The benefits of Enogen trait technology from Syngenta are piquing the interest of ethanol plants now more than ever. In December of 2011, Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa, became the first ethanol plant to sign a commercial agreement to use Enogen corn after the deregulation of the trait. Since then, two additional ethanol plants have signed commercial agreements, and a total of eight ethanol plants across Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota have signed Enogen technology trial agreements, with six of those agreements being signed within the last six months.
“Our recent successes have reinforced the value of using Enogen grain in ethanol production. We’ve been very pleased with the results this revolutionary technology has delivered, and we’re excited that the market has quickly started to explore and adopt Enogen corn,” expressed David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels at Syngenta.
Bio-engineered to express a robust form of alpha amylase enzyme directly in the corn kernel, Enogen corn eliminates the need for liquid alpha amylase enzyme in dry grind ethanol production. Outperforming all commercial liquid alpha amylase enzymes or liquefaction enzyme systems, Enogen corn helps drastically reduce the slurry viscosity of corn mash, which enables unprecedented levels of dry solids loading (solid levels above 36 percent have been successfully demonstrated) and delivers a variety of process enhancements such as:
- Greater process flexibility to capture increased alcohol yield and throughput
- Reduced consumption of natural gas, electricity and water
- Improved process stability to reduce the usage of chemicals to manage pH levels
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Reduced carbon footprint by more than 10 percent
“These types of enhancements are critical for ethanol producers as market conditions are constantly fluctuating,” Witherspoon added. “Having the ability to slow down or speed up the production process with minimal adjustments is huge.”
Not only do ethanol plants realize benefits from Enogen corn, but farmers also reap the rewards. To source the Enogen corn needed, ethanol plants contract directly with local farmers to produce and deliver the value-added grain. In return for the consistent supply of high-quality corn and alpha amylase enzyme, ethanol plants pay farmers an average premium of 40 cents per bushel for their Enogen corn. For some farmers, this can mean an extra $80 to $90 per acre.
“What truly makes Enogen corn unique from other technologies designed to enhance ethanol production is that it adds significant incremental value at the local level for these communities that rely on the success of the ethanol plant,” continued Witherspoon.
After deregulation in February 2011, 19 growers contracted to plant approximately 5,000 acres of Enogen corn seed. This season, those numbers increased to nearly 300 growers and more than 64,000 acres.
“Assuming an average yield of 150 bushels on acres planted with Enogen corn, this translates into nearly $3.9 million of additional revenue for local farmers,” Witherspoon noted.
Ethanol plants have taken notice as well.
“We like working with Enogen corn because not only does it help improve our profitability, it puts the money we would normally spend on liquid enzymes in the pockets of our local farmers,” said Delayne Johnson, general manager of Quad County Corn Processors.
“We’re really excited about Syngenta’s commitment to continue to introduce new technology that ties processing with the producer. Part of our vision when we built the company was to add value back to production agriculture, to our producers locally,” said Tom Willis, CEO of Conestoga Energy Partners.
Enogen trait technology has arrived during a critical time for the renewable fuels industry. With the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) under heavy scrutiny, and frequent changes in market conditions, Enogen corn can provide a suitable solution to deliver value throughout the entire corn ethanol supply chain.
“At Syngenta, we believe biofuels will play a crucial role in sustaining our national and rural economies, adding value for our nation’s corn farmers, and in driving technology developments in agriculture. And we’re proud to contribute in any way possible,” stated Witherspoon.