Merlin Community Club Meeting #3

Merlin Community 4-H tour Ethanol Plant
By: Cora Vince

GreenField Specialty Alcohols all got started by Ken Field in 1989 in Tiverton, Ontario and was first known as Commercial Alcohols. The company has since grown and now has four manufacturing plants in Canada and other Alcohol Packaging plants found in Canada and the U.S. GreenField is now known as the largest ethanol producer in Canada.

GreenField in Chatham is sometimes referred to as “The factory with the steam that smells bad”, although there is much more than that behind the scenes that not everyone knows about. At the Chatham plant there are an estimated 40 trucks that come in daily, with corn ready to unload. When the corn gets to GreenField it goes through the plant and can become Dried Distillers Grain (DDG), corn oil or carbon dioxide. The large stack of steam comes from the DDG process. The plant can produce fuel, alcohol and ethanol which can be used for a variety of products.

Although this is a large company they do face a few difficulties. It is a very large factory that is found outside so it has to battle with precipitation. In the winter months, in Chatham, it can get quite cold and it there is commonly snow. To keep the water and other liquids and chemicals from freezing, the liquids are kept at a very quick flow rate so they are less likely to freeze. There are also many expenses to pay, Greenfield produces the majority of their own electricity but, they continue to run on another source of electricity in case of an emergency.  Another major input is natural gas which is used for heat during processing.

Lots of products can be produced using either fuel, alcohol and ethanol. From hair products to various chemicals and medication. Some examples of those products are hand sanitizer, beer, cough syrup, flavouring in pop, hairspray, livestock feed, paint, ethanol for cars and many more.

The large majority of the plant is being controlled by computers 24/7. There are between 700-800 control loops found throughout the plant. If necessary, the workers are able to interject and change something that is going on in the computer system.

Now that you know a bit more about GreenField Specialty Alcohols you may have a different perspective on the company the next time you drive by.

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