Tharaldson Ethanol starts up North Dakota plant

By Bryan Sims | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 9, 2009, at 2:10 p.m. CST

Tharaldson Ethanol LLC has confirmed that its 120 MMgy corn-based ethanol facility in Casselton, N.D., has completed construction and full production is underway.

According to Russ Newman, the company's vice president of operations, crews completed construction in late December.

The $200 million plant broke ground in May 2007. The facility will acquire its feedstock within 40 miles of Casselton. The facility is the fourth to come on line in North Dakota and the state's largest by output volume. The other three ethanol facilities are: Blue Flint Ethanol LLC, a 50 MMgy facility in Underwood, N.D.; Red Trail Energy LLC, a 50 MMgy plant in Richardton, N.D.; and Archer Daniels Midland Co., which owns and operates a 28 MMgy facility in Walhalla, N.D.

"It's been a long project, but we're finally there," Newman said, adding he anticipates the plant will initially operate at approximately 50 percent of the maximum nameplate capacity and eventually ramp up to full production during the year. "At least we're operational now. We're enthused about what 2009 will bring."

Tharaldson Ethanol intends to market its ethanol nationally, with 10 percent to 20 percent of its product serving the Red River Valley region, with the remaining balance of product expected to be shipped to the West Coast, Newman said.

The facility will capitalize on several unique production efficiencies, including use of Fargo, N.D.'s treated wastewater. Two 27-mile pipelines have been built from Casselton to Fargo, which are located on the eastern edge of the state. The first will transport 1 million gallons of water per day from Fargo's wastewater treatment facility to the ethanol plant. The second line will return 400,000 gallons per day. The water will then be retreated to potable levels at Fargo's water treatment plant, according to Newman.

In addition, Tharaldson Ethanol was one of the first ethanol plants to employ a steam dryer, which utilizes steam generated by the plant's boiler to reduce energy costs. Vogelbusch USA provided the plant's process technology, while Wanzek Construction and Valley Engineering were the leading lead contractors.