Advanced Biofuels Workshop, June 14 in St. Louis, offers solid agenda

By Ron Kotrba
Posted June 9, 2010, at 10:44 a.m. CST

"Advanced biofuels" is one of the hottest phrases in renewable energy today, representing a fundamental shift in the expectation of what biofuels must offer in terms of climate change mitigation and social responsibility, in addition to new production technologies and alternative feedstocks.

The Advanced Biofuels Workshop, a one-day event, will take place June 14 in St. Louis at the America's Center-and the panel and speaker lineup is solid. The event starts out with a keynote address from the president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, Michael McAdams, who will discuss the nature of advanced biofuels and some of the strong policy initiatives underway.

McAdams will then moderate the event's kick-off panel, Game-Changing Pathways: Exploring New Roads to Tomorrow's Advanced Biofuels. Speakers featured on this panel include Gregory Pal, senior director of corporate development for LS9 Inc., the company that recently had its trademarked UltraClean Diesel fuel certified by the U.S. EPA. The fuel is a product of fermenting C5 and C6 sugars to diesel fuel using designer microbes. Pal's presentation is titled, High-Quality, Low Cost Drop-In Fuels & Sustainable Chemicals. Greg Keenan, vice president of business development for Virent Energy Systems Inc.-the company that Royal Dutch Shell announced it invested a big equity stake in-will discuss the production of infrastructure-compatible liquid fuels using the BioForming process.

Also speaking on the Game-Changing Pathways panel is Randal Goodfellow, senior vice president with Envergent Technologies, who will give a presentation titled, Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP): A Proven Pathway to Renewable Liquid Fuel. Omar Abou-Sayed, vice president of corporate development for Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., which owns rights to olefin metathesis technology that won three scientists a Nobel Prize, will present on building a biorefining industry using metathesis. Elevance is also the company contracted with Renewable Energy Group Inc. to build an olefin metathesis demonstration plant in one of Renewable Energy Group Inc.'s biodiesel plants.

The second panel at the Advanced Biofuels Workshop is titled, Basic Value Proposition: Understanding the Why and How of Selected Advanced Biofuels. Moderator will be Tim Portz, program manager for BBI International.

"It occurred to us that perhaps professionals within the existing biofuels industry could use a workshop that really focused on the very basic ‘how and why' of growing the advanced biofuels industry," Portz said.

Michael Slaney, managing director with Gevo Development LLC will discuss butanol developments and the upside they can hold for the ethanol industry. Ted Aulich, a process chemist and senior research manager for the Grand Forks, N.D.-based Energy and Environmental Research Center, will present on Renewable and Petroleum Diesel Integration and Economics. Karl Seck, president of Mercurius Biofuels LLC, is scheduled to speak about Catalytic Hydrolysis: A Novel Biomass Conversion Technology. Also, Gary Luce, CEO of Terrabon LLC, will discuss why keeping it simple is hard, and how technology only gives one a seat at the table.

After a lunch break the conference resumes with the next panel, Second Life: Upgrading Existing Industrial Facilities for Advanced Biofuels Production. Ron Kotrba, editor of Biodiesel Magazine, will moderate the panel. Richard Aves, CEO of Cetane Energy, will discuss small-scale hydroprocessing. Cetane Energy contracted with Healey Biodiesel of Sedgwick, Kan., to retrofit the traditional transesterification facility to a renewable diesel plant using small-scale hydroprocessing. Roman Wolff, president of Enhanced Biofuels LLC, is scheduled to give a presentation titled, Sensible Solutions: Add-ons and Retrofits to Process and Upgrade High Acidity Feedstock. John Monks, business director for DSM BioProducts, will discuss practical solutions for improved ethanol yields from cellulosic side streams. Also on the panel is Eric Connor with ThermoChem Recovery International, who will speak on thermochemical biorefinery integration strategies, and will also give a pilot plant update and review.

The final panel of the workshop is Drop-In Biofuels: The Importance of Developing Fuels that are Infrastructure Ready. The moderator is scheduled to be biofuels research director for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Tom Foust. Seth Snyder with Argonne National Laboratory will give a presentation titled, Drop-In Biofuels: The Importance of Developing Infrastructure-Ready Fuels. Jeff McDaniel, director of business development for Velocys, is scheduled to speak about microchannel technology and enabling the production of cellulosic diesel. Finally, Steve Howell, president of MARC-IV Consulting Inc., also technical director of the National Biodiesel Board, will give a status update on biodiesel, America's first advanced biofuel, and activities on multi-product pipelines.

"We're just really pleased with the level of executive participation on the agenda," Portz said. "I'm looking forward to the program. I think at the end of the day, all of our participants will have a much broader understanding of this developing industry and, hopefully, the opportunities for them and their organizations within it."

To register for this premier event, go to