March 17, 2008

Wind turbines spinning at ethanol plant



Since most of what I post on this blog are items that I find interesting, I am somewhat surprised to be doing another post on the same company mentioned in a post just three days ago. The company I am talking about is Corn Plus, located in Winnebago, Minnesota. Corn Plus was mentioned in a post on Friday since they are participating in trial of a new microwave drying system that holds the promise of lowering the energy needed for drying distillers grains.

For a long time I have been interested in any process that promises to lower the amount of energy needed to produce ethanol or uses forms of energy other than fossil fuels in the production of ethanol. And as part of that interest, a while back I compiled a list of ethanol plants that were using alternative forms of energy. Well, Corn Plus popped up on that list as well.

Corn Plus uses a couple of different technologies to lower their energy costs. They installed a fluidized bed reactor which allows them to burn biomass and reduces the amount of natural gas needed to run the plant. They also installed two 2.1 megawatt wind turbines to offset a portion of their electricity needs.

And that brings me to the point of this post. Today I ran across a news article that reports that after working through some initial electrical bugs, their wind turbines are spinning and producing electricity.

The efforts that Corn Plus is putting into lowering it's fossil fuel needs is a good example of efforts taking place across the ethanol industry to improve the efficiency of the process. And those efforts are lowering the energy costs and the amount of fossil fuels needed to produce ethanol and making a clean fuel even cleaner.

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