North Carolina opens first ethanol plant

By Luke Geiver | January 04, 2010
Posted Feb. 9, 2010

Clean Burn Fuels LLC, North Carolina's first corn based ethanol plant, is only eight weeks away from first grind. After two years of construction, the Dundarrach, N.C. plant, will produce 60 MMgy of ethanol and 175,000 tons of DDG for pig, chicken and cow feed. "We're one step closer to starting the plant up," Doug Archer, general manager of Clean Burn Fuels said. "But we still have a little ways to go." Owned by more than 100 investors, the facility is currently in the commissioning stage. Designed by Katzen International Inc., Clean Burn already employs 41 workers with more on the way.

Although the operation status of the plant has taken longer than first expected, Archer feels the delayed opening will present an advantage for the North Carolina facility. "The market has started to turn," Archer said. "Instead of a volitle market, we are looking at a pretty flat, even market, and the industry is doing really well right now." With 2.5 miles of new looped rail, the plant will use two major railroad lines, the Norfolk Southern and the CSX lines. According to Jack Carlisle, executive officer, the plant is already growing, "We already have laid out two expansions."

The Dudarrach facility will draw 20 percent of the corn used from local farmers with the remaining 80 percent coming from the Midwest via rail and truck. Along with local markets, Carlisle says the DDGS can also go to the second largest producer of hogs in the U.S., the third largest producer of turkeys, and the fourth largest number of chickens.

Clean Burn Fuels was initially lured to the Hoke County site through tax incentives by county officials. Tony Hunt, the chairman of the board of commissioners said, "Our commissioners, our board has worked really hard to make this happen." Now the benefit of ethanol production to local farmers has many excited for the plant and Earl Hendrix, a local farmer and corn supplier to the plant is no different. "Any time we can add a market like this that we can sell wholesale into, it's got to help the agriculture in the area."