Biodiesel plants in Pennsylvania plan construction, expansion

By | September 01, 2006
In Pennsylvania, there is a growing interest in producing and using biodiesel, and projects are currently underway to increase the state's capacity as it looks to become more involved in the renewables fuels industry.

The Erie Management Group (EMG) of Erie, Pa., is retrofitting a site abandoned by the International Paper Company for biodiesel production. Brad Davis, president of Lake Erie Biofuels, of which EMG is the principal investor, told Biodiesel Magazine that nearly 2,000 jobs were lost when the paper mill was closed. "This is the beginning of the redevelopment of the entire industrial park," he said.

Construction of Lake Erie Biofuels began at the brownfield site in mid-July, but the company hasn't held a ceremonial groundbreaking yet. "Everything has been razed," Davis said. "None of the existing structures could be used [for the biodiesel plant], except for the foundations." A crew is currently on-site from Benham Constructors of Oklahoma City, which is charged with building the 45 MMgy facility. Process technology will be provided by De Smet Ballestra of Great Britain. Davis estimated that the plant will begin producing biodiesel in August 2007.

"This is the first of several projects for the old industrial park, where the old mill [occupied] 200-plus acres," Davis said. "We're obviously not using that much for the biodiesel plant, and there is plenty of room for other industries to come in. There might be other projects with renewables, with new technologies on the site."

In Shiremanstown, Pa., Keystone Biofuels, the state's first biodiesel producer, is looking to expand less than a year after its start-up. "The [equipment] is basically on order with Pacific Biodiesel," said Race Miner, president of Keystone, which is managing the construction project on its own. "We're putting new tanks in the ground in September and plan on being complete by December. We're putting in additional storage capacity right now. We do all of the auxiliary work, and the actual processing equipment is being [installed] by Pacific Biodiesel." The capacity of the plant will be 6 MMgy when the project is complete.

Currently, Keystone Biofuels directly markets its own biodiesel and also works with several petroleum distributors in the region. "The decision to expand was based on the fact that we put in the initial 1 MMgy to 2 MMgy facility and we sold out within the first three months of production capacity," Miner said. As capacity is added, Keystone is also looking to refine its glycerin into a marketable product, instead of disposing of it. "Right now, we pay to have [glycerin] removed," Miner said.
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