Blackhawk Biofuels LLC completes upgrades to Danville plant

By Bryan Sims | March 09, 2009
Blackhawk Biofuels LLC recently completed upgrades to its 45 MMgy facility in Danville, Ill. The $12 million project included the installation of multiple feedstock pretreatment and production upgrades, enhanced laboratory and testing facilities and improvements for storage and logistics capabilities.

"Upgrades began in September [2008] to enhance the plant's vegetable oil-only process technology with new proprietary pretreatment and production technology," said Ron Mapes, chairman of Blackhawk Biofuels. "These recent upgrades offer cutting-edge technology for producing high-quality biodiesel from a variety of oils and high free fatty acid feedstock."

Located near the Illinois/Indiana border, the Blackhawk Biofuels biodiesel plant now has the ability to process a wider array of animal fats, virgin oils and waste vegetable oils, according to the company.

Construction, equipment installation and production start-up completed on schedule, according to Brad Albin, vice president of manufacturing for Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc., which oversaw the upgrade project.

"Within just a few days of new equipment start-up, the plant was producing biodiesel from high free fatty acid feedstock, which exceeded ASTM specifications," he said. "This is a testament to the experience of our manufacturing team which works to ensure REG's network of plants remain state-of-the-art as pretreatment improvements and process technologies improve."

REG assumed lead contractor duties from Biofuels Coompany of America LLC in November 2008 to complete construction and design of the plant upgrades. The plant, which is located adjacent to a soybean oil processing facility operated by Bunge North America, was originally designed to produce high quality biodiesel using vegetable oils exclusively.

REG is also responsible for managing plant operations and will market all biodiesel from the upgraded facility. The Danville plant is offering all three trademarked REG-9000 products, which are sold based on fuel attributes, not feedstocks. Upgrades to the Blackhawk Biofuels offer petroleum distributors greater options for pricing and supply volumes.
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