What Food Safety Act Means for Ethanol Plants

few15-fsma-kellyThe Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011 and this summer the rulemaking for the new act might finally be complete. Because it includes safety of animal food as well as human food, ethanol plants that produce the co-product distillers grains for livestock feed are impacted.

Renewable Fuels Association Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis talked about what plants will need to do when FSMA becomes final during the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop. “One of the first things in the rule is Current Good Manufacturing Practices,” said Davis, who says that most plants are already ahead of the game in that area. “We have really nice manufacturing facilities, good housekeeping, good quality assurance … a lot of us were gifted what we would call a good manufacturing practice plant.”

The main impact that FSMA will have on ethanol plants is another layer of bureaucracy. “It’s going to be a written plan with constant updating, supervision of the plan, verification of the plan,” said Davis. “It’s going to be similar to other programs like air quality and process safety management – you’re going to write down what you’re going to do, you’re going to do what you wrote down, and you’re going to verify you did it.”

Davis says there were some changes already made in the rule as it has been developed and assuming it is finalized in its current form she thinks ethanol plants will be able to comply within the two year time frame given by the law. “This is an important program and we’re going to provide some guidance to help people comply,” said Davis.

Find out more about FSMA and ethanol plants in this interview. Interview with Kelly Davis, RFA

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Ethanol Groups Note EPA Memo on RINS

fuels-americaThe ethanol industry is drawing attention to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memo “buried deep” in the recent proposal for volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) about the impact of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and gas prices.

“The memo that came out in the rule package that was made public in the docket by EPA confirm(s) something we’d all confirmed before – that RIN prices didn’t and don’t have an impact on retail gas prices,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis during a Fuels America press call on Thursday with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper explained that EPA openly acknowledges that fact and others in the memo that the ethanol industry has been claiming for some time. “They spend a lot of time in this memo talking about how RIN prices can transform the gasoline market place,” said Cooper, since a higher RIN price results in a “significant decrease in the price for E85.”

Growth Energy Chief Economist Jim Miller adds that the memo shows the RFS is working as intended and the volume obligations under the law should reflect that. “We hope EPA will consider the memo they drafted and revise their proposed rule to reflect the positive elements that the RFS provides to everyone in America,” said Miller.

“By failing to implement the statute, EPA is systematically destructing the RIN credit market and discouraging investment in new technology and infrastructure that would break the blend wall,” concluded RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We strongly believe that EPA needs to scrap this proposal and get the RFS back on track.”

Fuels America press conference

Novozymes Tech Service Adds Profitability

One of the themes that Novozymes wanted to drive home to ethanol producers at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop last week was that they deliver more than enzymes when they partner with plants.

few15-novo-billy-kevinA big part of the Novozymes philosophy in helping ethanol plants is technical service. “We have a team of over 40 scientists deployed across the U.S. supporting the biofuels industry,” said Kevin Cox, Novozymes director of technical service for biofuels. “It’s a unique part of our company in that we provide a different value proposition through technical service.”

Novozymes technical service offerings include customer training, process optimization, data analysis, and laboratory support. “Our overarching goal is to be a trusted adviser and a partner to our customers and help them succeed in their business,” Cox said. Interview with Kevin Cox, Novozymes

Billy Whitlock, plant support tech services manager for Novozymes, says they work with plants on trials to make sure new products are right for them. “We’re there working with them whether it’s products that improve yield, to products that try to streamline the production process to increase output,” said Whitlock. “Our arm of the tech services division is really tasked with bringing the knowledge and the information from our headquarters to our customers.”

Interview with Billy Whitlock, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

America’s Renewable Future Announces Partners

ARF-LogoAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF) today announced its diverse coalition of partners that includes state and national ethanol and biofuels associations and companies committed to educating presidential candidates in both parties about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The partners include organizations such as the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Ethanol Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Biotechnology Association, Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealer Association, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and companies such as POET, DuPont, Stine Seed Company, Archer Daniels Midland, and Novozymes.

“We’re involved because over a third of our corn crop goes directly into the ethanol industry,” said ICGA CEO Craig Floss, during a conference call today with representatives of several partners. The corn growers were one of the coalition’s founding partners, along with Iowa RFA. “We are very excited to see support (for ARF) grow and I think we’ll see more in the future,” said IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. “It really shows this is not just about farmers, or ethanol and biodiesel plants, it’s something that really affects every one of us.”

During the call, representatives of ARF discussed reaction to the EPA’s new proposed volume obligations under the RFS. Others on the call included former Iowa Lt. Gov. and ARF Co-Chair Patty Judge, Lincolnway Energy Director and ARF Co-Chair Bill Couser, and Iowa farmer Mark Recker. America's Renewable Future partners press conference

Novozymes Enzyme Solutions for Ethanol Producers

few15-novo-nickOne of the last presentations at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop featured some of the enzymatic solutions Novozymes North America offers to optimize fermentation and increase yields.

Novozymes data scientist Nick Giffen discussed Novozymes throughput solutions such as Avantec and Olexa. “Avantec is our featured liquifaction solution,” said Giffen. “It provides a more well-prepared mash for fermentation.” Olexa® is specifically designed for oil recovery, releasing 15% more oil for extraction, increasing ethanol yield and reducing use of natural gas. Both products Giffen says really help fermentation take off and produce ethanol faster.

Giffen also talked about Spirizyme® Achieve, the industry’s first fiber-degrading glucoamylase. “That allows the fiber-bound starch to be released which provides an extra pool for yield to come from,” said Giffen.

In the five years Giffen has been with Novozymes he has helped in the development of all these relatively new products. “My role is to really focus on the proof of concept phase of our new product launches and analyze the data and figure out the trends going on,” he said, adding that he thoroughly loves his job. Interview with Nick Giffen, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

The Novozymes Strategy

few15-novo-andersThis year, Novozymes announced a new corporate “Partnering for Impact” strategy and a new purpose statement which reads, “Together, we find biological answers for better lives in a growing world – Let’s rethink tomorrow.”

“We try to make a difference in the world with the technologies that we provide,” said Anders Lund, Vice President of global marketing for Novozymes, who attended last week’s Fuel Ethanol Workshop where the Novozymes strategy was on display. “The more successful we can be with partners, the more impact these technologies will have in the marketplace.”

The new strategy sets out four focus areas for Novozymes:
1) Rally for change
2) Lead innovation
3) Focus on opportunities
4) Grow people

Novozymes is an industrial biotechnology company with a focus on enzymes and is the largest global supplier of enzymes in the ethanol industry. Lund says they are driven by research and development. “We invest 12 to 14 percent back in R&D in our revenues,” said Lund. “That’s our DNA, we’ve been doing that for the last 40-50 years and we would like to continue to do that.”

In this interview, Lund explains more about the Novozymes strategy of Partnering for Impact. Interview with Anders Lund, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Novozymes Talks Fermentation at #FEW15

few15-novo-derekOne of the most well-attended breakout sessions at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop last week in Minneapolis explored “Best Practices for Yield Maximization.”

Novozymes research associate Derek Payne focused on propagation and fermentation optimization and getting data from small scale fermentations to find out what works. “By doing the smaller scale first you can predict patterns you would see in larger scale before implementing it,” said Payne who compares small scale fermentations to micro-breweries. “As technology gets better, we can more closely mimic what’s going on in the plant, in the lab itself.”

Novozymes offers lab services consulting and advanced laboratory seminars, depending on a plant’s needs. Listen to Derek explain more in this interview: Interview with Derek Payne, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Ethanol Industry Thoughts on Presidential Candidates

few15-bob-brookeSeveral new presidential hopefuls in both parties have officially declared their candidacies recently and more are planning to announce soon. During a press briefing at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop, Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association and Brooke Coleman with the Advanced Ethanol Council were asked how they think the candidates, declared and undeclared, rate when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Dinneen attended the Iowa Ag Summit in March where nine Republican presidential hopefuls were asked their views on the RFS and was not surprised that the only two who said they were opposed were from Texas – the first declared GOP candidate Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry, who just formally declared this week. “That’s a dog bites man story if there ever was one,” said Dinneen. “I would think less of those two men if they weren’t sticking up for their big Texas oil industry.”

Dinneen was surprised by the candidates who did express support for the RFS, some of them publicly for the first time, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is expected to announce his candidacy later this month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, both of whom have yet to declare.

On the Democratic side, another new candidate announced this week was former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, but the big dog in the fight is still Hillary Clinton and Coleman was impressed with her recent op-ed in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “It suggested that she understands the different intricacies of the challenges we face in this industry,” said Coleman. “However, one op-ed does not make a candidate and we will have to continue to work with Secretary Clinton to make sure that she is helpful to make sure she is helpful with regard to what we are dealing with in the administration right now because there is no better person to help us than Hillary Clinton when it comes to where the Obama administration is in the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Listen to Dinneen and Coleman here: Comments from RFA's Bob Dinneen and AEC's Brooke Coleman at FEW

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Novozymes Ethanol Game Educates at #FEW15

few15-novo-rachel“Gamification” is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications as engaging learning tools, particularly for the younger generation and Novozymes had a great example on display at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop.

The Ethanol Challenge game features characters like Alphie the alpha amylase, Glucador the glucoamylase, and a number of enzyme buddies who help them out throughout the ethanol production process as they navigate through dangerous doughballs and bacteria. Rachel Burton with Novozymes says the Ethanol Challenge is their foray into gamification as part of a training program they have developed called Bioenergy University. “We’re launching that this summer for our customers,” said Burton. “We have three tiered learning tracks – a basic beginner track, an advanced track, and we have an expert level track.”

Rachel explains more in her FEW presentation on “Next Generation Training for Ethanol Plants.” Rachel Burton, Novozymes, at 2015 FEW

Watch Rachel demonstrate the Ethanol Challenge game in this video:


2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Lallemand Makes #FEW15 Fashion Statement

few15-lallemand-pantsLallemand Biofuels and Distilled Spirits really stood out at the opening of the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop trade show with logo patterned pants that were definitely attention-getting.

“We just decided we wanted to try something a little bit different and stand out a little bit,” said Lallemand VP of Marketing Craig Pilgrim, who came up with the idea. “I looked on line and saw some crazy, swirly pants and said we could probably incorporate our logo in there and figured most people wouldn’t be wearing that the night of the trade show.”

few15-lallemand-logoThe crazy pants helped draw attention to the fact that Lallemand is celebrating its 35th Alcohol School this year in Montréal September 13-18. “Started off very small, 10 or 12 people in a room,” said Pilgrim. “We have roughly over 4,000 people that we’ve educated over the 35 years.”

The course provides detailed information on both fuel ethanol and beverage alcohol unit processes and is designed for lab, plant, and management personnel with lectures, laboratory demonstrations, seminars, and lab visits. Find out more in this interview: Interview with Craig Pilgrim, Lallemand

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes