Nearly 1,000 people were in attendance as LifeLine Foods, LLC celebrated the launch of Missouri's newest ethanol plant in St. Joseph on Aug. 24. Members of the National Corn Growers Association and Missouri Corn Growers Association, as well as state and community leaders participated in the open house and ribbon cutting at the new site.
"This innovative farmer-owned plant is a welcome addition to Missouri's ethanol industry," said Gary Marshall, chief executive officer with MCGA. "The strategic expansion of ethanol production in this state is helping meet the growing demand for alternative fuels at the pump."
The ethanol plant joins LifeLine Foods' corn processing facility, established in 2001 by a group of corn farmers looking for ways to add value to their product. Since then, LifeLine has been an ingredient manufacturer for dry cereal and the snack industry as well as tortillas. With its innovative partnership with designer and builder ICM, Inc, the majority farmer-owned facility will now possess the capability to produce both food and fuel.
The new generation ethanol facility features a mill in the front of the plant that separates the corn kernel into its component parts. This technique enables increased utilization of the starch within the kernel. The resulting higher quality starches will be used for food customers whereas the lower quality starches will be used to produce ethanol. This process helps ensure the availability of corn for both food and fuel needs.
"Nationwide there have been some concerns about the ethanol industry coming online and taking away from human foods," said LifeLine Foods President and CEO Bill Becker. "People may not realize it, but only about 1.5% of the entire corn crop is targeted toward dry milled human food."
The plant also utilizes the fiber found within the corn kernel. While most plants use this during the fermentation process, LifeLine will separate this fiber and burn it to produce energy. This process reduces the plant's dependence on natural gas and allows the plant to generate its own fuel.
Ethanol production is scheduled to start in mid-September. The state-of-the-art ethanol facility will consume approximately 26.5 million bushels of corn annually to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol and complementary food ingredients. This facility will employ 35 people.
LifeLine Foods is the fifth ethanol plant to begin production in the state of Missouri. Other farmer-owned ethanol plants are located near Macon, Craig, Malta Bend and Laddonia. Missouri's ethanol production is slated to exceed 225 million gallons annually. A map of Missouri's existing farmer-owned ethanol plants is available online at www.mocorn.org/cornethanolmap.pdf.