Plymouth Oil to extract corn oil, germ at Iowa plant

By Susanne Retka Schill | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 30, 2008 at 12:14 p.m. CST

Plymouth Oil LLC is nearing completion of its equity drive for a fractionation and oil extraction unit on the front end of Plymouth Energy LLC, a 55 MMgy ethanol plant under construction in Merrill, Iowa. Plymouth Energy anticipates completing construction in September or October, and Plymouth Oil expects to complete its processing unit in January, said Dave Hoffman, a founding member and board member of Plymouth Oil.

Plymouth Oil was organized as a separate entity because the ethanol plant's primary lender was not comfortable with financing the new technology. "We weren't able to show them an ethanol plant with a proven track record [in fractionation and oil extraction]," Hoffman said. The plant will use solvent extraction to produce food grade oil and defatted corn germ. Plymouth Energy will supply about half of the oil plant's capacity, he said, and is planning to process oil from other plants. Plymouth Oil expects to start operating at a capacity of 300 to 340 tons of germ per day, with a goal of 400 tons per day. At the 400-ton rate, the plant will produce about 80 tons of oil per day.

As a board member of both entities, Hoffman said while the plants can operate independently, Plymouth Oil will produce higher value coproducts while reducing production costs for the Plymouth Energy's ethanol. Besides the food grain oil and defatted corn germ, removing the germ and oil increases the protein content of the distillers grains to 45 to 47 percent, making them more useable in the poultry and swine markets. Hoffman added the companies are exploring the potential for removing the oil that remains in the distillers grains for sale to biodiesel plants.

The $103 million Plymouth Ethanol plant has 330 local investors, primarily farmers, plus one large investor from Ireland owning nearly half the stock. The $30 million Plymouth Oil has about 60 investors to date.

Hoffman added that this project addresses the food versus fuel debate by producing both fractionating the corn to extract the oil and germ for food and processing the starch for ethanol. "We're excited about this and hope this will catch on with the industry," he said.