Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Greenfield Global is Canada’s largest producer of ethanol and a global leader in high-purity speciality alcohols, biofuels and biochemicals. Together with this, Greenfield also manufactures and sells by-products of the alcohol producing process, such as distillers’ grains, carbon dioxide and corn oil.
Formally known as Greenfield Ethanol Inc, the company rebranded in 2017 to reflect its expansion into other areas. Leading brands that come under the Greenfield umbrella today include Pharmco Products and Speciality Alcohols. Let’s take a look at the firm’s background, operations and some of its subsidiaries.
1989: Founded as Sunroot, opening an industrial alcohol plant in Tiverton, Ontario.
1991: Sunroot acquires customer base and assets of Commercial Alcohols.
1997: Commercial Alcohols opens ethanol plant in Chatham, Ontario.
2002: Buys out Pharmco Products Inc.
2006: Merges with Aaper Alcohol and Chemical Company, becoming the largest commercial-scale manufacturer of alcohol and solvents in the United States.
2007: First ethanol plant in Quebec opens, in the town of Varennes.
2008: Ethanol plant in Johnstown, Ontario opens.
2017: Greenfield Ethanol Inc rebranded as Greenfield Global.
Greenfield Ethanol Inc’s 2017 rebranding was part of a strategy that saw it refocus its energies on the low-carbon economy. The company began creating next-generation biofuels from agricultural, forestry and municipal waste while continuing its long-established production of ethanol.
The largest single use of ethanol is as an engine fuel additive, and Greenfield sees ethanol as one of the most important sources to help end our reliance on fossil fuels to power cars, lorries and public transportation. Fuel ethanol can be created from corn, sugar and various plant materials, collectively known as biomass. It is both renewable and clean-burning.
According to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, replacing just five per cent of all gasoline used by Canadian drivers with ethanol fuel would see the same reduction in greenhouse gases as taking a million cars off the road.
Another point in its favour is that ethanol is 100% fully biodegradable and completely water-soluble, unlike gasoline. And while traditional energy sources, such as oil and natural gas take hundreds of millions of years to form below the earth’s surface and release carbon emissions when burned, renewable fuels including ethanol made from plant materials are readily available without the need for digging or drilling.
Renewable natural gas
Greenfield has also invested in renewable gas, building a 40,000 tonnes per year anaerobic digestion facility at its Varennes plant and also investing in the technology on a large-scale basis at its Chatham factory.
Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic waste into bio-methane, which is then be purified as renewable natural gas. This biogas is used in Greenfield’s plant to lower the carbon emissions usually produced during ethanol production.
The industrial alcohol and beverage alcohol arm of Greenfield Global is Commercial Alcohols. Ethanol and other speciality alcohols produced under the Commercial Alcohol brand can be found in products such as:
- Food and beverage flavourings
- Ingredients for paints, solvents, inks and repellents
- Medical disinfectants for clinics, hospitals and laboratories
- Pharmaceutical ingredients
Another of Greenfield’s brands is Pharmco Products, which produces speciality alcohols and bio-based chemicals.
Its products are used in a wide range of products and industries, from pharmaceuticals and food preservatives to fragrances and personal care and industrial markets.
Distillers’ grains are a corn byproduct of the ethanol production process once the starch has been used and are made up of the protein, vitamins, minerals, fat and fibre. These grains make ideal feed for livestock. Greenfield produces four types of distillers’ grains:
Dried corn distillers’ grains with solubles (DDGS)
This is a high protein, high energy dry feed product and contains a blend of minerals and nutrients. It can be used as a cheaper partial alternative to cornmeal in dairy, beef poultry and swine feeds and has a very long shelf life.
Modified corn distillers grains with solubles (MWDGS)
Similar to DDGS, but with 50% more moisture, MWDGS is also high in protein and energy and can be used for the same purposes. Can also be kept for long periods if stored properly in grain bags.
Wet corn distiller’s grains (WDG)
Contains far more moisture and a shorter shelf-life, usually between four and five days. WDG is best used in binding other ingredients and making the feed more palatable.
Condensed solubles (CDS)
A liquid source of protein, energy minerals and vitamins, such as phosphorus and potassium, CDS is most suitable as swine feed.
Finally, let’s take a look at one of the more leftfield ventures Greenfield has become involved in over the past few years. With the growing popularity of medications containing cannabidiol (CBD) to relieve the effects of conditions such as epilepsy, the demand for high-purity solvents involved in the extraction process has risen.
To meet this demand, Greenfield has installed a 13,000-gallon tank at its Kentucky plant to supply high-quality ethanol to the industry, helping it to become one of the key providers in this new sector.