EDDYVILLE — Have you ever questioned who is responsible for bringing your sweeteners you like so much? For health food lovers, how about Vitamin E or Sterols? Or how about corn?
More than likely Cargill’s Biorefinery in Eddyville is involved in bringing these items to grocery stores.
On Thursday, hundreds of people from all over the world traveled from Des Moines to gather for the site tour of Cargill’s Biorefinery in Eddyville.
Visitors got a first-hand view of how a biorefinery operates, gained an understanding for a global operation, learned about the partnerships Cargill has with other markets, and how it makes a significant impact on local communities.
Before people gathered for the tour, they enjoyed a free barbecue lunch at Indian Hills Community College and learned about the investments Eddyville’s Cargill have made since it was first established in 1985. People also got to learn about what Eddyville’s biorefinery does with corn.
Erik Ingerson, a Cargill employee who spoke during the lunch said Cargill has made investments in equipment, technologies and process improvements to keep the biorefinery to meet customer demands for dextrose, a sweetener used by food and beverage companies; livestock, poultry, corn and many others. He also explained what the biorefinery pursues with the corn.
“We take corn straight out of the field and we actually rehydrate it,” Ingerson said. “Then we start separating it back out into four main functions. About 65 percent of that corn kernel is going to be that starch. Liquid Starch is going to be your carbohydrate source. Gluten then is what makes the corn yellow. We separate that and it goes into a variety of pet foods. The corn starch is always dried out before it goes to stores.”
Ingerson explained what the biorefinery does with oil. “The oil you see in the grocery store is the one we refine it and finish it off,” he said.
After lunch, people divided into two buses and headed over to the biorefinery. There people could ask questions, but were not permitted to take pictures of the power plant. Each person on the bus learned about the different working stations at the biorefinery. At the first stop, people got to see the corn mill processing, where corn is separated.
On one bus, Rob Lynch, a Cargill employee explained the purpose of the two rotating dryers, responsible for the separation of the kernel corn. Behind the dryers, lie where syrup cars and rail cars. There fructose is shipped out on the cars and go to local stores as well as stores across America.
Lynch said approximately 90 million pounds of corn is processed each year.
Lynch said site works typically work 12 hour shifts in order to ensure the dryers don’t malfunction or get exposed to bad weather. If the dryers are exposed to bad weather, then that could damage them.
Lynch said many people at Cargill either come in with a college education or a high school one. Marty Marty Muenzamaier, Corporate Affairs leader of Cargill Bioindustrial said those with a chemistry or food science background can certainly find many opportunities at Cargill. He even recommends aspiring students to get their training at IHCC.
“Having our partnership with Indian Hills Community College is really important,” he said, “because we are able to utilize this facility with our teams and the tools they have in Indian Hills. It’s helped us with training and development.”