AltEn LLC to restart closed-loop ethanol plant

By Holly Jessen | November 15, 2010
Posted Dec. 8, 2010

Spectrum Business Ventures Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., and its affiliate, AltEn LLC of Kansas, are the new owners of the former E3 Biofuels ethanol plant in Mead, Kan., which they plan to restart. The questions of when and how, however, are still up in the air, said former E3 Biofuels CEO Dennis Langley.

The companies are working on an organization plan and should be ready to talk in 30 to 45 days. "The reality is nobody knows what that the answers are right now," he said.

Langley, who owns the company that owns Mead Cattle Co., a feedlot nearby the plant, said a contract has been signed with the feedlot to utilize the original concept of a close-loop system. The 30,000-head operation will feed wet distillers grains to its cattle and the manure from the cows to will be used generate power for the ethanol plant through anaerobic digestion.

The 23 MMgy ethanol plant cost about $90 million to build, is located on 430 acres and has an 8-million-gallon anaerobic digester system. "SBV crafted a solution through negotiations with the feedlot owner, existing bondholders, bankruptcy trustee, original private investor and other interested parties to structure the deal," according to a SVB press release.

The plant produced a small amount of ethanol in 2007 but was never fully commissioned before E3 Biofuels filed for bankruptcy in November 2007. A big setback occurred when one of the plant's boilers exploded during the startup and testing phase. AltEn was the winning bidder at an auction in December 2009. The sale has been in limbo since then while legal and tax details were being worked out. "It was a long and arduous process," Langley said. "Amazingly complex."