Another announcement relevant to the topic of diversification came in early June when ICM Inc. signed an agreement with Texas-based Visionary Fiber Technologies Inc. (VFT). ICM will serve as the exclusive distributor, engineering, procurement and construction contractor for VFT’s fiber reactor separation technology, for deployment within the ethanol industry.
The proprietary technology can be used to refine corn oil produced at ethanol plants, removing significantly more impurities so it can be sold to renewable diesel refineries for use as a feedstock without the need for pretreatment and without risk of catalyst damage. VFT’s technology is installed as bolt-on skids, which can be scaled up or down to various sizes and causes minimal or no interruption to operation, says Scott Kohl, chief technology officer for VFT. It’s one of several applications in development by VFT for the ethanol industry. “We look forward to continuing to enhance the ethanol industry’s profitability and sustainability based on new product creation over the coming years,” he says, adding that the company is working in multiple other industries as well, at commercial scale as well as testing and scale-up trials.
The agreement with ICM is focused on corn oil pretreatment for renewable diesel production, Kohl says. The renewable diesel industry is rapidly expanding, with strong demand for feedstocks like corn oil, with a low carbon intensity score. “Distillers corn oil extracted from ethanol plants is strongly positioned to meet both the immediate and forecasted growing demand,” he says. “The ability for ethanol plants to pretreat distillers corn oil within their own facility to increase the value for their current coproducts, thus further diversifying producers’ sources of revenue and cash flow, while meeting an immediate and high-growth industrial need in the market has a clear parallel to the business model that started the ethanol industry.”