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UK’s largest bioethanol refinery opened in Hull

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A new bioethanol refining facility, Vivergo, has been officially opened in Hull. The plant is a joint venture between AB Sugar, BP and DuPont and will produce 420  million ltr/y of bioethanol at full capacity. This is equivalent to a third of UK demand.

Vivergo will also produce 500 000 tpy of protein rich animal feed for the UK market, which is sufficient to feed approximately one fifth of the UK’s dairy herd.

The plant is to use animal feed grade wheat, which would previously have been exported. Requiring 1.1 million tpy, Vivergo is to become the UK’s largest wheat buyer. The company’s aspiration is to source its wheat primarily from farms in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The bioethanol Vivergo produces will offer greenhouse gas savings in excess of 50% in comparison to standard petrol; this is equivalent to the current emissions of more than 180 000 UK cars each year.

Business secretary, Vince Cable, has described the project as a good example of how joint ventures using the financial support and expertise of big companies can create local jobs while simultaneously helping to meet the energy security and fuel demands of the country and additionally supporting local farmers.

Managing Director of Vivergo, David Richards, has also highlighted that the business is a great example of sustainable economic growth. According to him, Vivergo will ensure that valuable commodities such as bioethanol and animal feed, which ordinarily would have been imported, are produced in the UK.

Additionally, Richards has argued that the sustained legacy of the business is already evident; highly skilled jobs have been created and £ 60 million has so far been contributed through supplier contracts.

The Vivergo plant is a brownfield redevelopment project built on a 25 acre site within the Saltend Chemicals Park near Hull. Now operational, the plant employs around 80 full time highly skilled people and is estimated to support over one thousand additional jobs through its supply chain.

Vivergo is committed to employing local people wherever possible; working in collaboration with JobCentrePlus, local authorities and training providers, a recruitment programme has been created to give a number of unemployed people training and on the job experience of working with Vivergo. Six of these individuals have now been offered permanent roles.

BP’s Vice President for Alternative Energy, Phillip New, has described Vivergo as one of Europe’s most sophisticated ethanol plants. James C. Collins, President of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, has said that Vivergo brings innovation to the marketplace in both the fields of energy and animal nutrition. According to him, while the demand for transportation energy will continue to grow, the supply of affordable petroleum will not. Vivergo strives to meet the needs of the growing population by utilising existing resources more effectively, harnessing renewable energy sources such as those that come from agriculture.

Adapted from press release by Emma McAleavey.

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