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 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 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.

BioFuelNet Heads to School

Infographics67BioFuelNet is heading back to school to get young men and women excited about biofuels. The organization is partnering with Talk Energy Week to participate in panel discussions at schools in eight Canadian cities. The discussions, targeted at grades 11 and 12 and reaching more than 1800 students, will include information on how to develop sustainable advanced biofuels. Each participating class will be sent a series of educational infographics illustrating various types of biofuels, where they come from and how they are made.

“As our use of fossil fuels is one of the major contributors to climate change, rethinking the energy sector will be a crucial undertaking for the next generation of decision-makers – many of which are currently in high school and beginning to learn about alternative energy solutions,” said Dr. Donald L. Smith, CEO & Scientific Director of BioFuelNet.

In addition, BioFuelNet has released an animated short film highlighting how Canadian scientists and students are working together through BioFuelNet to solve global environmental issues.

Abigail Fisler Shares Her #RFANEC Experience

nec16-scholarshipAbigail Fisler was the recipient of this year’s National Ethanol Conference (NEC) scholarship awarded by the Renewable Fuels Foundation. She is a junior at Dickinson College in Carlislie, PA studying environmental studies with a focus on renewable energy and climate change. Last year she attended her first NEC show and wanted to attend again because of all the great educational and networking opportunities.

Before she headed back to the books, she spoke with Cindy Zimmerman about some of the highlights of her time at the ethanol conference. She prefaced her answer with “that’s a tough one” but noted she really enjoyed the panel that included Alicia Lindauer with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “I grabbed her at the networking reception and talked with her about what her career path has been and about her education path that led her there, and I thought it was really interesting to talk with her.”

Other areas that particularly interested her were discussions around why some areas are implementing E15 and other areas are not, and why some places have lots of flex fuel vehicles while others don’t.

To learn more about Abigail’s growing interest in renewable fuels (she’s been a fan since 4th grade) and to hear more about her NEC experience, listen to Cindy Zimmerman’s interview with NEC Scholarship winner Abigail Fisler: Interview with Abigail Fisler

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

RFA Releases 2016 Ethanol Industry Pocket Guide

nec16-pocket-guideDuring the 21 Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) this week in New Orleans, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) released the 2016 Ethanol Industry Outlook and the Pocket Guide to Ethanol. Both resources provide up-to-date statistics, insights and analysis on the critical issues affecting the U.S. ethanol industry. Topics found in the guides include the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), background information on market activity, and the latest facts and figures regarding energy security, the environment, the economy, agriculture and trade.

“As the information contained in these editions show, 2015 proved to be a banner year for the ethanol industry,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “These publications are meant to give readers the best overview possible of the industry so that they get a true sense of how far this industry has come and where it is expected to head next. With so much misinformation clouding the reality about ethanol, it is important for consumers, investors, and policymakers to be armed with the facts contained in these publications.”

New this year is a series of downloadable two-page issue briefs based on the Ethanol Industry Outlook, and offers a complete overview of each topic, along with detailed charts and graphs. The Pocket Guide to Ethanol contains the same information as the Outlook, but in a simpler, portable format that includes many myth-busting factoids about ethanol.

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Students Benefit From Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel

James Anderson discusses his research with an attendee during #NBB16.

James Anderson discusses his research with an attendee during #NBB16.

It’s never too early to encourage the next generation of biodiesel and bioproduct scientists and this is just what NBB is doing through its Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. Several members of the group attended this year’s conference and presented posters, attended educational sessions and networked, networked, networked.

James Anderson, from University of Illinois, serves as co-chair for the group and he presented his research looking at fatty acid profiles and studying divergent plants. His goal was to identify not the fastest growing soybean plant or the plant with the best resistance, but the plant with the best profile. The idea is that they would identify soybeans that would be even better suited to biodiesel production. He and his team checked their results against some USDA studies and found positive results.

James is finishing up his project soon and will be awarded his PhD and will soon be looking for a job…hint, hint. He can be reached via email to discuss both his research and future opportunities.

Listen to my interview with James Anderson here: Interview with Co-Chair James Anderson

Jesse Mayer and James Anderson, Co-Chairs of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

Jesse Mayer and James Anderson, Co-Chairs of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

Jesse Mayer, from the University of Nevada, Reno, is also a co-chair of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel. Originally planning on going to medical, he switched gears when the only lab he could find work in was a plant lab. Well, he got hooked. He said he loves the field and the sustainability aspect of it.

He became involved in the group two years ago through his professor. He encourages everyone to join. “It’s really great opportunity to understand all the different aspects of biofuels. Like the students here you’ve got a lot of different fields…. So finding a student organization like NBB, joining them, and getting an idea of what those other aspects are, talking to people in the industry, really helps diversify you as a student and really helps going on to grad school or into the workforce.”

Jesse is also graduating soon and if the networking I saw him doing at the conference is any indication, he won’t be on the market long. You can reach him here.

Listen to my interview with Jesse Mayer here: Interview with Co-Chair Jesse Mayer

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

“Kirby’s Future” Wins Fuel the Future Video Contest

A young woman from Des Moines, Iowa, Helena Gruensteid, who attends Roosevelt High School, took home the top honors in the Fuel the Future video contest. The top three placing high school videos were unveiled yesterday during the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in Altoona, Iowa. Gruensteid was awarded $1,000 for her video “Kirby’s Future. The contest was sponsored by the BrownWinick Law Firm.

Evan Boss, Brock Henderson, and Christian Moore of North Linn High School and North Linn FFA and won the $600 second place prize for their video entitled, “North Linn FFA E15 Video.”

Hannah Song, a senior at Iowa City West High School, was awarded the $400 third place prize for her video entitled, “Fuel the Future with E15.”

“I want to thank all of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this year’s contest and learning about the benefits of using renewable fuels, like E15 and biodiesel,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “While all of the videos were fantastic, Helena’s entry stood out for its entertaining storyline, and imaginative presentation of benefits of using homegrown, cleaner-burning E15.”

View the 10th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album.