Field to Fuel

Enogen corn enzyme technology enhances ethanol production and allows growers to serve as enzyme suppliers.
A grain truck delivers a local grower's grain to Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa.
A grain truck delivers a local grower's grain to Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa.
Ethanol is by far the most significant biofuel in America, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Statistics show that ethanol is helping the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment through lower emissions and growing the economy by creating new jobs that can't be outsourced. Enogen® corn enzyme technology, the industry's only corn trait bioengineered specifically to enhance ethanol production, is helping to make ethanol more sustainable.

Enogen is rapidly gaining popularity because of the value it delivers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants. "Enogen corn is a win for the farmer, a win for the ethanol plant and, in the end, a win for the consumer," says Enogen grower Marc Mummelthei of Waverly, Iowa. "Anything that increases what corn can do for our country is a good thing."

Gaining Momentum

During the commercial introduction of Enogen four years ago, 19 growers in Kansas signed contracts to plant approximately 5,000 acres of Enogen corn. An estimated 1,000 growers will plant Enogen seed on about 230,000 acres in 2015. Currently, nine production facilities are contracting
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Enogen corn and either use or plan to use Enogen grain to produce ethanol.

"It is much more than just an enzyme substitute, though," says David Witherspoon, head of Enogen at Syngenta. "Enogen is able to change the viscosity of corn mash in an ethanol plant, from a consistency resembling a gel into one more like water. When you change that, the facility should run more efficiently, using less energy and achieving higher throughput and ethanol yield per bushel. It works across a broad temperature and pH range, too, so it changes the chemicals the plant can use. It's an efficiency and yield play. That's what makes this enzyme unique. Plus, we conveniently deliver it in the corn kernel. That also makes it unique," Witherspoon adds.

Last year brought industry recognition for Enogen corn in the form of Agri Marketing magazine's Product of the Year award. "Agri Marketing magazine created the Product of the Year award program in 1997 to recognize one agricultural product each year for its outstanding impact in the marketplace," says Lynn Henderson, publisher of the magazine. "A distinguished panel of judges from across the agriculture industry chose Enogen from a number of exciting new technologies because of the benefits it delivers to farmers, ethanol plants and rural communities."

Stewardship Simplified

On the heels of this success, Enogen corn enzyme technology continues to bring innovations to the ethanol industry. Syngenta has just introduced a new tool for Enogen growers to help streamline stewardship. By including a naturally derived, non-GMO, purple tracer trait, the Enogen Value Tracker offers an easy, visual way to help improve crop stewardship, proper grain segregation, and management in-field and through delivery of grain to the ethanol plant. During 2015, Syngenta will include the Enogen Value Tracker in select bags and Q-Bit® bulk containers of Enogen seed, with the intent to add it to all Enogen seed over time.

Enogen Value Tracker grain
Enogen Value Tracker grain, which contains purple tracer traite, is a visual way to help improve crop stewardship.
"Since its introduction, Syngenta has voluntarily implemented comprehensive stewardship protocols to ease potential commercial concerns about Enogen corn enzyme technology affecting other uses of the corn crop," says Raj Iragavarapu, stewardship manager for Enogen at Syngenta. These requirements include border rows around an Enogen cornfield, planter and combine cleanout, and dedicated bin space for all Enogen grain. "The Enogen Value Tracker offers growers a way to make this simple, effective protocol even easier," Iragavarapu adds.

It's important to note that Enogen Value Tracker seed does not contain Enogen corn enzyme technology. Enogen seed bags containing the Enogen Value Tracker will include a physical mixture of approximately 95 percent Enogen seed and 5 percent Enogen Value Tracker seed. The Enogen Value Tracker will appear as randomly dispersed purple plants across an Enogen field (inside the border rows) and will represent up to 5 percent of the plants in a given field. Both yellow and purple kernels will appear on the ears of these purple plants.

Making the Most of Every Kernel

Another breakthrough that Enogen has helped make possible is in the area of cellulosic ethanol, a biofuel produced from fiber in the corn plant. In 2014, Galva, Iowa-based Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) and Syngenta teamed up to produce commercial-scale quantities of cellulosic ethanol, the first of its kind in the state. By year-end, QCCP had produced more than 750,000 gallons.

This advancement was made possible through the integration of Cellerate process technology. Cellerate is a "bolt-on" process technology that turns corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol. Cellerate will enable QCCP to increase ethanol yield per bushel by an estimated 6 percent. Last year, Syngenta announced an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of QCCP, to license Cellerate to ethanol production facilities.

"Enogen is able to change the viscosity of corn mash in an ethanol plant, from a consistency resembling a gel into one more like water."

David Witherspoon
Tests also show that Cellerate, in conjunction with Enogen corn enzyme technology, will deliver significant benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone, says Delayne Johnson, QCCP CEO.

"The combination of Cellerate and Enogen corn is expected to generate significant synergies when used together in dry-grind ethanol plants," he says. "It will produce advanced and cellulosic ethanol while increasing ethanol throughput, decreasing natural gas usage and reducing an ethanol plant's carbon footprint. These advantages, combined with higher-protein distiller's dried grains (DDGs) and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom lines."

Syngenta believes ethanol is an essential part of the energy equation, which is why it will continue to invest in solutions that support the renewable fuels industry. "We are proud of the role Enogen is playing in helping to make this biofuel derived from corn a viable energy source," Witherspoon says. "It's good for consumers, good for farmers, good for the environment and good for American energy independence."