New Pilot Plant Tests High-Value Ethanol Production System

New process enhances ethanol yields, improves co-product values and reduces the need for natural gas to dry the non-fermentable material. Compiled by staff 

Published on: Jan 20, 2006

Renessen LLC, a biotechnology company, announced plans for a new pilot plant
to test a technology system in which new biotech corn hybrids with increased energy and nutrient levels will be combined with a dry corn separation technique designed for ethanol facilities. The new system represents a step change in the agriculture and biofuels industries and has the potential to increase the profitability of corn growers, ethanol producers, and swine and poultry producers.  

Renessen is a joint venture between Cargill and Monsanto. The pilot-scale facility, which will employ about 15 people, will be built at Cargill's Iowa BioProcessing Center campus in Eddyville, about 70 miles southeast of Des Moines.

"Given the rapid expansion of the domestic ethanol industry, there has been a concerted market push of late for new technologies that will enhance ethanol yields and improve co-product values," says Michael Stern, chief executive officer of Renessen. "Our process does both, and also will greatly reduce the need for natural gas to dry the non-fermentable material."  

The pilot plant will provide engineering data to help Renessen refine specifications for building a full-scale commercial plant and developing livestock feed markets. A limited number of bushels of corn will be contracted with Iowa farmers for the 2006 growing season to ensure a ready supply in time for the pilot plant's expected opening in January 2007.

By applying a novel processing technology with a high-nutrient corn specially adapted for the process, the system would allow a standard dry-grind ethanol plant to produce several products on site, including:

  • Corn oil for food and biodiesel;
  • A nutrient-rich feed ingredient for use in swine and poultry production;
  • A more easily fermentable ethanol medium;
  • An enhanced form of distiller dried grains with solubles, the standard cattle feed co-product of today's ethanol dry milling process.

The new production process is expected to be more profitable because the nutrient-rich feed ingredient, the corn oil, and the enhanced DDGS produced in this new process all have potentially greater value than today's traditional dry-grind ethanol co-products.

Assuming successful testing of the process at the Eddyville pilot facility, Renessen plans to actively seek ethanol partners for commercialization of the technology.