Power plants: Ethanol plant captures waste heat from electric utility


South Jordan, UT —Called the first of its kind, a new ethanol plant has been co-located and fully integrated with a coal-fired power plant to use waste heat for ethanol production. Headwaters Inc. and Great River Energy (GRE) plan to begin operation of the new Blue Flint Ethanol Plant in early 2007, beginning a process that will convert 18 million bushels of corn into 50 million gallons of ethanol annually.

While ethanol offers an alternative to fossil fuels, critics charge that its value is reduced by the amount of energy consumed in the production process. However, this new operation captures heat that would be dissipated into the atmosphere from the power plant condensers, and uses it for the ethanol fermentation and distillation processes. This eliminates natural gas fired boilers, resulting in a plant that produces ethanol without consuming any additional fuel or creating any additional emissions.

The Blue Flint plant is co-located with Coal Creek Station, a GRE-operated plant near Underwood, ND. The synergistic relationship carries additional benefits in that the ethanol plant needs no boilers, or their supporting infrastructure, maintenance, water treatment, and fuel costs.

The Blue Flint plant cost $100 million and required slightly more than one year to construct. Headwaters Inc. hopes this type of relationship will be repeated in other situations. "Our goal is to develop innovative ways to provide clean, efficient, and cost effective energy through domestic natural resources," says Kirk Benson, CEO. "Blue Flint will accomplish this while setting an example for other power plants and industrial facilities."

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Edited by Peter Welander , process industries editor

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