Business Briefs

By Ron Kotrba | January 06, 2015

The team at Johnson Matthey Davy Technologies was recognized at the annual Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Awards in November by winning the IChemE Sustainable Technology Award for its development of a reactive distillation process for biodiesel production. The technology is geared toward converting low-quality feedstocks into market-ready biodiesel efficiently and economically. The process begins with conventional oil hydrolysis to produce fatty acids plus a clean water/glycerol stream. The molten fatty acid then passes to the esterification reaction column. The preheated liquid fatty acids feed to the top of the esterification reaction column, in which they react with methanol vapor to form their equivalent methyl fatty esters. The reaction takes place in the presence of a proprietary solid catalyst.

Plymouth, Utah-based Washakie Renewable Energy is doubling its biodiesel production capacity from 20 MMgy to 40 MMgy, according to plant manager Brian Starr. The expansion project started in late November and is scheduled for completion in January. Production at the plant has been down while additional reactors, settling capacity and a water-wash column are being installed. In two to three months, the plant will also have a new distillation column in place. Starr says the expansion project at Washakie Renewable Energy is being done in-house. The company received $16,543 from the USDA’s Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which it is using to help pay for the expansion. “Every little bit helps,” Starr says.

Hawaiian Electric and Pacific Biodiesel Technologies have signed a contract for the Maui-based biofuel company to supply biodiesel processed from waste cooking oil and other local feedstocks, primarily for use at the 110-megawatt Campbell Industrial Park generation facility with the capability for use at other Oahu power plants as needed. The two-year contract for a minimum of 2 MMgy and up to 3 MMgy will go into effect in November, subject to review and approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. The Campbell Industrial Park plant now uses biodiesel processed from waste fats and oils by Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. under a contract that will end this November.

Chico, California-based biodiesel equipment manufacturer Springboard Biodiesel recently introduced its GL95/MC12/BD380 trio to recover more than 99 percent of excess methanol mixed in with the glycerin that’s produced when making biodiesel. The equipment also removes and recovers excess methanol from biodiesel. The company states that after the methanol is recovered at 98 percent purity from the glycerin, the equipment ejects a quickly cooling block of glycerin soap. The equipment is operated from a touchscreen pad mounted on the side of a shared condenser (the MC12) and is universally compatible with any biodiesel processing equipment.

Sprague Operating Resources LLC has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Castle Oil Corp., including Castle’s Port Morris terminal and the company’s associated wholesale, commercial and retail fuel distribution business for a combined $56 million in cash and stock, plus payments for Castle’s inventory as of closing. Castle’s Port Morris terminal is the largest deepwater petroleum products terminal in New York City, with a total storage capacity of 907,000 barrels, handling distillates, residual fuel, asphalt and biodiesel. The terminal includes an interconnected tank system enabling on-site blending and is located on the East River with deepwater marine access on multiple ship and barge berths. The acquisition was expected to close before the end of 2014.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander issued a cease and desist order Nov. 7 against Boyd A. Ware of Centralia, Missouri, and his company, Central Missouri Energy LLC. According to the order, Ware and Central Missouri Energy offered and sold securities without being registered with Kander’s office, deceived investors with phony information and scammed Missourians out of nearly $200,000. An investigation by Kander’s office revealed that Ware founded CME in 2006 for the purpose of operating a biodiesel plant in Fulton, Missouri. The order alleges CME began offering investments in an initial offering around August 2006 for a minimum investment of $25,000. Investors were told the funds would be used to construct a biodiesel facility and meet the working capital needs of the plant. The biodiesel facility was never built after more than seven years. Investment money helped fund trips to Mexico, a large payment to an associate’s ex-wife, and another company owned by Ware.

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