By Linda F.
fuel prices and the push for ďgreen,Ē those involved in the fields
of alternative fuels and bioenergy find themselves working on
the cusp of new developments on a daily basis.
asked six companies committed to forwarding the green initiative
what their latest projects were and how they were progressing.
Association of Journeymen Apprentices
United Association of Journeymen Apprentices has seen their work
accelerate as more ethanol plants look to make their homes in
the bi-state region.
business manager of Plumber and Pipefitters #562, says that they
have been busy at the Center Ethanol Company in Sauget, Ill. for
the past several months. “The Corrigan Company is working on it
right now. They fabricate skid work and piping here, then take
it there to install.
clean-burning coal as one of the many goals of those involved
in finding alternative energy sources, Kellett says they have
been busy installing "scrubbers, boilermakers and things
of that nature.
a huge half a billion dollar job at the Ameren Plant at Portage
Des Sioux," Kellett says. "One of our contractors, Haberberger
Mechanical is working on that and it's all about scrubbers for
he thinks the push for clean burning coal is in its beginning
stages as a result of the federal mandates. "Ameren UE is
doing their part, and while they're looking at the mandates, they're
also looking at design and they're on the forefront of the push
for clean burning."
With the opening
of Gateway Terminals LLC in Sauget, Ill., at least 500,000 barrels
of the product can be stored, then shipped to areas of the country
not having the infrastructure to support such a facility.
on schedule for a phased-in start up the first of May," says
Chris Allen, vice-president of operations for Eagle Marine Industries,
"and should be in full operation with all four tanks by August
1, with the rail infrastructure completed in July or August. We
want to get this started properly and get it operating."
which employs 14 people will move ethanol product by barge, rail,
and truck from the Midwest facility to all points south, north,
east and west.
really a transportation facility," Allen says. "One
of the short falls from an infrastructure standpoint in the industry
today is that there are not many facilities like ours that is
intermodal and that can access water, rail and truck."
chairman and CEO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, took steps three years
ago to make Enterprise ecologically friendly by gifting $25 million
to create the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels
at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. They then devised
a program to reduce the environmental impact of its fleet and
boost development of alternative fuels.
of the program include: Planting 50 million trees in national
forests, using FlexFuel cars and trucks that burn on the ethanol/gas
mixture, E85; using the world’s largest fleet of fuel-efficient
vehicles; working to offset carbon dioxide emissions generated
by their car rentals.
shows that 20 to 40 percent of American consumers will make a
decision to do business with a company believed to be committed
to the environment," says Pat Farrell, vice-president of
also backs research for alternative fuels such as switch grass,
corn stalks and other biomass materials by partnering with the
Danforth Center to advance research into the next generation of
fuels that could replace fossil fuels.
University in St. Louis has three groups that are working to forward
the development of alternative energy, says Dr. Pratim Biswas,
Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor of Environmental Engineering
and chair, Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering,
School of Engineering.
I-Care (International center for Advanced Renewable Energy and
Sustainability), MAGEEP (McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environment
Partnership), and EECE (The department of Energy Environmental
and Chemical Engineering).
companies are working in three areas:
• Using nanotechnology
in advanced coal systems. Biswas says that with two major coal
companies headquartered in St. Louis, "and with much of our
electricity being produced from coal, we have to insure that coal
is used in an environmentally benign manner."
on bioenergy by looking at carbon neutral technologies. "We
are using plant-based sources, reused biofuels and algal systems
which trap carbon dioxide and has also produced products of value
such as biodiesel," he says.
systems to convert sunlight directly into electricity in a low
cost manner, "and also to convert solar energy into chemicals
such as hydrogen which will be used as a fuel," Biswas says.
of these three entities were formed in the last two years,"
Biswas says. "But they've been working on these plans individually
for many years at Washington University.
for Evergreen Energy (CE2)
In 2006, the
RCGA and the Danforth Center commissioned bioenergy expert Dr.
Jim McLaren, president of StrathKirn Co. to recommend some processes
for St. Louis getting on the biofuels map. As a result, the Center
for Evergreen Energy became the first step in making St. Louis
a regional hub for biofuels technology.
think there's good potential for us to be the hub," McLaren
says. "There's a great deal of change in terms of research
and exploration of opportunities in biofuels. The actual biofuels
production is increasing, but we still rely almost entirely on
corn for the ethanol that's produced, and that's the only large-scale
commercial biofuels we have."
cheaper than wholesale gasoline, he says. "So that's a stable
platform that's growing and continuing to expand. On the edges
of that, we continue to do research and development in areas like
biomass, algae and in the use of coal for liquid fuels."
opportunity for the center," he says, was to provide information
on what is happening in each of these areas and provide data on
how it could help the consumer.
fashion today seems to be anti-ethanol and anti-corn," he
says. "And that's not right. We need to look at the data
and properly inform people. The cost of gas has had more impact
on the price of food than it has had on corn. It would be great
to get that out to people."
firm is doubling the footprint of its office in Chesterfield Towne
Center in order to expand its research and development capabilities.
a huge commitment to research and development of new technology
for cellulose," says Chris Standlee, executive vice president.
"We've been very fortunate to have partnered with several
major universities and other technology leaders.
that, we have received a couple of grants from the U.S. Department
of Energy, one of which will help us fund the construction of
one of the first commercial scale cellulose facilities in the
that the $76 million grant will be used to build a plant in Hugoton,
Kan., slated for completion in 2010.
plant will produce 105 million gallons a year of ethanol, 15 million
gallons from plant material like wheat straw or corn stover,"
he says. "This will be the first commercial production facility
in the United States to produce renewable liquid fuel from earth's
most abundant organic feedstock source—plant fiber, or biomass
as it is scientifically classified," he says.
ethanol has gotten a lot of undeserved negative press," Standlee
says. "Ethanol is a very small component of the price of
corn. The primary reason for the increase in food is that we have
$112 per barrel oil, and it takes a lot of energy to package,
market and deliver food." n
Offers New Alternative Energy Track
energy was the new buzz word at the ninth annual InvestMidwest
Venture Capital Forum held in St. Louis this past winter.
Director Chris Walsh says more and more investors are funding
alternative energy companies. Providing these companies
with their own track in the forum only seemed logical.
the increase in venture investing in this industry and the
increase in establishing companies in energy related technology
in the Midwest, we wanted to make certain we included alternative
energy companies in the InvestMidwest program.
says adding any new track to the conference is a building
process. Through research and networking, InvestMidwest
established contacts in the alternative energy/cleantech
industry and then engaged these contacts in seeking investors
and presenting companies to participate in the conference.
some do cross over, for new tracks we generally have to
attract a new group of investors interested or willing to
invest in this particular kind of company," Walsh adds.
"So far in this case it's turned out well. The alternative
energy presentation room was full all day and both the investors
and presenters seemed very pleased."
12 alternative energy companies from across the Midwest
participated in the new track including four from the St.
Louis areaAkermin Inc., a leading developer of stabilized
enzyme solutions for producing power, food, fuels, and specialty
chemical intermediates; Gridlogix, helping businesses use
wired and wireless networks to securely monitor and manage
remote assets and equipment in real-time, over the Internet;
TeraVista Systems, offering consulting, technology solutions
and managed services to organizations in the environmental,
carbon and energy verticals; and Waste Remedies, a waste
consulting firm helping clients reduce waste costs through
aggregating their buying power, identifying and eliminating
logistical inefficiencies and through diverting materials
from the waste stream to recycling.
the companies in the other two tracks, the alternative energy
companies were selected because they have the best chance
of being funded based on their potential for high growth.
conference is designed to showcase high growth companies
to the venture investors. Venture capital investors are
looking for opportunities that may be high risk, but have
the potential for high reward. "For example, one of
the criteria for a company to be selected for the conference
is that they project $20 million in revenue within five
years. The companies go through a pretty stringent selection
like the companies it showcases, InvestMidwest has experienced
high growth in a very short time. Developed by the St. Louis
RCGA and Missouri Venture Forum, the first conference was
held with seed money from the Danforth Foundation in St.
Louis and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas
City. Altogether 20 St. Louis and Kansas City companies
participated. In contrast, the February 2008 conference
showcased 42 high-growth companies from 14 states across
the Midwest in life sciences, technology and alternative
energy/clean technology. Now a major event, InvestMidwest
has helped generate over $300 million in investments. And
it looks like the alternative energy track will make a comeback.
the Tenth Annual InvestMidwest will be held in Kansas City.
"Based on our positive results at the 2008 event we
will again showcase alternative energy companies at the
conference next year," Walsh says. "The new alternative
energy track has been a strong addition to InvestMidwest."