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Today's News

EPA administrator believes he has statutory right to approve year-round E15

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 7:12pm

In Iowa, Reuters reports that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said during a charm offensive in the Midwest that he believes his agency has the statutory authority to grant year-round E15 sales, a process that would require rulemaking along with a notice and comment period. The administrator has come under heavy fire for being anti-ethanol despite President Trump insisting that his administration is in favor of the fuel. Farm states have strongly called for his resignation as a result of what are seen as anti-ethanol policies such as boosting the amount of hardship waivers for oil refineries.

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The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of June 13th, 2018

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:34pm

The pace of invention and change is just too strong, we’ve realized, to highlight annual or even quarterly or monthly rankings and summaries of significant product and service advances. For now, we’re going to be tracking these on a weekly basis to keep pace with the changes. Here are the top innovations for the week of June 13th.

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Strategic Intent: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to UPM, the Biofore company

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:32pm

UPM is going through a transformation to ensure sustainable value creation in the long term. The aim is to improve profitability, generate growth and increase the value of the company’s business portfolio. UPM has been transforming its business model, business portfolio and business performance.

UPM consists of six separate business areas. The business areas are competitive, with strong market positions and a leading financial and sustainability performance. Five of these business areas operate in healthily growing markets.

Its Biofore strategy includes continuous improvement programmes and short-term actions to drive performance; mid-term growth projects as well as mid- to long-term development work to create new, high value-added growth.

UPM CEO Jussi Pesonen recently presented this illuminating strategic update on the company’s promise and progress towards its next milestones.

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Philippine coconut oil industry in peril if biodiesel blend isn’t boosted to 5%

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:09pm

In the Philippines, the coconut industry continues to urge the government to boost biodiesel blending to 5% from the current 2% as a global glut of the oil pushed down prices to $1,029 per metric ton from $1,610 per ton last year. Exports slid 39% to $383 million during the first quarter, down from $630 million during the same period last year. Without the increased biodiesel blend to absorb excess coconut oil supplies, the coconut industry could see revenues fall by a fifth overall.

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Brazilian ethanol imports fell in May as sugarcane crush ramps up

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:08pm

In Brazil, Platts reports that as the sugarcane crush as ramped up, boosting domestic ethanol production and supplies, demand for imports have fallen significantly to 103.3 million liters in May, the lowest seen since December when it imported 84.6 million liters. So far, ethanol imports for the year through May are up 6% at 1.15 billion liters compared to the same period last year. Almost all of the volume came through North-Northeast ports and from the US.

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Thai policy helping to drive push for more biogas and biomass power production

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:06pm

In Thailand, a new research report says the country’s biogas market should grow 10% while its biomass market should grow 4% between 2017 and 2022 for a total installed capacity of 4,750MW. The country’s northeastern region, home to many host industries providing feedstock for the energy production facilities, is expected to continue to lead growth in the sector, followed by central and southern provinces. Government policy has been the key driver, recent changes to which have been made to promote both biogas and biomass energy.

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Tianjin to implement E10 by end-September

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:06pm

In China, Reuters reports that the City of Tianjin is the first to announce it will implement the 10% ethanol blend set for 2020 nationwide by the end of September. The city of around 15 million people will require 260,000 metric tons of ethanol annually to supply the blend from around 780,000 tons of corn. Domestic ethanol producers are ramping up production in order to supply the fresh demand nationwide but imports will be necessary for the first several years until local production catches up.

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Washington state public vehicles far from achieving alternative vehicle fleet mandate

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:04pm

In Washington state, in a review of the state’s progress towards public vehicle fleets converting to biofuels or electric vehicles by June 1, 2018, local NGO Cotura found in a review of cities and counties that they are far away from their goals—some not even having a single alternative fuel vehicle—in part because of a clause in the law signed in 2007 that required the shift “to the extent practicable.” Though the report is focused mainly on electric vehicles, it outlines the main policy barriers that have kept the shift from happening and outlines suggestions to help drive the shift to alternative fuel vehicles in line with the intent of the law.

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US ethanol exports soared 86% in April while biodiesel fell 23%

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:03pm

In Washington, DTN reports that US Census data shows ethanol exports rose 86% in April over the previous year to 162.3 million gallons, with 38% of the total headed to Brazil. Canada and even Oman followed in second and third place for top destinations. Total exports for the year through April are up 44% on the year. April biodiesel exports dropped 23% on the year, however, to 30,649.1 tons with nearly all of the volume headed to Canada.

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PNNL working with LanzaTech on alcohol-to-jet aviation biofuel

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:02pm

In Washington state, ASTM International recently revised ASTM D7566 Annex A5 — the Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons — to add ethanol as an approved feedstock for producing alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK). The revision of ASTM D7566 Annex A5 clears the way for increased adoption of sustainable aviation fuels because ethanol feedstocks can be made from so many different low-cost sources. Behind this significant advancement is the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory technology — eight years in the making — and its industrial partner, LanzaTech.

Using its expertise in chemistry and catalysis, PNNL developed a unique thermocatalytic process for converting ethanol into ATJ-SPK. The first step of the process is to convert the ethanol into ethylene (“dehydration”). During the second step (“oligomerization”), ethylene molecules are chemically combined to build the range of hydrocarbon molecules needed for aviation fuel. These hydrocarbons are then hydrogenated, followed by fractionation to produce alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene with the desired properties. The process can use ethanol from any source, including ethanol produced via LanzaTech’s proprietary gas-to-ethanol process.

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French agri minister says farmer blockades of oil refineries are illegal

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:01pm

In France, the country’s agriculture minister has called the protest of 14 oil refineries and hundreds of fuel depots by French farmers in protest of Total’s planned imports of palm oil for much of its feedstock demand at the La Mede biorefinery “illegal”. The minister has called for negotiations to end the impasse and find a way forward with Total, saying the illegal blockade is not the way to make lasting agreements and that it will end up hurting everyone.

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WaterKnight, Green Lizard, Solugen, Fero Labs win at AkzoNobel’s Imagine Chemistry start-up event

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 1:58pm

In Sweden, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals named 10 start-ups and chemical researchers as winners of the 2018 edition of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals’ Imagine Chemistry challenge.

To meet its sustainability and growth ambitions, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals continues to forge an innovation ecosystem around a model of collaborative innovation. This is built on its global network of RD&I centers including its S/park open innovation center in the Netherlands, partnerships with leading universities and institutes, participation in venture capital funding, collaborations across the value chain and the Imagine Chemistry challenge, powered by KPMG. Imagine Chemistry was launched to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and uncover sustainable business opportunities. The 2018 edition generated 150 innovative ideas from startups, scale-ups, scientists and others.

The winners were chosen from a group of 20 finalists at a 3-day event held at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. During the event, more than 90 company experts and partner organizations worked with the startups to further develop their ideas and define a clear route to market.

4 Joint Development Agreements announced

Four overall winners (listed below) received joint development awards with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals to help bring their ideas to market.

Water Knight— advanced oxidation reactor technology, which is used for intensifying wastewater treatment in industries with complex effluents.

Green Lizard Technologies, working in partnership with Dixie Chemical— bio-based route to glycidol, which can be used in the production of nonionic surfactants.

Solugen — green process to make hydrogen peroxide that has the potential to replace technology that has remained unchanged since the 1930s.

Fero Labs— machine learning software, which can be used to predict quality issues and production bottlenecks and improve key process parameters.

Other 2018 winners

In addition, the following groups were awarded prizes including expert advice and support at AkzoNobel’s S/park open innovation center at Deventer, the Netherlands.

Research agreement with AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals:

University of Nottingham (UK) – Ifty Ahmed and Belinda Good; porous microspheres from glass and glass ceramic materials.

Chemical research support from AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals:

Edinburgh Napier University (UK) – Mark Dorris and Dominic O’Rourke; Cellulose nanofibrils derived from seaweed

Partner support by KPMG:

Invert Robotics (the Netherlands) – Hans Prein, James Robertson and Robert Mandjes; robotic inspection for tanks and other equipment.

Partner support by ICOS:

Semiotic Labs (the Netherlands) – Gerben Gooijers and Simon Jagers; smart asset monitoring service for motors and rotating equipment.

Partner support by LuxResearch:

Fraunhofer UMSICHT (Germany) – Axel Kraft and Martin Peters; catalytic process for making alcohols from more sustainable raw materials.

Partner support by Chalmers Ventures:

FineCell (Sweden) – Kloce Dongfang Li, Monica Ek and Jonatan Henschen; process for the production of nanocellulose.

Reaction from AkzoNobel

“This was truly a crop of fantastic and promising entries, and I think each of these can bring something to the solutions that we have been seeking,” said Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Chief Technology Officer at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. “This made it truly a challenge to decide on the winners. This final selection holds great potential to address customer needs and contribute to a sustainable future.”

The winners in detail

Polyglyceryl ether nonionic surfactants from bioderived glycidol (Zero-footprint surfactant platforms)

Fergal Coleman, Green Lizard Technologies, UK

Green Lizard Technology, together with partners Felda Global Ventures and Dixie Chemicals, are currently piloting a process for the production of 2,3-epoxy-1-propanol (EP) (also known as glycidol) on a scale of 50 kg/day. They have also completed a full conceptual process design and techno-economic analysis for a 10 kt/year plant. The total production cost for glycidol is expected to be a fraction of the current market price, which has hindered its uptake in a range of high volume applications, such as coatings, thermosets and surfactants.

In addition, the byproduct polyglycerols find application in polyurethanes and polyesters production, as polymer and food additives, as demulsifiers, and in drilling fluid formulations. Reaction of glycidol with a fatty alcohol gives a fully bioderived, highly biodegradable polyglyceryl ether nonionic surfactant, in an analogous process to the production of glycol ether surfactants from ethylene oxide (EO).

A range of these surfactants have been synthesized from C10 – C18 fatty alcohols with varying equivalents of glycidol. Glycidol surfactants produced in this way have properties comparable to the corresponding EO-derived surfactants and require less glycidol by weight to produce. Target applications for these surfactants include detergents, foaming agents, wetting agents and emulsifiers.

To make this idea a success, GLT needs a partner with strong technical expertise in the surfactants area as well as industry guidance on which surfactants and applications to target for commercializing this process.

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Strategic Intent: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Waste Management

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 11:25am

Waste Management is the largest environmental solutions provider in North America, serving more than 21 million municipal, commercial and industrial customers in the U.S. and Canada. Today, this includes not just disposal and recycling, but personal counseling to help customers achieve their green goals, including zero waste.

Waste Management is a renewable energy provider. They recover the naturally occurring gas inside landfills to generate electricity, and WM’s fleet of natural gas trucks is the largest heavy-duty truck fleet of its kind in North America.

In this deck, we’ve combined key elements from the companies most recent investor presentation, it’s 2016 Sustainability Report and the 2017 Sustainability Report Update.

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World’s First Commercial Waste Gas to Ethanol Plant Now in Operation

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:24pm

The Digest’s #1 Hottest Company, LanzaTech, is at it again with firsts! It’s making dreams become reality! Instead of sugarplums dancing in our heads, we have visions of a carbon smart future in our lifetime. It’s so exciting that maybe we’ll see them show up on the “7 wonders of the world” list that catalogues the world’s most spectacular natural wonders and manmade structures. We can see it now…LanzaTech’s carbon capturing technology on a steel production facility as the 8th wonder of the world.

In Illinois, carbon recycling company, LanzaTech, and its joint venture partner, Shougang Group, a leading Chinese iron and steel producer, announced the successful start-up of the world’s first commercial facility converting industrial emissions to sustainable ethanol. The facility, located at the Jingtang Steel Mill in Caofeidian in Hebei Province, began operations on May 3.

LanzaTech uses anaerobic bacteria (originally found in rabbit droppings) to ferment waste emissions from industry to make fuel ethanol. This ethanol’s performance in fuel blending applications is indistinguishable from sugar-derived ethanol as it meets all specifications of ASTM International D4806, the active standard for qualifying ethanol used in blending with gasoline for automotive engines. In addition, the ethanol meets the National Standard of the People’s Republic of China GB 18350 for Denatured fuel ethanol.

With a capacity of 46,000 tons (16 million gallons) of ethanol per year, this facility will reduce carbon dioxide, particulates and other pollutants in line with China’s climate and energy goals. Ethanol can be used as a low carbon fuel and can be converted downstream to jet fuel, diesel and household products.

The background

In case you have been living on a deserted island, LanzaTech developed a fully sustainable integrative gas to fuels and chemicals platform that has no impact on food, water security or high biodiversity land use.

LanzaTech’s gas fermentation platform disrupts the current highly centralized global energy system by enabling the regional production of low-cost energy from local wastes and residues, including gases as varied as industrial flue gas, gasified biomass wastes and residues, biogas, and high-CO2 stranded natural gas. The company was originally founded in 2005 in New Zealand. The proprietary gas-to-liquid platform produces fuels and high value chemicals such as 2,3-butanediol (2,3 BDO) and acetic acid from a variety of waste gas resources.

Check out the Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Lanzatech.

Inspiring Others

This isn’t the first time LanzaTech comes at the world with a first – as reported in the Digest in July 2017, they unveiled a Statement of Intent to construct the world’s first refinery off gas-to-bioethanol production facility in India with India’s flagship national oil company Indian Oil Corporation. The basic engineering for the 40 million liter per year demonstration plant will began Q4 2017 for installation at Indian Oil’s Panipat Refinery in Haryana, India. It is being integrated into existing site infrastructure and is LanzaTech’s first project capturing refinery off-gases. In fact, things are going so well there that as reported in the Digest in March 2018, Indian Oil is buying a 4% stake in LanzaTech for $20 million, in a transaction that values the #1 ranked company in the Hot 50 at $500 million.

World firsts are pretty darn inspirational but so is LanzaTech’s leadership. LanzaTech CEO, Jennifer Holmgren received the Global Bioenergy Leadership Award, the first non-Government Official to win the award. The award, given in recognition of her leadership over more than 20 years in the field of alternative fuels, was engraved with a greyhound, symbolic of how her work rescuing greyhounds from race tracks echoes that of her work at LanzaTech, rescuing single use carbon!

“With all the technologies in play today, it is truly an honor to be recognized by the Digest subscribers and the international panelists for our contributions to the advanced bioeconomy, especially in the year that we will operate our first commercial facility!” said Holmgren. “Creating a Carbon Smart future is no longer considered a fantasy and it is thanks to the efforts of the entire LanzaTech team and our global friends and partners that no carbon will be left behind. We are turning our carbon challenge into an opportunity!”

Making it happen

What may have seemed as a pie in the sky idea many years ago of carbon capturing, LanzaTech is making it a reality in more ways than one. They aren’t just taking carbon from a steel and iron producer in China and turning it into something valuable while reducing carbon pollutants from the air – they are also taking municipal solid waste and converting it into ethanol as well.

As reported in the Digest in December 2017, in Japan, Sekisui Chemical and LanzaTech, successfully demonstrated the production of ethanol from unsorted municipal solid waste — which can be used directly as a fuel or as a precursor to butadiene (a key raw material in the production of synthetic fibers and rubber), isopropanol, and isoprene — which themselves are used to make anything from tires to sneakers, cell phone covers to yoga pants.

In 2013, Sekisui launched a project with LanzaTech to find an economically viable way to recycle the carbon in garbage into useful products, such as plastics and rubber. With a pilot scale facility outside of Tokyo, Sekisui has succeeded in demonstrating stable plant operation and high ethanol yields.

Here’s an illuminating overview from the partners on the technology, the partners, the project, the promise, the progress.

Also check out the Diget’s top story from December 2017 about the project, “Shazzan!: Turning Urban Trash into Treasure Island, the LanzaTech, Sekisui Chemicals story.”

The Bottom Line

When we think LanzaTech can’t get any better, we get news like this about the successful start-up of the world’s first commercial facility converting industrial emissions to sustainable ethanol. When we think they can’t inspire us any more, they take our breath away.

We have a feeling this is just the beginning for LanzaTech and for carbon capturing projects around the world and wouldn’t be surprised to someday see it on the top “wonders of the world” lists. Hold on because this ride is far from over and it’s going to get even better.

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IKEA and Neste launch commercial scale bioplastic production

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:16pm

In the Netherlands, IKEA and Finland-based Neste are working together to tackle the production of plastic products by working on a commercial scale pilot production of renewable, bio-based polypropylene plastic.

The pilot at commercial scale of PP and PE plastic, chosen to contain 20 percent renewable content, will start during fall 2018. The production of bio-based plastics will be based on Neste’s 100 percent renewable hydrocarbons. IKEA will use the new plastic in products that are part of the current product range, such as plastic storage boxes, starting with a limited number of products. As capacities improve, more products will follow.

The plastic partnership between IKEA and Neste began in 2016 as a way to find plastic alternatives with sustainable vegetable oils, wastes and residues, and used cooking oil for the biobased plastics. IKEA plans on changing all of the traditional plastic used in IKEA products to plastic made from recycled and/or renewable materials by 2030.

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Waste Management Unveils $30M RNG Facility

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:14pm

In Kentucky, Waste Management unveiled the latest technology at its Outer Loop Recycling and Disposal Facility in Kentucky, turning waste from the landfill into usable, renewable natural gas (RNG). This facility captures methane produced by the landfill and converts it to pipeline quality natural gas. The Outer Loop RNG facility serves as a model for a planned rollout of additional facilities in the coming years.

The facility processes up to 5,000 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) of incoming landfill gas. This equates to about 2,500 mmbtu per day of RNG, or 18,000 diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) per day, enough to fuel about 800 of the company’s compressed natural gas (CNG) collection trucks.

“Waste Management’s innovative renewable natural gas facilities close the loop by converting discarded waste into beneficial gas that can go into the pipeline and fuel our very own CNG collection vehicles,” said Jim Trevathan, Waste Management executive vice president and chief operating officer.

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Open Cell Launches Biotech Labs in Shipping Containers

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:13pm

In the United Kingdom, Open Cell joined forces with regeneration specialist, U+I, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and SynbiCITE to launch a biolab to offer affordable spaces at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherd’s Bush Market. A first for London, phase one will provide 20 low cost, start-up studios in shipping containers, in which innovators and entrepreneurs can build, test and demonstrate biotech focused innovations.

Co-founder Helene Steiner conceived the idea for Open Cell while working in Microsoft Research and also moonlighting as a lecturer in the Royal College of Art. She was teaching biodesign alongside Dr. Thomas Meany who was working in the Biotechnology Dept. of Cambridge University. They saw talented students with incredible ideas but nowhere to develop them. Steiner explains, “There is little or no infrastructure available to help talented scientists, designers and early-stage biotech businesses to take their concepts to the next stage. Open Cell is a meeting place for anyone in the sciences or design disciplines to contribute to the burgeoning biotech sector in London. We are delighted U+I embraces our vision and is providing space for our first hub.”

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Flint Hills Resources Fairmont Nears Completion of Major Construction

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:10pm

In Nebraska, major construction at the Flint Hills Resources Fairmont ethanol plant is nearly complete. The plant is installing an innovative technology called Maximized Stillage Co-Products (MSC), which was developed by Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) for the dry mill ethanol industry. MSC produces a high protein animal and fish feed ingredient from a portion of the distillers grains produced during the ethanol making process. Flint Hills is branding the new product as NexPro protein ingredient. The company expects to start up the new MSC technology later this summer.

The project is one of the largest investments in co-product upgrading technologies ever made by a dry mill ethanol manufacturer. Significant construction was required to install the MSC technology including the addition of a new building and two protein dryers. FQPT provided the MSC technology and the process engineering for the project and will also provide commissioning, startup support and training for the system.


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Argentina accounts for almost two thirds of EU biodiesel off

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:07pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that biodiesel imports from Argentina have increased considerably over the past several months. In contrast, imports of soybean oil as feedstock from Argentina have been virtually non-existent. The reverse trend can be seen in regard to imports from Indonesia.

Since EU import duties were lowered in September 2017, deliveries of Argentine SME (soy methyl ester) have been on a steady increase. By the end of March 2018, they amounted to 915,983 tonnes, which translates to 62 per cent of all EU biodiesel imports. Because of anti-dumping duties, there had not been any biodiesel shipments from Argentina for four years. The EU imported 203,002 tonnes of PME (palm oil methyl ester) from Malaysia, 160,200 tonnes from China, and only 26,700  tonnes from Indonesia. Most Argentine biodiesel shipments went to the Netherlands and Spain. Deliveries of Argentine soybean oil in the same period was negligible at 155 tonnes. These figures underline the success of the Argentine government’s export promotion policy in support of its domestic biodiesel industry, the Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) has noted.

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April Another Strong Month for U.S. Ethanol and DDGS Exports

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 1:05pm

In Washington, D.C., U.S. ethanol exports totaled 162.3 million gallons (mg) in April, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. This represents a 25% drop from the near-record export volume recorded in March, but still tallied as the fourth-largest monthly export volume in six years. Brazil was the leading destination for U.S. ethanol exports for the sixth straight month, receiving 61.0 mg (38% of total exports), although shipments to the country scaled back by 36% from March.

Canada received 27.6 mg of U.S. ethanol in April, up 13% from March and a six-month high (17% market share). U.S. ethanol exports also flourished in several previously tepid markets in April, including Oman (12.6 mg, up 254% from March) and the Netherlands (11.4 mg, up 583%). The U.S. also continued modest export growth in India with a 4% gain over March with 12.3 mg. As predicted, China stepped completely out of the market for the first time in six months, as implementation of the additional 15% import duty shut out U.S. product. Year-to-date exports stood at 684.3 mg through April—44% stronger than the first four months of 2017—implying a record annualized export volume of 2.05 billion gallons.

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