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environmental permitting for ethanol plant

environmental permitting for ethanol plant
Blue Flint Ethanol
North Dakota

innovative project uses power plant’s waste heat to fuel ethanol production

Barr provided environmental services to Great River Energy and Headwaters, Inc., for the world’s first ethanol plant to be co-located and directly integrated with a coal-burning power plant. The 50 million-gallon-per-year Blue Flint Ethanol plant uses steam generated by GRE’s adjacent Coal Creek Station—rather than by the natural-gas boiler found at most ethanol plants—to provide heat for drying distillers’ grains. The result is one of the biofuels industry’s most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly facilities.

We helped obtain permits for the facility on a fast track, coordinating work with the plant’s owners and engineers, other consultants, and regulators to minimize the state’s review time. We also proposed permit limits and conditions that would allow Blue Flint to avoid the expensive and time-consuming Title V and PSD air permitting process. By estimating emissions, performing emission inventories, and conducting dispersion modeling, we showed that the impacts of criteria pollutants would be below the significant threshold. As a result, the plant can operate with a quickly granted, easy-to-comply-with synthetic minor-source air permit.

After ethanol production began, we conducted emissions testing to demonstrate compliance with the air permit. We’ve continued to assist Blue Flint by tracking regulations and providing advice on compliance and technical issues.

The environmental and economic benefits of co-locating the Blue Flint plant and Coal Creek Station include:

  • reducing operating costs and the demand for natural resources by eliminating the need to burn fuel in a boiler
  • minimizing climatic impacts by using steam that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere as waste heat