Inside INdiana Business

Hoosier ethanol plant shifting gears to make hand sanitizer ingredient

The POET Energy company ethanol plant in Alexandria will be retrofitted to produce purified alcohol used to manufacture hand sanitizer and other cleaners. (photo courtesy: POET)

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A biorefinery in Madison County is about to undergo a $25 million renovation as the facility converts from the production of ethanol to industrial alcohol used in the fight against COVID-19.

South Dakota-based POET says it will break ground Thursday on what the biofuels company calls a significant expansion of its plant in Alexandria.

The company announced plans in August to scale up production of purified alcohol, a key component of hand sanitizer and other cleaners.

POET says the decision helps to support the company’s efforts to help meet the increased demand for personal protective equipment among health care providers and frontline workers.

The Alexandria facility can produce 30-35 million gallons of ethanol. The industry faced a strong headwind during the pandemic, as travel restrictions impacted fuel demand.

POET says at the peak of COVID-19, the industry saw a 50% drop in fuel demand.

The company expects the renovated facility to be operational in early 2021. POET says it will hire six additional people for the plant.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says it offered POET up to $100,000 from the Industrial Development Grant Fund to support on-site infrastructure improvements at the company’s facility.