ConAgra details methods to lower air pollutants

By CNJ Staff

A proposed ConAgra Trade Group, Inc. ethanol plant near Clovis would use several devices to reduce air pollutants released in production of the alternative fuel, according to permit documents received in early October by the New Mexico Environment Department.

Two natural gas-fired, regenerative thermal oxidizers installed at the plant would cut the release of volatile organic compounds by controlling fermentation, ethanol process vents and grains dryers, a ConAgra document reads.
Thermal oxidation converts organic compounds into carbon dioxide and water, and also reduces smells associated with volatile organic compounds.

Even with the devices ConAgra estimates 90 tons of volatile organic compounds, 60 tons of particulate matter, and 92 tons of carbon monoxide will be released annually from the plant. ConAgra has indicated pollutants released will remain below federal environmental standards set for health.

Other air pollutant byproducts of the ethanol-making process include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and low levels of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and methanol, according to permit documents.

The ethanol plant, proposed for 1327 West Highway 64-80, would produce 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, according to plans.

An extensive leak detection and repair program would also be implemented to minimize VOC emissions from pipes, pumps and valves at the plant, according to a permit document.

Four baghouses, which employ vacuum-type technology, would control emissions from grain receiving, handling and storage, milling operation, processing of leftover grain particles, a document reads.

Documents available to the public at the NMED Clovis field office, 100 E. Manana Blvd., also indicate:

n Ethanol produced at the plant will be stored in two 350,000-gallon, above-ground storage tanks.

n Primary waste generated at the plant will be processed water from the boilers and the cooling tower. That wastewater would be treated using a zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment system or similar system prior to discharge.