In a move toward providing the ethanol industry with a standard platform for measuring the fermentation characteristics of corn, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. today signed a letter of intent for Pioneer to donate a tool designed to quickly quantify the ethanol yield potential of corn grain in the dry-grind process.
The technology will allow corn growers to provide grain that could improve the efficiency of ethanol plants and also will allow the seed industry access to a single standardized calibration with which to measure corn hybrid ethanol potential.
"With so many new ethanol plants coming online, the ethanol industry is moving to a whole new level," says NCGA Corn Board member Bill Horan. "At the same time, however, there is the potential for multiple measuring systems. One standardized platform would be a key step toward optimizing the efficiency of those plants."
NCGA intends to enter a licensing agreement with Pioneer, in which the seed company would provide its High Total Fermentable (HTF) Rapid Assay technology for use by the corn industry. The whole-grain near infrared (NIR) rapid assay from Pioneer is the first analytical tool developed that enables the seed and ethanol industries to predict the potential value of corn for ethanol production. Additionally, growers will benefit by having a tool that helps them manage corn sales in a new way.
Pioneer would provide NCGA a royalty-free license to the company's HTF calibration and related data. This license would include rights to sublicense and use the data in future calibrations. NCGA would coordinate all activities related to establishing a single grain assay standard that is accurate and fair for corn growers and the ethanol industry.
"Our intent is to improve the profitability of corn growers and the seed and ethanol industries by accelerating the acceptance of a standard that is accurate and fair," says Horan. "This is good news for U.S. corn growers and the growing ethanol industry."
"The dry-grind ethanol industry is rapidly expanding and providing a growing marketplace for U.S. corn growers and their products," says Diane Bridgewater, vice president, business director, Pioneer. "Pioneer is very excited about working with NCGA to provide this technology. We feel accurate grain quality standards will benefit both growers and the ethanol industry."
Dry grind ethanol plants would be able to license from NCGA an industry standard calibration for measurement of grain with HTF. This measurement would allow ethanol plants to source grain with a higher potential ethanol yield, improving the efficiency and profitability of these plants. Grain elevators would also be able to license the calibration from NCGA, allowing the elevator to source grain that has potential to provide improved ethanol yield to the ethanol plants those elevators serve.
According to the letter of intent, NCGA would coordinate activities with other seed company providers, relevant trade and industry associations, ethanol producers, grain purchasers and equipment vendors and appropriate government agencies. In addition, NCGA would set and collect royalty payments from third parties for licensed access to the calibration.
NCGA also would oversee relationships with research and testing laboratories and establish a technical oversight committee to review all calibration upgrades. On an ongoing basis, hybrids will be collected and reviewed, and necessary modifications will be made to the calibration in order to maintain accuracy in this standard platform.
NCGA and Pioneer hope to announce the formal agreement in mid-summer. Further program activities will be announced as they develop.