Hydro-Thermal Corporation has a rich history of collaborating with respected external entities to drive innovation in all aspects of our business.
The company believes that revolutionary ideas don’t only come from internal staff, but that inspiration can be found in many places. Looking at our customer base, Hydro-Thermal has uncovered numerous opportunities, often identifying the need before the customer articulates one. Hydro-Thermal constantly seeks out ways to gather feedback from customers, and in turn anticipates their future needs, and creates customized solutions.
A valuable source fueling innovation at Hydro-Thermal is our strategic research partnerships with leading Midwestern universities, research associations, independent R&D engineering firms and customers. The Hydro-Thermal Partners in Technology program facilitates improvements and enhancements to current products and inspires new product development.
Hydro-Thermal pioneered many new products and applications through its Partners in Technology program, working with companies to test new technologies and help advance ethanol programs. Over the years Hydro-Thermal has radically expanded applications in ethanol/biofuels industries due to collaboration and relationships that have been developed with ethanol customers around the country.
The innovation Partnership program expands and evolves Hydro-Thermal’s collaborative efforts, bringing even greater benefits to each entity, our customers and manufacturers. Innovation Partners are offered a suite of Hydro-Thermal technology offerings and customers select which solutions would benefit them most. The featured products are newer on the development spectrum and have been tested in Hydro-Thermal’s lab, as well as at customer sites.
Critical factors in identifying a new Hydro-Thermal Innovation Partner include short and long-term goals of the customer, mutual alignment/vision for success, and willingness to continue cultivating the business relationship. Transparency in tracking and sharing process data before and after installation is of the utmost importance. This data allows the Hydro-Thermal team to evaluate and provide the customer with accurate data analysis, which includes identifying process benefits and improved projected asset revenue.
Another enticing benefit for Hydro-Thermal Innovation Partners is that they receive significant pricing discounts when they purchase more than one solution at the same time. The initial technology purchases, as well as the cost of service and parts over a duration of time (usually two years or greater) are greatly decreased. If a customer has multiple locations, that is even more beneficial, as installations at multiple sites generate additional pricing improvements, data acquisition for analysis and the evaluation of both the short/long term process improvements and financial benefits.
The Hydro-Thermal / Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC partnership was first discussed in the fourth quarter of 2017 and was formally established in January 2018. Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC was selected as an Innovation Partner due to its progressive short and long-term vison for growth and sustainability within the Biofuels industry. This vision aligns well with Hydro- Thermal’s long term goals of being a value-added partner, positive contributor and our vested interest in growth and success within the Biofuels industry. This alignment identified four of our current innovation projects that the customer could benefit from operationally and financially while continuing to focus on the business relationship that included sharing process data and serving as a reference for other plants.
Jim Zaiser, Hydro-Thermal President and CEO, remarked, “Since our humble beginnings designing a system for a single pulp and paper mill in Wisconsin, Hydro-Thermal has invested heavily in pushing our technology forward. The Innovation Partner Program is the natural next step in a rich history of collaboration and revolutionary thinking.”
Hydro-Thermal products currently featured in the Innovation Partner suite include the slurry Hydroheater, CIP EZ Heater, beer column Solaris heater and corn oil Solaris heater. All these solutions have been installed at Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC and are operating as designed.
Current Innovation Project Benefits:
Ability to shift some steam load off the first effect evaps providing flexibility to drive evaporation harder. Adjustments to syrup draw will allow for solids adjustments that could help improve water balance stabilization and control. Potential positive impacts to corn oil production including evap to corn oil system slip stream draw points, potential reduction in evap cleaning requirements, alcohol beer bottoms base loss recovery, primary centrifuge adjustments for additional process water removal, energy efficiency and wet/dry DDG product moisture flexibility, increased beer feed rate and throughput without column carry over, ultimately increasing ethanol production and bottom dollar asset revenue.
Energy savings when compared to using the standard tube and shell exchanger. The EZ Heater also heats more precisely and accurately with relation to the targeted temperature set point.
Increasing the thin stillage or syrup slip stream temperature will act as an emulsion breaker. This allows optimization of the emulsion breaking chemical, tricanter/disk stack adjustment, evaporator draw point location and solids flexibility that could drive reducing or eliminate chemical dosing requirements, while improving corn oil production and byproduct revenue values.
Energy efficiency improvements at slurry, potential enzyme reduction, more uniform mash consistency, precise temperature control, reduced slurry tank vibration, improved reliability and a reduction in unscheduled downtime, improved corn oil production and a potential improvement in ethanol yield due to the hydro heaters sheering effect that exposes additional starch for sugar and ethanol conversion.
Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC is the second Innovation Partner under Hydro-Thermal’s newly launched program. Several other sites are in the works for a variety of projects in this new program.
Although numerous plants have one Hydro-Thermal solution or another, the Innovation Partner program targets customers with similar short/long term goals and a vision for continuous improvement. This includes installing multiple new technologies and a transparent partnership that includes tracking and sharing process data and serving as a reference for Hydro-Thermal. The program is limited to certain customers and time frames and will continue to evolve as existing needs are fulfilled and emerging needs are identified.