Biodiesel in Stationary Use

By Chris Layton | June 15, 2010
Tennessee Bio Energy is a small biodiesel plant located in middle Tennessee. The batch plant production capacity is around 3.5 MMgy utilizing a variety of feedstock, from used cooking oil to virgin vegetable oils. It has been a tough year, with the loss of the tax credit and the rising cost of chemicals and feedstock required to produce biodiesel.

We have owned the facility for a little over a year and a half, and have been vigilant in upgrading and modifying it to maximize the processing, quality and conformance to the new RFS2 requirements.

The loss of the federal credit has certainly prompted us to look at every aspect of the biodiesel process to ensure we are not wasting product or time. We have rewritten procedures and adjusted manpower to lower costs and maintain productivity. We have downsized our operating staff from seven people to two, and have maintained our production amounts. In doing so, we have had to focus on streamlining and time management. This has been a big challenge but it's been worth it, and we are a better company for doing so.

One thing that sets this company apart from other biodiesel producers is that it uses its own biodiesel to run a 180-kilowatt Perkins single-phase generator to provide power for a variety of pumps, reactors and various electrical appliances. This has worked out well with little to no down time, and has provided a safe, clean, and dependable electrical source. We also use a large stationary air compressor that runs on biodiesel, for drying our product.

The biggest challenge has been in the winter months when the temperature drops and stays below the 30-degree mark. We have installed hot water lines heated by an all fuel 500,000-Btu boiler with a bio/glycerin fuel source that is produced in our plant. This boiler with the hydronic lines also provides the heat for our feedstock and glycerin storage tanks. We can preheat our feedstock up to between 120 and 130 degrees prior to the reaction process.

We also use a variety of vehicles in the production and pick-up of our feedstock, including two 2005 Mack Vision tractors, one F-800 delivery truck and an F- 500 flatbed work truck. In the warmer months we use B99 and in the winter months we use a B80 blend. Our fuel has performed well and we've had no down time due to the use of our biodiesel. Our trucks are getting 7-plus miles to the gallon utilizing speed control and biodiesel, enabling us to make round trips on one tank of fuel.

Being in an agricultural area, local farmers also depend on our biodiesel to power their equipment. Tractors, combines and harvesters are a few examples of machinery that can be fueled with biodiesel. Some also use our biodiesel as a machine lubricant. These are just a few ways that we can help our community implement renewable fuels, and help farmers truly stay green.

Whether Tennessee Bio Energy is using its fuel for production, selling it to be blended or supplying agricultural demands, the company is continually striving to promote environmental sustainability, energy security and economic development. As you can see, our company has only benefitted by the use of our biodiesel. There are no limitations on how far biodiesel will take us in the future.

Chris Layton is plant manager for Tennessee Bio Energy Inc. Reach him at chris@consolidatedbioenergy.com.
 
 
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