Ethanol plant expands
Plan must pass muster with state DEQ air quality laws
By DAVE WILKINS
A planned upgrade to the Pacific Ethanol plant in Burley, Idaho, would increase production by 3 million gallons per year while bringing the facility into compliance with state air quality standards.
The company submitted an application to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in late June to make modifications to thermal flare equipment that's designed to burn off chemical emissions before they are released into the air.
The upgrade is intended to bring the plant into compliance with state air pollution rules, company officials said in the application. Its emissions of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde have exceeded state DEQ standards.
Under the agency's direction, the company has worked on a plan to bring the facility into compliance with state air quality standards since September 2010.
The planned flare modifications would also allow the company to boost annual ethanol production from 60 million to 63 million gallons per year.
In a separate permit application, also submitted to the state DEQ in late June, Tesoro, a Texas-based refiner and marketer of petroleum products, said it plans to build two new ethanol storage tanks at its bulk fuel terminal in Burley.
The two tanks would each be capable of holding up to 19,446 gallons.
The ethanol would be blended with gasoline and loaded onto tanker trucks, "in order to meet customer demand for this type of fuel mixture," company officials said in the application.
State DEQ approval is required for the project because ethanol is considered a volatile organic compound. Emissions could increase with the additional storage tanks and blending activity.
More than 90 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. is blended with ethanol, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
U.S. ethanol production totaled 13.1 billion gallons last year, a 20 percent increase from 2009, the association reported.