Founded in 1999 as a full-service process system provider, Thermal Kinetics offers a wide range of process equipment, everything from evaluation, design, and development to engineering, fabrication, installation supervision, and maintenance. Serving various industries, including food and beverage, metal processing, and petrochemical, we’ve worked hard to establish ourselves as leaders in the renewable fuels sector.
We’re particularly proud of our expertise in the fuel ethanol industry and advanced bio-economy facilities. At Thermal Kinetics, we’re committed to providing the best overall solution to your ethanol plant energy requirements as well chemicals recovery from advanced biomass conversion processes.
Fuel Ethanol Plants: Requirements and Considerations
A great deal of work goes into the conception, design, sourcing, and construction of a fuel ethanol plant. Several important factors should be considered before beginning the process.
Plant Size and Costs
The size of the plant you are interested in building and its costs — particularly capital costs — are two of the most important factors to keep in mind.
Recent statistics in a study written by the USDA put dry mill fuel ethanol plant capital costs at roughly $2.00 per gallon of capacity; for a 20-million-gallon-per-year plant, you should expect capital costs of about $40,000,000. Additionally, capital costs tend to shift with plant size; smaller plants generally have higher per-gallon capacity capital costs, whereas larger plants have lower capital cost
Additional Initial Considerations
Once plant size and capital costs have been determined, the detailed design and construction document process can begin in earnest.
There are hundreds of factors to consider when planning the construction of a fuel ethanol plant, many of which are categorized as pre-feasibility evaluation steps — that is, considerations that determine whether the planned ethanol plant is feasible. Local conditions will play a large role in this. This pre-feasibility evaluation list includes:
- Construction labor availability — A plant cannot be built without a readily available trained workforce.
- Assessment of co-product markets — Lack of co-product markets can hurt a plant’s profitability.
- Site selection — Locally available feedstock and appropriate production processes should be analyzed. For example is this an area with a ready access to wheat, sorghum, or corn?
- Suitability and impact of add-on technologies such as co-generation of power and steam, corn oil extraction, grain fractionation, co-production of bio-diesel from the corn oil, and anaerobic digestion for bio-gas recovery.
- Availability of capable operators and plant staffing.
- Cost estimation, financial forecasts, and business plan development.
Site Selection Considerations
The next part of a pre-feasibility evaluation generally focuses on the precise intended location of the fuel ethanol plant. Considerations, some of which were considered above preliminarily, include but are not limited to:
- Feedstock availability and cost and development of supply-side agreements/contracts.
- Energy requirements, including proximity to sources of energy
- Site evaluation – geotechnical studies, road and rail access requirements.
- Water requirements, including proximity to sources of water
- Economic and environmental impact assessment — It’s also important to assess the impact the plant may have on surrounding areas and municipalities and secure proper permits and approvals.
- Transportation of feedstock to the plant and transportation of fuel ethanol from the plant
Working with Thermal Kinetics
Fuel ethanol plants should be designed to ensure reliable performance and cost efficiency. Working with an experienced process systems specialist like Thermal Kinetics will allow you to optimize your fuel ethanol plants and enhance product quality. From supplying complete DD&E systems to developing proprietary modeling software, our process experts know exactly which solutions are best for those in the Renewable Fuels industry. We’ve been working in this field for nearly 20 years, and our efforts have resulted in not one but four fuel ethanol processing patents: improved molecular sieves, product purity enhancements, and unique systems integration as well as continuing development of two more pending patents for advanced biofuels production.
To learn more about how Thermal Kinetics can assist with your custom plant design, contact us today.