Two students are learning how more than a decade of decarbonisation at one of the North East’s most sustainable companies is helping to transform Britain’s food and fuel sectors.
Middlesbrough College students Harry Davidson and Lennon Bradley are part way through a 45-day industry placement at Ensus on the Wilton International site near Middlesbrough.
The pair, aged 18 and 16 respectively, are among the first studying for T-Level technical vocational qualifications at the College and the placement is giving them practical experience of what it takes to operate major manufacturing plants.
Since 2010, Ensus has been converting more than a million tonnes a year of surplus UK grown animal feed wheat into ethanol or alcohol – the sustainable element in E5 and E10 grades of petrol sold on Britain’s forecourts.
The introduction of the higher ethanol content E10 blend of petrol at forecourts in 2001 was the equivalent of immediately removing the carbon emissions of 350,000 vehicles each year.
Harry Davidson, from Redcar, said: “The placement at Ensus has been an amazing experience so far.
“We are seeing and doing things which are really opening our eyes to how the drive towards decarbonisation is creating a wide variety of career opportunities for people with the skills we’re developing.”
The distillation and fermentation process undertaken at Ensus creates two equally sustainable by-products.
The first is the protein-rich grain residue at the end of the process which is dried and sold back to UK farmers as feed, preventing them from having to import soya and other unsustainably produced sources of proteins to bolster their animal feeds.
The second is high purity carbon dioxide, used extensively in the carbonated drinks industry and to extend the shelf life of packaged foods.
Lennon Bradley, from Middlesbrough, said: “Being able to see these processes in action and learn about them from the people at Ensus has been fantastic.
“It’s great to be able to reinforce what we are learning at the College in an industry setting.”
Daniel Still, Course Leader from Middlesbrough College, said: “It is really important for our T-level students to be able to see how the skills and knowledge which they learn in class can be put into practice.
“That’s why placements with companies like Ensus are so important to our students’ development and future career plans.
“We’re extremely grateful to Ensus for giving our students an insight into real process industry operations in such an important sector of the economy.”
Peter Kay, Operations Director of Ensus, said: “Many plant operators and engineers come into the industry from a vocational training or apprenticeship background and T-Level qualifications play an important role in developing the skills and basic understanding needed by employers.”