ICM Aims for Strong Legacy
by Holly Jessen (Ethanol Producer Magazine) For two decades, ICM has adapted with the changing times, bringing technology solutions to the ethanol industry. — In 1995, ICM Inc. got its start with the purchase of the engineering, manufacturing and marketing divisions of High Plains Corp. located in Colwich, Kansas. On day one, 20 people reported to work, including 10 manufacturing employees. Also on the team were brothers Dave and Dennis Vander Griend, today CEO and senior process engineer, respectively; Randy Ives, now of Gavilon LLC, and Brad Box, now retired.
What they didn’t have was a plan. Dave Vander Griend tells Ethanol Producer Magazine he had no concept the company would end up designing more than 100 ethanol plants. “You are kind of like a ship in the storm without a rudder,” he says, adding that in early 2000 the focus was on not tipping over and by the late 2000s, the goal was to keep from sinking.
The team eventually zeroed in on an opportunity in the ethanol industry, the need for a better distillers grains drying system, and spent the first year developing a design. The first two ICM dryers were installed at the first two Delta-T plants in Winnebago and Benson, Minnesota. Actually installing the first dryer was a challenge for the team, Vander Griend said. For one thing, it was December in Minnesota, on the coldest winter on record. “We were pouring cement and everything else in the freezing temperatures, building a dryer that we’d never built before, outside in the freezing temperatures, trying to start it up in freezing temperatures,” he said. He recalled sleeping in the ethanol plant’s electrical control room for seven days, leaving only to eat. “We couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work,” he said. “We didn’t have any instruction manual, because we had never built before.”
In the late 1990s, ICM worked with Phoenix Biosystems to develop an anaerobic digestion technology. That patented technology was installed in a number of ethanol plants.
In 2009, the company built and began operating a commercial-scale demo gasifier. The technology was tested with more than 16 feedstocks over the next four years. In March the company announced an ICM-designed gasification demo unit would be installed at a regional wastewater facility in San Jose, California. READ MORE