Planning a bioethanol plant

Ethanol plant

VOGELBUSCH has been designing plants for fuel alcohol production since the 1970ies. With a current base of bioethanol plants with a combined annual capacity of about 5 million tonnes of alcohol, VOGELBUSCH is the leading supplier of technology to the alcohol industry worldwide.

The statements below can give only an overview of some basic considerations for planning a bioethanol plant. Process design of a bioethanol plant in every single case involves the reflection of certain key issues to ensure top performance - in terms of product quality, process economics, and environmental impacts - to optimise the long-term cost-benefit ratio for the plant.

All figures given here are typical and can vary depending on specific project setup. For particular information please email your project details to


Questions & Answers

Which minimum capacity is recommended?

The economic minimum capacity of a bioethanol plant is at 300,000 liters per day (= 100,000 tons per year) in Europe; provided that energy cost are favourable it may be 100,000 liters per day in other regions.



How much feedstock is required?

For 1,000 liter alcohol (on average sugar / starch content, all on wet basis) the VOGELBUSCH bioethanol process requires:

  • Corn 2,350 kg
  • Wheat 2,700 kg
  • Sugar Beet 10,000 kg
  • Sugar Cane 11,000 kg



Can I combine several feedstocks?

Combination of feedstocks is possible, but higher investment costs have to be taken into account.



Which location is favourable?

Decisive factors for the plant location are 

  • short transport routes for raw material and product
  • availability of energy (preferable biomass = CO2 reduction)



How much space do I need?

For a 300,000 liter per day facility 5 to 6 hectare are required.


And the investment for such plant?

The investment for a 300,000 liter per day facility is around 40 to 50 million euros for the process plant, this is however depending on the available infrastructure.


How long does it take to set up the plant?

With permits on hand engineering and construction takes 18 - 24 months.



VOGELBUSCH Biocommodities GmbH
Blechturmgasse 11
A-1051 Vienna | Austria
Phone +43 1 54 661-0
Fax +43 1 545 29 79



How to use bioethanol

Bioethanol can be utilized in combustion engines in different ways:

Hydrous ethanol (95% by volume) contains some water. It can be used directly as a gasoline substitute in cars with modified engines.

Anhydrous (or dehydrated) ethanol is free of water and at least 99% pure. It can be blended with conventional fuel at rates between 5% (E5) and 85% (E85). Practically all cars nowadays can utilize E5, most of it even E10; the use of E85 requires socalled FlexFuelVehicles.

ETBE (ethyl-tertiary-butyl-ether) is a gasoline additive that is manufactured from bioethanol.

Flex Fuel Car