Camelina crush plant to go on line this month

By Ron Kotrba | October 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 21, 2008 at 1:51 p.m. CST

The Northwest Crush Plant, a camelina mechanical extraction crush plant near the Lake Erie shoreline in Union City, Pa., will be operational at the end of October. Joel Hunter, an agronomist with the Penn State University co-op extension, presented data on the Camelina Project of Northwest Pennsylvania during the second annual Energy from Biomass and Waste Exposition & Conference which was held in Pittsburgh on Oct. 14-16.

In an effort to benefit biodiesel production, the project planted camelina, a low input no-till oilseed crop that contains 35 to 40 percent oil. Hunter said 80 acres of camelina seed were planted on March 21 using no-till drill or fertilizers; however, herbicides were used to burn down the existing weeds. The camelina was successfully harvested in July. No modifications were needed for the harvest equipment, so regular corn/soybean sieves were used. Hunter said they didn't get the 40 bushels per acre that was anticipated, but did achieve 25 bushels per acre. A bushel of camelina weighs 50 pounds.

"Camelina is a crop you don't even want to consider tilling," Hunter said. "It's similar to a lot of the small grains crops."

The crush facility's two Anderson Super Duo machines from the World War II era have recently been refurbished and can achieve a 75 percent oil recovery from the camelina, Hunter said. The plant, when it comes on line at the end of October, will be able to crush 30 tons in an eight-hour shift.

This year Pennsylvania passed a B2 mandate, which has not been implemented yet due to infrastructural reasons. Pennsylvania is considered a soybean growing state, so therefore there are incentives to use locally grown feedstocks. Growing camelina, crushing it in the state and then eventually turning it into biodiesel at one of the state's biodiesel facilities to sell and use in Pennsylvania is one way to accomplish this task.

At the Energy from Biomass and Waste Exposition & Conference, Hunter passed around bags full of camelina seed and camelina meal, as well as a jug of oil. "We really appreciate the farmers' willingness to try this," he said.

Some of the camelina oil extracted from the crush plant will be sold to Lake Erie Biofuels, Pennsylvania's first large-scale biodiesel production facility. As a result of economics and market demand, the 45 MMgy plant was modified to accommodate multi-feedstocks, including tallow and animal fats, as well as soybeans.
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