USGC: Vietnam ethanol producer purchases equipment, US corn

By U.S. Grains Council | July 02, 2019

The sole ethanol producer in Vietnam is preparing to test U.S. corn as a feedstock with a hammer mill purchased during a mission to the United States in June. The mission is one part of the U.S. Grains Council’s efforts to support Vietnamese government and industry members as they work to increase ethanol use under a national E5 blend mandate.

Tung Lam Company is the only company producing ethanol in Vietna, using cassava as a primary feedstock. Prices of domestically-produced cassava have increased since early 2018 due to a demand surge from China and other Southeast Asian countries, leaving limited supply available. As a result, Tung Lam has considered converting cassava-based ethanol production to corn-based and began trial production earlier this year.

USGC organized a technical study mission to Indiana for a group of senior leaders from Tung Lam Company to learn more about the equipment and technology needed to increase corn-based ethanol production efficiency, learn from U.S. ethanol producers and study U.S. corn crop production. The team also attended the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Indianapolis to gain exposure to and learn from U.S. ethanol experts.

“This conference is the best place for Tung Lam to learn how to convert their existing cassava-based ethanol plants to using corn,” said Manuel Sanchez, USGC regional director for Southeast Asia. “This visit is an important component of the Council’s fuel ethanol promotion in Vietnam to help the country meet its current ethanol mandate and move toward higher blends.”

The hammer mill Tung Lam officials purchased will enable the company to utilize corn as well as cassava in their plant.

“This front-end equipment will give Tung Lam the capacity to grind up to 150,000 metric tons (5.9 million bushels) of corn per year at their ethanol plant in Dong Nai,” Sanchez said. “The company also purchased 40,000 tons (1.57 million bushels) of U.S. corn during their time in Indiana.”

As the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia, Vietnam’s total gasoline consumption is expected to grow by nearly 15 percent by 2022 as Vietnam’s rising middle class takes advantage of different transportation options with a rapidly-growing number of motor scooters and cars on the road.

To fuel those vehicles, Vietnam rolled out an E5 ethanol policy on Jan. 1, 2018, with a goal to move to E10 by 2020. Tung Lam is a strong domestic advocate for increasing fuel ethanol blends in Vietnam, which will benefit Vietnamese consumers, the company and potential export demand to fill ethanol needs beyond Tung Lam’s domestic production.

“As the only ethanol supplier in Vietnam, Tung Lam’s operation is critical to Vietnam’s E5 implementation and the Council’s ethanol promotion,” Sanchez said. “Their ability to provide a consistent supply of fuel ethanol to the domestic market will pave the way for increased blend rates and create new demand for corn imports.”

Learn more about the Council’s work to increase ethanol use in Vietnam.