Iowa's Quad County Corn Processors has broken ground on a new facility that will process corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol. Other ethanol producers will be watching the process to determine whether they will license the new technology.
Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), Galva, IA, broke ground last week on an $8.5 million biorefinery that will convert corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol. The new plant will be built next to the company's existing 35-million-gallon-per-year corn ethanol facility.
The new plant will use QCCP’s Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) patent pending technology, which was developed by Travis Brotherson, plant engineer, QCCP. Brotherson developed the ACE pretreatment and fermentation process which bolts onto the ethanol producer’s conventional corn starch ethanol process.
Asked whether QCCP has been contacted by other ethanol producers about possibly licensing the technology, Delayne Johnson, QCCP’s general manager, said that a number of ethanol plants have been in contact, but that they want to see the full-scale plant facility operating before making any decisions to move forward. “We have multiple patents pending and do plan to commercialize this technology,” Johnson said. “We are working through a commercialization process now and plan to be ready to announce it upon successful startup in Galva.”
The ACE technology also is expected to improve the yield and quality of ethanol coproducts, such as corn oil and dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). It has been shown to produce 300 percent more corn oil than the plant’s conventional conversion technology. Corn oil from ethanol plants has been increasingly sold to biodiesel producers and feed mills.
DDGS for livestock and poultry has traditionally been high in fiber. The ACE technology reduces that fiber and results in 40 percent more protein content.
The ACE technology is expected to increase the plant’s corn ethanol capacity by about six percent by converting corn kernel cellulose into cellulosic ethanol.
QCCP also is using Enogen corn in its corn starch ethanol facility, which Johnson notes reduces energy consumption by five percent and has increased ethanol yield by one percent. “ACE is a separate technology and can be used independently or in conjunction with Enogen.”
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association, said that QCCP received $4.25 million from the USDA and the Department of Energy as part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative to develop the technology. The research and development process spanned four years.
Dinneen added that the QCCP groundbreaking “is proof of the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to spark innovation and investment, to stimulate job creation and economic development, and most important to produce millions of gallons of domestic renewable fuel in the name of energy independence."
“The greatest benefactors will be the Galva community, our shareholders, the ethanol industry and the consumer,” Johnson said. The new process will add five jobs at the plant. “Our local corn growers will also continue to benefit by QCCP continuing to need corn for processing. The grower will also benefit if he or she is also a shareholder [QCCP is a cooperative].”
Construction on the new biorefinery is expected to be completed by April of 2014.