Mercuria plans improvements for South Bend ethanol plant

By Erin Voegele | January 29, 2018

An ethanol plant in South Bend, Indiana, was recently purchased by Mercuria Investments US Inc. and changed its name to South Bend Ethanol LLC. The facility was formerly known as Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC.

Mercuria purchased the plant from a subsidiary of Noble Group Ltd. in December for a final consideration of $18.1 million. The announcement was made in a filing to the Singapore Exchange. Noble Group first announced plans to sell the ethanol plant to Mercuria Investments in early December. 

Noble purchased the then idle plant in 2013 for $2.3 million at a bankruptcy auction. The ethanol plant first began producing in 1984 and was previously owned and operated by New Energy Corp. Following its purchase by Noble, ICM began a retrofit of the facility in late 2013. The plant was brought back online in 2015. 

Previous owns of the South Bend plant indicated the annual production capacity of the facility is 102 MMgy. However, a statement released by Mercuria in mid-January notes that the plant currently operates at a capacity of approximately 65 MMgy. In the statement, Mercuria said that the plant has been operational since ICM completed retrofits of the facility in 2015.

The statement released by Mercuria in January states that the company plans to spend up to $30 million to improve efficiency and reliability and to expand production capacity to approximately 100 MMgy. Mercuria said it plans to replace boilers and fermenters, modify the clean-in-place process, and install a new beerwell, heat exchanges, tricanter, dryer, centrifuge and oil separation process.

A company spokesperson confirmed the plant is currently operational. Representatives of Mercuria, however, declined provide Ethanol Producer Magazine with further details on the company’s future plans for the facility at this time.