South Bend, Indiana, ethanol plant on line again

By Ann Bailey | September 01, 2015

After a major plant re-construction a 100 MMgy  South Bend, Indiana, plant is back in the business of producing ethanol.

Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC, a subsidiary of Noble Americas, acquired ownership of the former New Energy Corp. plant, located on 70 acres on the west side of South Bend in July 2013, after successfully bidding on it.

Since purchasing the South Bend plant, Noble Americas has made a significant investment in it, said Ralph Torrance, Noble Americas head of operation, oil. Specifically, Noble Americas invested in converting the plant from one that burns coal to one that burns natural gas, upgrading the fermentation process, installing new regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) and improving the evaporation equipment, including ethanol and steam generation, Torrance said.

The New Energy ethanol plant began producing in 1984, according to a previous article in Ethanol Producer Magazine. The original cost of the plant was more than $180 million and major upgrades were made as recently as 2007.

New Energy filed for bankruptcy in late 2012 and Biditup Auctions and Appraisals, Worldwide Inc. and Maynards purchased the plant in January 2013, then announced it was taking bids on it. The city of South Bend announced in July 2013 that Noble Americas Ethanol LLC was the new owner.

Noble Americas is evaluating several projects to improve the efficiency and capacity of the facility, Torrance said. Energy Management Solutions provides day-to-day operation of the NASBE plant. Meanwhile, Noble Americas also has several company representatives at the site. About 70 people work at the plant full-time during normal operations, he said.

Corn for NASBE is purchased from a variety of locations across the regions. NASBE is “very excited about working with local suppliers,” he said.