Friday July 23, 2010

Sunoco Celebrates Opening of Ethanol Manufacturing Facility

Ribbon cutting ushers in new era of fuel production

    Sunoco hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of its ethanol manufacturing facility in Volney.

    After an investment of approximately $25 million and months of capital work, the 100-million-gallon-per-year ethanol manufacturing facility began operations in late June and sold its first shipment of corn-based ethanol on June 30.

    The facility directly employs 60 people and sources as much corn from local growers as possible.

    As the largest ethanol manufacturing facility in the Northeastern United States, where much of Sunoco’s retail gasoline network is located, the plant is uniquely situated to serve the company’s ethanol requirements. When running at full capacity, the facility is expected to supply approximately 20 percent of Sunoco’s ethanol needs.

    As a provider of transportation fuels, Sunoco views the successful start-up as a first step into the manufacture of alternative fuels, an area of possible growth for the company that it will continue to evaluate. Sunoco has sold ethanol-blended gasoline for more than a decade.

    Speaking on the facility’s successful start-up, Sunoco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lynn L. Elsenhans said, “We are pleased to join the Oswego County community and look forward to playing a productive role in the region. Operating this facility and sourcing as much corn as possible from local growers will contribute to the region’s economy and support the creation of  ‘green’ jobs.”

    Although this is Sunoco’s first entry into the manufacture of alternative fuels, the company has a long history of involvement in the field.

    During the 1990s, Sunoco worked with government and private vehicle fleets to evaluate and test the commercial viability of various alternative transportation fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol and propane.

    Facts and figures

    • Nameplate production capacity of the facility is 100 million gallons of corn-based ethanol production per year. Recent modifications were designed to take plant to 85 million gallons per year.

    • At a consistent operating rate of approximately 85 millions gallons per year of ethanol production, it would use approximately 30 million bushels of corn annually.

    • There are 56 pounds of corn in a bushel. The typical yield from a bushel of corn is approximately 2.7 gallons of ethanol, 19 pounds of grain, and 17 pounds of carbon dioxide.

    • New York state ranks 22nd in the nation in corn yield and roughly 70 million bushels of production, according to 2007 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    • There are 24 fermenters at Sunoco’s ethanol plant. They are operated in pairs.

    • The facility directly employs 60 people, consisting of 50 hourly workers and 10 salaried employees.

    • It plans to maximize use of local corn to make its ethanol and sell distiller’s grain, which is a by-product of ethanol production, to the region’s dairy industry.

    • Lansing is the company Sunoco has hired to purchase corn on its behalf. Lansing also handles its grain sales.

    • It sells carbon dioxide produced at the plant to Linde, which has a cryogenic facility adjacent to the ethanol facility.