Valero Renewables-Charles City is located near Charles City, Iowa, approximately 35 miles east of Mason City and 170 miles south of Minneapolis. The bio-refinery sits on 225 acres and started ethanol production in April 2007. 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. The Charles City plant annually processes nearly 43 million bushels of corn into 120 million gallons of denatured ethanol and 400,000 tons of distillers grains co-products. The bio-refinery has a nameplate capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs more than 65 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 Charles City plant markets both dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and modified (or wet) distillers grains with solubles (MDGS).
The plant timeline:
- February 2004 – Community leaders began working on plans for the plant
- August 2005 – Plans were announced for the plant in Floyd County
- January 2006 – Announced purchase of the site near Charles City
- March 2006 – Construction began
- May 2006 – Groundbreaking celebrated
- April 2007 – Startup activities began
- August 2007 – Grand opening celebrated
- April 2009 – Valero Renewables closed on purchase of the plant from VeraSun Energy