Quad County begins cellulosic ethanol production

By Erin Voegele | July 02, 2014

Galva, Iowa-based Quad County Corn Processors is now producing cellulosic ethanol through its 2 MMgy Adding Cellulosic Ethanol project, which converts corn kernel fiber into fuel. The Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association have spoken out to praise the achievement.

“First is always exciting and being the first cellulosic ethanol producer in Iowa is a very proud moment for us. We have always taken pride in the fact that we are producing a fuel that is making America economically stronger, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and giving American drivers a cost-saving, octane-boosting, environmentally-friendly fuel choice,” said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, in a statement. “Now, thanks to the ACE project, we are able to get 6 percent more ethanol out of the same kernel of corn that we already process for conventional fuel.”

Quad County began operating its 35 MMgy corn ethanol plant in 2000. A ground breaking ceremony for the bolt-on ACE process was held in July 2013. The technology was developed by Travis Brotherson, a plant engineer at the facility. After several years of development, pilot- and demonstration-scale testing, the ACE technology is now producing on the commercial-scale. According to Johnson, the technology is capable of producing 1 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol without the use of any additional corn if deployed at all existing ethanol plants in the U.S.  

In addition to enabling cellulosic ethanol production, the ACE process also improves the plant’s distillers grain coproduct. “As a result of the new process, the DDGs will be much more similar to a corn gluten meal. It will increase the protein content of the livestock feed by about 40 percent, and we also expect to see a boost in corn oil extraction by about 300 percent,” said Johnson.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA has spoken out to congratulate Quad County on its achievement. “This first gallon of cellulosic ethanol represents just the beginning of a long, promising future. Delayne Johnson and his team are to be congratulated for their vision, determination, and innovation,” he said. “It is worth noting that Quad County is the perfect demonstration of first and second generation ethanol being produced side-by-side to bring more choice to America in the form of low-cost, high-octane, renewable fuel.”

Monty Shaw, executive director of the IRFA, also congratulated Quad County on becoming the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol producer in Iowa. “While the EPA continues to debate the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2014 and beyond, renewable fuels producers like Quad County Corn Processors remain committed to pioneering new technologies that increase plant productivity and accomplish the goals set forth by the RFS,” he said. “With other cellulosic ethanol projects nearing completion, Iowa is poised to lead the way in advanced ethanol production.”