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Ethanol company tests new biomass

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Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
(320) 235-6769 customer support
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company plant in Benson is taking a positive step toward finding an alternative energy source and providing more value to its producers.

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Chippewa Valley is going back to the past to start reusing the old corn cob for a pioneer use -- energy.

A cornfield near Priam was harvested Wednesday for the traditional product -- corn -- plus the field's corn cobs. Chippewa Valley was running a harvest test of two different methods of corn cob harvesting to help identify the most efficient way to develop a biomass energy source.

Chippewa Valley has set a goal of utilizing biomass fuel to replace 75 to 90 percent of the natural gas it uses in its ethanol plant.

Corn cobs, a natural byproduct of corn harvesting, may have more value as a biomass source due to good energy content than the corn cobs provide in soil nutrients as corn stover.

Chippewa Valley is harvesting about 5,000 acres from its members as a research test. The cooperative's 980 owner-members raise more than 112,000 acres of corn.

This is another innovation by Chippewa Valley -- starting with its ethanol plant; then the co-op's Shaker's Original American Vodka in 2003, then Prairie, an organic, kosher, ultra-premium vodka in 2008; and now looking to use corn stover as a biomass energy source for its plant.

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