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Thread: Ethanol plants

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    81

    Ethanol plants

    This may apply mostly to people in the midwest, but I was wondering how your community deals with or wishes it had dealt with ethanol plants. There is one that could come to my city and it is an unlisted use in the zoning ordinance. The people proposing it are saying it should be permitted by right or maybe as a conditional use in the light industrial district.
    I've read up a little on ethanol plants and saw that those that burn coal end up producing more pollution than if the ethanol plant didn't exist and gasoline was used in its place. I also read that "dry milling" is better than "wet milling" whatever those are.
    I am especially interested in what you wish you would have done in retrospect if an ethanol plant has come in and caused problems.

  2. #2

    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Calgary, AB
    Posts
    146

    Sounds like a heavy industry to me...

    I hope things don't slip by the zoning process and end up in the wrong place simply because a new type of industry wasn't thought of when the initial zoning was written... Don't you have an industrial zoning classification that zones for "...uses with established functions in the economy but having a well-known nusiance potential", and thus puts these things far away from anyone who'll complain about them?

    I'd be asking for as much detail as I could (or hunting it down internally) on similar sized facilities in other locations. Since ethanol production is a new business, I'd anticipate the industry trying to do all it could to promote themselves -- it would be in their best interest to not "surprise" a community once their plant was in operation and to put everything on the table for the public up front.

    http://www.igpc.ca/project_specifications.html shows some specifications for a proposed plant in Ontario... WOW

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Texas
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    The zoning ordinance attempts to draw a distinction between light industrial and heavy industrial but the sections where the distinction is supposed to be don't really do the job of distinguishing the two. This City has a huge huge huge industrial park and the proposed site is pretty far away from houses. I think we are going to let them locate in the light industrial district (which the parcel is already zoned) with a conditional use permit. The applicant (the local Economic Development Corporation) knows that they need to submit as much info as possible to help the Planning Commission and City Council make an informed decision. That information will be biased of course so staff will do research too to help come up with some helpful conditions.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    15

    Ethanol plants

    We had about 3 plants looking to locate in and around our area. We are proposing a new industrial park and the zoning will be heavy industrial. We also will have a Specific Development overlay District. WE are currently doing an EIR for the industrial Park

  5. #5
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 1998
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    On the Mother River
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    I have been around two of the dry milling plants. They are not too objectionable. The odor is sort of yeasty or beery with about the same noise and dust as a grain handling facility. Not very many complaints.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
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    The Cheese State
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    Corn milling has been around for centuries. There are two ways you might look at it. It could be considered an agri-business use handled in the same way that you might treat a storage facility or feed mill. On the other hand, because of the intense infrastructure deman, you might consider it heavy industrial. No doubt, there is steam, noise, and odor associated with the process.

    Briefly, a dry mill processes grain (corn) for fermentation to produce ethanol. A wet mill is more complex, separating the corn kernal into starch, protein, and its othercomponent parts. The starch may be used as is, or refined to produce ethanol. The process is in no way "worse." In fact, due to the multitude of different products which may be manufactured with parts of the kernal, it is in many ways better.

    It is very rare for ethanol plants to be coal-fired. We have never encountered this in the projects in which we have been involved. On the other hand, cogeneration is frequently explored as a possibility, due to the quantity of steam built up in the fermentation process. With most plants being gas-fired, the capacity of gas pipelines is a critical siting factor. Rail is also important, as pipelines do not work well for transporting ethanol, and shipping by truck would be economically unfeasible.

    The interesting aspects of ethanol prodction, I think, are the potential for cellulosic ethanol production and the potential uses for byproducts. The first cellulosic demonstration project has been announced in Iowa. Most people think the technology is likely to be feasible in a 5-10 year time frame. As for byproducts, right now that means feed for cattle. Given the concentration of mills in the corn Belt (IN, IL, IA), there is some speculation that we may see an increased interest in developing feed lots in the region. Will this mean a return of the meat packing industry? Better yet, DuPont, Cargill and others are partnering with wet and dry mill operators to develop plant-based plastics (BioPDO and PLA) which could replace some petroleum-based plastics.
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