Wissehr Electrical Contractors


SIUE National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Pilot Plant

Fueling Progress

Wissehr was the prime process electrical contractor for the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Pilot Plant at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The first plant of this kind in the country, it emulates a full- scale commercial ethanol production facility and allows for the testing of new technologies at a much lower cost. Ethanol is a corn-based fuel that burns cleaner and is renewable unlike fossil fuels and could provide an alternative to U.S. dependency on foreign oil supplies.

Early on, Wissehr offered value-engineering strategies that simplified the complicated electrical design. The updated design resulted in greater overall versatility and also assisted in streamlining the construction process. Wissehr installed over 1,000 cables, measuring more than 60 miles in length.

Another challenge was adequate communication among all the participants. Jeff Nester, vice president and manager of the project management and engineering department at Wissehr, says: “Since seven prime contractors were working on the plant, detailed documentation, written correspondence, progress meetings and open lines of communications were critical. We used these tools to resolve problems in a timely fashion in order to keep the project on schedule and costs in check.”

There’s a lot riding on the success of the research plant. Current U.S. energy policy calls for maintaining a rapid rate of growth in ethanol production as a way of reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil and increasing homeland security, and Wissehr played a major role in the plant’s ongoing contribution.


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