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Cargill plans to convert corn wet mill into biorefinery campus

| April 28, 2011

Fort Dodge, Iowa, may be nearly 150 miles away from Blair, Neb., but Agriculture giant Cargill Inc. might hope the two areas are close in some ways. After purchasing a corn wet mill facility outside of Fort Dodge in March, the Minneapolis-based company has since stated its hopes that the former Tate & Lyle facility shuttered two years ago can replicate a Cargill-owned biorefinery campus in Blair. Now, after the Iowa Department of Economic Development has awarded Cargill with $2 million in loans and incentives for the Fort Dodge facility that could produce up to 115 MMgy of ethanol, the state of Iowa should also be hopeful for some similarities.

“We see an opportunity in Fort Dodge to replicate the success we have had at our Blair, Neb., and Eddyville, Iowa, biorefinery campuses,” said Nicole Reichert, senior communications counselor for Cargill Corn Milling North America. “The corn wet mill ethanol plant will provide the base load corn grind for the facility, and we hope to grow additional biobased businesses at the site in the coming years.” At the Blair facility, Cargill has partnered with a number of other industry leaders including Novozymes, Evonik and also a Cargill-owned bioplastics facility, Natureworks LLC, to produce a wide range of products, from bioplastics to animal feed additives and catalysts.

The “over the fence” (OTF) experience Cargill has gained in Nebraska will also correlate to the success of the Fort Dodge facility, Reichert said. “By providing a host of services, from starch or dextrose for the OTF fermentation carbohydrate source, to steam, to wastewater treatment,” she said, “the OTF model has proven successful in allowing our plants to run more consistently at a larger scale and for the customer to enjoy the economies of scale, which come with being part of a shared manufacturing base.”

While she did not give specifics on what Cargill has planned for the facility in Fort Dodge, she did say that the company will work to increase the efficiency of the facility. And, she said, “Cargill anticipates making a series of additional investments to develop this facility into a biorefinery complex.” The plan is to produce a wide range of products similar to those produced in Blair and Eddyville, but the new facility will not produce corn-based sweeteners or industrial starch.

Alan Willits, president of Cargill Corn Milling North America, said the company believes the facility will fit well into its bioproduct portfolio when the acquisition was announced, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad praised Cargill’s investment in the state, noting the 100-plus jobs the new facility is expected to create. 

 

 

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