Arkansas-based Solfuels USA begins trial production of biodiesel

By Ron Kotrba | June 27, 2017

Solfuels USA LLC, a 40 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel facility located in Helena, Arkansas, successfully began trial production June 17, CEO Henri Bardon told Biodiesel Magazine.

Last December, Biodiesel Magazine reported that Solutions 4 Manufacturing brokered a deal for two Singapore-based companies, Agritrade Resources Ltd. and Solfuels Holdings Pte Ltd., to jointly acquire the former Delta American Fuel LLC biodiesel plant in Helena, Arkansas. Agritrade Resources stated it paid $2.97 million for its 51-percent share of the plant.

The former Delta American Fuel plant was built to process virgin soybean oil into biodiesel.

“We first began our retrofit in April by finishing the pipeline that now gives this plant access to the Mississippi River,” Bardon said, adding that the ability to receive feedstock by barges is “an absolute advantage” for a biodiesel plant. “We also can handle rail through the Arkansas Midland Railroad that connects us to [Union Pacific],” Bardon said.

With help from Frazier, Barnes & Associates as the project’s engineering partner and Process Systems Inc. as the construction contractor, Solfuels USA retrofitted the plant with multifeedstock technology to accommodate yellow grease, rendered animal fats, inedible corn oil and refined vegetable oil.

“The retrofit involved adding an additional transesterification reactor and acid wash, as well as an ion exchange system to finish our biodiesel,” Bardon said. “This will give our plant the option of producing biodiesel from multiple feedstocks up to 5 percent free fatty acid content.”  The original design included a single reactor and could process only virgin soybean oil with FFA content up to 0.5 percent.

Bardon added that Solfuels USA submitted its application for U.S. EPA registration Dec. 21 and just received approval May 16.  

Solfuels USA has engaged Weaver for Q-RINs auditing, Bardon said, as well as EcoEngineers to help qualify the plant for participation in California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). “We plan to ship some of our production to California because of our low carbon intensity profile,” Bardon explained.

The company expects the facility to be operating at full capacity this summer.

“We expect to ramp up production over the next four weeks to 2 million gallons per month, and then move to full capacity at 3 million gallons per month,” Bardon said. “We are starting production with soybean oil and have begun sourcing it by truck, rail and barges. We plan to optimize our feedstock sources as we ramp up our production and have begun testing a variety of other feedstocks from multiple sources.”

A full laboratory has been established at the plant, and Bardon said Solfuels USA will work to get approved for BQ-9000 certification.

In January, Solfuels USA set up its commercial office in Memphis, Tennessee, where it now employs four people, along with eight operators and three additional staff members on-site at the plant in Helena.

“We will bring on four additional operators at the plant over the next few weeks as we move to full production, which will bring our total staff footprint in Helena for our plant to 15, in addition to the four employees in Memphis,” Bardon said.  


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