Enzymatic biodiesel project under development in Georgia

By Ron Kotrba | May 10, 2017

Dublin, Georgia-based Tactical Fabrication LLC and The Smisson Group of Macon, Georgia, have formed a biodiesel joint venture, Smisson-Mathis Energy LLC, to retrofit an existing, idled biodiesel production facility in Laurens County, Georgia.

The new production facility will use liquid enzymatic technology for conversion of brown grease to biodiesel. A small pilot plant in Dublin, Georgia, scaled at 75,000 to 100,000 gallons a year, is being used as a research facility to prove-out the process, said Benjamin Smisson, SME project manager.

Smisson told Biodiesel Magazine that SME is in negotiations with the bank for the purchase of a site for the new facility, which will be scaled at 1 MMgy initially. Smisson said once the 1 MMgy enzymatic plant becomes operational, the team will expand capacity to 5 MMgy.

The site for which negotiations are underway currently houses an idled biodiesel plant that will be retrofitted with SME’s liquid enzymatic process. Smisson said Franklin Mathis, CEO of both Tactical Fabrication and SME, built the original biodiesel plant that is now idled on-site and fabricated the plant’s equipment, so the retrofit process should go well given Mathis’ intimate knowledge of the existing structure. Smisson said the plant was idled due to problems unrelated to equipment performance.

“Our recent advancements in biodiesel refinement that include proprietary advanced distillation resulted in our ability to reduce total sulfur content from 200 ppm to 9 ppm,” Mathis said, referring to using brown grease feedstock. “This achievement is the first successful sulfur reduction ever achieved in the industry by this method. This approach led us to seek immediate patent protection.”

Smisson said SME anticipates closing on the site to occur in the next 60 to 90 days, after which the six-month-long retrofit process could begin. Then, after the 1 MMgy plant is operational for at least six months, the team would move toward expansion to 5 MMgy.

The company, incorporated last October, submitted an application for the USDA Section 9003 biorefinery assistance program before the April 3 deadline and is awaiting application review results from the department. SME selected Global Renewable Strategies and Consulting LLC for independent third-party biodiesel feasibility reports for the USDA, and Sustainable Energy Strategies Inc. for technical assistance with the USDA application process and submission.

“The selection of GRSAC and SESI were paramount to our successful application to USDA, and their knowledge of the industry and processes were profound and invaluable,” said Hugh Smisson III, chairman of the board for SME.

SME estimates its biodiesel project will create 18 new direct jobs in Laurens County, Georgia, in addition to 36 indirect jobs. 


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