(Photo: President Mauricio Macri and the Bio4 team at the inauguration of the second biogas plant in Rio Cuarto, Córdoba province)

Buenos Aires, July 3rd. How it is possible to convert raw material worth US$35 million into energy and protein valued at US$85 million?
Manuel Ron and German Di Bella, leaders of Bio4, explained it in their address at the Agroempresario Congress, last Tuesday, July 2nd in Buenos Aires city.

Bio4 is the finest and finished example of circular economy in the agribusiness. Based at Rio Cuarto city (Córdoba province) they transform annually 250K tons of corn from 20,000 hectares into 90,000 m3 of ethanol, 6MW/h of electricity, and 106K tons of DDGS to feed40,000 heads of cattle beef.

The story started ten years ago when 28 farmers and ag inputs dealers from Rio Cuarto region decided to associate to face the challenge of add value to their grains. Under the framework of the 2006 Biofuels Act, that established a 10% ethanol mandatory blend with gasoline, they built the Bio4 plant, which produces 90K m3 of ethanol per year.

A few years later they decided that the energy supplied to Bio4 also should come from crops and hence they constructed Bioelectrica (Bio1) that use corn silage and waste from pork farms to produce biogas and then, through engines, generate electricity for the ethanol plant.

During the following years, they installed two more engines, and another biogas tank, but now using a byproduct of the ethanol process: the stillage (named “vinaza” in Spanish), that reduce the cost of energy generation. Bio1 is currently generating 3.6 MW and is also providing energy to the national network through the Renovar contracts that recognize US$200 per MW turned over to the network.

Due to the success of this model, in September 2018 the second biogas plant (Bio2) was open, also using stillage for the biogas generation that provides other 2.4 MW, which also turns over energy to the national electrical network.

Ron and Di Bella had traveled to Germany, the “Mecca” of the biogas production from biomass where near 8,000 plants are working. Both improved their knowledge about this bioeconomy and returned to Argentina with new ideas. In fact, currently, they are developing biogas projects for third parties. One of is under construction in Justo Daract (San Luis Province) to produce 1MW. Other is placing in the north of Cordoba province, named BioAnglo, that also will provide 1MW.

Today they have under construction biogas another two more plants, using the feedlot waste, pork farms waste, and biomass. But the more ambitious one is placed at Las Lomitas, in Formosa province, and is carried out by BioArgentina, the group that involves

BioElectrica, Bio4 and Bio5 (feedlot). This project will generate 10MW using forest waste as a source of biomass, in a thermal electricity model.

“We are reducing the carbon footprint with this circular economy. The ratio of Bio4 increased from 57% to 61% and we will end the year with 67%”, Ron explained to the audience in the Agroempresario Congress. “We think that this model could be taken by the ethanol plants in the US, to achieve a more environmentally friendly goal”, Ron concluded.

Contact Mr. Ron: mron@bio4.com.ar

Conctact. Mr. Di Bella: mdibella@bio4.com.ar

Photo: Manuel addressing the audience at the Agroempresario Congress, last July 2nd.