Valero Renewables-Aurora is located near Aurora, S.D., six miles east of Brookings and 60 miles north of Sioux Falls. The bio-refinery sits on 420 acres and started ethanol production in November 2003. The facility uses a dry-grind production method and state-of-the-art technology to maintain industry-leading standards in production, safety, product quality and environmental stewardship. Recognized as the ethanol industry’s first 100 million-gallon-per-year production facility, the Aurora plant now annually processes more than 47 million bushels of corn into 130 million gallons of denatured ethanol and 480,000 tons of distillers grains co-products. The bio-refinery has a nameplate capacity of 120 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs approximately 70 full-time personnel.
The entire kernel of corn is converted to ethanol or distillers grains. Ethanol is an environmentally friendly, high-octane renewable fuel produced by fermenting converted corn starch with yeast. It is used as a blending agent with gasoline. Distillers grains are the co-product left after the ethanol is removed from fermented corn mash, and are sold as a valuable livestock feed. Distillers grains are high in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, making an excellent feed supplement for beef and dairy cattle, swine and poultry. The Aurora plant markets both dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and modified (or wet) distillers grains with solubles (MDGS).
The plant timeline:
- June 2001 – Community leaders began working on plans for the plant
- June 2002 – Brookings County Planning Commission approved a proposal for a 100 million-gallon-per-year ethanol production facility near Aurora, S.D.
- January 2003 – Construction began
- November 2003 – Operations began
- March 2004 – Grand opening celebrated
- June 2005 – Plant’s capacity increased to 120 million gallons per year
- November 2008 – Five-year anniversary celebrated
- April 2009 – Valero Renewables closed on purchase of the plant from VeraSun Energy