Business Briefs

By | September 01, 2010
Clean fuel retailer Propel Fuels added four new senior executive employees in July, selected for their expertise, experience and innovation in the areas of finance, construction, retail operations and technology, and will be an integral component of the company's vast expansion plans. The new team members include Chief Financial Officer Andy Wynne, who previously served as CFO and executive vice president of Tulley's Coffee Corp.; Vice President of Operations Jim Iacoponi, who was previously employed as vice president of strategy and planning for Arco and BP ampm convenience stores; Vice President of Construction and Development Jim Cannon, who previously served as vice president of design, construction, and facilities at Jack-In-The-Box; and Director of Technology Development Michael Sarwari, who has 15 years of experience in information technology operations.

After several months of failed funding requests, Claypool, Ind.-based LD Biodiesel and Soybean Processing Plant has filed suit against the USDA. Louis Dreyfus Agricultural Industries LLC, owner of the 80 MMgy Claypool plant, filed in the District Court of Columbia, and claims that the USDA is unconstitutionally denying the Claypool facility funding due to the plant's percentage of foreign ownership. LDAI, located in Maryland, but owned by Geneva-based parent company Louis Dreyfus, states in their case that the USDA did not follow normal protocol before implementing a rule that requires biofuel companies to be a minimum of 51 percent American owned to be eligible for funding. The rule appears in a May 6, 2010, Notice of Contract Proposal for payments to eligible advanced biofuel producers form.

An advanced biodiesel project developed by researchers at Idaho National Laboratory has been selected by R&D Magazine to receive a 2010 R&D 100 award. The annual competition, which recognizes outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential, has been held by R&D Magazine since 1962. INL was recognized for its Supercritical Solid Catalyst process, which converts waste feedstocks with up to 100 percent free fatty acid content into ASTM-quality biodiesel. It's a continuous process during which the oil or fat feedstock is mixed with alcohol and nontoxic supercritical fluid solvents. In a single fluid phase, the resulting mixture is then passed over a solid catalyst to transform the free fatty acids into methyl esters.

An employee of Innovation Fuels Inc.'s Newark, N.J., biodiesel plant was injured in July from an explosion of toxic chemicals when 100 to 200 gallons of sulfuric acid leaked from a 400-gallon drum inside the plant's containment area. The employee survived with third-degree burns to 18 percent of his body. He was connecting hoses to a tanker truck filled with methanol when the sulfuric acid container behind him leaked and subsequently burst. Local firefighters evacuated a six-block radius upon responding to the incident, which occurred July 15. The extent of the damage to the plant was being assessed a few days after the accident.

Rothsay Biodiesel, the Guleph, Ontario-based producer and division of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., in 2009 fueled its truck fleets with biodiesel made from animal fats and waste oils from restaurants. One hundred and thirty seven trucks are fueled with Rothsay-produced biodiesel, and in 2009 the fleets traveled a combined 3.3 million miles, using more than 600,000 gallons blended at an average of 9.2 percent biodiesel. During that time there were no mechanical problems or mileage decreases. In 2001, Rothsay began to run B5 and higher blends at its Montreal biodiesel production facility. Today, roughly five B100 trucks operate out of the Montreal plant. In 2009, Rothsay expanded its overall biodiesel usage by incorporating biodiesel blends from B5 to B20 at its Dundas and Moorefield, Ontario, rendering plants. Rothsay is expanding its biodiesel use at other Maple Leaf Foods plants in Ontario.

The used cooking oil supply for Ames, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. just got bigger. REG has agreed to purchase yellow grease from Restaurant Technologies Inc. With more than 16,000 used cooking oil collection systems spread throughout the U.S., along with 36 collection depots, REG now has access to RTI's national distribution chain of used cooking oil. With new access to the cooking oil collection depots, REG vice president of supply chain management Dave Elsenbast said the company now has the potential "to replace more than a half million barrels of imported crude oil" with biodiesel. Along with the RTI cooking oil contract, REG has also acquired Tellurian Biodiesel Inc., a California biodiesel company and marketer, and American BDF LLC, a joint-venture owned by Golden State Service Industries, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Golden State Foods.

On July 1, Earl Fisher Biofuels, a 275,000 gallon plant in Chester, Mont., delivered its first shipment of biodiesel to Burlington Northern Santa Fe at the Havre Depot. The study calls for Montana State University-Northern Bio-Energy Center to conduct laboratory testing of the biodiesel performance in one switch train running on regular diesel, which will act as a control, and the other will run on a B20 blend, mostly made from canola and camelina oil in order to test performance in extreme cold weather conditions come winter. Over the next year, Earl Fisher Biofuels will supply BNSF with 24,000 gallons of biodiesel-roughly 2,000 gallons per month-for the duration of the study, according to Earl.

UK-based biodiesel chemical supplier Trinity Research launched an "Ask a Chemist" service aimed at providing visitors to its new Web site the opportunity to pose a question to an experienced laboratory chemist. For a nominal fee of $13, the chemists will answer any question related to the petrochemical, pharmaceutical and biodiesel industries. Trinity Research supplies a wide variety of biodiesel-related products and services within the UK market, including methanol, potassium and sodium hydroxide, while providing a free glycerol disposal service. The company also supplies a range of biodiesel equipment, winter additives and BioPura filtration media.

As construction of Dynamic Fuels Inc.'s 75 MMgy biorefinery in Geismar, La., nears completion, the joint venture's technology provider, Syntroleum Corp., has reported a second quarter loss. The good news for Syntroleum, however, is that in comparison to losses recorded in 2009, the 2010 second quarter loss is much less. Syntroleum, which constructed the plant, reported 2009 net income losses of roughly $3.8 million, but this year, only $1.02 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reason for the second-quarter loss this year, according to SEC statements, is from increased staffing needed to complete construction.

On July 29, the New York City Council unanimously voted to pass air quality legislation that will ensure all heating oil used within the city contains biodiesel. The legislation, which was expected to be signed into law within two weeks, will require the use of a B2 blend of heating oil starting in October 2012. A B2 mandate will require the blending of 20 million gallons of B100 into the 1 billion gallon heating oil market in NYC. 
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