Zeitz, Germany: The most efficient bioethanol plant in Europe

In Zeitz, CropEnergies Bioethanol GmbH operates one of the largest bioethanol plants in Europe, with an annual capacity of 400,000 m³ of bioethanol. It can process up to 750,000 tonnes of grain and sugar syrups from up to 1,000,000 tonnes of sugar beet per year. However, the plant in Zeitz, which was brought on stream in 2005, is not only impressive in size. Its operating concept also represents a milestone in European bioethanol production. It broke new ground not only in terms of raw material and energy supply and in the design of the core processes but also in the production of valuable food and animal feed products. Since October 2010, the bioethanol production is Zeitz has been certified as sustainable.
Energy efficiency
The energy efficiency of the production process in Zeitz is characterized above all by the re-use of energy at various stages of the process. The facility has its own energy generating unit, which not only meets the plant's own requirements but, through advanced cogeneration technology, achieves a very high energy yield and also feeds electricity into the national grid.
Raw material flexibility
Another important characteristic of the plant in Zeitz is its ability to continuously process a range of raw materials. Besides different cereals, such as wheat, maize, barley and triticale, it can also produce bioethanol from intermediate products from sugar production. CropEnergies can therefore adjust its raw material supplies in Zeitz flexibly according to developments on the raw material markets at any time, and thus lower its raw material costs.
Outstanding location
The Zeitz plant is located in the middle of one of Germany's largest wheat-growing regions and is also in the immediate vicinity of one of the sugar factories operated by Südzucker AG. So it is situated right where the raw materials required for production are available. The plant also has very good rail and road links. We have developed our own internet-based tool in order to ensure an even spread of transport vehicles over the day. In this way, road traffic around the plant is hardly affected, and our customers and the suppliers benefit from short waiting times and can plan their return loads in advance.
All raw materials fully utilized
Another feature of the plant in Zeitz is that it utilizes the raw materials completely. Through gentle, indirect drying and pelletizing CropEnergies processes the stillage into a storable and transportable product. Thanks to its high protein and fat content as well as to its advantageous energy content, the resulting animal feed DDGS (Distillers' Dried Grains with Solubles), which CropEnergies markets under the brand name ProtiGrain®, is used for all types of livestock. It is also used in pet food. By furthering early scientific research, CropEnergies played an important part in the successful spread of this product in Europe.
Furthermore, the plant in Zeitz has produced liquefied carbon dioxide since the end of 2010. CO2 produced in the fermentation process of sugary and starchy raw materials is captured, purified and liquefied. Thus, 100,000 tonnes of liquefied food-grade CO2, which is used in the food industry, as carbonic acid, as cooling liquid and anti-freeze agent as well as for the production of dry ice, is produced annually.

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