SunPower BioDiesel to use Greenline technology

By Bryan Sims | January 01, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 9, 2008 at 12:25 p.m. CST

Cumberland, Wis.-based SunPower BioDiesel has chosen to install Greenline Industries' waterless biodiesel platform at its 3 MMgy canola-based biodiesel plant in Cumberland.

Greenline Industries' exclusive waterless biodiesel platform process technology will allow SunPower BioDiesel to produce its renewable fuel on a smaller scale, supplying local distributors within a 200-mile radius. The ability to produce smaller quantities, run at full or half capacity as well as quick start-up and shutdown and flexibility of feedstock type were major factors that weighed into SunPower BioDiesel's decision, according to the company's co-founder Ron Ruppel.

"The reality of the system is that to make vegetable oils into biodiesel, it's a fantastic system in our opinion," Ruppel said. Although SunPower BioDiesel has a canola seed crushing facility on site to supply oil to the plant, plans are to use waste vegetable oils in trial runs to diversity its feedstock input. "We don't have long-term operating history; we only have short-term start-up data, but [the technology] was as advertised."

Ruppel said SunPower BioDiesel was able to produce canola-based biodiesel fuel that successfully met ASTM specifications "right out of the shoot" and without functional problems often associated with start-up procedures. However, due to unfavorable market conditions, SunPower BioDiesel has delayed full production for the time being "until the seed and oil markets settle at a manageable level to where the company can operate again, which should be early next year, according to Ruppel.

"The freefall in the price of fuel is so far down and the product cannot be virtually sold anymore," he said, adding that his company was offered 97 cents for its biodiesel. "Currently, the use of any virgin oils doesn't make sense. We're feeling our way on how to make this whole thing work."
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