Two ethanol producers have improved plant efficiencies by using corn that expresses the alpha amylase enzyme, and will be paying premiums to farmers who grow it.
Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), Galva, IA is paying corn growers an average premium of $.40/bushel to produce Enogen corn; and Bonanza BioEnergy, Garden City, KS, expects to do the same after the 2013 harvest. This is because they have found the corn to reduce some of their operating costs.
Enogen corn has been genetically modified to express the alpha amylase enzyme in the corn kernel, eliminating the need for liquid alpha amylase in the ethanol production process. The corn reduces the slurry viscosity of corn mash, which enables higher levels of dry solids loading.
“We trialed Enogen corn in our plant for approximately three months in 2009. We were impressed with the results we saw on slurry viscosity and how it reduced energy consumption because of higher alcohol content processed in distillation,” says Delayne Johnson, general manager, QCCP. “Enogen corn has allowed us to increase the amount of starch we put in each fermentation tank and process less water in the distillation process.” He adds that the facility’s natural gas usage is approximately five percent less per gallon of ethanol produced.
The Iowa ethanol producer currently has contracts in place with 27 farmers to produce the corn, paying an average premium of $.40 per bushel. Last year, area farmers had to deal with drought conditions, which has made it difficult to make yield comparisons. “But, the feedback we've been getting is that the Enogen corn is yielding on par with other commercial corn hybrids,” Johnson says. Ninety percent of the farmers who grew the corn last year contracted to grow it again this year, he adds.
“We're always looking for ways to become more efficient and enhance our productivity so any technology that can help save us money while also increasing our output interests us. The idea of creating additional value for our local growers was an added bonus. We are pleased to help keep nearly $500,000 per year in the local community,” Johnson says.
In Kansas, Bonanza BioEnergyconducted a three-month trial on the Enogen corn last summer. “As we loaded solids over our baseline, we saw benefits from the corn, such as decreases in natural gas, electricity, water and chemical usage. We also saw nice trends in fermentation performance,” says Tom Willis, CEO, Conestoga Energy Partners, which owns Bonanza BioEnergy and two other ethanol plants.
Bonanza BioEnergy will process the Enogen corn for the first time following the 2013 harvest“Weare particularly excited to be working with our local farmers since we’ll be paying them for the alpha amylase enzyme. We understand that the ethanol industry and corn farmers benefit from one another, so it makes us proud to be able to give a little extra back to the farmers in our community,” Willis says.
The Kansas ethanol plant is working with 35 local farmers to produce the Enogen corn, and will pay premiums of approximately $.40 cents per bushel.