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ClonBio invests in Wisconsin site to get more from corn

Photo courtesy of Aztalan Bio

A once-failed corn processing plant is back in operation and the new owner is making large investments in its future.

Eric Sievers with Irish-based ClonBio Group says they acquired the former Valero Ethanol site near Jefferson, Wisconsin in 2022, and set out to improve the technology and efficiency of the plant.  Sievers says their Aztalan Bio facility began operations near the end of 2023. “And that’s all just in preparation for what we’ve always been hoping to do, which is then to implement a set of fairly radical innovations to turn the plant into a corn biorefinery that focuses on making food products.”

Sievers tells Brownfield the plant was always intended to offer products including food and ethanol, but market timing did not work out for the previous owners.  “When Volaro operated it, they operated it as part of a suite of fuel ethanol plants and so that odd vision of making food wasn’t really a good fit, but for us, that made this plant the most interesting asset in North America.”

Sievers says along with ethanol, there will be a corn protein concentrate, corn protein isolate, and dietary fiber production lines for human food use.  He says their distillers’ grains already have protein levels higher than industry standards for animal feed because much of the fiber has been removed.  Sievers says the goal is to get the most value from the corn. “Front and center, one of our first priorities is to have this plant making food-grade corn oil.”

Sievers says ClonBio has already invested about 100 million dollars in the Aztalan Bio plant and expects to invest another 400 million in the next few years.  The company has been invited to apply for a U.S. Department of Energy 400-million-dollar loan.

Aztalan Bio now processes 40 million bushels of corn annually and eventually, they expect to reach 50 million bushels.  The company expects the Aztalan Bio plant will also support more than a thousand direct and indirect Wisconsin jobs.

AUDIO: Eric Sievers discusses the changes and investments at ClonBio Group’s Aztalan Bio corn processing facility near Jefferson, Wisconsin.

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