Citizen; Vol. 2, No. 33

New Becker Plant Would Make Alcohol from Garbage

There's a possibility that an $87 million project, involving a plant that produces ethanol alcohol from garbage, utilizing waste steam from NSP for power, may come to Becker.

The plant would generate about 40 new jobs in the area, averaging $15 per hour. If everything falls into place, construction would begin in January, 1995 and be completed in 1997.

It would be located on 10 to 15 acres in Becker's new Industrial Park, on rail access. The plant utilizes a process that is entirely sealed so no air emissions escape into the atmosphere while alcohol is being produced.

About 15 million gallons of ethanol alcohol for blending in gasoline would be produced per year.

Raw material for the alcohol is in the form of 80 percent RDF (Refuse-Derived Fuel) and 20 percent vegetative material, such as grass clippings, corn stalks and leaves.

"We're still in the talking stage, and there are a lot of things still up in the air, but they have sent us a letter of intent," said Becker's EDA director Dave Graning.

Graning pointed out that the company is in the process of ongoing negotiations with NSP about issues such as cost of the steam, electricity and gas.

"There are other infrastructure problems involving the city too," he added. "They involve possibly relocating a holding pond and part of a storm sewer."

The RDF material that would be used as a raw material for the acid-hydrolysis process would come largely from the Refuse Recovery Facility in Elk River, which processes garbage furnished from Hennepin, Anoka, Stearns and Sherburne counties.

Currently, much of the RDF produced there is burned as fuel in the Elk River electricity generating plant.

Two by-products are left from the alcohol-conversion process. One is lignin, which is similar to potting soil, and gypsum, which is used in sheetrock construction.

Tennark is the name of the alcohol conversion company. It is owned by Tenneco, a nationwide producer of gas, oil, and food products. They also own Walker jacks and mufflers and Monroe Stock Absorbers.

If a deal is consummated and the alcohol conversion plant is built in Becker, there would be a possible expansion in the near future.