This Week in the Ethanol Business

With gas prices through the roof and every politician, including President George W. Bush, calling for more use of ethanol, the industry has been on a roll. To follow are several news items from the U.S. and France.

This week Central States Enterprises plans to build a new corn ethanol facility in Blackford County, Indiana, on its property adjacent to its present grain terminal in Montpelier. The facility will consume approximately 41 million bushels of corn annually, producing 100 to 110 million gallons of ethanol and 376 thousand tons of distillers dried grains, a high quality feed ingredient fed to livestock and poultry. Investment partners include Central States Enterprises, Growmark, Inc., a diversified farmer-owned cooperative based in Bloomington, Ill., plus other equity participants. In other Indiana news, ASAlliances Biofuels says it is negotiating to build a $125 million ethanol production facility just outside of Tipton, Indiana. According to the Kokomo Tribune, the facility would be adjacent to the Cargill grain elevator. The plant is expected to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol each year. Officials say the facility would create nearly 60 full-time jobs and use more than 35 million bushels of corn annually from Cargill. Construction could begin as early as this fall 2006. Over in Mississippi, Bunge North America and Ergon Ethanol will build an ethanol plant with an annual capacity of at least 60 million gallons. The facility will provide a link between Bunge’s grain-handling facilities in Mississippi and Louisiana, and Ergon’s petroleum-refining assets. Producing this renewable, clean-burning fuel will require at least 21-million bushels of corn each year, creating new markets for regional corn growers. But it’s not just here in the U.S. that there’s in interest in ethanol. Over in France this week it was announced that Genencor International, a subsidiary of Danisco A/S, will participate in a research consortium to develop economic ethanol production from paper pulp with help from the French forest products industry. The 1.2 million Euros [USD$1.5 million] project will deliver a baseline study of the technical and economic results of a small pilot plant installed at a pulp mill with a focus on waste minimization of the milling process. “France is one of the leaders in the forest product industry and in related technical applications research,” said Jean-Claude Pommier, Executive President of the Strategic Committee at the Institut du Pin — Universite de Bordeaux. “We believe adding a biorefinery capacity to the paper pulp industry will be a sustainable innovation that will have broad impact.” Genencor will provide its advanced biomass cellulases and application expertise to optimize the enzymatic hydrolysis of various paper-pulp samples provided by Tembec and the Pine Institute. Tembec will analyze the economics to evaluate the system for commercial deployment by the pulp industry. INSA’s Laboratory for Biotechnology and Bioprocessing will provide fermentation expertise The Pine Institute will share its expertise in pulping and handling, and in lignocellulose analysis and characterization. For related stories or press releases, see the following links.