Ethanol Plants Producing Hand Sanitizer

Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol plants are now able to shift to the manufacture of hand sanitizer without permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is working with Iowa Prison Industries for the production of hand sanitizer during the national shortage. Two Iowa biofuel refineries – Absolute Energy and Western Iowa Energy – sent the first donated shipment of Iowa ethanol and glycerin to be used to make the product on Monday. Templeton Rye is also providing distilled water for the project. The finished product will be distributed free of charge by the state of Iowa for priority use.

Some ethanol plants, like Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) in Benson, Minnesota, were already approved to supply industrial grade ethanol for human use, but most plants are not designed for it. “Pharmaceutical grade is what you need because it’s coming in contact with humans, so it’s a big shift,” said CVEC General Manager Chad Friese. “It’s a lot of additional cost and most plants will not be able to make that conversion.”

Friese says beverage grade alcohol producers are more suited to make the transition to pharmaceutical grade than fuel ethanol producers, and “there’s not enough growth to supply the volumes that the fuel side needs.”

Friese discusses the difference between fuel and industrial ethanol production in this audio:
Chad Friese, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (3:25)

Audio, Ethanol