Ethanol plant cuts back corn use during drought - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Ethanol plant cuts back corn use during drought

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LENA (WREX) -

The summer drought forces a local energy company to cutback, but the dry weather isn't the only thing hurting production at Adkins Energy. It's also the overall struggles of the economy that's forcing it to change how it does business.

"Right now, we're running at about 80% capacity," Blake Voss, Adkins Energy Lab Manager explains. "We've slowed down just not just because of the drought conditions, but just the overall market conditions."

With the drought, they're easing up the amount of corn they use, but it's still the same process. It takes about 75 hours to transform corn kernels into 200 proof alcohol. The company's been around since 2002, grinding up nearly 16 million bushels of corn, into 45 million gallons of ethanol every year.

And there are a few final products, grains for animals, as well as ethanol for gas companies. There are two types of distillers grains for the animals, dry and wet, also known as wet cake. A lot of this is used after the ethanol has been extracted from the corn. It's sent out to farms for mainly beef cattle and also some dairy cattle as well.

Ray Baker, Adkins Energy General Manager, says they're happy with their contributions to the community. Looking forward, he hopes to continue to improve their work with gas companies. Since cars can now hold 15% ethanol combinations in their gasoline, it's a good thing for drivers.

"They can offer that product a little cheaper at the pump for the consumer," Baker says. "Which is ideally what it is. Because you really see, as you look historically, that ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. So we're putting a cheaper product in there that allows the consumer to realize that price benefit."

Adkins hopes the production slowdown will end soon, allowing them to expand to more farms and gas companies in the coming years.

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