My Tour of An Ethanol Plant

My tour of an ethanol plant

I’m about to leave again for my third ALOT trip of the summer and I haven’t posted anything about our second trip!  We did So Many Things on our trip across Northeast Missouri.  I’ve lived in this state my whole life and I’d never experienced anything like these tours.  We saw a dairy/addiction rehab operation, watched ham and bacon from start to finish, learned how to capture cow manure for methane gas, and even visited an Amish sawmill.  And then there was this tour.

My tour of an ethanol plant

This is an ethanol plant– a place where corn is turned into fuel for your car.

My tour of an ethanol plant

The plant manager explained all about the process and the product and then showed us around the facility.  Not sure I’d ever thought about it, but the ethanol in your gasoline is almost 200 proof alcohol.

My tour of an ethanol plant

Wouldn’t have guessed that.

My tour of an ethanol plant

Actually, an ethanol plant is pretty much a brewery.  The corn is ground up and separated into parts.  Dry flakes can be feed to cattle, the liquid is boiled, yeast is added, and the water is evaporated off.  In the pic above you can see the bubbles from the yeast.  And watch out.  This stuff gets HOT!

My tour of an ethanol plant

After it comes out of the evaporation process they add something to the alcohol to make it unfit for human consumption.  If they didn’t all this product would be under the same regulations as regular alcohol– and the same taxes!

My tour of an ethanol plant

I thought the most interesting part of the tour was seeing how they manage the plant.  The entire facility brought 40 jobs to a small town, but only five or so are needed to oversee the process of making the ethanol because everything is done from the (blessedly air conditioned) office.

My tour of an ethanol plant

Two guys watch the monitors, checking for changes and using a radio system to call for someone to look at tank four or whatever.

Next time you pull up to a gas pump, check the ethanol content in your fuel and think of farmers. American corn, processed in American plants, made by American workers is being used to move your car down the road.

I like the sound of that.

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “My Tour of An Ethanol Plant

  1. Holly

    Great job of recapping the process Kelly!

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