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2023 NEC Session Previews: Ready for Innovation & Putting the ‘U’ in CCUS

February 9, 2023

Events, NEC, RFA News, Technical


By Kelly Davis, RFA Vice President of Technical & Regulatory Affairs


Governments and consumers around the world continue to increase their focus on combatting climate change and reducing carbon emissions. In response to this movement, the pace of innovation and technology adoption in the ethanol industry is rapidly accelerating. Ethanol has already proven itself as a low-cost, low-carbon solution. But with the right policy and market conditions, ethanol can become a net-zero emissions fuel source in the decades ahead—and not just for light-duty vehicles. Ethanol’s unique properties and shrinking carbon footprint make it an ideal candidate for green chemicals, sustainable fuels, and other new uses. I am thrilled to welcome two panel discussions to this year’s NEC that will focus on these exciting developments. Here’s a summary of what to expect:

Ready for Innovation

This panel presents the exciting opportunities for biorefineries to expand into new markets and uses, specifically including green chemical manufacturing.


Geoffrey Inch leads the Circular Economy & Sustainability team for Braskem America. He is responsible for the company's sustainable development strategy, and he’ll be talking about opportunities for low-carbon ethanol in the chemical and plastics market.


Michael Bloesch is the President & CEO, and a Founding Partner, of Next Wave Energy Partners, which  is now completing an ethylene-to-alkylate plant and is planning an adjoining ethanol-to-ethylene facility that will enable the company to produce bioethylene, renewable alkylate and/or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).


Leigh Abrams is the Senior Business Leader for Emerging Renewable Fuels in the Sustainable Technology Solutions business at Honeywell UOP. She is responsible for UOP’s technologies to produce renewable liquid fuels from next-generation feedstocks. The UOP renewable fuels portfolio includes Ecofining and the UOP ethanol-to-jet process, as well as technology for biomass and CO2 conversion into liquid fuels. Leigh will discuss Honeywell’s  new ethanol-to-jet process to meet the growing demand for sustainable aviation fuel with ethanol that is already produced at mass scale.


Putting the ‘U’ in CCUS

Geological carbon sequestration is a huge opportunity for ethanol producers, but it may not work for every producer. Speakers will examine pathways for ethanol producers to achieve net zero emissions, including carbon utilization options for biorefineries that are not pursuing geological carbon sequestration.


Conor Cooper, Head of Business Development at CarbonBuilt, has nearly 20 years of experience in concrete products. Conor Will discuss CarbonBuilt’s process to transform carbon dioxide (CO₂ ) taken directly from industrial processes, biomass boilers, or emerging direct air capture solutions into a low carbon precast concrete products. The breakthrough use of low cost and low carbon materials enables this capital and energy efficient curing process to deliver a 70-100%+ reduction in concrete's carbon footprint.


David Tze, leads the “food and feed from CO2” company, NovoNutrients, that's cleanly transforming carbon dioxide emissions into alternative protein ingredients. NovoNutrients' fermentation platform is powered by patent pending microbes and proprietary bioreactors. David will discuss NovoNutrients' flexible technology, which can utilize various mixed emissions gases, making CO2 capture more economical by reducing the cost of concentration.


Jim McVaney serves as the Chief Commercial Officer for Carbon Sink LLC, a company engaged in the development, ownership and operation of green methanol projects in the United States. Jim will talk about the company’s efforts to develop scalable solutions for converting low-cost renewable power and captured carbon dioxide into green methanol, a building-block chemical that forms the foundation of the products we rely upon daily and eFuels that keep us moving sustainably.


As you can see, we have assembled excellent panels this year! These speakers will be providing valuable insight into future opportunities for ethanol biorefineries – you don’t want to miss these sessions.  


The National Ethanol Conference is the nation’s most widely attended executive-level conference for the ethanol industry. There is much to learn and experience at the NEC, where sessions featuring globally renowned speakers are interspersed with numerous networking opportunities to help the industry connect and collaborate. The 2023 event takes place February 28 to March 2 at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. For more information and to register, click here