After playing host to dozens of engaging presentations, lively panel discussions and hours of high-energy networking, the first full official day of the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo (FEW) has come to a close.

But for those of you who couldn’t be here —and those of you who just couldn’t be everywhere in the Wisconsin Convention Center at once — here are three highlights from the day.


  1. Industry leaders Tom Buis, Charles Abbas lauded for their contributions

This year’s High Octane Award winner was Co-Chair of Growth Energy Tom Buis.

“The High Octane Award is kind of a spirit award — nontechnical — given to those who spend their career advancing this industry, growing the market, and advocating for ethanol,” said Tom Bryan, President of BBI International and Editor in Chief of Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Mike O’Brien, who assisted in introducing Buis, praised Growth Energy’s former CEO, saying that while his list of accomplishments in Washington is long and impressive, one of the things Buis said he is most proud of is being a farmer.

“And, he’s a team builder,” O’Brien said. “He’s a collaborator.”

Buis accepted the award emphasizing the group effort that such success necessitates.

“This is indeed a great honor, but the honor doesn’t go to me,” he said. “It goes to the Growth Energy board, the staff, and all of you who work so hard every day and exhibit the passion and creativity to make this industry succeed. I’m just happy to be a small part of it.”

Following the High Octane Award, Charles Abbas, director of yeast and renewables research at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), was named the recipient of the 2016 Award of Excellence.

In introducing Abbas, Bryan described him as being a leading expert in various ethanol technologies and processes and having an innate sense of curiosity. And, to that point, Abbas has written more than 100 abstracts, scientific articles, book chapters, review articles, patents and patent applications. He is also credited for proposing the widely used biorefinery term in the early 1990s to illustrate the bioprocessing of commodity crops to high value-added products.

“The list of what he has done goes on and on,” Bryan said. “He has helped ADM become a world leader in ethanol technology.”

The award, established by BBI International in 2000, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the fuel ethanol industry through their research, technical advisory and/or development activities.


  1. Emily Skor gave the keynote presentation

CEO of Growth Energy Emily Skor painted an optimistic view of the ethanol industry’s future, saying that effective marketing would play a key role in further expanding ethanol’s industry beyond The Corn Belt.

“Together, our industry will carry on the battle like never before. We will make ethanol a household name,” she said. “We will make E15 the new normal at the pump. And we won’t stop there.”

Skor, who has held her position at Growth Energy since May, is admittedly new to the ethanol industry. That, she said, puts her in an ideal position to understand what it will take to win over the public on the idea of ethanol as a safer, more environmentally-friendly fuel additive.

She added that in recent focus groups conducted by Growth Energy, many people — from a wide range of demographics — respond favorably when given details on the benefits of ethanol. Parents, and even millennials, said they were willing to change their habits based on this new information.

She said that means we all need to become marketers.

“We have a great story to tell,” she said. “We just have to understand what motivates our customers and how to speak to them. That’s something I’m really excited to do with Growth Energy and all of you.”


  1. Novozymes’ Scientist Joe Jump took the stage

The first of Novozymes’ team to take the FEW stage, Staff Scientist Joe Jump, PhD, gave his presentation to an eager crowd to close out the afternoon.

His session tackled the topic of improving the nutritional value of distiller’s dried grain and solubles (DDGS) using novel enzymes. He began by running the numbers to show just how important a role DDGS plays in the average ethanol producer’s business. And, he explained, DDGS could play an even bigger role if its nutritional content could be improved.

But how exactly could we go about doing this? Jump suggested the best way may be through a drop-in solution: enzymes which partially break down corn fiber and protein during biofuel processing, resulting in improved overall digestibility, improved true metabolizable energy (TME), and improved amino acid digestibility. All good things.

To learn more, read the preview we wrote of his presentation here.


Are you at FEW 2016? If so, stop by Novozymes’ booth, #323, at the Expo’s Coffee Bar and Lounge — chat with us while you refuel, and enter to win a four-ticket NASCAR prize package!

And don’t forget: follow us on Twitter @NZ_Bioenergy and join the conversation using #FEW16!

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Geoff Hayward

Communications Advisor at Novozymes
Geoff writes about Bioenergy for the Communications team at Novozymes. When he isn’t advocating for an industry that’s changing the world for the better, he can be found on a North Carolina bike path or playing slide guitar.