|E3’s closed-loop system|
E3 Biofuels is building a 20-mgpy (million gallons per year) ethanol plant at a cattle feedlot in Mead, Nebraska, that will be powered by methane from the cattle manure, greatly reducing energy costs while making environmentally sound use of animal waste.
The use of manure as a source for methane is similar in approach to that taken by Panda Energy with its three 100-million gallon ethanol plants in Kansas, Colorado and Texas. (GCC)
But E3 Biofuels is promoting its smaller system as “closed-loop.” Methane from the manure will power the ethanol plant, which will make fuel ethanol from corn with distillers grain for cattle feed as a byproduct. The 30,000 cattle at the Mead feedlot will eat the distillers grain right at the site, eliminating the need to dry and ship the product thereby saving more energy and expense.
A key component in the E3 Biofuels system is having a confined livestock facility with a slatted floor that allows the manure to drop onto a concrete surface below. For efficient conversion to methane, the manure should be as clean as possible.
The manure then goes into an anaerobic digester, which breaks the manure down into fertilizer and methane-based gas. The plant will use about 7 million bushels of corn to produce its 20 million gallons of ethanol a year.
The Mead plant is designed to use all the cattle waste from the feedlot, produce enough distillers grain to feed the cattle at the site and draw from local sources of corn, keeping an environmentally and economically sound balance.
E3 Biofuels envisions smaller-scale operations like the Mead plant being set up in rural communities across the country, broadening the economic and environmental benefits. E3 Biofuels hopes to build more than 100 such plants in the next 15 years.
The anaerobic digester tanks are under construction at the feedlot. The rest of the complex will be built this winter, with limited production planned by June 2006 and full-scale production in September.