Innovation brings first corn oil at our Minnedosa Ethanol Plant

At the end of 2021, we marked a new milestone at our operations – we started producing corn oil, which is used to make renewable diesel, from our Minnedosa Ethanol Plant (MEP). This significant event highlights our commitment to ingenuity, teamwork and innovation in meeting the world’s ever-changing energy demands.

MEP, a 15-year-old facility, is best known for its production of fuel-grade ethanol and Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles (DDGS), a valuable co-product that goes to the animal feed market, made from corn. However, despite a consistent demand for both products, the volatility of feedstock and product pricing led MEP to think of other ways to add to its product offering. This is where the production of corn oil was first suggested by Rajesh Gupta, MEP Technical Manager.

“The ability to produce corn oil off of our existing ethanol process was always there,” says Rajesh. “The challenge was how to do it efficiently and economically in order to maximize return and make a quality product.”

The Distillers Corn Oil (DCO) now being produced can be used to make renewable diesel, which is used as an additive in everything from transportation diesel to asphalt. DCO is a preferred feed stock for renewable diesel due to its low carbon intensity score compared to others such as soybean oil, meaning it is more aligned to GHG emissions targets for the biodiesel market.

The installation of a new centrifuge was completed late last year, and since start-up has been producing around 11,000 litres of corn oil per day with an expected total production of close to 4.5 million litres in 2022.

“Success stories like this don’t just happen - they are inspired by people, built through teamwork, and proven through driving innovation into reality,” says Tanya Nader, MEP Plant Manager. “Although diversification of products was certainly a key driver, this project also highlights our Cenovus values in action. With safety top of mind, we brought together diverse teams and new ways of working to make this a shared success.”


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