Our Process

Grain Receiving

Grain is delivered by truck to the ethanol plant where it’s loaded into storage bins.  Bin capacity is >1 million bushels and holds enough grain to supply the plant for 15–20 days.
 

Milling

The grain is screened to remove debris, and then milled into flour before being introduced to the slurry process. 
 

Slurry

The ground flour is conveyed to a blender which mixes the flour with water and alpha-amylase enzymes to produce a slurry.  The slurry is passed through a set of tanks where heat is introduced along with agitation to begin the process of breaking down and gelatinizing the corn starch. The alpha-amylase assists with breaking down starch into long chain dextrins and lowers viscosity and allows for higher solids slurry to be pumped through the process.
 

Cook

The slurry is pumped through a jet cooker and mixed with steam before being passed through a pressure vessel.  This process further shears the starch and kill microorganisms that are detrimental to fermentation and yeast health.
 

Liquefaction

The heated slurry is pumped through 2 liquefaction tanks which give the product additional time (2 hours) to hydrolyze the gelatinized starch into glucose dextrins and produce mash.
 

Fermentation

The mash is pumped to 1 of 5-730,000 gallon fermenters. Gluco-amylase enzymes are introduced to break down the dextrins into simple sugars, glucose. Yeast is added to convert the glucose to ethanol. It takes approximately 16 hours to fill each fermenter and approximately 70 hours before the fermented product, beer is ready to distill. The beer contains approximately 15% ethanol as well as the solids from the grain and added yeast.
 

Distillation

The beer is pumped into a multi-column distillation system where additional heat is added. The columns utilize the differences in the boiling points of ethanol and water to boil off and separate the ethanol. By the time the product stream is ready to leave the distillation columns, it contains about 95% ethanol by volume (190-proof). The residue from this process, called stillage, contains non-fermentable solids and water and is pumped out from the bottom of the columns into the centrifuges.
 

Molecular Sieves

The 190-proof product stream is pumped into the molecular sieve system. The product is heated to over 300°F and the resulting vapor passes through specialized tanks containing aluminosilicate beads that adsorb water molecules from the process stream while allowing ethanol molecules to pass through unaffected. When the product stream leaves the molecular sieves it is recondensed and contains approximately 99% ethanol by volume (200 proof).

Denaturant

Before the ethanol is sent into commerce a small amount of denaturant is added making the product unfit for human consumption.
 

Centrifuges

The stillage from the bottom of the distillation columns contain solids from the grain and added yeast, as well as liquid from the water added during the process. This stillage is then sent and separated through the centrifuges into thin stillage (a liquid with 5-10% solids) and wet distillers grain.
 

Evaporators

The liquid that is not routed back to the cook/slurry tanks is sent through a multiple-effect evaporation system where it is concentrated into syrup containing 25-35% solids.
 

Oil Recovery 

We separate oil from the post-fermentation syrup stream as it leaves the evaporators. The oil is routed to oil storage tanks, and the remaining concentrated syrup is routed to both the wet distillers grain and to the syrup storage tank.