Growing Our Own Fuel
Ethanol is a renewable high-octane biofuel that can be made from a variety of sources, including corn, sugarcane, and even potatoes. This domestically-grown fuel is biodegradable, burns cleanly, and helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Last year, ethanol displaced nearly 10 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply.
How is it made?
Our biorefineries may look complicated from the road, but the dry milling process is actually quite simple:
- We purchase corn from area producers, and then grind it into flour.
- Water is added to the flour, making a “mash.”
- Enzymes are added to the mash, converting corn starch into simple sugars.
- The mash is processed in a cooker, cooled, and moved into a fermenter.
- Yeast is added, beginning the conversion of sugar to ethanol.
- The fermented mix, now called “beer,” moves to distillation columns, where the ethanol is separated.
- The ethanol is further distilled, dehydrated, and blended with a denaturant.
- The ethanol is now ready to ship!
The ethanol- production process uses the starch component of each corn kernel, but nothing goes to waste. Protein fiber, fat and micro-nutrients are saved and used as a valuable livestock feed called distillers grains.During distillation, we also extract fuel grade corn oil, which can be used to make biodiesel or as a livestock feed supplement.
In addition to producing 65 million gallons of ethanol each year, Midwest AgEnergy Group’s biorefineries each produce about 200,000 tons of distillers grains. About 40% of corn ground for ethanol is replaced by high value distillers grains. Distillers grains are used as a livestock feed for all classes of livestock; beef , dairy, hogs, and poultry. Distillers grains are fed throughout the U.S. and are exported all over the world. We don’t have to choose between using corn for food or for fuel; we use it to make both.
How can I buy distillers grains?
Blue Flint Ethanol and Dakota Spirit AgEnergy sell both dried distillers grains (90 percent dry matter) and modified distillers grains (50 percent dry matter) to local customers. We offer forward contracts and index pricing, and we typically have spot loads available. We will load modified distillers grains 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no minimum load size for either dry or modified distillers grains.
What is made with corn oil?
In addition to ethanol and distillers grains, Blue Flint Ethanol and Dakota Spirit AgEnergy each produce about 5,400 tons of fuel-grade corn oil per year. Corn Oil is mainly marketed for use in the production of biodiesel, another renewable biofuel, but can also be used as a livestock feed supplement.