When news of a potential pandemic arrived in January, the management team at Aemetis knew that the domestic capacity of high-grade alcohol for hand sanitizer would not suffice in meeting the needs of Americans. So, they prepared to perform a complete overhaul of operational standards that allowed them to produce ethyl alcohol for hand sanitizer. As U.S. COVID-19 cases began to rise in mid-March, Aemetis was ready to respond. The company shipped alcohol for hand sanitizer to its first customer on March 30.
“In late January, we made the decision to prepare for a health-related pandemic,” said Eric McAfee, CEO of Aemetis. “We knew that the current domestic production capacity of seventeen billion gallons per year of fuel-grade alcohol had only a small percentage of medical grade alcohol that would not be adequate to produce what just the United States’ population would require. Fortunately, we had the team and mechanisms in place to prepare for an upgrade of our ethanol production plant quickly. We were able to form relationships with hand sanitizer producers to begin shipping product almost immediately after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the FDA provided specific exemptions and guidance for fuel ethanol producers on March 27.”
– Renewable Fuels Association