Fueling our Future
Biorefineries turn crops like corn, sugarcane and potatoes into high-octane ethanol. Growing our own fuel reduces our dependence on both foreign oil and fossil fuels. It’s good for our economy and good for the environment. In 2017, ethanol displaced almost ten percent of the gasoline used in the U.S. Clean-burning, renewable ethanol is a bright part of our energy future.
How We Make It
- We buy corn from local growers and grind it into flour.
- Water is added to the flour, making a “mash.”
- Enzymes are added to the mash, turning corn starch into simple sugars.
- The mash is cooked, cooled, and moved into a fermenter.
- Yeast is added, beginning the conversion of sugar to ethanol.
- The fermented mix, now called “beer,” moves to distillation columns, where the ethanol is separated.
- The ethanol is further distilled, dehydrated, and blended with a denaturant.
- The ethanol is ready to ship.
- Our two biorefineries, Blue Flint and Dakota Spirit, make 140 million gallons of ethanol a year.
Ethanol Co-Products – From the Farm and Back to the Farm
The starch component of corn is turned into ethanol, but the other components are made into useful products as well. Some of those products end up back on the farm in the form of livestock feed and supplements. Corn contains the building blocks of food and fuel, and at Midwest AgEnergy, we make both. Nothing is wasted.
Protein fiber, fat and micro-nutrients are made into a high-nutrition livestock feed called distillers grains. Our biorefineries produce about 400,000 tons of distillers grains each year. This high-value product is fed to all classes of livestock: beef, dairy, hogs and poultry, throughout the U.S. and exported all over the world.
Blue Flint and Dakota Spirit sell both dried distillers grains (90 percent dry matter) and modified distillers grains (50 percent dry matter) to local customers. We offer forward contracts and index pricing, and we typically have spot loads available. We will load modified distillers grains 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no minimum load size for either dry or modified distillers grains.
Fuel-grade corn oil extracted during distillation is used to make biodiesel and can also be used as a livestock feed supplement. Blue Flint and Dakota Spirit each produce about 5,400 tons of fuel-grade corn oil per year.