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Ethanol Process. By: Nathan Winesburg. Goals for This Project. To describe from beginning to end the process of making ethanol. Talk about how ethanol plants reuse materials and don’t overuse things. To see if they are trying to help the environment in any way. Step 1- Hammer Mill.

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ethanol process

Ethanol Process

By: Nathan Winesburg

goals for this project
Goals for This Project

To describe from beginning to end the process of making ethanol.

Talk about how ethanol plants reuse materials and don’t overuse things.

To see if they are trying to help the environment in any way.

step 1 hammer mill
Step 1- Hammer Mill

Once corn is brought to an ethanol plant, it is stored and then sent to a hammer mill.

The hammer mill grinds the corn into a flour, and while doing so removes debris and corn stocks from the corn.

step 2 slurry tanks cooker
Step 2- Slurry Tanks/Cooker

The grain from the hammer mill is mixed in with water.

The pH is set to about 5.8 (pH is how acidic or basic the solution is. The pH of water is 7.)

The combination in the slurry tank is acidic

Enzymes are also added, I will describe what they do later on.

The slurry is heated to 190F for about 45 minutes to reduce thickness and stickiness.

step 3 jet cooker
Step 3- Jet Cooker

The jet cooker is a fast and efficient process.

The ethanol is in this process for only a few minutes but is heated to around 220F.

After a little bit of cooling the mixture is passed along to the next stop.

step 4 liquefaction tanks
Step 4- Liquefaction Tanks

To begin the liquefaction, the mixture is heated near 190F for 2 hours.

The reason for this is to give the previously stated enzymes time to breakdown the starch into dextrins (type of carbohydrate).

Once completed there is another enzyme added before the mixture moves on.

step 5 fermentation
Step 5- Fermentation

Now the new enzymes break down the dextrins into sugars.

Then yeast is added to convert the sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

The mash is then allowed to ferment (or develop) for 50-60 hours, what results is a mixture that contains 15% ethanol

step 6 distillation
Step 6- Distillation

The mash is now heated to a point where the ethanol and water can be separated.

Once the ethanol is ready to move on for the next step, it contains roughly 95% ethanol and only 5% water.

step 7 molecular sieve dehydration
Step 7- Molecular Sieve/Dehydration

Here the remaining water is removed, resulting in waterless ethanol.

step 8 denaturant
Step 8- Denaturant

The final step of the ethanol process is adding the denaturant.

This simply makes the ethanol unfit for people to consume.

final product
Final Product

Through all of the steps I listed, we now have ethanol.

Now it can be stored until it is ready to be shipped away from the ethanol plant.

what happens to the leftover material
What happens to the leftover material?

What about the released carbon dioxide?

How is leftover water reused?

How are distiller grains made?

carbon dioxide
Carbon Dioxide

The carbon dioxide is produced in the fermentation process, when the yeast and sugar create ethanol.

Rather than it being released into the atmosphere, some ethanol plants will capture and purify it so it can be used for other things

Hopefully this is something that all ethanol plants will catch on to and be able to do in the future.

reusing water and solids
Reusing Water and Solids

Water and solids left over from the distillation process is sent back to a centrifuge.

The water is sent back to the slurry tanks, reducing the amount of fresh water that the ethanol plant needs.

The solids are mixed with syrup and more reused water, creating wet distiller grains. Wet distiller grains are used as feed for cattle.

Wet distiller grains are sometimes dried to make dry distiller grains, which is used as a high protein ingredient for cattle.


Overall this was a good experience for me as I move forward with my life.

It is also good to see things being done to improve the environment and that we are not using more than we need – and that things used in the process are being re-used.

thank you
Thank You!

Thank you all for being my judges this evening and listening to what I presented.