Member profile: Owensboro Grain extends to biodiesel production

By | October 16, 2007
Kentucky-based Owensboro Grain started out 101 years ago as a small grain merchant. The company has recently shown it still has the same entrepreneurial spirit as the current owners' ancestors. It opened a biodiesel plant in Owensboro, Ky., with the capacity to add 50 MMgy per year of fuel to the nation's energy supply.

The company started out shipping corn on barges, according to John Wright, vice president of strategic planning and development, and a fourth-generation family operator of Owensboro Grain. He says his grandfather, recognizing early on that soybeans would play a significant role in the economy, evolved the company into soybean processing in the 1950s.

"In 1995, we evolved again by getting into vegetable oil refining, so opening a biodiesel plant is the next progression for us," Wright said. "I believe my great-grandfather and grandfather would be extremely proud. My grandpa was always a trendsetter, looking for the next wave."

The biodiesel plant is located adjacent to the vegetable oil refinery and will use soybeans from Kentucky and across the region. "Our company produces 75 million gallons of soybean oil each year currently at our vegetable oil refinery, so we are somewhat unique in that we will have a secure supply of consistent-quality feedstock," Wright said.

Wright's family may have never thought that someday dignitaries would visit their facility. Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ken., and other local officials joined in the grand opening celebration. The plant is the largest biodiesel production facility in the state. More information on Owensboro Grain is available at

FC Stone offers hedging webinar
Commodity risk management firm FCStone and have partnered to offer NBB members a Nov. 30 online workshop titled "Capital Requirements of Various Hedge Structures." FCStone is a member of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

FCStone will offer insight into the dynamic commodity market. The presentation will offer information on current and forward market conditions, and the evolution of alternative feedstocks. More topics will be announced as the agenda develops. Workshop registration is available at the Members Only section of the NBB Web site.

The Renewable Fuels Group at FCStone has become one of the largest independent risk management providers within the renewable fuels industry. The group performs risk management activities for renewable fuels plants within the United States and will account for more than 2.5 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel in production or under construction by the end of 2007. The group helps companies maximize operating profitability, expand merchandising efforts and mitigate multiple risks in volatile markets. FCStone's analyses take into account the inputs and outputs for renewable fuels. is the world's largest online biodiesel marketplace. It features a variety of services including online classifieds, a biodiesel store and directory.

Register, save for 2008 conference
The 2007 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo drew another record-breaking number of biodiesel industry leaders, so make sure to attend the 2008 event held Feb. 3-6 in Orlando, Fla.

Significant early bird discounts will apply to registrations received on or before Nov. 16. Pre-registration ends Jan. 25, after which attendees must register on-site at a higher rate.

The Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center is the ideal location for the 2008 Conference & Expo. Meeting facilities are a short distance from Walt Disney World and Orlando's myriad other attractions. The facility's on-site features include Falcon's Fire Golf Club, the prestigious Canyon Ranch SpaClub, La Petit Academy Kids Station (for children ages three to 14) and world-class restaurants.

Call (407) 586-2000 to reserve a room. To ensure the discounted single/double room rate of $220, mention you are with the "National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2008." Reservations must be made by Jan. 3 to secure discounted rates. A one-night room deposit is required. Rooms are based on availability, so make reservations soon.

The 2008 conference will feature production, technical, fuel distribution, policy/regulations, markets and users tracks, including auto and engine manufacturer sessions. Among an array of social events, the event also features a golf tournament at Champions Gate Golf Course. Visit to register and for more information.

NBB members eligible for Chrysler discount
Preferred pricing on new Chrysler vehicles is another great benefit to being a member of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

The Chrysler Affiliate Rewards Program allows eligible NBB members to purchase or lease select 2007-'08 Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicles at the "preferred price" of 1 percent below factory invoice. The discount is in addition to consumer incentives that may be available at the time of sale.

NBB members, and NBB member companies' U.S. employees, spouses, retirees and subsidiary employees are eligible to participate. U.S. Clean Cities Coordinators and designated NBB contractors are also eligible for the program, which allows for the purchase or lease of two vehicles per calendar year.

Call the NBB hotline at (866) BIODIESEL to verify your eligibility and begin the enrollment process.

Some of the vehicles available under the Affiliate Rewards Program include the 2007-'08 Diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel pick-up, Jeep Compass, Dodge Nitro and the Chrysler Sebring.

The program offers NBB members a great discount opportunity and a chance to buy a new diesel vehicle from a strong supporter of biodiesel. Chrysler LLC supports the use of up to B5 biodiesel in its diesel vehicles and accepts the use of B20 blends in its Dodge Ram diesel pick-up for government, military and commercial fleet customers.

Truckers have tools to find biodiesel
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is coordinating incentives for biodiesel use while helping truckers more easily find the fuel. Businesses that want to use "green" shipping practices can now find truckers who use biodiesel through the U.S. EPA SmartWay Grow and Go program. The EPA and NBB announced they have teamed up to match shippers with truckers using biodiesel, as well as to educate the truck market about biodiesel.

The SmartWay Transport Partnership is a collaboration between the EPA and the freight industry. Its goal is to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution. The SmartWay Grow & Go program will also help reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum. Program members include owner-operators, trucking fleets, suppliers, brokers and anyone who is interested in reducing fuel use and emissions through sustainable trucking practices.

In a separate announcement, ProMiles and the NBB said that truckers can now use their laptop computers to find truck-accessible biodiessel fueling sites along planned routes. The NBB, ProMiles, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) are developing a continuously updated and accurate list of truck-accessible biodiesel locations to be included in mapping software. The first set of locations is now incorporated into ProMiles XF, a commercial vehicle/truck routing and mileage software available for professional truckers.

ProMiles XF software is available on compact disc and features address-to-address truck routing. Truck-accessible fueling locations are clearly marked for pre-route planning or on-the-road searches, without the need for Internet access. Truck-accessible fueling locations that carry biodiesel can be found along with information including the blend, hours of operation and more. The first release of software includes a subset of truck-accessible biodiesel locations out of the nearly 600 that are identified on the NBB's trucking Web site, The NBB will continue to add more locations as OPIS identifications are assigned, ensuring accuracy.

The NBB and partners made both announcements at the recent Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. The EPA and NBB co-sponsored the SmartWay "Get Green" Trucking Summit. More information on the EPA's SmartWay Grow & Go program is available at

Promising results shown in glycerin feed research
The biodiesel industry continues to search for a market for its glycerin byproduct. The worldwide growth in biodiesel production has led to an increase in the supply of glycerin. Global availability has resulted in lower glycerin prices, and new doors have opened in the marketplace. Animal feed applications might be one opportunity for direct use of crude glycerin without the need for further refining. The University of Missouri is the latest to shed some light on glycerin in cattle feed.

Led by Monty Kerley, the University of Missouri-Columbia conducts this research with the Missouri Soybean Association, Department of Transportation's Biobased Transportation Research Program and assistance from the NBB, has measured the daily rates of gain and feed efficiency on cattle eating feed blended with various levels of glycerin. Currently 110 days into the study, the rates of gain seem to be higher for cattle eating glycerin-blended feed. Feed efficiency is how much feed is consumed per pound of growth.

"What we've found is that the advantages in the glycerin feeds are not necessarily that the energy is higher, but that the glycerin helps the diet (corn and supplement) to seal together better, which prevents the cattle from sorting through the diet," Kerley said. "Also, the cattle seem to eat the glycerin blends longer into the day than the control group. That practice may help prevent digestive problems like acidosis."

Kerley presented the research plans at the February 2007 National Biodiesel Conference in San Antonio. His team reports promising-yet preliminary-results. The feeds included a control group (no glycerol) and 5 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent glycerin blends. The 5 percent and 10 percent blends of glycerin show higher rates of gain than the control group. However, the 20 percent blend has lower rates of gain than the diets with 5 percent and 10 percent glycerin.

Previous research in this field has focused on the energy content of livestock feed. This study will also study effects on carcasses.

Growmark honors Jobe, NBB
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and its CEO, Joe Jobe, have been recognized by a leading agricultural cooperative and petroleum distributor for leadership and vision in the biofuels industry. Growmark Inc. recently presented the annual Friend of Growmark award at the company's annual meeting in Chicago. The company gives the award to individuals and organizations for their contributions to the well-being of cooperatives and agriculture.

"Growmark is proud to partner with Jobe and the NBB, champions for the Growmark system's role as a marketer and fellow promoter," Growmark CEO Bill Davisson said. "We appreciate their commitment to the industry and value their friendship."

Jobe has served with NBB for 10 years. Under his leadership, the young industry has enjoyed major successes including the passage of a federal tax incentive and other significant initiatives that have created a favorable climate for industry growth. Today there are 165 biodiesel plants in the United States, up from 86 this time last year.

"Recognition like this is truly an honor, especially coming from a forward-thinking company like Growmark," Jobe said. "In 2002, Growmark became the first petroleum distributor to join NBB. Because biodiesel fits into our nation's petroleum infrastructure, the success of our industry is in many ways a result of companies like Growmark opening their arms to biodiesel, recognizing all the good it can do for our energy economy."

The NBB represents the biodiesel industry as the coordinating body for biodiesel research and development in the United States. Its members include biodiesel producers, feedstock producers and processors, soybean commodity boards, and fuel marketers and distributors.

NBB welcomes new members
Emergent Green Energy Inc.-Minneola, Kan.
FCStone-West Des Moines, Iowa
GEO Energy Inc.-Milton, N.Y.
Greenlight Biofuels Holdings LLC-Charlottesville, Va.
Kansas Biofuels-Wichita, Kan.
Pohaku Inc.-Washington, Iowa
SAOC Oil Inc.-Houston, Texas
Solazyme Inc.-San Francisco, Calif.
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