Butamax corn oil separation system fully operational at Highwater

By Holly Jessen | August 21, 2014

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC and Highwater Ethanol LLC held an Aug. 20 ribbon cutting, celebrating the completion of phase one of a two-phase retrofit to biobutanol production. The Lamberton, Minn., facility is now separating corn oil using a proprietary Butamax technology that removes distillers corn oil while also preparing corn mash for fermentation.

“From our perspective, the key thing here was to prove out a significant part of our technology package, at commercial scale,” Paul Beckwith, CEO of Butamax, told Ethanol Producer Magazine. “So what we have done is, we’ve basically install a significant part of the butanol package. We’ve started it up, we’ve put it through its paces, we’ve proven that it works. And what we’ve done is significantly de-risk the next phase of technology installation, which is what’s needed to lead to butanol production.”

Construction began on the retrofit in early October and wrapped up March 21.  “The system was fully up and running five days later, processing all of the corn mash going through Highwater’s plant,” Beckwith said. “We are very satisfied that our thorough approach to technology development has been validated form the very successful startup that we had with the phase one installation.”

Highwater is now well positioned to complete the retrofit to biobutanol production.  Although front-end engineering of phase two has begun, Beckwith couldn’t confirm if the ethanol production company would be taking that step, as it is subject to a second agreement.

Brian Kletscher, CEO of Highwater Ethanol said in a prepared statement that the company was pleased to be on the cutting edge by taking this first step toward Butamax’s biobutanol technology. He added that the corn oil separation was a value-added proposition for the company.

Fagen Inc. has an agreement with Butamax to serve as the engineering, procurement, and construction company. "Fagen is pleased to have contributed to the success of this first of a kind ethanol plant addition", said Ron Fagen, board chairman of the company. "We look forward to supporting Butamax in replicating this installation to add to the profitability of many more ethanol plants across the industry."