Brazilian corn ethanol plant begins production

By Summit Agricultural Group | August 15, 2017

There is a significant new player in the Brazilian biofuels industry. A grand opening was held this past week signaling the start of operations at FS Bioenergia, a world-class $115 million corn-only ethanol production facility located in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso. FS Bioenergia is the first large-scale corn ethanol production plant in Brazil and is the result of an international collaboration between Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril and U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group headquartered in Alden, Iowa.

In its initial phase of operations, FS Bioenergia will annually process 22 million bushels of corn and produce more than 60 million gallons of corn ethanol, 6,200 tons of corn oil and 170,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil’s growing livestock industry. By 2018, FS Bioenergia’s second phase of operations will increase corn processing and ethanol production two-fold.

“FS Bioenergia is the most modern and efficient ethanol production operation in the world and will revolutionize the biofuels landscape in Brazil,” said Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “Summit Ag Group and Fiagril are proud to have delivered this historic project to Mato Grosso, and we look forward to the development of the region as a leader in ethanol, corn and livestock production.”

FS Bioenergia’s corn ethanol operation is considered a landmark project in Brazil that will deliver immediate value to the country. First, the plant will offset the country’s increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can’t be met by the existing sugarcane ethanol production. Second, the facility will introduce to Mato Grosso valuable fiber and protein coproducts known as dried distillers grains (DDGs), which will serve as high-value feed for the expanding Brazilian livestock industry.

“This is a transformative moment for both agriculture and the renewable fuels industry in Brazil, said Marino Franz, founder of Fiagril. “FS Bioenergia will not only meet Brazil’s growing demand for ethanol but it sets the stage for Mato Grosso to become a global leader in the production of corn ethanol.”

Brazil began sugar cane ethanol production in the mid-1970s and today produces approximately 25 percent of the world’s ethanol. Bank of America estimated that annual ethanol sales in Brazil could reach 13.5 billion U.S. gallons in 2022, two-thirds greater than the 8.1 billion gallons estimated in sugar cane ethanol production in 2016. The Mato Grosso region’s substantial corn production—both proven and potential—make corn-derived ethanol the most viable option to complement existing sugar cane ethanol production and fulfill an annual multi-billion gallon shortfall.

Summit Agricultural Group and Fiagril broke ground on the corn-only ethanol production facility in early 2016. FS Bioenergia will employ roughly 150 full-time workers. In addition to ethanol and co-products for livestock feed, the ethanol facility will generate 60,000 megawatts of electricity to the local power grid.

FS Bioenergia utilized process technologies from ICM Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.