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lunes, 30 de octubre de 2017

Profile: MiniDest – The small-sized corn ethanol plants of Porta





A new addition to the list of references of small-scale biorefineries. Today I introduce a concept that is revitalizing the rural zones in Argentina: the MiniDest. Porta carries the distillery to the farm to integrate the production in the origin minimizing logistic and energy costs.

The company

Porta Hnos. SA, a company settled in Córdoba (Argentina), has a well-known industrial trajectory of more than 130 years in the production of liquor, alcohol and vinegar. They have invested years devoted to the development of engineering and technology for the processes of distillation and fermentation. In this sense, its staff have achieved important goals for the own company and third parties, in addition to the sign of collaboration agreements with major biotechnology companies in Argentina and all over world.

The MiniDest concept

The MiniDest are small, modular, automatic and remotely operated plants. These mini distilleries are installed in farms aimed to produce corn ethanol and feed, generating added value. They allow to integrate the agriculture and livestock farming with a sustainable industrial process, promoting a business model based on the circular economy.

Figure 1. Planta MiniDest (extraído de la página web de la empresa)

As they are located at the farms, the logistics and shipping costs (transportation of corn and feed) and the energy costs (liquid animal food is produced and livestock are directly fed with it avoiding the evaporation process). Porta engineers remotely operate the MiniDest providing continuous professional support and ensuring the process efficiency and the optimization of the plant performance.

Characteristics

Feedstock and processing capacity
40 ton/day (13,500 ton/year) of corn, equivalent to 1,700 ha of corn per year. This is the ideal size for a modular construction according to the company studies.
A similar modular concept with larger dimensions is being developed for Brazil, fields and production are bigger there.
The plant could use other feedstock but they only work with corn for the time being.
Products and production capacity
- 15,000 l/day (5 Ml/year) of ethanol 95%.
- 40 ton/day of wet feed (27% dry matter) + 70,000 l/day of liquid feed (4% dry matter, supplied to troughs).
Process units
Milling, cooking, fermentation, distillation and byproduct separation.
Working time
24 hours per day, 335 days per year.
Enzymes
DuPont.
Control system
ControlDest. It is a remote control system that operates a MiniDest from the headquarters in Cordoba (Argentina). Also, the plant has a highly automated software.
Water requirements
120 m3/day are used. A large part of this quantity is returned to the feedlot through both the wet and liquid feed.
Recommended size for the feedlot
4,000 head of livestock. Approximately 2,500 head of livestock are required to deplete the liquid feed.
Power consumption
150 kWh.
Boiler fuel
GLP, biogas or natural gas.
Space requirements
1,500 m2 of concrete surface.
Installation cost
Between 3.5 and 4 M$ turnkey (including civil works).
Staff
One person per shift.


Operating plants

Today, there are 4 operating MiniDest in Argentina. They are running smoothly with conversions of 2.4 kg of corn per litre. Currently, the monthly production is 460 m3 (5.600 m3 per year), exceeding initial expectations. The use of the subproducts in the feedlots is working well.

Future plans

Porta intends to build between 10 and 20 MiniDest in Argentina during 2018. They are also landing in Brazil where they envision a great potential.

Acknowledgements: I would like to express my appreciation to José Antonio Porta (Head of New Projects at Porta) for his kind collaboration.

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