Business Briefs

By | January 19, 2010
BiofuelBox, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., is the first biodiesel company to be selected for an innovation award from the World Economic Forum, a prestigious and historic nongovernmental organization that holds its late January meeting each year in Davos, Switzerland. BiofuelBox manufactures skid-mounted 1 MMgy processing units that turn wastewater sludge into biodiesel and can be deployed virtually anywhere. By working with such an impure feedstock, the company managed to stand out to the WEC, said Rick Reddy, the company's CEO.

The company behind Magnesol dry wash, The Dallas Group of America Inc., now offers a line of adsorbents called D-Sol to help biodiesel producers purify their fuel and pass the cold soak filtration test (CSFT). D-Sol removes sterol glucosides and other contaminants that can cause fuel to fail the CSFT, and can be used during regular dry washing or as a post-treatment after water washing or ion exchange purification.

The Iowa Power Fund Board recently approved a $3.9 million grant to help transform Central Iowa Energy LLC, a 30 MMgy biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, managed by Renewable Energy Group Inc., into an integrated biorefinery for production of specialty chemicals and renewable jet fuel from oils and fats. The demonstration retrofit project will be based on Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc.'s Nobel Prize-winning technology, called olefin metathesis.

Biodiesel consulting firm Lee Enterprises of Little Rock, Ark., recently welcomed Tess Castillo to its team of consultants. Firm owner Wayne Lee said Castillo will fill a much-needed role matching plant managers with plants seeking experienced personnel. Castillo speaks fluent Spanish, and with clients all over the world, that's a benefit for his consulting firm, Lee said.

OriginOil Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan's Research Institute of Tsukuba Bio-Tech to develop technologies for converting algae to jet fuel. RITB was recently approved for two years of research and development funding based on its proposal to the Japan Science and Technology Agency. RITB is headed by Tsukuba University professor emeritus and algae researcher Takaaki Maekawa who said he looked forward to incorporating OriginOil technology and resources into the project, which is focused on algae-to-oil production, aircraft fuel production and other industry applications. California-based OriginOil has made several announcements this past year regarding progress in developing algae harvesting and extraction technology.

A Dec. 2 explosion at Imperium Renewables Grays Harbor shut down the plant that had only recently started producing after being idled for several months. A glycerin processing tank in the glycerin refining section of the 100 MMgy biodiesel plant ruptured as a result of over-pressurization. There were no injuries or fire. The force of the rupture scattered aluminum and insulation across the Imperium Grays Harbor property and damaged nearby pipes and two adjacent tanks. The processing tank and other tanks located in a fully contained area were not damaged. In mid January, clean up had been completed but the plant was not back in production.

Metro Biofuels hosted a one-day event in early December on the site of its 110 MMgy biodiesel plant under construction in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Fueling a Sustainable Future" included USDA and local officials discussing the health and environmental benefits of biodiesel and Bioheat, the opportunities for economic growth provided by a homegrown domestic biofuels sector and the future of various legislative efforts to promote or mandate biodiesel. Metro Biofuels is a subsidiary of Metro Energy, a family-owned fuel distributor in the New York metropolitan area. The biodiesel plant being built adjacent to the distribution terminal is expected to be online in the early half of 2010.

Grabner Instruments has introduced a recently upgraded, portable IROX Diesel FTIR Analyzer to determine biodiesel content in diesel fuel. The IROX Diesel is a compact mid-FTIR spectrometer that measures the complete absorption spectrum to determine fuel composition and predict properties such as cetane number, total aromatics, polynuclear aromatics and density. The IROX Diesel is available in North America from Ametek Petrolab Co., a division of Ametek Inc.

Rentech Inc. and AltAir Fuels announced separate memorandums of understanding (MOU) on the same day involving nearly identical lists of airlines to which they will supply renewable jet fuel. Seattle-based AltAir fuels, a sister company to Targeted Growth Inc. and camelina developer Sustainable Oils Inc., is proposing a 100 MMgy plant to be built alongside the existing Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes, Wash., using technology developed by UOP LLC, a Honeywell company. Rentech is proposing a 400 MMgy plant in Adams County, Miss., using Rentech-SilvaGas biomass gasification that converts multiple biomass feedstocks into syngas. Rentech technologies based on Fischer-Tropsch chemistry produce synthetic fuels, specialty waxes and chemicals. Final product upgrading is provided under an alliance with UOP. The Air Transport Association of America Inc. helped develop both nonbinding MOUs involving 16 airlines expressing an interest in negotiating future purchases.

Crown Iron Works Co. of Minneapolis has offered oil crushing and extraction technology for years but now has a different "route to reach the same end" by acquiring a similar system from Hamburg, Germany's Harburg Freudenburger. "This gives us a name and a reputation to reach more agricultural interests in Eastern Europe that might be much more familiar with Harburg than they are with Crown. This [acquisition] doesn't add a specific process to our portfolio of services but gives us more exposure to certain parts of the world," said Derek Masterson of Crown Iron Works.

W2 Energy Inc., headquartered in Guelph, Ontario, has been booked by the City of Laurel, Md., to convert municipal solid waste into synthetic diesel fuel and electricity after construction of a pilot plant. W2 Energy is deploying "a mobile plasma-assisted-gasifier" small enough to fit inside a 45 ft. trailer for this project. "We have plans to start manufacturing more of these mobile units," said Mike McLaren of W2 Energy. "We think the marketplace is huge for products like this."

Southeastern Community College of Whiteville, N.C., will be using a mobile biodiesel processor built by Jerome, Arizona-based Verde Biofuel for a program to introduce farmers to biodiesel. The Verde processor presses raw seeds, extracting the oil, which it then cleans and processes. North Carolina is converting traditional tobacco acres to other crops and state interests are looking to educate farmers on biodiesel manufacturing specifics, anticipating increased oilseed production in coming years.
 
 
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