Freedom Fuels moves ahead smoothly

By | August 01, 2006
Quietly flying under the radar, yet another 30 MMgy biodiesel plant is being developed in Iowa. Freedom Fuels LLC is under construction near Mason City.

Initial construction of the facility began in late April, according to project secretary Charity Miller. The foundation and floor of the process building were complete in early July, and equipment was arriving. Start-up is tentatively slated for late February or early March 2007.

Miller said the project's developers considered several design/build teams before settling with relative industry newcomer NewMech Companies Inc. as general contractor. The St. Paul, Minn.-based company has seven divisions related to project development and construction. Minneapolis-based Crown Iron Works is building the plant's equipment. SSOE Inc., an architectural engineering firm in Toledo, Ohio, is the engineering firm.

The facility will be able to use soy oil and animal fats as feedstock. Miller said plant officials have had discussions with Ag Processing Inc. (AGP), Minnesota Soybean Processors and other groups regarding soy oil availability. They've also contacted Tyson and Hormel regarding animal fats. There are five meat processing facilities in close vicinity to north central Iowa that could supply feedstock to the plant.

Core Ventures will assist the project during construction and provide a management team after start-up. The company will provide biodiesel off-take and feedstock procurement capabilities for Freedom Fuels.

Freedom Fuels has an ideal location, according to Miller. Besides being located in a soy-abundant area, the plant site is located near two railroads. The plant is along the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad and has access to the Union Pacific Railroad via the Iowa Traction Railroad. In addition, Interstate 35 is just west of Mason City. "It's all about location," Miller said.

Miller said the project was spearheaded by Chairman Ed Dannen, who previously worked with the SoyMor project in Glenville, Minn. Seed stock was raised in two mid-December meetings. The primary equity drive concluded June 30 with over $18 million raised, according to Miller. She said there are 415 investors, a majority of which are farmers from southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

More information on Freedom Fuels can be found at
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