innovating plants through new process and product technology took the podium at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week to talk about what they are doing.

ace14-ronFirst up was ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol who talked about the importance of carbon, particularly the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and how it impacts ethanol production. Alverson is a corn farmer in South Dakota and he discussed how carbon intensity ratings for corn ethanol are improving and will continue to improve down the road. Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

ace14-baker-adkinsRay Baker, general manager of Adkins Energy in northwest Illinois, who talked about the new biodiesel plant they are building to co-locate with their 50 million gallon ethanol plant and use corn oil as a feedstock. “Having corn oil as your main feedstock gives you a competitive advantage,” he said.
Ray Baker, Adkins Energy

ace14-erhart-prairieMike Erhart, CEO of Prairie Horizon Agri Energy in Kansas, says he runs a biorefinery, not an ethanol plant. “I think ethanol plant is antiquated,” he said. “It’s now time that we become a biorefinery and start touting that.” Erhart also talked about why his plant is producing renewable diesel. Mike Erhart, Prairie Horizon Agri Energy

ace14-delayneDelayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors, has the distinction of producing the very first gallons of cellulosic ethanol, just about a month ago. He talked about his plant being the first to use Syngenta Enogen corn and efficiencies they have implemented in the production process.
Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Students Present Research at Ethanol Conference

Several University of Minnesota students are giving the ethanol industry a preview of their cutting-edge research in biofuels, biochemicals and bioproducts during the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference in Minneapolis. One such student is Sahana Ramanna who is a PhD student who is working on improving the pre-treatment technologies used for biomass, specifically Aspen.

Sahana RammanaRamanna explained that one of the most difficult and energy intensive parts of converting biomass (aka cellulose) to sugar is in the initial phase. Using 3D imaging, similar to the technology used for brain scans, she and her team are able to test “pre-treatment” strategies and see how it affects the structure of the biomass.

Ultimately, Ramanna said they are looking to increase the amount of biomass that can be converted into biofuels and other biochemicals and products, thus increasing the amount of biofuels. In addition, the processes they are looking at would significantly improve the energy efficiency during this process. Next steps – refining the process for Aspen and then testing it on other forms of biomass.

Listen to Sahana Ramanna discuss her research here: Interview with Sahana Ramanna

Another student I spoke with is just beginning his PhD studies and has spent the last year working on an interesting biofuels project. Joseph Molde works in the BioTechnology Institute and he and his team are working on a process called hydrothernmal carbinization using distillers grains (DDGs), a bi-product of ethanol production.

Joseph Molde U of MWhat is really neat is the process is producing two new possible co-products: liquid carbon and biochar. The liquid carbon can be used as an organic fertilizer on fields, while the biochar can be used in various applications including biomaterials and biochemicals. Molde said that similar research has been taking place in Europe, but not much has been done with biochar here in the states.

Molde also noted that the process improves efficiency throughout the production process – just one more way the ethanol industry is working to improve its technology and environmental footprint – while also adding valuable additional co-products to an ethanol plant’s portfolio. He said they are scaling up the technology now and that he hopes to see it in commercial scale application in the next five to 10 years.

Listen to Joseph Molde discuss his research here: Interview with Joseph Molde

View the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.