Minnesota Soybean Processors biodiesel plant starts up

By | August 01, 2005
Minnesota is proving once again why it is at the leading edge of the renewable fuels industry. A long-time ethanol producer, the state is now taking a lead in biodiesel production.

Minnesota Soybean Processors' (MnSP) 30 mmgy plant in Brewster, Minn., was expected to come online the first week of August. The plant is one of three biodiesel plants in the state. FUMPA Biofuels produces 2.8 mmgy in Redwood Falls and SoyMor was also slated to begin production at its 25 mmgy Glenville plant in early-Aug.

Thomas Kersting, South Dakota Soybean Processors (SDSP) commercial manager, said the MnSP plant was running through final tests in late July. He said construction went smoothly on the Crown Iron Works-designed continuous flow facility. SDSP has a construction and management partnership with Minnesota Soybean Processors. The group is also contracted to manage the plant. SDSP and MnSP are separate companies with independent farmer-owned boards, but with common management and ownership crossover.

Minnesota's 2 percent biodiesel mandate is effectively triggered with the state's 58 mmgy of in-state nameplate production capacity. The actual date of implementation of the mandate was unclear at press time.

Kersting said the mandate provided underlying support for the project. "It definitely was a driver," he said. "We had plans before. But that

really moved it along. It was a key development." The mandate triggers a guaranteed demand, with estimates ranging from 16 mmgy to 19 mmgy.

The Brewster site is already the location of a 100,000-bushel-per-day soybean processing plant. Therefore, the site already creates a steady supply of crude soy oil and provides infrastructure including steam, electricity, water and labor.

A soy oil pretreatment facility is also being constructed next to the methyl ester plant and is expected to come on line Sept. 1. The pretreatment facility will produce SoyPure, a trademarked pretreated virgin refined soybean oil tailored for biodiesel production. Until September, MnSP will utilize SoyPure from SDSP's Volga, S.D., facility. "It's a big step in the process for the producer to not worry about cleaning up the in-bound oil," Kersting said.

Ron Marr, MnSP's manager of biodiesel, said he has had a lot of interest in biodiesel from various people indicating significant market demand. Marr said the cost per Btu of B100 compared to crude oil, and No. 2 diesel in particular, has narrowed to the point where biodiesel is economically appealing.

Marr said the MnSP plant would ramp up to maximum production quickly while maintaining or exceeding ASTM standards.
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