Didion embarks on energy reduction project

By Holly Jessen | February 09, 2010
Posted March 10, 2010

A Wisconsin ethanol plant is using $5.5 million in DOE funding to clamp down on energy use. The $11 million project will add fermentation tanks, whole stillage tanks, evaporators and centrifuges for more efficient production of fuel, said Chad Carter, plant controller at the 50 MMgy Courtland, Wis, Didion Ethanol plant.

The project, which is already under way at the plant, should be completed in about 12 months, Carter told EPM. The goal is to decrease energy use while producing more ethanol. "What we're really looking to do is increase our plant efficiency on a per-gallon basis, so less energy is used per gallon of ethanol produced," Carter said.

Didion will also add corn oil extraction, which gives the plant a coproduct to sell to the biodiesel industry. Adding this process will also contribute to energy savings since extracting corn oil reduces the burden on the plant's dryers for distillers grains.

The DOE money is part of $155 million in stimulus funds for industrial efficiency projects, which were made available to many industries, not just ethanol plants. Didion's piece of the pie adds up to about 3 percent of the total. "We were a pretty large recipient of those funds," Carter said.