Canadian ethanol plant will operate 'off grid'

By Holly Jessen | January 30, 2012

A project to build an ethanol plant co-located with anaerobic digesters is in its final phase. Growing Power Hairy Hill L.P., a 40 MMly feed wheat ethanol plant under construction in Canada, will convert manure into power utilizing on site anaerobic digesters. “By producing ethanol off-the-grid—with energy sourced from waste and without dryers for the distillers grains—we reach a grams CO2 equivalent per megajoule of energy output count that is near-zero,” said Evan Chrapko, co-CEO with his brother Shane Chrapko.

When completed, the ethanol plant will operate as an integrated bioRefinery, a trademarked term of Himark bioGas, formerly known as Highmark Renewables Research. The ethanol plant will produce wet distillers grains, which will be fed at the co-located feedlot. Manure from the feedlot is the main feedstock for on-site digesters, which will power the ethanol plant. The ethanol plant was sized to utilize 80 percent of the manure generated the feedlot—allowing for the possibility that the feedlot might not always run at full capacity. “Even so, what is known as the ‘bed pack’ that currently exists in the feedlot has approximately one year supply of waste, so we have a secondary buffer,” Chrapko told EPM, adding that other possible feedstocks for the digester include food processing and slaughterhouse byproducts as well as municipal wastes such as sewer and restaurant fats, oil and/or grease.

The project started out more than a decade ago, with brothers Bern and Mike Kotelko, owners of an Alberta feedlot, searching for an innovative solution for manure produced at the feedlot. By 2005, anaerobic digestion started producing electricity for Alberta’s power grid. Now, with construction of the ethanol plant, it will become a fully closed loop system.

Construction on the ethanol plant began in December and is expected to wrap up this fall, Chrapko said. If all goes well, the facility should start producing ethanol by September 2012. Providence Grain Solutions, also an investor in the project, will manage grain receiving, contracting, contract administration, purchasing and logistics supply for the plant. “Growing Power is now in position to give its producer investors the market that we promised them for their nonfood-grade starch crops,” said Mike Kotelko, general manger. “And we will do so at a premium price.”

Himark  bioGas is also providing its digester technology, trademarked as the Integrated bioMass Utilization System, to customer Western Plains Energy LLC. The 45 MMgy ethanol plant in Oakley, Kan., is constructing a digester with the help of a $15.6 million grant the company received from the Kansas Department of Commerce.