Business Briefs

By Staff | May 13, 2011

Little Rock, Ark.-based biodiesel consulting group Lee Enterprises has developed a new strategic alliance with an executive recruiting agency, and added two new members to its team. Lee Enterprises recently announced the formation of a strategic alliance with Ft. Myers, Fla.-based Executive Leadership Solutions. The group has assigned George “Mason” Carpenter to work directly with Lee Enterprises in finding experienced professional employees for biodiesel plants. Carpenter is a senior executive recruiter who specializes in recruiting and placing candidates in the alternative energy sector. He is a Certified Personnel Consultant and has placed engineers, scientists, project managers, and traders/risk managers in alternative energy companies across the country. The group also added appraiser Catherine J. Rein to its team of biofuels consultants. Rein received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Colorado School of Mines and her MBA from the University of Houston. She is an accredited member of the American Society of Appraisers in Machinery and Equipment and is the principal owner of Louisville, Colo.-based Sandalwood Valuation LLC. Earl Stout II has also joined Lee Enterprises. Stout is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel with more than 40 years of experience in government and private sectors.

Ultra Green Energy Services LLC was scheduled to celebrate the grand opening of a new biodiesel transload facility May 16. The Whippany, N.J.-based facility features rail-to-truck transloading and red dye capabilities. According to Michael Cooper, UGES’ vice president and director of sales and marketing, his company has been looking to develop a transloading location in New Jersey for years. “We’ve found a location that gives us the opportunity to deliver ourselves railcars [of biodiesel] in an economical manner,” he said. UGES has added several pieces of equipment to the Whippany location. “We’ve brought in our own mechanical equipment,” Cooper says. “We need to heat the biodiesel when it comes in, so we put in our own boiler to generate heat to steam the cars in the winter. We also brought our own pumping system; a 600-gallon-per-minute, diesel-biodiesel-powered pump.” The location can handle any number of railcars, from two to 50. “We can line them up and heat them and move them down the process,” Cooper says.

A report released April 20 by the International Energy Agency determined that, when produced sustainably, the widespread deployment of biofuels can play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions in the transportation sector. The report, titled “Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport,” also noted that biofuels can help enhance energy security. It states the production of biomass-derived fuels is a key technology that will aid in carbon dioxide emissions reductions. The report also demonstrates that global biofuel consumption can increase in a sustainable way, from 55 million metric tons of oil equivalent today, to 750 million metric tons of oil equivalent in 2050. The report defines sustainable fuel production as that which results in significant life-cycle environmental benefits without compromising food security. The projected increase would ultimately mean that total percentage of petroleum-based transportation fuels replaced by biomass-based counterparts would increase from approximately 2 percent today to 27 percent in 2050.

A new program in New York aims to promote the use of biodiesel-blended fuel in diesel generators. The BioGenset Project is administrated by Biodiesel Industries through a grant awarded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. According to the project, the use of B5 in New York generators could eliminate up to 110,000 tons of carbon emissions annually while displacing 13.6 million gallons of petroleum diesel. “A 2000 estimate by NYSERDA indicates use of 720,000 gallons [of diesel] a day, or over 250 million gallons annually, in electric generators,” states the BioGenset website, noting that nearly half of petroleum diesel in the U.S. is used to fuel electrical generators and boilers. There are several kinds of portable and stationary diesel generators, says Steven Levy, managing director of Sprague Energy and president of the New York City Lower Hudson Valley Clean Communities program. The BioGenset Project aims to educate users of this type of equipment that the use of biodiesel-blended fuel can significantly reduce emissions while helping to drive down the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.

A new simulation program developed at Iowa State University allows students to gain hands-on experience running a biorefinery. The Interactive Biorefinery Operations Simulator (I-BOS), which is modeled after real biodiesel and ethanol plants in Iowa, operates like a flight simulator. The system has been built into an actual control room modeled after the ones at Lincolnway Energy LLC’s Nevada, Iowa-based ethanol plant and a local Renewable Energy Group Inc. biodiesel plant. The simulation control room at ISU even includes a security video loop of feedstock offloading that is synchronized with the software. It took more than two years to develop the program. The I-BOS system will be integrated into a biorenewables technology class. The program also keeps track of how much energy is used during a simulation. If students forget to turn off motors or are wasteful with energy use, the I-BOS system will track that.

Biofuels and industry advocates in Spain are encouraging the Spanish government to follow in the steps of France, Italy, Greece and Portugal by taking action to protect the country’s domestic biodiesel industry. According to information released by Spanish trade union Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), biofuel imported to Spain at below market prices has resulted in plant closures, downsizing and layoffs. The organization and its federation FITEQA recently met with officials in the Spanish government to discuss these concerns. The CCOO stresses that it is necessary for the government to take decisive and consistent political action to mitigate the impacts of low-priced imports that have resulted from “deliberate distortion of charges and exemptions.” Roderic Miralles, president of Asociación de Productores de Energías Renovables (APPA Biofuels), has also encouraged government action to support the economic sustainability of Spain’s biodiesel industry. APPA has asked the Ministry of Industry to commission a mechanism that would ensure that only biodiesel produced in Spain could be used to meet the country’s biofuel obligations.

A program in St. Louis is offering citizens the opportunity to become involved with algae biofuel development by collecting algae samples that will be analyzed for oil content at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. The second annual Backyard Biofuels Citizen Science Project was scheduled to kick off May 7 with AlgaePalooza. The event will be held in the Life Science Lab at the St. Louis Science Center, co-hosted by the Center for Advanced Biofuel Systems at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. More than 500 people were expected to attend.  Those interested in participating in the Backyard Biofuels project who cannot attend AlgaePalooza can pick up algae collection kits throughout the spring and summer at the Danforth Center or the St. Louis Science Center. Each algae kit contains everything you need to collect an algae sample.

Through a $50,000 donation, Evonik Industries will “help prepare individuals for work in the biotechnology and milling industries,” it states. The money will be used to operate the Washington County Technology Center at the Cargill-owned Blair, Neb., BioRefinery Campus for five years. The hope is to train future employees for technical jobs within the campus. Alan Brewer, vice president of Evonik’s Health and Nutrition Business Unit in North America, notes the critical need for highly trained, highly qualified people to work at the Evonik plant in Blair, which produces lysine, an amino acid used as a feed additive in the swine and poultry industry. “In the past,” Brewer says, “Evonik has hired people and trained them. Now, graduates of the Technology Center program will have a leg up on qualifying for jobs offered by Evonik and other businesses.” During a two-year program, students will develop skills in chemistry and other processes used at the facility on the way to earning an associate degree in applied technology. The current employee numbers at the campus equal roughly 200, and the total amount of contribution dollars to the Blair facility from Evonik and industry partners equals more than $500,000 to date.

Planned expansion of corn oil production at all of Poet LLC's ethanol plants will produce enough raw material for up to 60 million gallons of biodiesel. Poet, which owns a total of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol refining capacity, is now selling trademarked Voilà corn oil from Poet Biorefining-Hudson in South Dakota into biodiesel and feed markets, and its success has prompted Poet to start plans for rolling out its patent-pending production to its other plants. The rollout schedule is still being set, but the company will begin installation this year on the first plants. Poet’s specific brand of corn oil is different thanks to the low-energy BPX fermentation process (“cold-cook”), which eliminates heat from fermentation. When corn oil is captured on the back-end of that process following BPX, it is a higher-quality product with a lower amount of free fatty acids.

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