First corn ethanol project in Brazil starts production

LUCAS DO RIO VERDE, Brazil — A grand opening was held this past week signaling the start of operations at FS Bioenergia, a world-class $115 MM corn-only ethanol production facility located in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso. FS Bioenergia is the first large-scale corn ethanol production plant in Brazil and is the result of an international collaboration between Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril and US-based Summit Agricultural Group headquartered in Alden, Iowa.

In its initial phase of operations, FS Bioenergia will annually process 22 MM bushels of corn and produce more than 60 MMgal of corn ethanol, 6,200 t of corn oil and 170,000 t of valuable feed rations for Brazil's growing livestock industry. By 2018, FS Bioenergia's second phase of operations will increase corn processing and ethanol production two-fold.

First, the plant will offset the country's increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can't be met by the existing sugarcane ethanol production. Second, the facility will introduce to Mato Grosso valuable fiber and protein co-products known as dried distillers' grains (DDGs), which will serve as high-value feed for the expanding Brazilian livestock industry. 

Brazil began sugar cane ethanol production in the mid-1970s and today produces approximately 25% of the world's ethanol. Bank of America estimated that annual ethanol sales in Brazil could reach 13.5 Bgal in 2022, two-thirds greater than the 8.1 Bgal estimated in sugar cane ethanol production in 2016. The Mato Grosso region's substantial corn production—both proven and potential—make corn-derived ethanol the most viable option to complement existing sugar cane ethanol production and fulfill an annual multi-billion gallon shortfall. 

Summit Agricultural Group and Fiagril broke ground on the corn-only ethanol production facility in early 2016. FS Bioenergia will employ roughly 150 full-time workers. In addition to ethanol and co-products for livestock feed, the ethanol facility will generate 60,000 MW of electricity to the local power grid.

FS Bioenergia utilized process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.

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