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August 2007

E3 BioFuels opens Genesis Plant

E3 BioFuels launched its Genesis Plant in Mead, Nebraska, as the world’s first closed-loop ethanol plant fueled largely by biogas from animal waste instead of coal or natural gas.

Within the plant itself, the closed-loop system can produce over 46 units of energy (in the form of ethanol) for each unit of fossil fuel energy required. That 46:1 ratio inside the plant compares to a conventional ethanol plant’s efficiency per unit of fossil fuel of less than 3:1.

E3 BioFuels’ patented closed-loop ethanol system produces energy by combining manure, collected from an adjacent 28,000-head cattle feedlot, with thin stillage, a cellulosic byproduct of ethanol refining. The hot liquid mixture is decomposed inside an anaerobic digester, where bacteria extract the methane-rich biogas that is used to fire the plant’s ethanol boilers. Traditional ethanol refineries are fueled by coal or natural gas.

The closed-loop system not only reduces pollution by using biogas instead of fossil fuels, it also serves as a powerful waste management solution for dealing with agricultural waste.

By recycling livestock manure into biogas energy, the system eliminates a major component of the main source of water pollution in the United States, agricultural runoff.

Construction of the $80 million Genesis Plant was completed this spring. It will produce 25 million gallons of ethanol a year, and consume 300,000 tons of manure. Including the feedlot, it provides 90 jobs in Mead, population 564, illustrating how proponents of biofuels say they can revitalize the economies of rural communities.

E3 BioFuels intends to locate more plants in several Midwestern states, and will license the technology for others to use as well.