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Vivergo Fuels Ethanol Plant, Hull, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Key Data


Vivergo Fuels' ethanol plant is being developed in Saltend, near Hull, in the UK. The $458m plant will be one of the largest in Europe. It will transform 1.1 million tons of wheat into 420 million litres of ethanol annually.

The project is being undertaken by a joint venture between AB Sugar (45%), BP (45%) and DuPont (ten percent). Construction of the plant started in July 2008 and is currently in the final stages of its completion.

In April 2012, commissioning of the plant was started with the supply of the first wheat. The plant is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2012.

Plant construction as part of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

"The plant is being built as part of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) introduced by the UK Government in 2005."

The plant is being built as part of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) introduced by the UK Government in 2005. The RTFO has set targets for use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Vivergo was incorporated by the partners in 2007 to establish the plant and to meet the targets set out by the RTFO. A planning application submitted in December 2007 was approved in May 2008.

The new plant will supply nearly one-third of the UK's biofuel demand when fully operational. The ethanol produced will provide a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The plant will also be the largest supplier of animal feed in the UK at 500,000t annually. It will address the protein deficit in the UK agriculture sector. Nearly half of the wheat used by the plant is converted into animal feed, which will be supplied to domestic farmers. The animal feed will be sufficient for feeding nearly 340,000 dairy cows daily.

Reasons for location of Vivergo Fuels' ethanol production facility near Hull

Saltend was chosen as the location for the new plant due to the availability of infrastructure and skilled labour. The area is also one of the greatest wheat producing regions in the UK. In addition, a deep port located nearby will help in reducing logistical costs.

Feedstock required by the plant will be supplied by Frontier Agriculture, which runs the Humber Gold club which consists of wheat farmers in the area.

Silos and fermentation tanks making up the major biofuel plant

The plant includes six silos, each having a capacity of 1,500t for storing wheat. The silos can store the stock required for three days. A wheat mill is used to screen the wheat and mill it into wholemeal flour.

"The project is being undertaken by a joint venture between AB Sugar (45%), BP (45%) and DuPont (ten percent)."

Eight fermentation tanks each with a capacity of 4,400 cubic metres are part of the brewery. The produced ethanol can be stored in two tanks with a capacity of 10,000t. Two loading bays enable 37,000l road tankers to be loaded with ethanol in 30 minutes.

For processing the waste produced after distillation, the plant is equipped with three hot air dryers with a capacity of 55t/h. Wet distillers grain (WDG) silos, four palletising machines and a dried distillers grains and solubles (DDGS) storage warehouse are also part of the plant. The warehouse has a capacity to store 3,500t of DDGS pallets.

Other facilities which are part of the plant include chemical storage units, steam generators, air compressors, a process water treatment plant and four cooling towers.

Process technology at Vivergo Fuels' Saltend ethanol plant

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Wholemeal flour from the mill is converted into slurry by mixing it with water and treating with steam. It is then treated with enzymes to break the starch particles into fermentable sugars.

The slurry is then fermented in tanks for 58 hours. Yeast is then added to convert the sugars into beer containing 12% alcohol. The next step includes distillation, evaporation and molecular sieve dehydration, which have been integrated to increase the energy efficiency of the plant.

Distillation is used to bring the 12% ethanol to 96% concentration. Dehydration further increases the concentration to 99.7%. This process produces anhydrous fuel grade ethanol which can be blended at around five percent for use in petrol-based car engines.

The process gives rise to wheat protein and fibre as residue which is converted into high quality animal feed. Evaporation is used to concentrate the solids from five percent to 30%. After evaporation, the wheat protein and fibre are dried using hot air dryers to create DDGS.

Palletising machines press the DDGS to produce high density animal feed pellet which is stored in the DDGS warehouse before being dispatched. The process also produces WDG, an animal feed product, which can be readily dispatched.

Contractors involved with the economical RTFO facility

BioCnergy, a joint venture between Aker Solutions and Praj, was contracted to design, construct, install and commission the plant. Clugston Construction is the civil engineering contractor for the project. PJ Valves supplied all the valves required for the plant.

Vivergo Fuels' ethanol plant is located in Saltend, UK.
The plant will meet nearly one-third of the UK's biofuel demand.
The Saltend plant will convert 1.1 million tons of wheat into 420 million litres of ethanol.