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Valero expands ethanol production at three plants

30 Aug 2011, 6.01 pm GMT

Houston, 30 August (Argus) — Independent US refiner Valero confirmed that its subsidiary Valero Renewables will be adding new ethanol fermentors at three of its 10 ethanol facilities.

Additional fermentors will be added at Valero's Iowa-based plants in Hartley, Charles City and Aurora, company spokesman Bill Day said, bringing each plant up to eight fermentors. The company would not disclose how much capacity this will add to the facilities. According to data published by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the three plants have a current combined nameplate capacity of 22,187 b/d.

“We're in the discussion phase now about adding additional fermentors at the other plants,” Day said. “Our plants are already operating at or above their original capacities due to efficiency improvements we've made; adding the fermentors is part of that process.”

Valero also confirmed it has started exploring cellulosic ethanol production possibilities, adding that once production technologies are available on a broader scale, Valero will add them to existing plants.

“That technology hasn't been identified yet, but Valero has made investments with several companies that are working on processes to make ethanol out of feedstocks like wood pulp and other biomass,” Day said.

Valero is the third largest ethanol producer in the US. The refiner entered the ethanol sector in 2009 when it bought seven facilities previously owned by VeraSun Energy, which went bankrupt. In 2010, Valero bought two 7,175 b/d ethanol plants in Linden, Indiana, and Bloomingburg, Ohio, for $200mn from ASA Ethanol Holdings, which were also formerly owned by VeraSun. Valero also bought a third 7,175 b/d ethanol facility in Jefferson, Wisconsin, as part of the bankruptcy proceedings of Renew Energy.

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