Little Falls, Nov 7 – Thirty students from Milaca High School toured the Central Minnesota Renewables (CMR) plant today to gain a better understanding of clean Minnesota-produced renewable chemicals.
The students, who are from Milaca’s FFA chapter, were briefed on the various processes of bio-based chemical production such as acetone and n-butanol.
“It’s important for students to understand how bio-based ingredients produced right here in Little Falls reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Our renewable chemicals are boosting the economy in rural Minnesota and tours like these highlight the necessary skills to pursue a career in bio-based chemical production,” said Jonathan Olmscheid, VP of Finance at CMR.
The tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MN Biofuels), a non-profit trade organization that represents the ethanol and renewable chemical industries in Minnesota. CMR is a member of MN Biofuels.
CMR was previously an ethanol plant that was repurposed to produce renewable chemicals from corn in 2016. Renewable chemicals have 45 percent greater carbon efficiency during production in comparison to petroleum-based chemicals.
CMR’s renewable chemicals are used as raw materials in many consumer products such as Kingsford GreenFlame charcoal lighter fluid, Beauty Secrets acetone nail polish remover, paints, adhesives and coatings.
"During the tour, the students learned about the different stages of acetone and butanol production at our facility and how they compared to traditional ethanol production including incoming grain handling and storage, breakdown of corn into starch which is utilized in fermentation, the protein and fiber sold as a livestock feed, distillation of solvents, and the products that these solvents are used to produce," Olmscheid said.
CMR uses 5.2 million bushels of Minnesota-grown corn a year to produce its renewable chemicals.
“Through these tours, students are given a chance to see and understand the process of converting a homegrown renewable ingredient into sustainable bio-based chemicals” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director at MN Biofuels.
Doug Olson, the Vocational Agriculture teacher at Milaca High School, accompanied his students for the tour.
"We are trying to expose our students to a wide variety of career options within the agriculture industry. Having the opportunity to tour a local bio-based chemical plant is awesome! Renewable energy will continue to be in the spotlight as we try to manage our natural resources for an estimated global population predicted to exceed nine billion by the year 2050,” Olson said.
CMR currently has 50 employees that work in fields such as accounting, logistics, grain procurement, shift operations, engineering and lab technicians.