Intended to speed the growth of alternative fuel technology, a 10-year agreement between the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), St. Louis, and Siemens Energy & Automation, Atlanta, will make Siemens equipment, software and on-site simulation and training available to the NCERC.

Opened in 2003, NCERC facilitates the commercialization of technologies for producing ethanol more effectively, resulting in improved yields and cost reductions. The center also assists with training personnel in bio-fuel refinery operations and management.

Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 distributed-control systems and instrumentation are now being used by the NCERC to help validate near-term technologies that are enhancing the economics and sustainability of renewable fuel production.

NCERC statistics show there are 110 ethanol plants in operation in the U.S. and 80 new plants under construction, which, according to the center, translates into a growing demand for new workers in the alternative fuels industry.

“We offer both classroom training and hands-on instruction,” says John Caupert, director of the NCERC. “By collaborating with Siemens, we will be able to offer one-hour seminars and five-day process training sessions on the control system as well as training for executives who will run the plants.”