PRIME Plans to Build Closed-Loop System

Complex will be in Dakota County.

PRIME BioSolutions, an Omaha company, plans to build a closed-loop biofuels complex south of Dakota City in Dakota County that would convert manure from a confined beef feedlot to methane gas to power an adjacent ethanol plant.

Dave Hallberg, PRIME CEO and founder, says the firm has secured land options and begun the permitting process at the northeast Nebraska site and at several others in Nebraska and South Dakota for the closed-loop complexes.

In 2003, Hallberg received the patent for the closed-loop "method technology" that PRIME will license to the facility. The first commercial-scale application of that technology, or closed-loop concept, is now in operation at the "Genesis" facility near Mead (see Page 28), says Hallberg. PRIME BioSolutions first developed that facility, which is now majority owned and operated by E3 Biofuels.

The Dakota City facility, proposed on approximately 1,400 acres, and other complexes PRIME hopes to build are designed to eliminate the need for fossil fuel inputs, such as natural gas, to produce ethanol, allowing the facilities to make ethanol more energy efficient than other distillation methods.

Hallberg says that if state permits are approved construction could begin in Dakota County this fall, and operation could begin in late 2008.

The site would consist of a 27-million-gallon ethanol plant and a 30,000-head "under-the-roof" confined cattle feedlot with slatted floors, much like the Mead complex. Anaerobic digesters would convert manure to biogas to power the plant. Approximately 12 million bushels of corn would be needed for the ethanol plant and for the whole corn portion of the feedlot rations, Hallberg says, while the ethanol byproducts would be fed to the cattle. Bio-fertilizer byproducts would also be available for marketing, according to Hallberg.

There is no existing feedlot at the location now, like there was at Mead. Building one from scratch would be costly, but Hallberg says the savings by eliminating natural gas use would help offset that cost.

PRIME has an option to buy land in Franklin County, near Wilcox, for a similarly designed complex, but due to the local NRD regulations, obtaining sufficient water there could pose a problem. A site near Wayne also has been under discussion.

Hallberg says that the closed-loop concept, particularly the weather-protected confined cattle feedlot facilities, could well entice cattle feeders to move more cattle to northern states, like Nebraska and South Dakota.

For more information about PRIME, go to www.primebiosolutions.com.

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