Cargill planning glycerin venture

By | September 01, 2006
Cargill Inc. announced plans Wednesday that would appear to capitalize on the abundance of unrefined glycerin created by the rapidly expanding biodiesel industry. The Minneapolis-based agri-business company plans to commercialize a process using glycerin as a feedstock for producing a platform of biobased products.

The first of the platform's products will be propylene glycol, which is commonly used in a variety of resins, food ingredients, lubricants, cosmetics and antifreeze. A newly formed company is being created to produce the substance.

Few details were readily available regarding the venture. A press spokesman said Cargill is in the process of structuring the new company. No timeline or company name was available. The spokesman said further details are expected soon.

The biodiesel industry has recently focused on discovering new avenues for biodiesel-derived glycerin. Unrefined glycerin has flooded the market, resulting in considerable drops in prices.

"Cargill already sells glycerin from its biodiesel plants and has ready access through its supply chain and other sources to enough glycerin for world-scale production of (propylene glycol)," said Jim Stoppert, senior director of Industrial Bioproducts for Cargill. "We are confident that our approach to manufacturing price-competitive, renewable (propylene glycol) on a large commercial scale will be highly desired by the chemicals industry."

Cargill has produced biodiesel since May at its 37.5 MMgy plant in Iowa Falls, Iowa. The facility is also home to a 30 million-pounds-per-year glycerin refinery, which produces United States Pharmacopeia grade and other grades of glycerin, according to the company.

The Missouri Soybean Association and Cargill announced plans earlier this year for a 40 MMgy biodiesel plant and 30 million-pound food-grade glycerin refinery adjacent to Cargill's existing soybean processing facility in Kansas City, Mo. The project is jointly owned by Cargill and Paseo Biofuels LLC, an entity comprised of Missouri soybean farmers. A Missouri Soybean Association representative said the project is expected to begin construction later this month.

Cargill is also an accredited biodiesel producer through the BQ-9000 program, the biodiesel industry's voluntary quality assurance program.

"We anticipate continued, steady growth in the (propylene glycol) market," Stoppert said. "Current capacities remain tight and the fluctuation of propylene prices continues to batter the industry. These market dynamics create a ripe opportunity for a new, renewable and stable product offering."

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

Posted: 2:49 p.m. CDT Thursday, October 12, 2006
 
 
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