Verasun to make biodiesel from ethanol byproduct

Verasun to make biodiesel from ethanol byproduct

VeraSun Energy Corp., the second biggest U.S. ethanol producer, announced today that it plans to make biodiesel from distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol.

The company, which is based in Brookings, S.D., is looking at possible locations for a 30-million-gallon-a-year biodiesel production plant. It plans to begin construction next year with production starting in 2008.

VeraSun has contracted with Lurgi PSI Inc. for design and engineering of the biodiesel facility and with Crown Iron Works Co. for the oil extraction equipment.
Because the two contracts are exclusive, VeraSun said, it expects to be the first company to develop large-scale biodiesel production using the technologies.

The company also has filed an application for a provisional patent with the U.S. Patent Office for the biodiesel process.

Building a biodiesel plant using a co-product of the ethanol production process will allow VeraSun to make two biofuels from the same feedstock, the company said.

Distillers grains is the product that is left after starch is removed from the corn kernels for fermentation into ethanol.

It has been used as a high-protein livestock feed, but the oil contained in the product is also an excellent feedstock for biodiesel, VeraSun said in its annoucement.

Removing oil from distillers grains increases the value of the oil for biofuel use and will increase the feed content of the distillers grains by concentrating protein and reducing fat content, VeraSun said.

”This opportunity is a natural extension to our business and (is) consistent with our objective to be a leader in the production of renewable fuels,” Don Endres, chairman and chief executive officer of VeraSun, said in the announcement. ”This technology is particularly strategic to VeraSun because it allows us to extend our large and low-cost producer strategy from ethanol to include biodiesel.”

Endres said that creating a second renewable fuel from a co-product of the ethanol process makes good economic, business and environmental sense.

”We are adding to the renewable fuel supply, enhancing the content of a valuable animal feed and creating additional value for our shareholders,” he said.

VeraSun operates two ethanol facilities in Fort Dodge and Aurora, S.D., and is constructing a third in Charles City.

It also has two more ethanol plants under development in Hartley and Welcome, Minn.

When the new facilities are operating, VeraSun will produce about 560 million gallons of ethanol a year.

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