Minneapolis, April 2 – Thirty-five students from Ridgewater College toured the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) plant in Benson on March 28 to get a closer look at how home-grown renewable energy is produced.
The students, from the college’s animal nutrition class toured the various stages and processes of ethanol production at CVEC, which produces 50 million gallons of ethanol a year.
“CVEC has hosted many tours over the years for students, 4-H’ers, and local agriculture and science programs and we appreciate Ridgewater College bringing their students to our facility to get a first-hand look at how ethanol is produced.”
“It’s important for students to learn about the ethanol production process and its role in creating jobs in rural Minnesota while also reducing state greenhouse gas emissions,” said Chad Friese, CEO of CVEC.
During the tour, they learned about including incoming grain grading, grain handling, fermentation, grain storage, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) production and storage, ethanol storage and shipment.
The tour also coincided with Rep. Collin Peterson’s visit to CVEC where he met with Friese and the plant’s board members. Peterson joined the students for part of their tour.
“Ethanol has come a long way, and I was glad to join students from Ridgewater College’s animal nutrition class for a look at some of the latest developments in distriller’s dried grains. DDGS are an important source of animal feed for the livestock sector, and higher protein DDGS can expand their role in this market,” Peterson said.
The tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, a non-profit trade organization that represents the ethanol industry in Minnesota. CVEC is a member of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.
“With these tours, students gain a better understanding of how a homegrown ingredient is converted into a clean fuel that has been reducing and continues to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, saves consumers at the pump and makes America more energy independent,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.
CVEC is an ethanol production cooperative that commenced operations in 1996 and currently has 50 employees.
Kari Slinden, livestock instructor at Ridgewater College, said that prior to the tour her class discussed DDGS in livestock rations.
“My students have been learning about feedstuffs and many of them use products from the ethanol industry to feed livestock,” she added.
Picture Caption: Rep. Collin Peterson briefs Ridgewater College students on the outlook for Minnesota's ethanol industry.