While Iowa’s the nation’s top ethanol producer, a new type of combination ethanol plant and cattle feedlot in eastern Nebraska is drawing a lot of attention.
The so-called "closed loop" facility is in Mead, some 20 miles west of Omaha. Bret Healy, project developer at E3 Biofuels, says the plant could be the blueprint for rural development. "The fact that you’re going to bring cattle production, whether it be dairy or cattle feed yards, in concert with ethanol production certainly works from an overall integrated standpoint that can produce jobs, produce high-tech jobs and produce some profits that can go back into the community," Healy says.
The feedlot is designed for 30,000 head of cattle and currently has about 26,000 head. Healy says they are using odor and fly management to be a good rural neighbor. "By using anaerobic digestion, you literally knock down odor by a factor of 90 to 95-percent and that revolves around the fact that you’re controlling the manure, that by it’s very nature keeps a lot of emissions that would otherwise be potential problems in play," he says.
Healy says the plant has a 25 million gallon yearly ethanol capacity and will be slowly increasing its output to that goal. Ethanol production started there in the last few weeks with 200,000 gallons made so far.