Idaho plant to undergo improvements

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 28, 2008 at 9:52 a.m. CST

A recently revived ethanol plant in Caldwell, Idaho, will undergo improvements in the next few months to reduce bottlenecks and improve energy efficiency. Built in 1985, the plant closed in 2004. In 2007, current manager ED&F Man Group leased the plant from J.R. Simplot and reopened it as Idaho Ethanol Processing Inc. The 5 MMgy ethanol plant uses potato waste, as well as beverage and sugar industry waste, as feedstock.

The current round of improvements will cost between $3 million to $5 million and is expected to boost production by 30 percent by targeting pinch points in the old plant and focusing on improved energy efficiency. Scott MacKenzie, ED&F Man Group vice president business development, said the biggest boost will come from tapping into the methane currently being flared off from the waste water treatment system operated by the colocated Simplot potato processing plant.

In addition, the company is exploring opportunities in cellulosic ethanol. "We're working with the Center for Advance Energy Studies to create a true energy park," MacKenzie said. "We'd like to take this small, yet nimble business, and work with a cellulosic company to pursue other biofuel options."

London-based ED&F Man Group is an international trading company handling sugar, coffee and cocoa. The company also has sugar refinery assets and a subsidiary that handles biodiesel. MacKenzie is based in New Orleans.