Adding More Value to Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

Renessen New ethanol plant technology will be tested in Iowa. Renessen, LLC – the biotechnology company offspring produced from a mating between Cargill and Monsanto – has announced plans for a pilot plant in Eddyville that “has the potential to increase the profitability of corn growers, ethanol producers, and swine and poultry producers.” According to a company release, the plant will test a unique technology system in which new biotech corn hybrids with increased energy and nutrient levels will be combined with a novel dry corn separation technique designed for ethanol facilities.
By applying a novel processing technology with a high-nutrient corn specially adapted for the process, the system would allow a standard dry-grind ethanol plant to produce several products on site, including: corn oil for food and biodiesel; a nutrient-rich feed ingredient for use in swine and poultry production; a more easily fermentable ethanol medium; an enhanced form of distiller dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the standard cattle feed co-product of today’s ethanol dry milling process.
The new production process is expected to be more profitable because the nutrient-rich feed ingredient, the corn oil, and the enhanced DDGS produced in this new process all have potentially greater value than today’s traditional dry-grind ethanol co-products.

Link to the full release.

Ethanol, Production, Research

French Race for Ethanol Supremacy

Cindy Zimmerman

France wants to be the number one ethanol producer in Europe, according to this article from Reuters posted on Planet Ark today. Currently, Spain is Europe’s biggest ethanol producer with annual output of 200,000 tonnes. France occupies the number two spot with output of 100,000 tonnes a year, according to the article. The French ethanol industry coordinator believes that France can beat that by 2008 because they have more agricultural output than Spain. Alain Jeanroy told Reuters he expects France to produce 880,000 tonnes of ethanol by 2008 and two million tonnes by 2015. Currently, most of the ethanol production in France is from sugar beets, but they expect wheat to be most used in the future “due to it’s high availability.” The European Commission set a non-binding goal to have 5.75 percent of their energy supplied by bio-fuels by 2010, but France wants to beat that goal. I found this map of biofuels plants in France that shows where the production is located. The blue dots are biodiesel and the red squares are ethanol. About 40 percent of the biofuels production in France is ethanol, 60 percent biodiesel. The main crop used for biodiesel production is rapeseed.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, International, Production

Only Livestock Friendly Counties Need Apply

Cindy Zimmerman

MCGAMSA The Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Corn Growers Association showed their support for their biggest customers this week by opposing biofuel expansion in counties that restrict livestock production. Fact is, no matter how many new uses we might find for corn and soybeans, most of them are still going to be fed to cattle, hogs and poultry. In fact, over half of the soybeans produced in the U.S. are fed to livestock in the form of soybean meal and over 60 percent of the corn goes to livestock feed. So, according to MSA and MCGA leadership, soybean and corn farmers cannot afford to invest millions of dollars in biodiesel and ethanol production facilities in counties that refuse to support animal agriculture. In addition to limiting livestock and poultry production, county health ordinances also eliminate marketing potential for the high protein co-products that are created while processing corn and soybeans into biodiesel and ethanol. Without animal agriculture in close proximity to biodiesel and ethanol plants, the ability to utilize these co-products is diminished and the plants themselves become less viable.
Link to full release.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Production

Wyoming Ethanol Racing Teams With Ethanol Industry In 2006

Cindy Zimmerman

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has teamed up with Wyoming Ethanol Racing to be its title sponsor for the 2006 racing season. According to their news release:

The ethanol industry service providers will fund the sponsorship and have EPIC oversee the team’s promotions and public relations on its behalf for the season. The five-car drag team races with a high-performance fuel known as E-85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and is commercially available at the pump.

“We’re excited about the partnership. EPIC is a natural fit as our title team sponsor since we use E-85 to give us a performance advantage,” says Dan Schwartzkopf, a 17-year race veteran, and founder of Wyoming Ethanol Racing.

Dyno tests have shown performance gains over high-quality racing gasoline, in some cases more than 100 horsepower, without the downside of fuel system maintenance that one would have with a methanol-fuel engine.

“The sponsorship of Wyoming Ethanol Racing is important to the industry because it demonstrates to both race fans and everyday heros that ethanol is a performance fuel at every level,” says Tom Slunecka, the executive director of EPIC. “Not only can dragsters use it to increase performance, but a mother can stop at her local gas station, fill up her minivan with ethanol and then safely drive her kids to soccer practice.”

Ethanol, which is becoming a more common fuel in racing, is a high-octane, high-performance, clean-burning fuel. The IndyCar® Series is using a 10 percent ethanol 90 percent methanol fuel blend beginning in 2006, and 100 percent ethanol fuel in 2007.

Read the full release here.

I searched for about a half hour to try and find a logo or picture for Wyoming Ethanol Racing to no avail. I’d post one if someone would send me one.

EPIC, Ethanol

Biodiesel Conference Kicks Off Super Bowl Sunday

Cindy Zimmerman

Biodiesel industry leaders and experts are gearing up for the 2006 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo coming up in just a few weeks in beautiful San Diego. The meeting kicks off on Super Bowl Sunday, February 5th with a special Super Bowl party and welcome reception starting at 2:00 pm. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are jam-packed with activites, seminars, a trade show and much more. “Wednesday with Willie” wraps it all up – a live XM satellite radio broadcast hosted by Bill Mack “The Satellite Cowboy” and starring Willie Nelson. On-line registration closed January 13, but you can still register in person in San Diego.
If you can’t make it, not to worry. A National Biodiesel Conference BLOG is being set up and the event will be blogged by the best – my husband and partner Chuck Zimmerman. More about that when the website address is officially announced. Plus, we will have plenty of news from the conference here as well.


Ethanol Industry Leaders Address the Future

Cindy Zimmerman

RFA The Renewable Fuels Association held it’s winter meeting this week in Tucson, AZ – bringing some of the industry’s major movers and shakers together. Following the meeting, three industry leaders issued audio statements addressing the future of the industry – from continued growth to new technologies to the role of farmer-owned refineries. They are posted on the RFA website for your listening pleasure. The three are: RFA Chairman Ron Miller, President and CEO of Aventine Renewable Energy in Pekin, Illinois; Renewable Fuels Foundation chair Bill Lee, General Manager of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company in Benson, Minnesota; and Tom Branhan, General Manager of Glacial Lakes Energy in Watertown, South Dakota.

Miller says 2005 was a great year for ethanol with passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard and 2006 holds just as much promise. “Currently there are 95 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol every year,” he said, “in addition 29 refineries are under construction and nine plant expansions promise more than 1.5 billion gallons of additional capacity in the very near future.”

Lee talks about the development of cellulosic ethanol production in his comments. “There isn’t an ethanol refinery today that isn’t looking into new feedstocks, more efficient processing techniques and improved energy use.”

Branhan believes farmer-owned plants are the future of the industry. “Since 2002 ethanol production in this country has doubled largely due to the investment of farmers in rural communities across the country,” he said. “The largest ethanol producer has seen its share of the market decrease from 40 to 25 percent because of farmer-owned plants.”

These three guys and about 1250 other industry leaders and experts will be attending the 11th Annual National Ethanol Conference next month at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meeting dates are February 20-22. Conference registration and information is available here.


Another Governor Heard From

Cindy Zimmerman

It seems that ethanol is a recurring theme in State of the State addresses this year. The latest is Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, where lawmakers are considering a 10 percent ethanol mandate for the state. Governor Doyle said in his speech yesterday that the state must reduce its dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels by getting ten percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2015.
“It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s the right goal and we should settle for nothing less,” said the governor. “I urge you to pass the bill without watering it down and without delay.” He added that, “Ethanol is clean, it’s renewable, it’s less expensive, it helps Wisconsin farmers, and it reduces the demand for foreign oil. Let’s pass this bill, because America ought to be more dependent on the Midwest, and not the Mideast.” Support is growing for the measure, especially since next-door neighbor Minnesota just increased its mandate from 10 to 20 percent, but there are still some nay-sayers like State Senator Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn who claims a mandate goes against fair market practices. A public hearing on the ethanol measure was held today in Madison.

Ethanol, Legislation

BioConversion Blogger

Cindy Zimmerman

I have gotten two comments in the past week from this gentleman – C. Scott Miller of Studio City, CA – who is the author of the BioConversion Blog. Top of the blog is a definition of bioconversion and description of his blog:
BioConversion, n., The conversion of organic materials, such as plant or animal waste, into usable products or energy sources by biological processes or agents, such as certain microorganisms. This Blog is home to news and comments about emerging BioEnergy technologies as the fossil fuel energy paradigm shifts to renewable energy. There are also direct links to information sites and breaking stories culled from major publications, other blogs, and associations.
I would call Scott a “bioconversion evangelist” – preaching the gospel of using waste products to make biofuels. This was his comment related to my posts yesterday about ethanol and world hunger.
The ultimate feedstock for ethanol will not be food crops. Instead, it will be agricultural, forestry, and urban waste – which will have no impact on world hunger other than to help societies build renewable fuel plants to get rid of their wastes and produce surplus liquid and electric energy. I invite you to read up on “Cellulosic ethanol” from Wikipedia and my BioConversion Blog – particularly word searches on syngas fermentation and BRI Energy.
Cellulosic ethanol is definitely getting to be the new buzz phrase in the industry. However, the way I see it, we need to develop a means of efficiently collecting and utilizing waste products first. Take corn stalks and such, for example. It’s just not as easy at the moment to harvest the waste and get it to a facility to make it into fuel, as it is to do the same for corn, soybeans, sugar, sorghum and other food/feed crops. So, I guess I see the crops paving the road for the use of waste products in the future. Does that make sense?

Cellulosic, Miscellaneous

Brazil Ethanol Increasing Sugar Prices

Cindy Zimmerman

Demand for ethanol in Brazil is helping to increase sugar prices, according to a Bloomberg article sent to us by alert reader Erick Erickson of Holdrege, NE (Thanks, Erick!). Of course, it’s not entirely because of the demand for ethanol. Part of it has to do with the hurricanes here in the US that devastated sugar cane crops in Louisiana and Florida last year – and a big drought in Thailand. So … yeah, they’re making more ethanol in Brazil, but it’s basically the law of supply and demand here that is driving up sugar prices to a 24 year high. Basic Economics 101. So, relating that to the last post about increased ethanol production leading to world hunger … I would venture to say that it may (and hopefully will) increase the price for corn, but that is a good thing for farmers who – unlike most producers of goods – don’t set their own prices. They just have to take the best price they are offered at the market. The main reason for corn farmers to promote ethanol production and use is to increase demand for their product and ultimately the price they receive. It’s a bonus that ethanol is good for the environment too.


Ethanol and World Hunger

Cindy Zimmerman

Farm Policy Will increased use of biofuels lead to more people starving in the world? That is apparently what some are saying now, according to a New York Times article. I have heard concerns about whether farmers can meet the demand for soybeans and corn generated by increased biodiesel and ethanol production, but this is the first I’ve heard that it could increase world hunger. I especially love this quote from the article, “We’re putting the supermarket in competition with the corner filling station for the output of the farm,’ said Lester R. Brown, an agriculture expert in Washington, D.C., and president of the Earth Policy Institute. Farms cannot feed all the world’s people and its motor vehicles as well, Mr. Brown said, and the result is that more people will go hungry.”
If you go to the actual article from the NY Times (link above), you will see a picture from Sioux Center, IA of a MOUNTAIN of corn. I could be wrong, but I think farmers can meet the demand without any more people going hungry. Give me a break. We produce enough food now to feed the world if it were not for the politics, corruption and logistics that keep it from getting to those who need it.
Farm Policy writer Keith Good has a great commentary on about the article you can read here on’s Mother blog

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Miscellaneous