Multicont Fermentation

Easy to operate and highly reliable.

Vogelbusch Multicont© continuous alcohol fermentation system

Vogelbusch’s continuous fermentation is highly reliable and achieves high alcohol concentrations and excellent yields continuously over extended periods of time.

The Multicont© process was introduced to the alcohol industry back in 1970 with resounding success. The process has since been refined, and it is now considered the state-of-the-art technology for alcohol and bioethanol fermentation.

2-VB Continuous Fermentation
The Multicont process

The fermenting mash flows steadily through a series of four to seven fermenters, while the alcohol increases in concentration.

A constant flow of substrate enters the fermentation unit and the same volume of mash leaves the system simultaneously. From the last fermenter the alcohol mash is fed to an intermediate tank for distillation.

As soon as the system is in an equilibrium, level and temperature are automatically controlled and operator supervision is reduced to a minimum.

To promote yeast growth, nutrients and air are added to the first fermenters. Agitators in all fermenters ensure proper mixing to avoid sedimentation of suspended materials and yeast cells.

In the last fermenters saccharification of starch and transformation of fermentable sugars into ethanol is completed. The largest fermentation cascades consist of fermentation tanks with volumes of up to 5000 m³.

2 fermentation lexington
Benefits of continuous fermentation

Compared to simple batch processes, Vogelbusch Multicont© continuous alcohol fermentation is characterized by:

  • Reduced investment costs
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Lower contamination risks
  • Constant product quality
Investment costs

Less fermentation volume is required due to significantly less cleaning frequencies and preparation time. Heat exchangers are designed to match the heat load demands at each stage of fermentation. This results in less total heat exchanger area.

The steady-state character of the process reduces the necessity for automated sequences as well as the demand for single control loops and automated valves.

In comparison to batch systems, this results in approximately 20% less investment costs for the Multicont© fermentation.

Operational costs

Costs are reduced due to less manpower required for periodic sampling and monitoring since the process runs at steady state conditions. Additional cost savings are achieved by the reduction of yeast and chemicals. Yeast is self-sustaining after initial inoculation of the system. Chemical consumption for CIP is lower due to considerably decreased frequency of fermenter and cooler cleaning which also reduces the evaporation load of the overall process.

Contamination risks

Permanent alcohol protection at even the first fermentation stages minimize contamination risks. Furthermore, continuous processes react very slowly. Consequently, changes in the process can be monitored easily and counteractive measures can be taken early.

Constant product quality

Due to low contamination risks and stable process conditions a constant product quality can be achieved. Additionally the byproducts DDGS and CO2 can be obtained at consistent quality as process fluctuations are minimal.

Moreover, the lower consumption of caustic for CIP decreases the sodium content in the DDGS.

Merits: Batch | Continuous

While continuous systems are generally cheaper and easier to operate, batch systems are often preferred for highly inhibiting substrates (e.g. low-grade molasses) or in conditions requiring a frequent switch between feedstocks (e.g. molasses vs. grain).

Vogelbusch designs both systems and offers flexible plants for switching between continuous and batch fermentation.

Showcase projects including continuous fermentation process design

Neutral Alcohol Plant in Verinsko
ALMAGEST AG - Verinsko, Ihtiman, Bulgaria

Almagest opted for Vogelbusch in 2009 to produce top quality extra neutral alcohol with the highest purity and organoleptic demands, to be used in the production of alcoholic beverages. The excellent alcohol quality convinced Almagest to commission Vogelbusch again in 2011 to expand the plant capacity to 80,000 liters per...

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Bioethanol Plant in Alejandro Roca
PROMAÍZ S. A. - Alejandro Roca, Córdoba Province, Argentina

With a nameplate capacity of 420,000 liters per day, Promaíz is the largest bioethanol production facility in Argentina. The plant processes bioethanol from corn which is used as fuel additive in the local markets. Besides the technology package for the complete plant and detailed planning of piping and vessels, Vogelbusch has...

Bioethanol Plant in Madison

Abengoa Bioenergy reached sustained capacity at their 88 million gallon per year (950,000 lpd), state-of-the-art fuel ethanol facility located in Madison, Illinois in February 2010. This is the third Abengoa Bioenergy plant in the U.S. that utilizes technology licensed by Vogelbusch USA, including the Vogelbusch Multicont continuous fermentation process. The facility...

Bioethanol Plant in Mt. Vernon

Abengoa Bioenergy reached sustained capacity at their 88 million gallon per year (950,000 lpd), state-of-the-art fuel ethanol facility located in Mt. Vernon, Indiana in January 2010 after 18 month engineering/construction time. This is the second Abengoa Bioenergy plant in the U.S. that utilizes technology licensed by Vogelbusch USA, including the Vogelbusch...

Tharaldson distillation dehydration
Bioethanol Plant in Casselton
THARALDSON ETHANOL LLC - Casselton, North Dakota, USA

Tharaldson Ethanol started up their state-of-the-art fuel ethanol facility located in Casselton, North Dakota in 2009. The plant utilizes technology licensed by VOGELBUSCH USA, including the VOGELBUSCH Multicont continuous fermentation process, and is currently operating at a capacity of 1,300,000 liters per day, making it one of the largest dry corn...

Bioethanol Plant in Cedar Rapids
PENFORD Products Company (now INGREDION INC.) - Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA

Penford Products Company successfully started up their state-of-the-art fuel ethanol facility in May 2008. The plant utilizes technology licensed by VOGELBUSCH USA and has a nameplate capacity of 450,000 liters per day. Corn hydrolysate from the company’s existing wet corn milling operation is used as feedstock. Tom Malkoski, Penford’s President and...

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Vinegar fermenter in Golegã
MENDES GONÇALVES, SA - Golegã, Portugal

Mendes Gonçalves, a well known Portuguese producer of vinegar and condiments ordered a vinegar fermenter from Vogelbusch. The new fermenter raised production capacity in Golegã, north of Lisbon by 15,000 litres to some 27,000 litres per day. We supplied the fermenter including IP-8 self priming aeration and process equipment such as...

Bioethanol Plant in Cloverdale
ALTRA INDIANA (now POET Biorefining) - Cloverdale, Indiana, USA

Altra Indiana LLC reached design capacity in June 2008 at its facility in Cloverdale, Indiana. The plant was built using know-how provided by VOGELBUSCH USA, including the VOGELBUSCH Multicont continuous fermentation process, and has a nameplate capacity of 908,000 liters per day. The facility uses 32 million bushels (813,000 metric...

Bioethanol Plant in Ravenna

Abengoa Bioenergy successfully started up their state-of-the-art fuel ethanol facility located in Ravenna, Nebraska in September 2007. The plant utilizes technology licensed by Vogelbusch USA, including the Vogelbusch Multicont continuous fermentation process, and has a nameplate capacity of 88 million gallon per year (950,000 lpd). The facility uses 32 million...

Chief Ethanol Hastings
Bioethanol Plant in Hastings
CHIEF ETHANOL FUELS, Inc. - Hastings, Nebraska, USA

The Chief Ethanol Fuels facility is utilizing Vogelbusch-licensed technology. In 2007, a third molecular sieve drying system was designed and installed, raising operating capacity to 832,000 l/d. The cooperation first started in 1983 when Chief Ethanol Fuels set up af 120,000 l/d plant. Vogelbusch process design included continuous fermentation, multi-pressure distillation,...

Neutral Alcohol Plant in Ahwaz
RAZI YEAST & ALCOHOL Co. - Ahwaz, Iran

The plant now operated by Razi (formerly Sugar Cane By-Products Corporation) was designed for a daily capacity of 110,000 litres of high quality pharmaceutical alcohol from cane molasses complying with EU standards. A special challenge was designing the plant for the extreme climatic conditions (0°C to 50°C) and the highest...

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Bioethanol Plant in Lexington

Vogelbusch USA Inc started up this bioethanol plant, with a production capacity of 450,000 litres/day of bioethanol from corn, in spring 2006. The plant employs a state of the art Vogelbusch continuous fermentation process. An energy integrated distillation, evaporation and dehydration system ensures maximum efficiency. In 2016, Chief purchased the Cornhusker Energy...

4 cropernergies
Bioethanol plant in Zeitz

The 800,000 litre/day plant of CropEnergies,  a unit of German Südzucker group,  is designed for multiple grain sources together with by-products of beet sugar processing. The plant and is highly advanced in terms of energy saving and environmental protection. Vogelbusch contributed process design for the raw material processing, continuous fermentation,...

4 pekin
Bioethanol Plant in Pekin

In March 2004 the molecular sieve unit at the Aventine Renewable Energy plant was brought on stream. With a rated capacity of 1.2 million liters per day (110 mm gallons/year) anhydrous alcohol, at that time the largest capacity molecular sieve alcohol dehydration unit in the world. The molecular sieve unit replaced...

Bioethanol Plant in Jilin
JILIN FUEL ALCOHOL Co. - Jilin Province, PR China

Located in Jilin City in Northeast China, this production line for bioethanol was officially commissioned in November 2003 after an implementation period of 22 months. The plant produces 300,000 tonnes of fuel alcohol annually from maize. The product is used as a 10% petrol additive.  Process design by Vogelbusch provided for...

Neutral Alcohol Plant in Harbin
HARBIN WINERY - Harbin District, PR China

The fine alcohol plant of Harbin Winery, a Chinese producer of potable alcohol from corn, was upgraded by Vogelbusch in several steps. The client required specifically high alcohol quality in terms of organoleptic and analytical criteria and in particular with regard to methanol separation. The facility was designed to set...


Skid-mounted system for recovery of ethanol
01 Jun 2017

Article on ethanol drying system published in Biofuels International Magazine.