Ethanol plants are now able to shift to the manufacture of hand sanitizer without permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
According to the public guidance issued Wednesday, industrial denatured ethanol can be used “to manufacture hand sanitizer consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance without first obtaining formula approval.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson welcomed the announcement. “Expanding the operations making hand sanitizer grows the need for ethanol at a time when farmers need that,” he said.
Some ethanol plants, like Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) in Benson, Minnesota, were already approved to supply industrial grade ethanol for human use, but most plants are not designed for it. “Pharmaceutical grade is what you need because it’s coming in contact with humans, so it’s a big shift,” said CVEC General Manager Chad Friese. “It’s a lot of additional cost and most plants will not be able to make that conversion.”
Friese says beverage grade alcohol producers are more suited to make the transition to pharmaceutical grade than fuel ethanol producers, and “there’s not enough growth to supply the volumes that the fuel side needs.”
Friese discusses the difference between fuel and industrial ethanol production in this audio:
Chad Friese, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (3:25)