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ETHANOL EXPANSION: Iowa-based Summit Ag Group is expanding its ethanol plant in Brazil. Plans are to more than double the facility’s ethanol production, to 140 million gallons per year by early 2019.

Iowa-based Summit Ag to expand ethanol plant in Brazil

The FS Bioenergia facility is already Brazil’s leading producer of corn ethanol.

Brazil is a major producer of ethanol, mostly made from sugarcane. But that may be changing as Brazil is growing more corn each year, and is now expanding its corn-source ethanol production facilities. 

Summit Agricultural Group, based in Alden, Iowa, announced Jan. 30 a $100 million expansion of its FS Bioenergia facility, the leading corn ethanol production plant in Brazil. Expanding the FS Bioenergia plant in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, is anticipated to be completed in first quarter 2019. The expansion will more than double the facility’s annual corn ethanol production from 60 million gallons to 140 million gallons.

With this expansion, FS Bioenergia will annually process over 50 million bushels of corn and produce more than 14,000 tons of corn oil and 400,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil's growing livestock industry. 

Corn ethanol production is growing fast in Brazil

"This is a significant step for FS Bioenergia, but it's even more important for the growth of corn ethanol production in Brazil," says Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. "When we began this project several years ago, we were confident of the opportunities in Brazilian renewables. Today, we're more convinced than ever of the potential for corn ethanol in Mato Grosso."

Driving that optimism are two factors – first, increased production of affordable corn through double cropping. In Mato Grosso, corn production over the last decade has increased five-fold. Second is the RenovaBio program, which is legislation that would double Brazil's renewable fuels use by 2030.

"Brazil's long-standing commitment to renewable fuels coupled with an abundance of affordable feedstocks make for an attractive corn ethanol picture in Brazil," says Justin Kirchhoff managing director and head of private equity for Summit Ag Group. ''As we look at the expansion of FS Bioenergia over this next year, we're in a strong position to benefit from these favorable conditions." 

Most modern, efficient corn ethanol plant in world

He says the plant is recognized today as the most modern and efficient corn ethanol production operation in the world. FS Bioenergia is a collaboration between a Mato Grosso agribusiness and U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group, a leader in international agribusiness development, renewable energy and production agriculture headquartered in Iowa. Summit and its Brazilian partner broke ground on the corn-only ethanol production facility in early 2016, with the initial phase of production starting in mid-2017. Now they are going to expand that original plant.

As with the plant's original design and development, the FS Bioenergia expansion will use process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.

This ethanol plant is a landmark in Brazil

By using the most modern process technology, says Kirchhoff, FS Bioenergia is able to produce differentiated high-value co-products such as high-protein and high-fiber dried distillers' grains (DDG's) that are targeted towards specific livestock markets. This process technology also improves overall plant yield and efficiency.

FS Bioenergia's corn ethanol operation is considered a landmark project in Brazil that is already delivering immediate value to the country, says Rastetter. Once at full capacity, the plant will offset the country's increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can't be met by existing sugarcane ethanol production. The facility will also introduce to Mato Grosso valuable fiber and protein co-products known as dried distillers' grains (DDGs), which will serve as high-value feed for the expanding Brazilian livestock industry.

About Summit Agricultural Group. It is a diverse farming, agricultural investment and farm management company headquartered in Alden, Iowa. Summit's diverse operations include successful row crop production, beef cattle and pork farms in the U.S. and a growing presence in the South American biofuels market. For information go to www.SummitAg.com.

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