Memphis Biofuels begins site work

By | September 01, 2006
A large-scale biodiesel plant is under development in the Volunteer State: Memphis Biofuels LLC. The refinery is being built on a brownfield location that houses existing, applicable equipment for the manufacturing of biodiesel.

"It's a former Proctor and Gamble oil processing facility," said Brandon Sheley, manager of sales, marketing and feedstock procurement for Memphis Biofuels. Soap-stock acidulation was also done there at one time. One million gallons of usable, on-hand storage capacity will be available for Memphis Biofuels to utilize.
"We're adding about another half-million gallons of storage capacity," said Sheley, who added that distillation columns need to be built, too. "Other than that, there's not a lot of equipment being added."

Memphis Biofuels is permitted up to 36 MMgy of biodiesel production, and that's how much capacity the plant will produce once construction and initial start-up tests are complete. The pumps and equipment have been sized to refine up to 50 MMgy, according to Sheley.

"The plant sits on 17 acres," he told Biodiesel Magazine. Memphis Biofuels' biodiesel production is only going to require a five-acre footprint, leaving 12 acres open for further development. "We'll have the ability to expand capacity up to 100 million gallons a year," Sheley said.

Five pre-existing rail spurs are on-site, and the plant will be capable of handling 70 railcars at a time. The plant's primary feedstock for producing mono alkyl esters will be soy oil, but additional vegetable oils and animal fats are planned for use, too. Tennessee doesn't have any major soybean crushers, according to Sheley, so the future producer will be railing its primary feedstock in from out-of-state. Nearing press time, biodiesel and glycerin marketers were not yet finalized.

Memphis Biofuels' facility will house a laboratory, where most of its BQ-9000 testing will take place. A consultant has been hired to help management and staff members get through the accreditation process, which is already underway.

The local community is excited about reinvigorating this site for biodiesel production, Sheley said. The plant is located in an industrial part of town that's lost its vitality in recent years.
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