SunSource BioEnergy unveils technology, biodiesel project

By | August 01, 2005
Move over methyl soyates, there's a new ester in town. SunSource Bioenergy LLC recently announced plans to develop a 50 mmgy corn oil-fed biodiesel plant in the heart of ethanol country. There's a twist though-synergistically speaking, a big twist.

SunSource-a recently formed partnership of investors that includes four ethanol plants and Ethanol Oil Recovery Systems LLC (EORS)-has unveiled a plan to distribute its proprietary technology of crude corn oil extraction from the ethanol production process. The young company hopes to procure enough low-cost corn extract for its newly planned biodiesel refinery.

The idea of this technology revolves around the removal of crude corn oil extract from the syrup in the evaporation stage of the ethanol production process before the syrup gets mixed with distillers grains in the dryers.

David Winsness and David Cantrell of EORS developed the extraction unit. Subsequently, they formed EORS to facilitate the transfer of the extraction technology.

he crux of SunSource's plan is to get enough ethanol producers (14 40 mmgy plants in addition to the four partner plants) on board with using this technology, signing a contract to sell their extract to SunSource at a set price. SunSource would provide the extraction skid units and most maintenance requirements.

Matt Janes, vice president of technology at SunSource's partner plant VeraSun Energy LLC, said SunSource's plan is to build a centralized biodiesel plant to refine and process the extract from participating ethanol plants. "This will be a large-scale plant to take advantage of the best available technology and economies of scale," said Janes, revealing what he could this early in the plant's development.
SunSource hasn't chosen a site yet-that will come once the necessary ethanol plants are signed onto the deal, giving SunSource a better idea where a centralized location might be.

"The plant will be efficient-high yield [and] low energy, minimizing waste products-fully automated, continuous operation with minimal labor requirements, and will have comprehensive health, safety, environmental and quality programs," Janes said. "We will refine the biodiesel and the glycerin to produce the best product[s] on the market that meets all quality standards so that it will be readily accepted in the market. The initial plant is planned to be 50 mmgy, based on the amount of oil we believe will be available using this extraction technology."

There will be a high level of free fatty acids (FFA) in the resulting crude oil. FFAs will constitute up to 13 percent of the extracted crude corn oil, Cantrell said. Janes said, "Separating the impurities and converting the FFAs make it more challenging to produce biodiesel, but because of the low cost of the crude extract ... " he believes SunSource BioEnergy's biodiesel venture will be a profitable one.
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