RFA to Hold FSMA Training Classes

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is hosting four training courses to help biorefineries meet new requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The classes, which are FDA-approved, are geared toward ethanol plant employees overseeing the food safety plan of the ethanol plant. The course will assist ethanol plants with FSMA compliance, provide accurate and fact-based information and the means to compliance.

RFA Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis, who holds an instructors certification, will conduct the training classes. “With the rigorous FDA training I received, I understand the letter and spirit of the law, and the nuances ethanol plants will need to know in order to comply as cost effectively as possible,” said Davis. “These training classes will be essential to help navigate the FSMA requirements.”

Registration is now open for the four classes:

  • Training Session #1: July 27–29, Omaha, Neb.
  • Training Session #2: Aug. 17–19, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Training Session #3: Aug. 24–26, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Training Session #4: Sept. 14–16, Indianapolis, Ind.

Each session will include course materials, refreshments and lunch. Attendees will receive an approved PCQI certificate upon successful completion of the course. Each session is limited to 40 attendees, reservations are required and slots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The course is offered to RFA members at no charge and the registration fee for non-members is $1,800. To reserve your spot at one of the above sessions, please contact Ann Lewis or Kelly Davis.

In September 2015, FDA finalized regulations for producing safe animal food, in the case of ethanol plants safe dried distillers grains (DDGs). Covered facilities must establish and implement a food safety system that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventative controls. FSMA requires a Preventative Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) be in charge of the risk-based food preventative controls plan and receive certification through an FDA-sanctioned training course and those taught by FDA-certified lead instructors. RFA has been involved with the standardized curriculum development of the FDA recognized Food Safety Preventative Controls Alliance for the Animal Food.

RFF, MathPro Host #Ethanol Octane Webinars

RFA-MatchPro logoMembers of the ethanol industry interested in learning more about the octane benefits of ethanol, as well as other ethanol benefits, can now do so in a five-part webinar series hosted by the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF), the education and research arm of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and MathPro, fuel refining experts. The webinar series kicks off next month and will focus on ethanol’s unique octane properties and ethanol’s potential role as the octane source of choice in future fuels. RFA says the webinar series is in response to the call from automakers for higher octane fuels that provide better engine efficiency and to assist in facilitating compliance with future fuel economy and greenhouse gas reduction standards.

The ethanol octane webinar series includes:

  • Webinar #1: “All About Octane” – June 9 (11am-12pm CDT)
  • Webinar #2: “Gasoline Refining and Blending 101” – July 7 (11am-12pm CDT)
  • Webinar #3: “Gasoline Blending 102 (with Ethanol)” – July 28 (11am-12pm CDT)
  • Webinar #4: “Future CAFE Standards” – Aug. 18 (11am-12pm CDT)
  • Webinar #5:“Economics of High Octane Fuels” – Sept. 8 (11am-12pm CDT)

“Guided by the experts at MathPro, these webinars will provide stakeholders with a better understanding of ethanol’s important role in the fuel supply today, as well as the immense opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for ethanol-based high octane fuels,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As automakers continue to pursue higher octane fuels, ethanol is well positioned to serve as the lowest-cost, lowest-carbon and cleanest octane source on the market. But there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome in order to solidify an expanded role for ethanol in our future fuels.”

The webinars are offered to RFA members at no charge. The fee for non-members is $250 per session or $1,000 for all five webinars. To reserve your spot, contact Missy Ruff.

NCGA Releases Ethanol Toolkit

NCGA-Logo-3In light of the long-term uncertainty of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has created a new set of tools. The toolkit, available for state affiliates, was designed to assist the associations and their members in defending the RFS with consistent messaging targeted at policy leaders, environmental groups, businesses and general public.

NCGA says the goal of this toolkit is to help create a unified voice for the corn industry that reflects and capitalizes on the work that has already taken place in defense of the RFS. The kit contains information, trends and lessons learned from state organizations along with the NCGA Action App, material samples, timelines, checklists and messaging documents.

Guardian Energy Hosts Bring Children to Work Day

It’s never too early to share the benefits of ethanol with children and to get them interested and excited in science. Guardian Energy is doing just this and recently hosted a Take Your Child to Work Day. The activity intentionally took place on national Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work day.

Guardian Energy Take Kids to Work Day“What a terrific way to have our staff engage with their kids and actually show them what it is they do every day. In addition, we are all very proud of the work we do to provide a clean, efficient, alternative to petroleum-based fuel and this event offered a great educational opportunity as well,” said Mike Jerke, CEO of Guardian Energy.

The Guardian Energy plant, with a nameplate capacity of 130 million gallons per year and located in Janesville, Minnesota, is a locally-owned ethanol plant and is one of three ethanol plants operated by Guardian Energy Management. The other two plants are in Hankinson, North Dakota and Lima, Ohio. Guardian Energy’s Take Your Child To Work Day was held concurrently at the Hankinson and Lima plants.

Among the activities at its first Take Your Child To Work Day included a briefing on Guardian Energy’s operations, a tour of the ethanol production facility, experiments to understand ethanol as well as some games.

For Jeremy Staloch, the wide-array of activities planned for the children were impressive. A shift leader at Guardian Energy, Staloch brought his son, Riley, 13, and daughter, Destiney, 7. “I personally thought it was great and really liked how it all went. There was a little something for everyone. I myself enjoyed giving the tour to the kids and tried to find as much hands on stuff as possible,” Staloch added, I was surprised at the questions I got from some of the younger kids.”

DOE Hosts Bioenergy Roundtable with #4H

National 4-H participants had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to discuss the role of #bioenergy in a global, sustainable energy system.

The roundtable discussion included three key bioenergy areas:

  • The potential of algal biofuels.
  • Hydrogen production from biomass for use in fuel cells.
  • Utilizing biogas (primarily a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial decomposition of organic materials in the absence of oxygen) systems to produce electricity, heat, and vehicle fuels.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.01.49 AMThe roundtable participants also shared perspectives on the importance of bioenergy in their local communities and offered suggestions on how BETO could engage more with youth in the community.

The group emphasized the importance and need for energy literacy in helping people make informed decisions on energy use through an understanding of impacts and consequences. One recommendation from the students is to use social media as a platform to engage the public on these topics—a goal the students are already working towards by developing a video short entitled “Bioenergy Grows Here,” which is intended to provide an overview about the use of bioenergy in a changing energy landscape. Overall, the DOE says the roundtable provided a great opportunity for the students to share their ideas and perspectives with a group of federal decision makers.

MN Students Continue to Learn About Ethanol

Minnesota high school students throughout the state are continuing to learn about ethanol. Recently, 70 students from Pipestone Area High School visited Highwater Ethanol to learn more about ethanol production, the benefits of the renewable fuel, and ethanol career opportunities.

“By hosting students at our facility for tours, it is our goal to have them learn about the agriculture industry, ethanol industry and how important these two industries are in everyone’s life,” said Brian Kletscher, CEO of Highwater Ethanol. “The students were also briefed on the skills required to work at an ethanol facility. They were able to watch and learn from our employees. Our goal was to leave the students with a positive impression of the ethanol industry and the use of ethanol in our transportation fuels.”

The tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. During their time at the biorefinery, the students, from grades 11 to 12, toured Highwater Ethanol’s administrative office, water treatment process, incoming grain grading and handling, ethanol loadout, ethanol process facility and energy center.

Pipestone_Highwater“We organize these tours to show students how a homegrown renewable ingredient is converted into a clean fuel that continues to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.

Highwater Ethanol began operations in Lamberton in August 2009. It produced 59.42 million gallons of ethanol in 2015 and currently has 41 full-time employees. Kletscher said ethanol plants employ a wide variety of professionals. For the business operations side, professionals with skills in business administration, finance, accounting, human resources and agriculture economics are required. Continue reading

EIA Hosting Ethanol & Biodiesel Rail Webinar

eia logoIn conjunction with the release of the first monthly report that tracks ethanol and biodiesel movement via rail, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is hosting a webinar, “Learn about ethanol and biodiesel movements by rail added to EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report,” on April 7, 2016 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EDT.

The webinar will review data for January 2016 included in the March Petroleum Supply Monthly as well as will discuss the historical data on monthly rail movements of ethanol and biodiesel back to January 2014.

The webinar is presented by Mindi Farber-DeAnda, Supervisor of EIA’s Biofuels & Emerging Technologies Team; and Arup Mallik, Member of EIA’s Biofuels & Emerging Technologies Team. Click here to register.

Minnesota Students Learn About Ethanol

Norwood Young America's Central High School students touring Heartland Corn Products.

Norwood Young America’s Central High School students touring Heartland Corn Products.

More than 40 Minnesota high school students from Arlington’s Sibley East High School and Norwood Young America’s Central High School have visited Heartland Corn Products to learn more about ethanol production. Heartland Corn Products is one of the largest ethanol plants in Minnesota with an output of 108 million gallons a year and was built in 1995. During the tours, students learned about different elements of production including grain grading and handling, fermentation, grain storage, liquefaction and ethanol storage and shipment.

“We were interested in the tour so we can learn about this renewable energy source that is so important to Minnesota’s agriculture economy,” said Jim Mesik, agriculture teacher at Central High School. Minnesota is the fourth largest ethanol producing state.

Included in the tours was dried distiller grain production and storage. Dried distiller’s grains (DDGs) are a high-protein animal feed. In 2015, Minnesota’s ethanol industry produced 3.6 million tons of DDGs, which was sufficient to meet the feed requirements of the entire inventory of cattle and calves in the state.

Sibley East High School students touring Heartland Corn Products.

Sibley East High School students touring Heartland Corn Products.

“We are always pleased to welcome high school students to our plant and provide them with a first-hand look at how clean Minnesota-grown renewable energy is produced,” said Scott Blumhoeffer, Vice-President at Heartland Corn Products.

“These tours show students how a homegrown renewable ingredient is converted into a clean fuel that continues to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. These tours also provide them with a better understanding of the career opportunities in Minnesota’s ethanol industry,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, whose organization organized the tours.

Sibley East High School’s agriculture science teacher, Jeff Eppen, said it was important for students to get a better understanding of the ethanol industry and how it is produced, adding some of the school’s former students have been employed at Heartland Corn Products.

“A unique part about agricultural education is the instructor, students and community help decide the curriculum for their school. We as a school have decided that we want biofuels as a part of our Ag education,” he added.

Biodico Seeking Summer Interns

Biodico is looking for 10 interns this summer for its facilities in Fresno and Ventura Counties, California. Four interns will be based at the company’s laboratory at Naval Base Ventura County at Port Hueneme, Calif., and six interns will be based at the company’s “Westside” facility in the San Joaquin Valley located at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, Calif. Biodico Westside recently went online and produces advanced biofuels while being powered by renewable heat and power generated on-site.

biodico logo“This program represents our commitment to create green energy jobs in economically depressed areas, as well as provide opportunities for the next-generation of bioenergy professionals to gain experience,” said Biodico President and Founder, Russ Teall. “Students who share our passion for the environment and finding economically viable solutions to power the future are encouraged to apply.”

Interns will be exposed to an array of biofuel and bioenergy technologies, including biodiesel production, anaerobic digestion, gasification, solar cogeneration and wind, as well as cultivation of biofuel crops and laboratory work. Students will be placed based upon their field of study and interests.

Several of the jobs at Westside were created in partnership with West Hills Community College in Fresno County, a region with historically high employment rates. Biodico developed an internship program specifically for West Hills’ students, and hires graduates of the school’s two-year Industrial Technology Program. Biodico has also partnered with University of California Santa Barbara to provide internships for environmental studies majors.

For more information about applying for the internship program, please email internships@biodico.com. Applications for the summer of 2016 are due March 31.

Become a Next Generation Biodiesel Leader

Jesse Meyer, center, with former co-chairs Dan Browne and James Anderson

Jesse Meyer, center, with former co-chairs Dan Browne and James Anderson

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling for the next crop of biodiesel leaders to join the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. NGSB is seeking additional co-chairs to help take this student professional organization to the next level. Working with NBB staff, the volunteer co-chairs help establish direction, assist with planning educational content, recruitment efforts and producing webinars and other events. The co-chairs also review and rank scholarship applications to the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, and attend the event.

“The co-chair position has provided me with a unique opportunity to interface with the commercial biodiesel community,” said Jesse Mayer, a biochemistry student at the University of Nevada – Reno who attended this year’s conference. “You will network with top scientists and energy thought leaders while shaping our generation’s contributions to the bioenergy field. This opportunity is much more than a resume builder.”

To apply: You must be a college/university student in a scientific field of study, and have joined NGSB. Send an E-mail to NGSB@biodiesel.org with:

  • Your resume and contact information (include expected graduation date. We will prioritize applicants who can serve for two years or more.)
  • A 500 word summary of your experience with biodiesel, commitment to biodiesel, and why you want to be a co-chair.
  • A biodiesel-related photograph of yourself (optional).
  • Deadline to apply is April 1, 2016.

Want to get a feel of what participating in NGSB is like? Click here to read a few stories from student biodiesel leaders that came out of this year’s annual conference in Tampa, Fl.