Blue Flint Ethanol is continuing its efforts to find new fuel and power sources.
The plant is co-located with Great River Energy’s Coal Creek power plant, near Underwood. Coal Creek is scheduled to close in 2022. Blue Flint uses waste steam from Coal Creek as the energy for the refining process.
Blue Flint is owned by Midwest AgEnergy. It was recently awarded $155,000 from the state’s Agricultural Products Utilization Commission, to conduct research and a feasibility study to use biomass as its fuel source.
"We've been looking at a multitude of technologies, and a multitude of fuel options, as we look to repower the facility and extend its life," said Midwest AgEnergy CEO Jeff Zuger.
The biomass would include wheat straw and corn stover.
"It certainly indicates tehre's enough biomass in the region around Underwood to support fueling our facility, from a thermal needs perspective," Zuger said.
Zuger said the company is also looking at natural gas as a potential fuel source.
"Based on the APUC grant, we're moving ahead with a more detailed engineering design and analysis to understand the capital and the technologies, so we can make a decision around whether biomass will be part of pur future, or we move ahead with natural gas," Zuger said.
Zuger said he’s very optimistic over the future of Blue Flint.
"From the capacity to bring in natural gas, to bring in a water supply, to provide the technology that will allow us to remain a low-carbon fuel producer, all looks very favorable," Zuger said. "So I would sayh the likelihood that we will go ahead with a repower is very high."
But Zuger said the final decision rests in the hands of the Midwest AgEnergy board of directors.
Midwest AgEnergy also owns the Dakota Spirit ethanol plant in Spiritwood, east of Jamestown.