Mcgyan process to be deployed at Forest City, Iowa

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 14, 2009
Posted October 21, 2009

Growth Design Corp. unveiled plans to build a biodiesel plant across the street from its conference center in Forest City, Iowa, at an Oct. 18 open house. The firm is applying for a USDA grant to help fund the project and expects to break ground on the facility late this fall.

Growth Design intends to install two Mcgyan reactors, capable of producing 2 to 3 MMgy each, with fittings installed for a third reactor to be installed in the future, according to Bill Luetscher, Growth Design executive vice president for planning and operations. Plans are to use regionally available waste feedstocks such as corn oil removed from distillers grains by ethanol plants and waste greases available from regional meat processors.

Growth Design held the event to give their neighbors in Forest City the chance to see an artist's rendering of the planned facility. "The issue is getting people to unlearn what they know about ethanol plants and biodiesel plants," Luetscher said. The Mcgyan reactor is a new continuous flow technology that has a much smaller footprint than a traditional biodiesel reactor. The first Mcgyan installation at Ever Cat Fuels LLC, Isanti, Minn., went into production late this summer with a grand opening help in late September. The Mcgyan reactor employs a permanent metal oxide catalyst in a cylinder measuring 6 inches in diameter by 6 feet that catalytically converts both triglycerides and free fatty acids to biodiesel in a single continuous flow operation.

A demonstration of the new technology was given at the Forest City event by University of St. Thomas professor of engineering Greg Mowry. He and his students built a self-contained unit , using a small-scale Mcgyan reactor. "It fits on the back of a pickup truck and can produce 7,000 to 10,000 gallons of biodiesel a year," Leutscher said. "He's looking at the technology for humanitarian uses."

Growth Design is a consulting firm serving the non-profit sector. When it started in the early 1980s, Luetscher explained, it began helping groups with capital campaigns. The company's work has evolved into helping non-profit organizations develop for-profit enterprises as subsidiaries to help fund their work. The recent spike in energy prices sparked interest among several non-profits in developing alternative energy solutions to contain energy costs as well as contribute to greening efforts.

"We plan to run the commercial biodiesel plant as a for-profit business, and integrate it with the conference center where we'll also use solar, wind and geothermal energy," Leutscher said. Growth Design has one rural elective cooperative that is quite interested in the project, as well as other clients that include hospitals and colleges. Their interest in the Mcgyan process grew out of the companies relationship with Minneapolis-based Augsburg College, he added, where the Mcgyan process was initially developed.
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