Production – from sugar beet to bioethanol
The Nordzucker AG bioethanol factory in Klein Wanzleben produces the fuel bioethanol and the animal feed vinasse. The raw material for both of these products is sugar beet, which according to the Common Market Organisation for Sugar, cannot be used in the EU for the production of food stuffs, in other words, is classified as “industrial sugar beet”. Producing bioethanol involves a multi-stage process subject to continuous quality control:
Bioethanol production starts with fermentation. This involves the fermentation of the saccharose in the beet to ethanol by adding yeast to the mixture. The end product of fermentation is the mash containing alcohol. The next process is distillation in which the mash is separated into an alcohol-containing phase and an alcohol-free phase. The alcohol-containing phase is processed in two more steps involving rectification and dehydration to produce bioethanol with a purity of 99.9 per cent. Evaporating water from the alcohol-free phase leaves behind vinasse which is a protein-rich animal feed.
The production plant in Klein Wanzleben was built in 2007 and incorporated all of the latest findings to maximise the protection of the environment, as well as being the first industrial plant in Germany producing ethanol from sugar beet.