The task of receiving product is made easier with the existence of a rail access and rail loadout capabilities at the plant as well.
To produce 130-mgy of ethanol takes a lot of corn. In fact, Renew has 10 million bushels of on-site storage thanks to 300 concrete storage structures left from the malting operation. Sourcing the corn isn’t seen as a problem either as Jefferson is located almost smack-dab in the middle of the top eight corn-producing counties in Wisconsin.
“We have the luxury of repurposing the storage facilities, the 60,000 bushels-per-hour hopper-bottom rail loadout and two, 30,000 bushel-per-hour truck bays, along with the conveying and material handling equipment,” Busch notes. “We captured a huge amount of value from the existing plant and saved nearly 20% right off the top, compared to building it all from scratch.”
TECHNOLOGY LEADS THE WAY
With an ideal location and a minimal environmental footprint in place the final step in making the conversion complete was to get the facility up-to-speed with the latest processing technologies.
“We had a specific idea for what we wanted to accomplish with our ethanol process and our co-product production,” says Busch. “Each process relied on the other to generate results and meet our expectations. For that we needed to employ new technologies.”
Faced with the task of producing 130 million gallons of ethanol and creating a value added feedstock out of the co-product, Renew Energy turned to corn fractionation technology to optimize the energy and feed potential from each kernel of corn.
In essence, corn fractionation separates the corn into its basic components — the bran, germ and endosperm. Once broken down and separated, each component can be utilized by the processor for a specific purpose.
“We can capture more than 80% of the fermentable starch available from each kernel via fractionation,” says Thorner. “Most other operations capture roughly 70% of the available starch.
“Another plus with fractionation is realized when you become more exact with your ability to extract fermentable starch and send it to the cooker,” Thorner points out, “This typically yields less non-fermentable inert material that, while non-usable for ethanol production, can be claimed for corn oil production, which helps with storage needs and adds downstream value as an ingredient.”
While fractionation occurs when the raw material comes into the facility and is the impetus that kick starts the value proposition, other high-tech processes play an important role in Renew’s present and future success.
“We installed a high efficiency dryer, which allows us to handle about 35,000 pounds per hour and gives us more consistency in our co-products which is hugely important for our feed customers,” says Busch. “With the HED in place, we can save up to 35 percent on our heat utilization since we use a non-contact heat exchanger. Also, with better heat exchange we have fewer gases going through the grain and notice fewer issues with discoloration.”
Another core element of the corporate vision was to create opportunities for adding value to the co-products. For Renew Energy, success lies in finding ways to overcome traditional objections by making a better end product.
A FULL 'MEAL' DEAL
When Renew Energy drew up the blueprint for its branded co-product feedstuff Renew Meal ™, they had several key weapons in their arsenal to aid in the composition and ultimately, the marketability of the feedstuff.
The key objections most livestock and poultry operators have had with adding DDGS to rations dealt with product inconsistency, nutrient quality and handling characteristics.
“Fractionation helps improve product integrity up front since it allows us to de-bran and de-germ to identify and optimize corn components while reducing waste and variability on the inbound product,” says Busch, “so right away we’ve improved the base structure of the feedstuff.”