Maryland Biodiesel starts production

By | August 01, 2006
Maryland Biodiesel began production June 20, a day after the company's grand opening ceremony, said owner James Warren.

The June 19 grand opening ceremony hosted several state and local dignitaries, including Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich. "The [state] Secretary of Agriculture pushed the button, filling the reactor tank with soy oil," Warren told Biodiesel Magazine. He and his wife Ginger also own Cropper Oil & Gas, a fuel distribution company in operation since 1968.

The plant in Berlin, Md., began construction in March. The production facility is conveniently located on the site of Cropper Oil & Gas' tank field, which makes cocktailing any biodiesel blend a breeze for the new producer. Cropper Oil & Gas has been selling biodiesel for three years, Warren said.

At the 2004 National Biodiesel Conference (NBC) in Palm Springs, Calif., Warren said he talked with another couple that was big into biodiesel-Bob and Kelly King, owners of Pacific Biodiesel Inc., based in Hawaii. It was this meeting that precipitated the development of Maryland Biodiesel.

From there, it took two years to push the permits through, according to Warren. This was a first-of-its-kind project in Worcester County-in the whole state of Maryland, in fact-so the Warrens' biodiesel project was a guinea pig of sorts when it came to establishing a process for permitting a methyl ester refinery. "There was no zoning for this at all," Warren said. "Now, the [county and] state are behind us 100 percent."

Soybean oil is the plant's feedstock, which Warren said it procures from Perdue Inc., the famous chicken company that has a crush facility 20 miles away in Salisbury, Md.

Warren said an expansion of the Berlin plant may begin by late this summer. "Our goal is to be producing 5 million gallons within a couple of years," he said. Currently, however, the East Coast facility is pushing out approximately 1,500 gallons per day at a 500,000 gallons-per-year pace. If expansion occurs late this summer as planned, Warren said the result of this immediate expansion would add between 500,000 gallons and 1 million gallons to its annual production capacity, reaching between 1 MMgy and 1.5 MMgy this year.

Maryland Biodiesel is currently looking into BQ-9000 certification. In fact, Warren said he's been discussing this with a New Jersey-based consulting firm.
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