THE HISTORY OF OUR ETHANOL PLANT
The ethanol plant was first constructed by George Westphal Engineering, from Germany, in Elgin, Iowa in 1984, as a 1.65 MGPY facility, producing alcohol from corn. Westphal discovered an improved distillation process for alcohol. Westphal constructed four alcohol plants to prove this process. However, demand for alcohol’s inclusion in gasoline fell off in the late 1980s due to questions raised by the oil industry surrounding its inclusion. The plant was subsequently purchased by new owners who began looking for lower cost feedstock. They discovered “cheese whey” as a potentially candidate. Cheese whey contained “lactose”, a simple sugar, which could be converted to alcohol.
In 1988 the plant was moved to its present location, in Hopkinton, Iowa, where Swiss Valley Cheese had a major cheese production operation. The objective was to receive waste cheese whey from Swiss Valley wherein the lactose could be extracted and converted to alcohol. This cheese-waste venture may have worked, but Swiss Valley moved their cheese plant from Hopkinton.
The owners then began converting waste sugars and candies, such as spent marshmallows and sugar syrups, into ethanol. In 2001, they sold the plant to Xethanol. Xethanol built a second ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa using corn as a feedstock. In 2005, Xethanol began to upgrade the Hopkinton plant to 5 MGPY. With the upward spike in corn prices in 2007, and bank failures in 2008, Xethanol sold the plant to the current group of investors.
The investors entered into a federal research program to determine conversion rates on various waste feedstock, including converting paper into ethanol. Paper contained 16% starch, and some of the paper was free. Several agricultural production plants surrounding the plant were generating large amounts of agricultural waste.
ETHANOL PLANT CURRENT OPERATIONS
Permeate’s ethanol plant and crew have worked tirelessly since 1989 to discover more cost effective ways to convert various waste feedstock into fuel and fuel byprodcuts
One striking attribute of converting waste into fuel and fuel byproducts is that is saves on water:
Permeate Refining utilizes a well system to decrease dependency on city water.