IRS deadline pressures producers to pass cold soak

By | October 14, 2009
R3 Energy LLC in Cottonwood Falls, Kan., recently started selling biodiesel from its new plant, which makes fuel from animal fats and other recycled oils. The facility was commissioned with a treatment system in place to help pass the Cold Soak Filtration Test, which is now necessary if producers want to continue receiving the $1 per gallon excise tax credit. "It's a little expensive," said Kristof Reiter. "But I think it's important that the whole industry puts out a higher quality product, and we can do that."

Over the past months, several new products have hit the market to assist producers with meeting and continuing to comply with Internal Revenue Service stipulations that require biodiesel to meet the ASTM standard for cold soak before it can receive tax benefits.

Since its 2006 launch, Cognis Corp.'s Quality Trait Analysis System has conducted more than 150 million biodiesel tests for its customers, has participated quarterly in the ASTM Interlaboratory crosscheck program and recently completed an American Oil Chemists Society-sponsored round robin of its base capabilities as per the ASTM D6708 requirements.

"The beta versions of oxidation stability and cold soak filtration will be available to existing customers immediately for evaluation," Cognis stated. "The commercial versions will be released during the fourth quarter."

Megan Nitz, lab director for Prairie Pride Inc. in Deerfield, Mo., said she needed to see repeatability in sample size, result range and the test phases of new cold soak products before selecting a cold soak testing platform to meet the needs of their facility.

"The addition of oxidation stability and cold soak filtration to the slate of tests required on each batch of biodiesel significantly increased the analysis time by as much as 3 days," said Barbara Stefl, business director for Cognis. "With the screening capability of the QTA System for these tests, producers and buyers of biodiesel can have confidence in the quality of the product before the long method is complete."

There was some speculation that the Oct. 1 deadline might be pushed back again, but as the date approached, an eleventh hour extension did not seem to be forthcoming. "I don't think it will be extended again," Reiter said. "I didn't think it made much sense to implement it in the spring [when the original deadline was set], but winter is getting ready to start and it should be enacted."

R3 Energy uses Schroeder Biofuels', Cold Clear filtration technology to remove sterol glucosides and other impurities that can drop out of fuel suspension in cold weather. Cold Clear works by removing certain contaminants "that create higher than normal likelihood of surface crystallization" on filters, which can cause break downs. The system is designed to be a single pass three-stage bank of filters and absorbers that sequentially remove those compounds likely to cause filter plugging, Schroeder stated. "I think it's the easiest equipment on the market to implement into the scheme of a biodiesel plant," said Jonathan Dugan, biofuels manager for Pennsylvania-based Schroeder. "It's a simple housing with absorption cartridges that can be changed very easily, and there are no hazardous materials or chemicals involved."

Each three-stage housing compartment can treat an estimated 15,000 gallons of B100 per complete change. The filtration housing is sized for five gallons per minute of flow, but is easily scaled for higher requirements that can accommodate the specific needs of individual plants.

In addition, there is a specification for blended fuel-from B6 to B20-as well as pure biodiesel, so fuel terminals and distribution centers that perform blending operations also have to comply with ASTM specifications. Therefore, Schroeder recently increased the handling capacity of its Cold Clear system to allow for the purification of blended fuel, as well.

-Nicholas Zeman
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