Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Small Ethanol Plant

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    46
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 77 Times in 20 Posts
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default Small Ethanol Plant

    I've been working on and refining my small loft layout plan, and part of the refinement has led to a track appearing into the layout from behind a scene blocker that imagines a branch line from an industry. suitably inspired by Jeff Wilson's "The Model Railroader's Guide to Industries Along the Tracks 3", I'm inclined to imagine an off scene Ethanol plant. Jeff presents a general guide to the inward and outward flow of railroad traffic associated with such a plant, as follows (per week):

    Inbound -

    44 Hopper cars of Corn
    2 Tank cars of Denaturant (which I understand is Petroleum to ensure the Ethanol is unfit for human consumption)


    Outbound -

    59 Tank cars of Ethanol
    45 Hopper cars of Distillers Grain


    These figures are based on plant that produces 100 million gallons per year, although I understand smaller (older?) plants can output down to 40-60 MGY.

    My prospective layout is a small short line, and I'm not inclined to have long block trains traversing it, as it would just look out of place (I feel - the rule of proportions being what it is), but I'd still like to serve the plant in every operating session (which lasts a "day").

    Jeff makes mention of quiet short lines servicing such a plant daily, rather than every 3 or 4 days for busier class 1 railroads; so if we work on that bases, I suppose we'd have on average (based on 6 days per week rail service: 7 Corn cars (daily) and 1 Denaturant (every 3 days) going in, and 10 Ethanol Cars (daily) and 7 Grain cars (daily) coming out. Add on the empties that still gives around 25 cars going each way, which still feels a bit much for the size of the layout.

    Would it be plausible for two trains to serve the plant each day? For instance Corn/Denaturant going in balanced by full Ethanol/Grain coming out in the morning, say; and then empty Ethanol/Grain going in balanced by empty Corn/Denaturant coming out in the afternoon?

    Being a UK modeller primarily, I'm not sure if there is an issue with grain and ethanol being part of the same train? Do US railroads care about such things?

    I suppose if it comes to it, I could just imagine it's a 50MGY plant and serve it daily which would mean 12 or 13 cars each way per day...

    I'd really be interested in the collective's thoughts.

    Best

    Scott.
    Last edited by ScottyStitch; 27th May 2020 at 10:34 AM. Reason: Typo corrections.
    The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalise the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.

    We're not crazy, or insane, we're just people living with a condition.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to ScottyStitch For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    1,397
    Thanks
    2,479
    Thanked 2,197 Times in 814 Posts
    Mentioned
    59 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    My take: It depends... mostly on how many trains you are running along the line. I guess the prototype would mostly be running unit trains and break them up at the plant, but that's boring to model so my ethanol plant will be drawing cars on a daily basis similar to yours (and on a similar scale, too). Since mine is on a module, it's the job of the arrangement planner to specify how many trains per day will go by serving it Also, I added corn sirup cars to my list, seems like at least some plants shipped out wet distillers grain out along with corn sirup to feed producers.

    On the safety side: You can mix grain and ethanol or denaturant, just keep the engines away from the hazmat cars. You can find the full instructions at the Bureau of Explosives here: http://www.boe.aar.com/boe/download/US_HMI.pdf or just skip to page 35 and use the "Position in Train chart". Or follow me in simplifying it to "no hazmat cars next to engine, caboose, reefer or flatcar/gondola with loads above the end walls, minimum one safe car in between". Empty cars are considered hazmat until cleaned.

    Micro Trains actually made some buffer cars for exactly that purpose: https://www.micro-trains.com/publicf...hly/MN1702.pdf (and I've got two )

    Have fun,
    Heiko

  4. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Heiko For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,299
    Thanks
    9
    Thanked 520 Times in 153 Posts
    Mentioned
    8 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Many ethanol plants in the Midwest buy grain locally, which farmers will deliver directly to the plant. The plants that are toward the coasts are the ones most likely to receive corn by rail.

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to railohio For This Useful Post:


  7. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    46
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 77 Times in 20 Posts
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by railohio View Post
    Many ethanol plants in the Midwest buy grain locally, which farmers will deliver directly to the plant. The plants that are toward the coasts are the ones most likely to receive corn by rail.
    That's good information, thanks. My layout will be set very much inland, so I could just simply have empties in, loaded out. And then just tailor the size of the plant to the number of cars I was happy to have per train, which I guess would be 10-12.
    The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalise the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.

    We're not crazy, or insane, we're just people living with a condition.

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    46
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 77 Times in 20 Posts
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    My take: It depends... mostly on how many trains you are running along the line. I guess the prototype would mostly be running unit trains and break them up at the plant, but that's boring to model so my ethanol plant will be drawing cars on a daily basis similar to yours (and on a similar scale, too). Since mine is on a module, it's the job of the arrangement planner to specify how many trains per day will go by serving it Also, I added corn sirup cars to my list, seems like at least some plants shipped out wet distillers grain out along with corn sirup to feed producers.

    On the safety side: You can mix grain and ethanol or denaturant, just keep the engines away from the hazmat cars. You can find the full instructions at the Bureau of Explosives here: http://www.boe.aar.com/boe/download/US_HMI.pdf or just skip to page 35 and use the "Position in Train chart". Or follow me in simplifying it to "no hazmat cars next to engine, caboose, reefer or flatcar/gondola with loads above the end walls, minimum one safe car in between". Empty cars are considered hazmat until cleaned.

    Micro Trains actually made some buffer cars for exactly that purpose: https://www.micro-trains.com/publicf...hly/MN1702.pdf (and I've got two )

    Have fun,
    Heiko
    Some good gen there, thanks. I think that's it pretty much sorted.
    The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalise the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.

    We're not crazy, or insane, we're just people living with a condition.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to ScottyStitch For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    1,397
    Thanks
    2,479
    Thanked 2,197 Times in 814 Posts
    Mentioned
    59 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Oh, and one more: Here's a couple of links to the wet distillers grain aka protein hoppers - basically coal hoppers with tarps:
    https://www.fiferhobby.com/kato-n-scale-hopper-cars/
    https://mrr.trains.com/news-reviews/...rotein-gondola

    Since I'm always looking for more variety in car types, that's what my plant will be shipping (and a modeling friend has about 20 of them and is looking for reasons to operate them).

    Heiko

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Heiko For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    46
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 77 Times in 20 Posts
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    Oh, and one more: Here's a couple of links to the wet distillers grain aka protein hoppers - basically coal hoppers with tarps:
    https://www.fiferhobby.com/kato-n-scale-hopper-cars/
    https://mrr.trains.com/news-reviews/...rotein-gondola

    Since I'm always looking for more variety in car types, that's what my plant will be shipping (and a modeling friend has about 20 of them and is looking for reasons to operate them).

    Heiko
    Very nice indeed. Would you have any idea what a suitable number of these hoppers per day would be, based on my previous figures?

    Best

    scott
    The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalise the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.

    We're not crazy, or insane, we're just people living with a condition.

  13. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    southeast michigan
    Posts
    1,351
    Thanks
    853
    Thanked 1,884 Times in 686 Posts
    Mentioned
    61 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Ethanol plants also produce a huge amount of dried powder from the distilled grain. Not sure how much goes out by rail vs truck but the end users are cattle and dairy operations.

  14. The Following User Says Thank You to NtheBasement For This Useful Post:


  15. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    1,397
    Thanks
    2,479
    Thanked 2,197 Times in 814 Posts
    Mentioned
    59 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Not yet, but I googled quickly...

    https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications...to-beef-cattle say "Each bushel of corn produces 2.7 to 2.8 gallons of ethanol, approximately 18 pounds of distillers grains plus solubles and 18 pounds of carbon dioxide." (and I'll leave you to do the unit conversions)

    The dry mill process in
    https://bioenergyinternational.com/b...-ethanol-plant (2015...) is characterized as "It has an annual capacity to convert around 650 000 tonnes of feed maize (corn) into 280 000 m3 ethanol, 160 000 tonnes of dried distillers grains and solubles (DDGS), 40 000 tonnes of wet distillers grains and solubles (WDGS) and 5 000 tonnes of corn oil." - but that's a dry mill process, I guess a wet mill process would have much more WDGS and less to no DDGS output. The 1:8 ratio between WDGS and corn oil sounds familiar, though.

    Heiko

  16. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Heiko For This Useful Post:


  17. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Posts
    46
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 77 Times in 20 Posts
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    Not yet, but I googled quickly...

    https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications...to-beef-cattle say "Each bushel of corn produces 2.7 to 2.8 gallons of ethanol, approximately 18 pounds of distillers grains plus solubles and 18 pounds of carbon dioxide." (and I'll leave you to do the unit conversions)

    The dry mill process in
    https://bioenergyinternational.com/b...-ethanol-plant (2015...) is characterized as "It has an annual capacity to convert around 650 000 tonnes of feed maize (corn) into 280 000 m3 ethanol, 160 000 tonnes of dried distillers grains and solubles (DDGS), 40 000 tonnes of wet distillers grains and solubles (WDGS) and 5 000 tonnes of corn oil." - but that's a dry mill process, I guess a wet mill process would have much more WDGS and less to no DDGS output. The 1:8 ratio between WDGS and corn oil sounds familiar, though.

    Heiko
    Excellent detective work, thanks. A general rule of thumb, then, WDG output of around a quarter of the DDG would be plausible.

    For interest, 280,000m3 is 73,968,209 US Gallons, so 74% of what we talked about in the OP.

    That improves things, somewhat, for our little railroad. If we ignore corn, 7.5 Ethanol cars, 5.35 DDG cars and 1.31 WDG cars. And if we do some rounding, let's make it 8 : 5 : 1, plus we'll tag a denaturant car maybe once a week. 12 to 13 cars a day, each way.

    I notice that those Protein hoppers only come in packs of 8, so I may need to find something else. They are rather lovely though.
    The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalise the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.

    We're not crazy, or insane, we're just people living with a condition.

Similar Threads

  1. Ethanol plant - prototype operations?
    By Heiko in forum Operations
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 17th Oct 2018, 04:26 PM
  2. Athearn rereleases 30,000 gal ethanol tank cars
    By omatrack in forum Product & Service Announcements
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 26th Feb 2014, 02:34 AM
  3. Athearn 30,000 gal. Ethanol Tankers
    By dieselfan1 in forum Rollingstock
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 21st Dec 2013, 01:14 PM
  4. Ethanol Refinery
    By blevins in forum Scratchbuilding & Kit Bashing
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11th Jan 2010, 11:04 PM
  5. Modeling Ethanol Production
    By Camaro911 in forum General Research
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 1st Mar 2009, 03:25 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •