Business Briefs

By Staff | June 14, 2011

A new study by the Michigan State University branch of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shows that, in recent years, U.S. biofuel production has resulted in no indirect land use changes. Critics of biofuels have long claimed that increased demand for biofuel feedstocks such as corn and soybeans has led to land use changes around that world, which ultimately result in greater greenhouse gas emissions. But the Michigan State study found that, based on the most recent data available, from 2002 to 2007, biofuel production “is not significantly correlated with changes in croplands for corn (coarse grain) plus soybean in regions of the world which are trading partners of the United States.” Joshua Morby, executive director of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance, says, “This study is yet another nail in the coffin for the tired argument that biofuel production is causing harmful indirect land use changes around the world. The fact is that biofuels are significantly more environmentally friendly than traditional fossil fuels, and have a large role to play in reducing fuel costs, growing our economy, and increasing our energy independence.”

The United Parcel Service began using biodiesel blends at its most vital hub in Louisville, Ky., in May. UPS recently installed a biodiesel fuel tank and fueling station at its Worldport facility. It will allow fueling operators to blend specified percentages of biodiesel "on the fly," starting with 5 percent biodiesel, B5, and working up to B20. As the single most important point in all of UPS's global operation, Worldport processes 416,000 packages an hour, is the size of 80 football fields, and turns 100 aircraft a day. The 30,000-gallon biodiesel tank and station at Worldport fuel nearly 200 vehicles and diesel-fueled equipment, most of which help load packages on and off the planes. The National Biodiesel Board called the switch “monumental.”

For biodiesel producers using corn oil feedstock, take note: Ashland Inc. says ethanol producers can now capture up to three times more corn oil during processing and extract a higher quality oil with a new product introduced by subsidiary Ashland Hercules Water Technologies. The new corn oil extraction aid, PTV M-5309, is easily introduced into the process and requires no additional capital expenditure. The corn oil extraction aid significantly increases corn oil yield by improving the release of oil during mechanical extraction. Added to the process after distillation, the extraction aid also reduces solids in the oil, resulting in a cleaner, higher-quality oil. Results also include a reduction in system deposits, allowing for less downtime related to cleaning and maintenance. The product has received the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and Kosher certifications. Additionally, Ashland has a pending patent application for use of Ashland PTV M-5309 in corn oil extraction.

Neuron BPh and Repsol have formalized an agreement for the development of bioprocesses focused on the production of biofuels. The Neuron biotech company from Granada is going to carry out research in collaboration with Repsol on second-generation biofuels via its BioIndustrial division. The research will be on fuels produced from agricultural waste and wood pulp. Repsol, developing projects in the biofuels sector for more than 10 years, is collaborating with Neuron BioIndustrial because of its experience and knowledge in the field, which will allow Neuron to make significant progress in a short period of time, particularly in the industrial application of bioenergy and biopolymers.

The founders of BDI-BioEnergy International AG, Wilhelm Hammer, CEO, and Helmut Gössler, chief technology officer, will be leaving the management board for personal reasons when their contracts end June 30. Hammer and Gössler are taking this step after making appropriate preparations for their successors and in full agreement with the supervisory board. They will both continue to be associated with the company as shareholders and consultants. Effective July 1, the supervisory board of BDI has appointed Markus Dielacher and Edgar Ahn to be new members of the management board. Both have been with the company for years and have in-depth sales and technical experience. Hammer says, “Since BDI was established 15 years ago, my partner Helmut Gössler and I have worked with our colleagues to develop the company from small beginnings to the world market leader for multifeedstock biodiesel plants. In spite of the severe financial and economic crisis in recent years, BDI is well equipped for the future today.”

The law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP announced Mary Ann Christopher has joined the firm as a partner in its Milwaukee office. Christopher will join the firm’s energy and sustainability industry team as well as the transactional practice group where she will focus on project finance, complex business transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Christopher has successfully represented clients in complex commercial business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and project finance, primarily in the development, acquisition, sale, finance, operation and leasing of major infrastructure and industrial projects, equipment assets, and related facilities; with a particular emphasis on the renewable and clean energy sectors such as wind, biomass, biofuels, hydrothermal and nuclear. Christopher received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law and her undergraduate from Carleton College in Minnesota.

Wika Instrument Corp. is offering its 213.40 bourdon tube pressure gauge intended for adverse service conditions where pulsation or vibration exists. It is suitable, the company says, for gaseous or liquid media that will not obstruct the pressure system. With pressure ranges up to 15,000 psi and glycerin and silicone filled options, the 213.40 is ideal hydraulics and compressions, particularly in mining operations. Also, the Wika XSEL 2XX.34 process gauge series is designed for severe service applications found in refining, chemical and petrochemical plants. The XSEL is used to measure line and pumping pressures in biodiesel reaction, wash, settling and mixing methanol catalyst. Utilizing a stress reducing Bourdon tube design, movement with hardened components and bearing technology, the XSEL process gauge pressure system is capable of producing 10 million or more pressure cycles. Wika says due to its greater resistance to vibration and pulsation, the XSEL reduces downtime from replacing regularly worn-out instruments and improves safety risks from the release of process media. With positive pressure ranges up to 30,000 psi, a five-year warranty on the gauge and a 10-year warranty on the pressure system, the company says it exceeds industry standards.

After raising $2.5 million in working capital, EQM Technology & Energy was able to restart the 12 MMgy plant in Cleburne, Texas, recently. The startup went smoothly, according to Jack Greber, CEO of EQM, who adds, “Production and sales have met our forecasts, and customer interest and demand have been strong.” The restart of the plant would not have been possible without the company’s issuing of $2.5 million worth of convertible notes. The convertible notes allow the purchasers two different options. They can wait the three-year time period the notes have been issued for and receive the payment back with an interest rate of 10 percent per annum. Or the purchaser can instead convert the notes into common stock in EQM at 40 cents per share before the three-year time period. After one year, however, if EQM’s common stock has traded at an average price per share above two times the conversion price for 60 consecutive days, according to EQM, the company can “call,” or forcibly convert, the notes.

Renewable fuel retailer Propel Inc. announced the opening of a new fueling location in Redwood City, Calif. The station, co-located with a Valero station on Whipple Avenue, supplies both biodiesel and E85. The new location is the 24th Clean Fuel Point station that Propel has opened to date. More than 75 sites are planned for development across California over the next year. According to the company, those sites will all feature biodiesel in addition to E85. “Even when diesel prices get extremely high and biodiesel is significantly less than regular diesel, we still see a lot of customers with diesel vehicles that will still drive right past the biodiesel pump and go to a diesel pump,” says Matt Horton, Propel CEO. “Usually it’s because they don’t know that they can use biodiesel in their diesel vehicle.”

A three-way partnership between Angel Labs LLC, Industrial Green Power Inc. and Titan Biodiesel was forged whereby Angel Labs will deliver to market its ultra-efficient, six-inch “Massive Yet Tiny” engine to power a 40 kilowatt genset distributed by Industrial Green Power Inc., powered by biodiesel fuel supplied by Titan Biodiesel. Invented by Raphial Morgado, co-founder and managing member of Angel Labs, the MYT-6 possesses an incredible power-to-weight ratio, low parts count, low maintenance, high mechanical efficiency and low pollution. The MYT-6 engine can be applied to benefit virtually any engine application, from ships to small generators.

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