Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

VeraSun to become largest ethanol firm

VeraSun Energy Corp., one the nation's largest ethanol producers, is boosting its capacity by about a third with the early opening of its third biorefinery in Charles City , Iowa.

When this plant reaches full production it will be able to produce 110 million gallons of ethanol each year using more than 39 million bushels of corn. The plant will also yield 350,000 tons of dried distillers' grains as a byproduct of the ethanol process.

VeraSun operates near-identical ethanol plants in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and in Aurora. By building almost identical plants the company can share and homologise procedures, staff and spare parts which will contribute to efficiency.

The Charles City opening, nearly three months ahead of schedule, boosts the company's production capacity to about 340 million gallons per year.

VeraSun has two additional plants under construction in Hartley , Iowa , and Welcome, Minnesota , which will increase its annual capacity to about 560 million gallons. This week the company has chosen Reynolds, Indiana, as the site for its sixth biorefinery.

Processing DDGS
All of VeraSun's plants produce dried distillers grains, but the company eventually plans to extract oil from the grains to also produce biodiesel.

This process offers a double benefit because it gives VeraSun an additional product while improving the value of its distillers grain. DDGS, because of its fat content, can only be fed to a certain level to livestock. By removing the fat (for biodiesel), livestock producers and dairymen will be able to increase the volume fed per animal and ultimately obtain a better value for protein feedstock.

VeraSun has had success drawing out oil in small- and large-scale tests and will begin construction of its first extraction facility next to its Aurora plant this year with completion in 2008. The company plans similar projects at its other biorefineries.

Huge corn crop
US farmers are expected to plant the largest crop (+15%) of corn since 1944, according to the Department of Agriculture.

With six plants up and running VeraSun will require around 240,000 bushels of corn and produce more than 2 million tonnes of DDGS.

A VeraSun spokesman said the additional area will more than satisfy growing demand for ethanol, but VeraSun is also examining ways to use plant waste such as corn stalks to convert the cellulose into ethanol.

Related folder:
Dossier AllAbout Bio Energy

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