International Society for Industrial Ecology

Corn fuels cars, cows and tomatoes in Ontario industrial ecosystem

15 Apr 2014 1:25 AM | Anonymous

Greenfield Specialty Alcohols, formerly called Greenfield Ethanol is a first generation ethanol plant, a biorefinery that uses corn as a feedstock to produce 200,000 million litres of ethanol a year. Their production is split evenly between ethanol that is mixed with gasoline for vehicles and industrial ethanol, which you find in everything from shaving cream to vodka.

This refinery doesn't just produce ethanol however, it kicks out a cornucopia of byproducts which they've found a number of uses for.

"Corn is a wonderful product because from corn, after the ethanol is made, with the sugars and starches that we convert there is a whole series of products that come from the fermentation," says Angelo Ligori, the plant manager at Greenfield.

Greenfield sells 140,000 tonnes of distillers grain, the leftovers from the ethanol fermentation process, as animal feed. There is a Praxair carbon dioxide facility onsite capturing and selling 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Greenfield even produces 3 to 4,000 tonnes of industrial corn oil that is sold as a feedstock for animals or biodiesel feedstock.

But Greenfield has one more untapped waste stream. The plant's smoke stack is a landmark in Chatham, Ontario and every day waste heat from drying their distiller grains shoots right out into the atmosphere. It turns out there is enough heat coming out of that smoke stack to provide the majority of the heating for giant greenhouse next door.

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