Ethanol Plants Could Make Biodiesel

John Davis

Ethanol refiners are looking at ways of getting more products out of the raw ingredients they are using, and one of those new products could be biodiesel.

Normally, corn is used to make ethanol and soybeans are used in biodiesel. But this article on the Truth About Trade & Technology web site says many ethanol plants are looking at changing their operations to extract the corn oil during the ethanol production process:

This would allow corn oil to be used for biodiesel production and change the nutritional value of the distillers’ grains (DDGs) produced by ethanol plants.

There are two ways to extract corn oil to make biodiesel.

Jeff Kazin, general manager of extraction technology at Renessen, says his company is working on recovering the corn oil before it heads to fermentation.

Renessen is joint venture of Monsanto and Cargill. It operates a demonstration plant near the Cargill plant in Eddyville.

Kazin says they are able to take about 70 percent of the corn oil out of the kernel.

About 4 percent of a kernel’s weight is oil. Therefore, a bushel of corn would have about 2.24 pounds of corn oil. With a 70 percent retention rate, Renessen is getting 1.5 lbs./bu. of oil per bushel.

“That is food-grade corn oil,” Kazin says.

He says that means the grain is high quality. The corn oil potentially could be sold at the same price — about 35 cents/lb. — as soybean oil is being trade at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Meanwhile, researchers at VeraSun are looking at getting the corn oil from the distillers grain after the ethanol is made. In fact, the company is already considering a 30-million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant to refine that oil into biodiesel. GS CleanTech Corp. is already extracting corn oil at its Little Sioux Corn Processors ethanol plant in Marcus.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, News