BISMARCK, N.D. — A company that runs corn ethanol plants in North Dakota is looking into using barley for biofuel and a feed product for commercial fisheries.
The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a more than $83,000 grant to Midwest AgEnergy Group to research the new markets. The grant came from the Renewable Energy Program, which lawmakers established in 2007 to provide funding for research, development, marketing and education to grow renewable energy, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
“It’s a higher value market than where we’re currently participating at this time” when compared to cattle feed, said Midwest AgEnergy CEO Jeff Zueger. He added that the company is always looking for best and additional uses at its Jamestown and Underwood plants.
The concept for the barley biofuel was developed and pilot tested by Montana Microbial Products in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Zueger said.
Midwest AgEnergy’s project would study the feasibility and conduct initial engineering and design work for scaling production to a commercial level, producing 50 times the 30 tons (27 metric tons) per month made by the Montana company.
“This is an exciting first step in a project that could lead to additional markets for barley while creating new market opportunities for North Dakota in the aquaculture industry,” the commission said in a statement. “Additionally, this would be the first ethanol in North Dakota produced from a feedstock other than corn.”
The first study will take six weeks. The concept would likely see more engineering work and potential construction next year if it proves out in the first phase.