Bassett Helps Biofuels Keep Their Cool
Bassett Mechanical’s services are again being employed in the area of alternative energy in helping a Wisconsin ethanol producer safeguard its production.
Badger State Ethanol of Monroe, Wis., is counting on the refrigeration expertise of Bassett Mechanical to keep its operation running without interruption.
One of the key requirements in Badger State’s production process is keeping its four 750,000-gallon fermenters at the right temperature. If the fermenter tank’s colonies gets above 100 degrees, the tank’s nearly one million colonies of yeast will die and grind the entire production operation to a halt, said Mike Olsen, plant maintenance manager.
The line of defense against deadly temperatures is the plant’s 1,350-ton centrifugal chiller. Bassett Mechanical, a provider of premium maintenance, construction, engineering and manufacturing services, was asked in 2011 to take over service of the chiller.
Walt Doderer, general manager of Bassett’s Madison location, said Bassett was called because Badger State had problems with the chiller in the past.
“They recognized they needed a higher level of maintenance support. The chiller is a component that’s critical to operations. At certain times of the year, production could stop immediately without it,” Doderer said. “In our business that’s fairly typical. Our clients often can lose millions of dollars per day without their equipment working properly. I am happy to report that the issues have been resolved.”
Olsen agreed and commented on the quality of service Bassett provides.
“It’s going very well on the chiller. The Bassett people are very knowledgeable and very good to work with,” Olsen said.
Doderer said where some companies might be reluctant to take on service challenges out of concern they might inherit problems, Bassett takes on those levels of responsibility willingly and confidently.
“We are eager and anxious to put our name on the line, because of the organizational knowledge and history Bassett has with Lean manufacturing and ISO certification processes,” Doderer said. “As we take our processes and procedures from our manufacturing, construction and service business requirements and offer them to customers at their sites, we’re able to offer a high level of assurance to our customers.”
Bassett continues to provide maintenance and support for Badger State’s centrifugal chiller, and has recently provided quotes and proposals to do additional projects including air conditioning installation and maintenance.
Badger encouraged Bassett to propose the work because of their ease of workflow, Olsen said.
“Bassett has everything regarding the process. They can come in and design the structure, install it, turn it on and take care of it down the road,” Olsen said.
The Monroe ethanol plant is one of several companies working in the alternative and renewable energy sector that Bassett has provided services to. Bassett was recently enlisted by Northern Power to help build components for its wind turbines, and Bassett has been manufacturing tower foundations for customers for several years.
The Badger State Ethanol plant in Monroe is one of several plants based in Wisconsin. The facility and its products are important to Wisconsin because its local ownership and creation of jobs, but also because ethanol production is highly efficient and sustainable, Olsen said.
“This is a low-waste process and industry. Virtually everything gets used,” Olsen said.
The Badger State Ethanol facility turns 100 percent of the materials it uses into products. One third of the materials are turned into ethanol, one third is turned into carbon dioxide and one third is turned into milled-grain feed products. All are processed and sold.