Green Plains launches enhanced biorefinery production through Shell Partnership

Green Plains, an Omaha-based biorefining company focused on the development and utilization of fermentation, agricultural, and biological technologies in the processing of annually renewable crops into sustainable value-added ingredients, held a grand opening for its new biofuel production facility on March 25, 2024. The facility, which is made possible through a partnership with Shell, uses advanced technology to add value to products created by corn processing. Converting every part of the kernel into higher-value co-products means the corn grown by York farmers stretches even further, maximizing the benefits of growing their crop.

“This is all about adding more value to the corn our Nebraska family farmers are so proficient at producing,” says Devin Mogler, SVP of Corporate and Investor Relations at Green Plains. “It’s exciting to have one of the world’s largest companies, Shell, investing right beside us here in York.”

The new facility will be fully operational by May and is expected to have a significant positive impact on the York economy, local residents, and the planet as a whole.

Green Plains unlocks the full potential of the corn kernel

The new processing technology used by Green Plains will add value to the ethanol production process. Nebraska farmers work tirelessly to produce corn, and this system will ensure every part of the kernel is used for the highest value markets. Mogler breaks down three ways this process will maximize value:

  • It extracts all renewable corn oil from the kernel. Currently, the ethanol industry only recovers approximately 60% of the available oil.
  • It produces cellulosic sugars left on the kernel fiber. This could be made into low-carbon second-generation ethanol if the efforts to scale production are successful.
  • It releases the protein in the remaining material. This creates Ultra High Protein feed ingredients instead of traditional distilled grains.

The low carbon-intensity ethanol created by the new Green Plains facility in York would then be potentially used as a feedstock for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The feed ingredients are used in pet food and aquaculture, and the renewable corn oil also serves as a low-CI feedstock for renewable diesel and SAF.

Embracing this technology and improving processing best practices will stretch the value of the corn grown in the area. York County farmers will have an even bigger impact on the global food supply, aviation, shipping, and renewable energy industries. YCDC efforts to increase housing and talent are making projects such as this possible as we have to be able to provide the workforce.

The York County community benefits as a whole

York County farmers aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this updated facility. Residents of York County are already seeing an enhanced economic impact because of the new Green Plains partnership with Shell.

The company hired several construction workers to build the $70M facility, creating temporary jobs in the local economy. This new facility will also create 18 permanent, full-time jobs that residents can fill.

“[We need] electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers, process operators, technicians, and more,” says Mogler. “We have one position open now, but are otherwise staffed up – that being said we are always looking for great people.” Candidates can check the Green Plains job listings to see if there are any other openings in the future.

The capital invested in this facility will also increase the amount of tax revenue collected by York County, allowing the government to provide better services and resources to the local community.

Green Plains makes York County a leader in biorefinery

The advancements that Green Plains and Shell make to improve corn processing will have secondary benefits for York County. Mogler explains that this investment puts York at the forefront of the biorefinery revolution – at the cutting edge of AgTech. The knowledge and expertise in the region could attract other biofuel and technology companies in the future, making York a hub for sustainable fuel development.

“Green Plains and Shell understand the value of operating in York County,” says Hurley. “As their ventures succeed, we expect other companies to take notice and decide to bring their operations to our region as well.”

Every kernel counts. By maximizing the resources extracted from locally-grown corn, Green Plains can support local farmers while reducing carbon emissions globally.

Join YCDC and grow with York County

The York County Develop Corporation is passionate about growing every industry in York County while bringing new ones to the region. If you want to support business owners while improving the quality of life for residents of York, join YCDC today. Your membership supports our efforts to bring companies like Green Plains and other AgTech leaders to the region.



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