Business Briefs

Business Briefs from the Spring 2020 print edition of Biodiesel Magazine
By Biodiesel Magazine | April 15, 2020

The Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza was awarded Service Station of the Year by the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition during its annual December meeting. The station was one of the first family-owned and operated independent truck plazas in the U.S. to start selling B11 in 2006. In 2013, Robin Puthusseril, vice president and co-owner, and her father John Puthusseril, invested more than half a million dollars to build infrastructure to begin blending and selling higher blends of premium biodiesel to customers. Today, biodiesel is blended and sold year-round at every diesel dispenser, marketed as premium diesel. The Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza also offers fleet customers bulk B100 biodiesel for purchase. Robin has testified before Congress to explain the benefits of biodiesel and why the biodiesel tax credit is so important.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented Diamond Oil Company Inc. of Des Moines with the 2020 Biodiesel Marketing Award at the FUELIowa annual meeting Jan. 14. The award was created by FUELIowa in partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to recognize fuel marketers that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and sell biodiesel. Diamond Oil has made a commitment to supplying biodiesel to its diverse customer base and has leveraged the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Grant Program to support its significant private investments into expanding infrastructure, including installation of biodiesel terminals in Des Moines and State Center. The company has the ability to provide custom blending options.

After more than three years, $6 million of investment and thousands of hours of management time, North Dakota Soybean Processors has abandoned its efforts to build a large-scale soybean crushing facility at the Spiritwood Energy Park in Spiritwood, North Dakota. Site and plant engineering were completed, construction contract bids were solicited, an air permit was in hand, and financing was in place when the Spiritwood Energy Park Association board voted in July to terminate NDSP’s site contract. NDSP then went to court to try and build at that site. In early February, NDSP agreed with SEPA to dismiss its lawsuit with prejudice, meaning its bid to build a plant at the Spiritwood site was over. NDSP continues to search for a new site to build its plant to crush 42 million bushels of local soybeans a year. NDSP is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Minnesota Soybean Processors.

Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group Inc. announced Jan. 21 cancelation of their joint effort to construct a large-scale renewable diesel plant in Ferndale, Washington. The project has been canceled due to permitting delays and uncertainties. Originally announced in fall 2018, the 250 MMgy project would have resulted in the largest renewable diesel refinery on the West Coast. “While we believe the Ferndale refinery is a strategic fit for this renewable diesel project, permitting uncertainties were leading to delays and higher costs,” said Robert Herman, Phillips 66 executive vice president of refining. CJ Warner, CEO of REG, said, “Although we are disappointed in this result, REG is undeterred and continues to develop numerous opportunities to grow our renewable diesel production.”

Joe Jobe, president and founder of Rock House Advisors, and Peter Behrle, managing director of PB Renewables LLC, are working with a $5.5 billion financial institution to offer biodiesel tax credit (BTC) bridge loan funding for biodiesel producers. According to Jobe and Behrle, the bank is willing to rapidly underwrite and approve BTC-backed bridge loans to biodiesel producers while the producers await the return of their 2018 and 2019 BTC refunds from the IRS. Jobe is former CEO of the National Biodiesel Board and founded Rock House Advisors in 2016. Behrle founded PB Renewables in 2006 as an advisory and funding source for renewable fuel producers. “2018 and 2019 especially were very difficult years,” Jobe said. “I’m glad to be able to help [producers] create some expedited liquidity with this bridge funding to get the industry back on its feet as quickly as possible.”

Maire Tecnimont Group’s NextChem of Italy and Kansas-based Saola Energy have formed a new partnership to license renewable diesel technology to the international market. NextChem will be the licensor of the combined technology and provide clients with EPC services and training. Saola Energy’s patented technology consists of a hydrotreatment step followed by isomerization to produce renewable diesel fuel from fats, oils and greases. The technology can process a wide range of feedstocks at industrial scale. In addition, the process has a “modularized approach” and is possible for capacities as low as 10 MMgy, “making it ideal for both smaller bolt-on facilities with access to a limited supply of captive feedstock and larger standalone plants that can aggregate larger amounts of raw materials,” the company stated.

Following the success of its first Biodiesel Conversion Centre in St. Lucia, Sandals Resorts International is exploring ways to incorporate biodiesel production and use throughout its resorts across the region. The company’s Dive Centre at Pointe Seraphine has been converting used vegetable oil from kitchens at its three resorts on the island into biodiesel for use in marine vessels. Initiated as a pilot project in 2015 by Maurice Moss, former marine boat maintenance manager who built the processor from spare parts, the facility has since been upgraded. It is now managed by Quentin Landman, who holds Moss’ former post, and technician Sammy Hillman operates the plant, which produces 320 gallons per month and fuels four dive boats and a van. The blended fuel saves the resort 90 cents per liter of diesel. Glycerin is made into soap for kitchen use or to wash marine vessels. Sandals plans to replicate this model on all islands where it and Beaches operate.

Archer Daniels Midland Co. is outfitting five Class 8 trucks with Optimus Technologies’ Vector System, an innovative technology that enables diesel engines to run almost entirely on sustainable biodiesel in a wide range of climates. The trucks will run on B100 produced at ADM’s Mexico, Missouri, plant and be used in daily fleet operations for one year, with each vehicle anticipated to travel up to 180,000 miles. Advanced monitoring protocols will compare the performance and results of the new technology with a control group of five trucks operating on conventional diesel. In addition to ADM and Optimus, this project is supported by the American Lung Association, the National Biodiesel Board, the Illinois Soybean Association, and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council.

Södra has built the world’s first plant for commercial biomethanol, a sustainable fuel from forest biomass, at its pulp mill in Mönsterås, Sweden. An initial pilot delivery in late February was expected to go to Denmark-based Emmelev A/S, a large-scale biodiesel producer that will use biomethanol in its fuel production. Södra decided to invest in a biomethanol production facility in 2017. Morten Simonsen, co-owner of Emmelev A/S, said, “Our biodiesel will be 100 percent renewable and based on locally sourced raw materials. Biodiesel produced from Danish canola and Swedish forests can secure fuel supplies for heavy road transport, as well as buses and construction machinery. This will be crucial for a transformation of the energy sector.”

Renewable energy consulting firm EcoEngineers has opened a new office in California to capitalize on the need for compliance, auditing and regulatory services in the western carbon markets, where growth in low-carbon fuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel and biogas is booming. The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and other climate-driven programs present opportunities for EcoEngineers to expand its services to the West Coast. To help lead the effort, EcoEngineers has hired Roxby Hartley as a senior regulatory consultant. Hartley spent six years as the director of research and development and more than two years as the director of operations at Agron Bioenergy in Watsonville, California, a biodiesel production firm acquired by Western Iowa Energy in late 2017. Hartley will also assume the role of biodiesel line of business manager for EcoEngineers.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council held a grand opening March 5 for its new Center for Soybean Innovation, which stands to connect developments in soybean innovation with farmers, industry partners and the community. The complex brings together the Missouri Soybean Association and Merchandising Council, Biodiesel Coalition of Missouri, Foundation for Soy Innovation, as well as the administrative functions for farmer-owned biodiesel plants, Missouri Farmers Care and the Ag Education on the Move program. The facility, which serves as a hub for business development and incubation, showcases soy-based building materials and demonstrates new uses for soybeans, from soy-based counter tops, flooring and insulation to turf, asphalt sealant and a biodiesel-fueled heating system. Construction began July 2018.

Renewable diesel producer Neste Corp. has agreed to acquire 100 percent of Mahoney Environmental, a collector and recycler of used cooking oil (UCO) in the U.S., and its affiliated entities. The transaction is subject to the fulfillment of customary closing conditions and regulatory approval. Peter Vanacker, president and CEO of Neste, said the move is part of executing Neste’s growth strategy and the acquisition will provide access to a substantial volume of UCO as well as a platform to grow its raw material supply chain in North America. Neste operates biorefineries in Singapore, the Netherlands and Finland. Neste’s Singapore refinery is undergoing a $1.54 billion expansion. Mahoney Environmental’s service includes cooking oil equipment installation and design, fresh oil delivery and grease trap cleaning.

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