The leadership at Highwater Ethanol, which is located near Lamberton in Redwood County, is always looking for new ways to add value to its product.
In a time when fuel consumption is down due to the reduction in travel, the demand for ethanol has also decreased.
For many of the facilities producing ethanol in the region that could mean, and has meant, reducing hours and even some temporary shutdowns.
“People are driving less and that is having an impact on the industry,” said Brian Kletscher, Highwater Ethanol general manager and CEO.
A new venture is helping Highwater Ethanol keep the doors open.
According to Kletscher a couple of the ethanol facility’s vendors began talking with Highwater’s leadership about an idea.
Would it be interested in providing denatured 190 proof that would be used in hand sanitizer?
The Highwater leadership did the research and determined that moving forward with this plan was in the best interest of the facility and the people it employs.
So, as of the end of March the company began the process of supplying the product to the industry.
Kletscher said development of the denatured 190 proof at the plant did not mean making any changes to the operation.
“The plant was already producing it,” explained Kletscher, adding it just meant taking it off of the production line before the ethanol process is complete.
The facility had to work through some FDA requirements in order to move ahead with the new product.
Highwater recognized the Renewable Fuels Association for bringing clarity with the FDA, adding those efforts have been appreciated.
A guidance document from the FDA has allowed the ethanol industry and plants like the one in Lamberton to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Now it is shipping that denatured 190 proof to its vendors that are then able to ship that product as hand sanitizer across the United States.
Kletscher said as of the beginning of April, the product coming from the Highwater Ethanol plant has been shipped by those vendors to eight different states.
In this way, Highwater Ethanol has been able to help in the global battle against COVID-19.
Is this part of the long-term future at Highwater?
Kletscher said that is an answer that continues to be up in the air, adding that will all depend on demand.
Kletscher said the Highwater facility was set up in a way that it could easily make the move, adding not all of the ethanol plants have been able to do that.
“We are fortunate to have great vendors who do a good job using our products,” Kletscher said. “The board is excited, the employees are excited and I am excited about this opportunity.”
Highwater continues to purchase corn, sell dried distillers grains, modified distillers grain, corn oil and denatured ethanol for the transportation fuel market.
Highwater encourages everyone to be safe during these unprecedented times.
Learn more at highwaterethanol.com.