February 17, 2014 |

Pacific Ethanol Uses Technology to Increase Yield

Installing ICM Inc.'s Selective Milling Technology to reduce viscosity and increase oil recovery

Feb. 16--BURLEY -- Pacific Ethanol's Burley plant is installing new milling technology that will increase its yield.

The company is installing ICM Inc.'s Selective Milling Technology to increase ethanol yield, reduce viscosity and increase oil recovery.

Paul Koehler, vice president of corporate developments for Pacific Ethanol said basically, the new machinery is grinding equipment that further exposes the corn starches to improve yield and performance.

The company's Magic Valley facility employs 35 people and produces slightly more than 60 million gallons of ethanol a year.

The company also produces 500,000 tons per year of wet distillers grain and 12-million gallons of oil, both used as animal feed. The oil is also used in biodiesel production.

Koehler said the company expects the new equipment to increase yield at the plant by 2 percent.

"That is significant over the long run," Koehler said. "It's a good investment."

Pacific Ethanol shuttered its ethanol production at the Burley plant in February 2009 and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the following January.

"We have been through a lot and worked our way back up," said Koehler. "We now have 91 percent ownership of our plants. We bought back into what we built."

Koehler declined to reveal how much the new equipment cost.

The corn comes in by railcar from the Midwest, Koehler said.

"We would love to buy corn locally, but we haven't found it," Koehler said.

The ethanol is sold in the Idaho market, mainly in Pocatello and Boise. The distiller's grain is sold to local dairies and feedlots and the oil is sold in Idaho and in other markets.

"Some of the oil goes to feedlots but more of it goes into biodiesel production," Koehler said. "The poultry industry really likes the oil."

The reason why the company chose Burley for the plant in the first place is its proximity to feedlots and dairies, Koehler said.

"We began commercial corn oil production with an ICM-designed system at our Magic Valley plant in mid-2013," said Neil Koehler, the company's president and CEO, in a press release. "SMT complements these operations by increasing both corn oil and ethanol yields and positions our Magic Valley plant for the potential future production of advanced biofuels that builds upon the SMT platform."

Tom Ranallo, vice president of operations for ICM, Inc., said in the news release, "SMT is providing our customers, and the industry with a new standard for ethanol yields, oil recovery yields and overall plant efficiencies. We are excited to continue our relationship with Pacific Ethanol Inc. and look forward to partnering with them to help realize their performance goals."

Pacific Ethanol is the leading marketer and producer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western U.S., according to the company's website.

Pacific Ethanol has a 91 percent ownership interest in New PE Holdco LLC, the owner of four ethanol production facilities. Pacific Ethanol operates and manages the production facilities, which have a combined annual production capacity of 200 million gallons.

Paul Koehler said the company's Stockton, Calif. plant has technology similar to the Burley plant and the company expects to install similar technology at two other plants.

Copyright 2014 - The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

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