Phibro Animal Health on Ethanol and FSMA

PhibroEthanol performance and animal health go hand in hand at Phibro Animal Health Corporation, which is why the revised FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations are an important focus for the company right now.

Phibo Animal Health Senior Vice President for scientific and regulatory affairs Richard Coulter says many ethanol producers are concerned about what impact the new regulations have on their plants and the distillers grains by-products they produce that are used for animal feed. “We see a lot of confusion at the moment in producers looking to adopt FSMA regarding the FDA’s approach to antimicrobial use for controlling bacterial contamination in ethanol production,” said Coulter in an interview with Domestic Fuel. “The reason that confusion is arising is that the FDA simultaneously has another initiative, Guidance 209, involving veterinary medicine and the use of antibiotics in food animals.”

phibro-coulterGuidance 209 requires that no antimicrobials may be used after the end of 2016 in food animals without the specific authorization of a veterinarian. “So a number of ethanol producers have thought that since they’re making ethanol, and since they’re making distillers grains, and distillers grain is an animal’s feed, that they may need a veterinarian to write them a prescription or a veterinary feed directive to allow them to use antimicrobial products in ethanol, but that’s not true,” says Coulter, explaining that Guidance 209 relates only to veterinary drugs.

Ethanol plants use antimicrobials such as the Phibro Ethanol Performance group product Lactrol to reduce bacterial contamination during alcohol fermentation and Coulter says regulations are very clear that the use of most antimicrobials in ethanol production are still authorized as safe under the new FSMA regulations.

“Lactrol has a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) designation, so it may be used in ethanol, and when its used in accordance with the label it is GRAS and the distillers grain that arises from that ethanol production may be used in animals with no impact from FSMA,” Coulter explained. “The issue that many producers are concerned about is that if Lactrol is used in ethanol production to control bacterial contamination, would there be unacceptable residues or unhealthy or harmful dangerous resides of Lactrol that would persist into the distillers grains that would cause a hazard to animals or food that they would produce, and the answer is no.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Richard Coulter, Phibro Animal Health

#Ethanol Exports Steady as She Goes

growth-exportsThe U.S. ethanol industry exported 836 million gallons of ethanol worth $1.8 billion in 2015, according to a new summary of ethanol trade statistics released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The final tally for 2015 was identical to the 2014 export total.

The RFA publication, which draws data from several U.S. government entities, offers a succinct overview of U.S. ethanol export and import trends in 2015 and prior years. RFA’s new statistical summary will be distributed to attendees of the upcoming National Ethanol Conference (NEC), including prospective ethanol importers attending the International Buyer Program (IBP).

The RFA report finds that U.S. ethanol made its way to all six inhabited continents in 2015, reaching more than 75 countries. The top five countries receiving U.S. ethanol last year included Canada, Brazil, the Philippines, China, and South Korea. Notably, China emerged in 2015 as a leading destination for U.S. ethanol, and total exports to Asia are up 1,515 percent over 2012. While U.S. ethanol exports had a strong showing in 2015, imports of ethanol continued to sag. The United States imported just 93 million gallons of ethanol last year, with more than one-third entering through California ports.

“Ethanol’s value as an octane booster was in the global spotlight in 2015. Even with falling crude oil prices, ethanol remained the lowest-cost—and cleanest—source of octane in the world,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen, who adds that expanding export markets for ethanol in 2016 is a priority for the industry. “With EPA failing to enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard volumes established by Congress, we must continue to aggressively seek new market opportunities around the world.”

The 2016 National Ethanol Conference being held Feb. 15–17 in New Orleans will help in that effort by serving as host to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP). “The RFA is excited about participating in the IBP, and for the opportunity the program provides to create a pathway that connects domestic ethanol producers with international markets,” said RFA board chairman Randall Doyal, RFA Board of Directors Chairman. “By providing a forum to establish these important business-to-business relationships, the NEC will serve as the premier destination for U.S. ethanol producers who are looking for opportunities to promote their products on the world stage.” Prospective ethanol buyers from Brazil, India, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines are expected to attend.

More information about the NEC can be found at NationalEthanolConference.com.

Students Discuss Biodiesel Research Projects at #NBB16

Students who are part of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel had the opportunity to share their research during the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. The students all have one thing in common – their passion for the biodiesel industry.

nbb-16-thomas-kwanI spoke with several of these budding biodiesel leaders during the poster session. Thomas Kwan is a PhD candidate at Yale and is part of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. While doing his undergraduate he looked at emissions from diesel fuel, particularly locomotives. He then leveraged this interest into looking not at the tailpipe, but the fuels themselves for emission reductions.

Thomas’s research is framed around an integrated biorefinery with algae as the foundation. In other words, the “plant” accepts some biomass and then produces biodiesel and other biobased products. Enabling technologies for the idea of an integrated biorefinery. Used micro algae that has high content for biodiesel lipids as well as other compounds, in particular, astaxanthin, a powerful antioxident. IN the case of algae, the bioproduct is not yet approved for human consumption but Thomas hopes this research will help change that. Ultimately, they looked at how to tweak the biorefinery to get more lipids for biodiesel, or to get more astaxanthin. To learn more, listen to my interview with Thomas Kwan here: Interview with Thomas Kwan

nbb16-eric-william

Clemson University Biosystems Engineering students Eric Monroe and William O’Connell, present their biodiesel research during the poster session.

William O’Connell is a senior at Clemson University in Biosystems Engineering. He became interested in biodiesel while doing his undergraduate research, and then attended the conference last year. He’s back and this year presented his research during the poster session.

The focus on the project is to reanalyze the school’s current process of collecting used cooking oil and converting it to biodiesel. William said they are looking to see if there is a more efficient way to produce the biofuel. What they have discovered is using interesterification is more efficient. To learn more, listen to my interview with William O’Connell here: Interview with William O'Connell

nbb-16-james-davisJames Davis is in his fourth year of his PhD at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has a keen interest in fatty acids of seed crops such as canola or camelina sativa. He explained that his research is focused on altering the lipid profile of camelina sativa.

The idea is to apply a cutting edge gene editing technology to knock out certain genes. Essentially, his goal is two-fold. One, to alter the fingerprint of the lipid profile and they are also trying to eradicate erucic acid, a semi-negative toxic lipid that is bad for livestock making camelina seed meal restricted for use in feeding livestock. James notes that if they can get rid of some of the negative profile, they can create a more high-value byproduct. To learn more, listen to my interview with James Davis here: Interview with William O'Connell

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Geothermal Collaboration for Use in Clean Power Plan

With the Clean Power Plan (CPP) moving forward, several groups have collaborated to show states how geothermal can be a part of meeting their clean energy needs. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), Geothermal Resources Council (GRC), and Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) have released the first set of free state-by-state guides that outline the benefits of geothermal energy and three major types of geothermal applications: power generation, direct use and heat pumps.

Geothermal energy is in an ideal position to help states meet emission reductions and their clean energy targets,” said Paul Brophy, GRC President.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.56.17 AMThe materials provide state officials, regulators and the public with information about geothermal energy uses in their individual states. The first four guides cover Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado. The state guides find that geothermal power boost jobs and the economy. They also find that for a handful of states with high geothermal power potential, adding one or two geothermal power plants would offset all their emissions reductions required by the CPP.

“Geothermal can be an important part of state clean power plans, particularly when all of the benefits of firm and flexible geothermal provides are taken into account,” said Ben Matek, GEA analyst and research projects manager. “The Guides we are providing today will help overcome a major hurdle for geothermal – lack of recognition,” said Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director. “We hope the states will recognize geothermal energy is part of the solution, and that each has potential it can tap.”

According to the guides, large-scale geothermal power plants directly employ an estimated 1.17 persons per MW. They account for nearly $6.3 to $11 million dollars in property taxes over the lifetime of the power plant and provide multiple benefits to the environment including lowered emissions and water consumption compared to other forms of baseload generation, and geothermal energy is always available. Click here to access the free guides.

NJR Announces U.S. New Wind Project

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) has announced its fourth onshore wind project, Ringer Hill Farm. The 39.9 MW project is located along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and will consist of 14 GE turbines. The new wind farm is expected to be complete in early 2017.

njr-cleanenergy“Wind is an increasingly important segment of our nation’s energy mix and we are pleased to do our part to bring renewable energy to the marketplace,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Our investment in Ringer Hill further diversifies our distributed power portfolio, represents the continuation of our Company’s long-term growth strategy and provides value to our shareowners.”

NJRCEV is investing $84 million dollars in the project and expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits, which were recently extended. Once the project is completed, it joins wind farms in Alexander Wind Farm in Rush County, Kansas which began operating in December 2015; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, which came online in February 2015; and, the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm, which has been in service since June 2014.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) has announced that its L&D Solar Farm is interconnected to the grid and supplying solar power to PSE&G electric customers. The 12.93 megawatt-dc solar farm is PSE&G’s largest to date and one of the largest landfill solar farms in the U.S.. It is comprised of 41,720 solar panels that cover 53 acres of landfill space.
  • Ormat Technologies, Inc. has announced that it reached commercial operation of Plant 4 in the Olkaria III complex in Kenya, increasing the complex total generating capacity by 29 MW to 139 MW. Plant 4 will sell its electricity to Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC) under a 20-year PPA. In October 2015, Ormat signed an amendment to the Power Purchase Agreement with KPLC that enables the increase of the capacity of Plant 4 expansions to an aggregate of 100 MW, in phases.
  • WGL Energy Systems, a WGL company has announced that it was recently awarded the Capital Solar Challenge contract by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to provide power to 18 federal building locations throughout the District of Columbia, including the U.S. General Services Administration Building (headquarters) and the Ronald Reagan Building.
  • ACCIONA Energy announced that it has closed tax equity financing for the San Roman Wind Farm with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. ACCIONA recently acquired the San Roman Wind Farm as part of the company’s renewed focus on building renewable energy projects in the U.S. San Roman is a 93 megawatt (MW) wind power project located in Cameron County, near the southeast coast of Texas.

Pfizer Grant Boosts Biodiesel at NJ College

pfizer1Biodiesel is getting a boost at a college in New Jersey, thanks to a grant from Pfizer. This article from the Morris (NJ) NewsBee says the College of Saint Elizabeth has received the grant through Pfizer Undergraduate Research Endeavor (PURE).

PURE’s goal is to support and encourage undergraduate students, especially underserved students, to participate in research opportunities. The student projects that were outlined which require the advanced technology and equipment are enzyme kinetics, properties of aspirin derivatives, synthesis and analysis of biodiesel, and Great Swamp Watershed monitoring.

The grant allows the college to purchase such equipment as high performance liquid chromatography column to analyze aspirin purity, gas chromatography column to analyze fatty acid methyl ester components of biodiesel, a rotational viscometer, a spectrophotometer and other highly specialized equipment as well as software for data collection and analysis.

“Our recent grant from the Pfizer PURE Initiative will allow us to pursue several research opportunities with our students,” said Kimberly Grant, professor of chemistry. “These projects encompass a number of pertinent questions in the fields of organic, bioorganic, biochemistry and environmental science.”

Grace Bailey, a junior chemistry major from Vernon, said, “The viscometer has made my research so much easier and faster. Before, I would have to spend many more hours on my research, and this equipment has cut my time by more than half.” Bailey is conducting the research on synthesis and analysis of biodiesel fuels and will be presenting her research to the Independent College Fund of New Jersey in March 2016.

Primus Green Produces 100-Octane Gas

Primus Green Energy has achieved a milestone by producing 100-octane gas and methanol from methane and other hydrocarbon gases at its commercial demonstration plant in New Jersey. According to the company, the feat was achieved due to a “breakthrough” improvement to its STG+ technology that enables its plant to produce high-octane gasoline in addition to RBOB gasoline and methanol.

Zero sulfur, zero benzene gasoline in front of New Jersey commercial demonstration plant. Photo Credit: Hal Brown.

Zero sulfur, zero benzene gasoline in front of New Jersey commercial demonstration plant. Photo Credit: Hal Brown.

The resultant fuel contains zero sulfur, zero benzene, zero lead gasoline. Primus says as such, their fuel could qualify for European Union (EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) requirements. I addition, the gas has the potential to meet U.S. fuel needs including 100LL aviation gasoline (avgas) market totaling 150-200 million gpa in the the U.S. alone.

“This breakthrough in our proprietary technology directly addresses the demand from our customers in Europe and the CIS – markets that require high-octane gasoline,” said Sam Golan, CEO of Primus Green Energy. “This accomplishment demonstrates the advantages of Primus’ technology team and business model, which focus on the continual improvement of our technology and the development of new products to meet customers’ needs.”

Primus’ STG+™ technology can transform a number of natural gas feedstocks including wellhead and pipeline gas, dry or wet associated gas, “stranded” ethane, excess syngas from underutilized reformers or mixed natural gas liquids. The company says with its technology, it can save gas from being stranded or flared due to lack of traditional natural gas pipeline infrastructure. Their modular system can be trucked and assembled onsite.

Enogen Use Up as Syngenta Announces Sale

syngentaSyngenta made headlines this week with news that ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned company, has offered to acquire the company with the cash purchase of all Syngenta shares. The $43 billion deal must still be approved by two-thirds of Syngenta shareholders and receive regulatory approval.

During a call with reporters, Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Piskof said the offer will allow Syngenta “to continue as a stand alone company,” and keep its commitment to research and innovation. “To ensure that Syngenta remains Syngenta (is) one of the most important elements of this transaction,” said Piskof, adding that it “helps preserve choice for growers at a time when we’re seeing a lot of consolidation.”

Enogen logoAt the same time, Syngenta announced its 2015 year end results, which includes significant growth in Enogen corn for ethanol production, despite an overall decline in sales of 11%.

“We continue to make very good progress with our Enogen trait offer for bio-ethanol plants, with now 18 plants contracted to receive Enogen corn and another 28 prospects that we are confident will be signing up during the course of this year,” said Piskof. The most recent plant to sign an agreement to use Enogen was Midwest Renewable Energy in December.

Learn more about Syngenta’s 2015 results and plans for ChemChina acquisition here: Syngenta COO Davor Piskof

ACE #Ethanol Ready to Soar into DC

ace16-flyinMembers of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) are getting ready to soar into Washington, DC this year for their annual legislative fly-in. The 8th annual ACE fly-in will be held on April 13-14, with the Washington Court on Capitol Hill serving as the host hotel for the event.

“The most persuasive and effective spokespeople for our industry are real people, whose everyday life experiences and authenticity illustrate how the decisions made in Washington, DC impact their businesses and communities,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “Given how much is at stake for biofuels in 2016 between the election, RFS implementation challenges, and regulatory hurdles impacting consumer access to E15, flex fuels, and the clean octane in ethanol, we encourage supporters to join us for this important event.”

Fly-in registration information is available at this link on the ACE website.