Business Briefs

By Staff | October 25, 2010
Rock legend Neil Young made a special appearance Sept. 23 in support of his Repowering the American Dream Lincvolt automotive environmental initiative. The event was held in the lobby of the Hollywood, Fla.-based Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and offered a rare opportunity to see Young's prototype, a zero-emissions 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible. During the event, Young remarked that he likes old cars and he likes driving on American roads but he felt guilty over the gas consumption of the old convertible. So he set out to find a team of skilled professionals that could make the vehicle more sustainable to drive. The Lincvolt is a diesel-electric hybrid that uses a biodiesel-powered microturbine engine to recharge batteries that power an electric motor. The combination of biodiesel and electric batteries gives Lincvolt a range of more than 400 miles, while the efficient, biodiesel-powered engine and electric motor allow the vehicle to achieve 80 miles-per-gallon.

A new skid-mounted pilot esterification unit, developed by Dow Water & Process Solutions with a $750,000 grant from the Pennsylvania department of environmental protection's alternative fuels incentive program, is now making its way around the state's biodiesel plants. Al Schulz, senior scientist with Dow Water & Process Solutions, told Biodiesel Magazine that the transportable pilot unit was created to help teach customers and suppliers in Pennsylvania how to use Dow's Amberlyst BD20 solid acid esterification catalyst for optimum results. Bayer Technology Services helped design the system and Pittsburgh-based CTI Biofuels LLC built and initially ran the unit for Dow. United Oil Co., also out of Pittsburgh, supplied feedstock for the trial runs, and took finished product back once converted, Schultz said.

Green Equity Holdings Inc. recently signed a letter of intent with Florida-based clean energy solutions provider Strategic Energy Supplies Corp. to jointly build and deploy brown grease waste recycling facilities across the country. The transaction was expected to be finalized by the end of October. The agreement states that SESC would begin construction of three or more brown grease recycling plants within the first year of the partnership. GEH plans to invest $1.5 million for each plant under construction in the first year in exchange for scaled ownership interests in the proposed plants. GEH would have a 70 percent ownership interest in the first plant, a 60 percent ownership interest in the second, and a 50 percent ownership interest in the third and all subsequent plants. Each plant would be capable of producing between 50,000 and 100,000 gallons of brown grease a day.

BDI-BioEnergy International AG recently won a contract to upgrade Altorricon, Spain-based Aragon SL, a biodiesel plant that began operating in 2008 designed to process virgin oils, with an installed production capacity of 100,000 metric tons (about 30 million gallons) per year. The order is worth around 4.6 million ($6.3 million). The upgrade will allow the plant to utilize multiple feedstock such as cooking oil and animal fats for the production of high-quality biodiesel meeting the European Standard EN 14214. The scope of the contract includes engineering, installation and commissioning, in addition to all of the process steps for distillation, and steel work and associated equipment, and seamless integration into the existing system. The technology for the distillation is built in cooperation with the German BDI subsidiary UIC GmbH, a leader in short-path distillation. Completion is planned for September 2011.

Flint, Mich.-based OnSite Energy LLC has launched a line of small biodiesel processing units capable of converting virgin and used cooking oils into fuel. Operational manager Jeff Woolman said OnSite Energy's biodiesel processors are fully automated and, with a simple push of a button, the units can produce high-quality biodiesel in less than 20 minutes. The company offers three processing unit models. The Genesee processor model, the smallest, features a 110-gallon mixing tank with an 80-gallon output. The Huron and Marquette models have an output of 150 and 220 gallons, respectively. The processors can also be mounted on trailers for easy storage and portability. The cost of a Genesee model is about $12,000. The units are the result of a two-and-a-half year collaborative effort with the USDA, Mott Community College's Regional Technology Center, the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and others. One school district in Flint has purchased a Genesee model, with the Mass Transportation Authority also expressing interest.

Kingsport, Tenn.-based algal technology company Renewable Algal Energy LLC received $3 million in grant money appropriated under the U.S. DOE's Small Business Innovative Research Phase III Xlerator program for its project titled, "Algal Biodiesel via Innovative Harvesting and Aquaculture Systems." According to RAE CEO Jeff Kanel, the company intends to use the funds to further refine-and eventually scale up-its patent-pending algal aquaculture, harvesting/dewatering and extraction technologies at its demonstration facility in Arizona, which has an aquaculture capacity of approximately 200,000 liters (52,800 gallons).

Neste Oil recently applied for patents covering technology developed to produce microbial oil from waste and residues with help from various yeasts and molds. The oil could then be used as feedstock for the company's NExBTL renewable diesel process. Research work began with the Aalto University School of Science and Technology in late 2007, and since then the process technology challenges have been resolved. Microbial oil produced this way has already been refined into NExBTL renewable diesel. Following the success of the lab work, the emphasis will now shift to evaluating microbial oil's potential for pilot-scale production. Commercialization is possible by 2015 at the earliest.

Wade L. Watson, CPA, CFE and assurance partner was recently named an industry practice leader in Weaver's Renewable and Energy Compliance practice. With more than nine years of experience in public accounting, Watson specializes in providing auditing and advisory services to the petroleum and renewable fuel industries. His specific experience includes performing financial statement audits and attestation services as required under the U.S. EPA's Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 80. He earned a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Houston where he graduated Cum Laude. Watson plans to grow this practice through existing services and focusing on newly established regulations, such as the EPA's Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.

Renewable Energy Group Inc. and ARES Corp. announced on Sept. 22 that REG will acquire biodiesel assets in Clovis, N.M., from ARES, which will concurrently invest an additional $8 million into REG in an all common stock transaction. Burlingame, Calif.-based ARES, an engineering, risk management, software/IT and project management company, owned the 15 MMgy facility in Clovis. Viant Capital represented REG in the transaction.
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