Another North Carolina biodiesel plant nears start-up

By Dave Nilles | September 01, 2006
The second biodiesel plant in as many weeks is getting close to start-up in North Carolina. An official from a 5 MMgy plant near Lenoir, N.C., said his facility produced a test batch of fuel last week.

Foothills Bio-Energies LLC is close to beginning production in a renovated adhesives factory. Randy Dellinger said the plant sent samples of its initial test batch to a third-party laboratory to conduct ASTM testing.

The plant is built in the former Southeastern Adhesives Co. facility in Lenoir, which is on the edge of the western third of the state. Dellinger said renovation began in February 2006 and was completed in September. The building offers the potential for large-scale biodiesel production due to its existing infrastructure, which includes reactors, mixers and tanks. "We stripped it down to what we needed," Dellinger said.

An in-house design was used for the biodiesel plant. "We based it on existing components for the biodiesel process," Dellinger said.

The plant will primarily use soy oil feedstock. Animal fats may also be used, Dellinger said. He said a distribution deal is already lined up with a company that has ties to the home heating oil market. Foothills Bio-Energies also has its own blender's license, Dellinger said. It allows the group to blend down B100 for distribution.

Dellinger said he expects the plant will immediately produce one 4,000- to 5,000-gallon batch of biodiesel per day before ramping up. The facility features an in-house lab to conduct many of the required ASTM tests.

Dellinger also said his company is working with area universities to study value-added products based on glycerin. He said the plant can produce approximately 90 percent pure glycerin.

Once operational, Foothills Bio-Energies is expected to become the largest biodiesel producer in North Carolina. Piedmont Biofuels Industrial is ready to start-up a 1 MMgy plant in Pittsboro, and Blue Ridge Biofuels in Asheville is already a 2 MMgy producer. A grain growers cooperative is planning at least a 20 MMgy plant in Mt. Olive that will be built by Renewable Energy Group. The Mt. Olive project is named Atlantic Bio-Energy.

Dellinger said the Lenoir plant could also expand in the future. The two-story building has more room for process equipment, and the 8-acre property leaves room for additional storage tanks. A rail spur from a nearby Norfolk Southern main line would likely be used in any future expansion.

Dave Nilles is Online Editor for Biodiesel Magazine. Reach him at or (701) 373-0636.

Posted: 2:08 p.m. CDT Tuesday, October 3, 2006
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