4 new plants start operations

By | September 18, 2009
As summer came to a close, four more biodiesel plants completed commissioning-a testimony to the vision of biodiesel as an alternative, environmentally friendly fuel. Bluegrass BioDiesel LLC completed commissioning of its 14 MMgy multifeedstock plant at Falmouth, Ky., in late August. General Manager Rich Wojtkowski described a number of features incorporated into the plant design to decrease capital cost and allow flexibility, such as using stainless steel only where required, substituting lower-cost carbon steel where possible, and using flexible hosing to give the ability to reroute product streams when required. Gravity separation will be used, which he said eliminates the cost of centrifuges. Using standard acid pretreatment and base transesterification, Wojtkowski said the plant is capable of handling 2 percent to 22 percent free fatty acids, and includes three stages where water can be removed. "Our objective is to produce a very pure product that we can market as B100 ultra, removing all impurities," Wojtkowski said. The plant also includes methanol recovery and glycerin purification.

In Colorado, Bioenergy Inc. held a grand opening in mid-August for Rocky Mountain Biodiesel, a new 1 MMgy plant in Parker, Colo., near Denver. The company is offering free pickup of waste vegetable oil in the metro area, and will be organizing consumer drop-off points. In addition to supplying biodiesel to regional fuel distributers, Rocky Mountain Biodiesel is signing up consumers in a biodiesel club for an annual fee of $20. In August, the Web site reported members could get B99.9 for $2.30. Bioenergy was founded in 2008 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hawaiian Islands Bioenergy Inc. President and CEO Sanda Lichner said the company plans to develop plants in Hawaii, Nevada and California.

Mississippi Investment Petroleum Co. LLC reported commissioning was complete at its 8 MMgy plant at Houston, Miss., retrofitting an idled facility purchased from Tri-State Petroleum Products LLC. MIPCO CEO Jon Lunsford said the company expects to begin construction this fall on a 10 MMgy facility at Aberdeen, Miss. Groundwork had been started earlier this year when the Aberdeen mayor requested work be put on hold while the city applied for grants to help with access roads in the port area. MIPCO hopes to gain another 24 MMgy in capacity after retrofitting another shuttered biodiesel plant. Arrangements were close to being finalized, Lunsford told Biodiesel Magazine, on the purchase of a mothballed biodiesel refinery in Nettleton, Miss. Target feedstocks are poultry fat and waste vegetable oil.

The fourth start-up is Mother Earth Energy Inc.'s new 3 MMgy plant located near Philadelphia in Chester, Pa., which uses waste vegetable oil as its feedstock. "We're able to offer great customer service," company spokesperson Laurie Mallette said. "We keep batch samples and have the capacity to test-people like that if they haven't used biodiesel before." Cherry Hill Biodiesel in Cherry Hill, N.J., is the sales office for the company.

-Susanne Retka Schill
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