The plant was taken offline on December 21st to perform unplanned, necessary repairs on the regenerative thermal oxidizer, which reduces pollution. The plant is still offline, as the company has decided to perform other upgrades to the RTO unit that would soon have been necessary. The Luverne plant is expected to resume operations in the next two weeks.
The shutdown caused fourth-quarter isobutanol output to miss company guidance. However, Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber says he is pleased with operations in the fourth quarter. “Our operators have got the process down to a standard routine, operating in 5-day batch-to-batch cycles,” he says. “We have continued to improve the costs of our isobutanol batches, better than we expected. We achieved record quarterly production results for isobutanol since switching the Luverne Plant to [side-by-side production of isobutanol and ethanol]. As compared to the third quarter of 2016 (our previous best quarter), we increased overall isobutanol production by approximately 25%, batch size by approximately 15% and number of batches by 10%.” Gruber adds that these efforts will help guide the design of planned expansions at Luverne.
The company produced about 190,000 gallons of isobutanol and 2.8 million gallons of ethanol during the fourth quarter.