Galva, Iowa, plant takes different path to cellulosic ethanol

Source: Tim Gallagher, Sioux City Journal • Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013


GALVA, Iowa | While other biofuel producers work with cornstalks or switchgrass to make cellulosic ethanol, the people at Quad County Corn Processors are working to pull cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernel.

“We’re trying to utilize feedstock that’s already on site,” explains Delayne Johnson, general manager at Quad County.

The idea started several years ago when plant engineer Travis Brotherson started investigating residual starch in distillers grains.

Eventually, Brotherson realized the treatment was yielding more sugar than expected by breaking down the fiber in the outer shell of the corn kernel. The company began testing the idea of using that cellulose to increase ethanol production.

After about four years of research, it plans to start construction in a few weeks and to be in operation by April 1, 2014.

The process is expected to increase the ethanol yield by about 6 percent in the fermentation process by making more glucose in the fiber available for fermentation, Johnson says.

One side effect is the cellulosic material will come from the distillers grain and will thus change that feed product to something more comparable to corn gluten meal.

It’s just another variation on the entire cellulosic ethanol debate, Johnson explains. Quad County Corn Processors is taking a different approach to the idea than are other producers.