Pilot-scale facility on line in northeast Missouri

By | July 01, 2005
The pilot-scale biodiesel plant Lindell Smith has built on his northeast Missouri farm is tiny compared to the huge facility being developed nearby, but customers were queued up in mid-June, waiting for Missouri Biofuels LLC to reach full stream.
"I just took a call from Chicago for 77,000 gallons," Smith told Biodiesel Magazine. "If they're bypassing larger, closer producers, that tells me that demand is very high."

The batch process facility, soon expected to reach a capacity of 5,000 gallons per day (approximately 1.8 mmgy under continuous production hours) was independently financed by Smith, who is president and CEO of the company. The facility is located on Smith's 10-acre family farm just outside of Bethel, Mo. The facility was brought on line June 1 and was being gradually ramped up to its nameplate capacity through the month. When operations are fully underway, Smith expects to employ a chemist, at least one operator and a few office personnel. For now, though, he's "wearing a lot of hats," he said.

The size of Missouri Biofuels, however, does not equate to an inability to produce quality fuel. To the contrary, Smith said the facility's product meets ASTM specifications, and the retired McDonald Douglas aircraft builder is giving serious consideration to the National Biodiesel Board's BQ-9000 fuel quality program.

"Other than the fact that we may fall short on history, I think BQ-9000 would be [viable]," Smith said. "I think it's something every plant should do anyway."

Smith said the plant is being brought on line with virgin soybean oil, but could easily transition to recycled vegetable oil-yellow grease-later on. The original plan called for expanding the plant's capacity to as high as 16,000 gallons per day and transitioning from a batch process to a continuous process. Now, with one other existing biodiesel plant in Bunceton, Mo., and a 30 mmgy facility being developed in nearby Mexico, Mo., Smith said he's not sure what the company's next move will be.

"I really don't know what direction we'll go," he said. "And I'm not sure what will happen when these other plants come up in Missouri. Right now, it looks like we will be just fine."
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