Minneapolis, March 8 - The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MN Bio-Fuels) and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) hosted virtual plant visits for two classes at Benson High School on March 4.
During the plant visits, the students, from grades 9 to 12, were given a virtual presentation on the plant’s operations, facts on the ethanol industry and a video on the ethanol production process.
“Corn is a solar panel - it takes in sunlight, moisture and CO2 and creates energy. We take that energy and convert it back into something that consumers can use. At the end of the day, we break that energy out, we put CO2 and water vapor back out and recycle it to produce more ethanol - this is the renewable energy cycle.
“We’re not pulling carbon out of the ground and emitting it into the atmosphere. Instead, we’re pulling carbon out of the air and put it into something we can convert into energy,” said Chad Friese, CEO of CVEC, to the students.
In total, 20 students from two classes - Agriculture Sales and Marketing and Agriculture Processing - participated in the virtual visits.
Friese said CVEC sources 17 million bushels of corn from local farms within 20 to 25 miles of the plant each year to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol and 140,000 tons of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) annually.
He said some of the ethanol produced at CVEC is used to produce industrial grade alcohol for products such as sanitizers and disinfectants while the the DDGS produced is delivered to local cattle, dairy, hog and turkey farmers.
“These virtual visits provide students with a better idea of how renewable energy is produced and the crucial role it plays in strengthening rural economies while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of MN Bio-Fuels.
During the virtual visits, Friese spoke about the necessary qualifications for the various careers at CVEC and the ethanol industry.
Jeanne Anderson, Agriculture Sciences and FFA Advisor at Benson High School, participated in both virtual visits with her students.
“Benson students were able to benefit from the virtual visits with CVEC by getting insight on a local company. They were able to learn potential jobs and careers, as well as understand the scope of target scale production,” she said.