Iowa ethanol plant to use corn designed for biofuel
By Bethany Pint, Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman | July 11, 2012
An Iowa corn processing company will soon be processing a bio-engineered corn that will add value to the plant and Iowa farmers involved in ethanol production.
Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) in Galva has signed a commercial agreement with Syngenta to supply the ethanol plant with Enogen grain this year.
Enogen corn is bio-engineered specifically to express the alpha amylase enzyme necessary for dry grind ethanol production directly in the endosperm of the grain itself, eliminating the need to add liquid amylase, according to Jack Bernens, marketing and stakeholder of the Enogen division of Syngenta.
Bernens said it’s the first corn output trait designed to allow ethanol production to be more efficient, cost effective and better for the environment. “We’ve seen about a 10 percent reduction in energy cost. So it’s a significant value to the ethanol industry, particularly during a time when margins are so important,” he said.
Positive results from trial
The initial three-month trial period was enough for Delayne Johnson, general manager at QQCP, to consider using Enogen grain on a long-term basis, he said.
“Our positive experience is the reason we’re moving forward with it now, and we’re excited to see the benefits Enogen grain can create at our facility over time,” he said.
Enogen corn is being grown under contract by 70 to 90 corn growers in Iowa this year and will first be harvested this fall for ethanol production, Bernens said.
It’s a win-win for both farmers and plants like QCCP in Ida County who are involved with utilizing Enogen grain for ethanol production, Bernens said. “The ethanol plant gets the value, the farmer gets the premium,” he said.
On average, the Enogen corn growers get 40 cents per bushel premium for raising the specialty crop, Bernens said.
In addition to Iowa, some farmers in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota are growing Enogen corn. Bernens said several other ethanol plants are exploring following QCCP’s lead in using Enogen corn.
Bernens pegged the value of Enogen grain to ethanol production at 8 to 10 cents per gallon. He said the value depends on the economics of ethanol, along with the price of natural gas and electricity.