Automation vendors boost biofuels

Over the past few years, bioethanol refineries sprang up all over the place, and companies that build process control systems jumped into the fray as the next big thing. This should be no surprise, as there aren’t many new chemical plants or oil refineries being built in North America these days.
By Control Engineering Staff February 1, 2009

Over the past few years, bioethanol refineries sprang up all over the place, and companies that build process control systems jumped into the fray as the next big thing.

This should be no surprise, as there aren’t many new chemical plants or oil refineries being built in North America these days. Greenfield projects in traditional process industries are few and far between. Emerson Process Management, Siemens, Honeywell Process Solutions, Pavilion, Invensys Process Systems, and others have all staked claims in this field at home and abroad. For example:

  • Emerson Process Management held a Biorefinery Summit in Madison, WI, to discuss new technical developments and the coming market climate in 2009.

  • Honeywell has partnered with NSE Biofuels for a research facility in Finland to work with wood residues as a feedstock.

  • Rockwell Automation has an advanced technology lab focused on making many of these new technologies commercially viable, including anaerobic digestion to derive biofuels from algae.

  • Siemens has partnered with Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville) to provide training to producers and students in the ethanol industry.

Peter Welander, process industries editor, recently posted a podcast interview with agribusiness economist Dr. T. Randall Fortenbery, who explains some of the complex relationships of energy production.

To hear this podcast, go to www.controleng.com , click on the Podcast tab in multimedia box at right, select “View All Podcasts” and scroll down to the Process Control & Instrumentation area to select “Economics of Biofuels.”