Austria's BDT Eyes- US Market for Modular Unitsl

By Dr. Laszlo Kondor | March 01, 2004
In brief, what type of production technology does BioDiesel Technologies GmbH (BDT) offer? In your view, what makes the company unique? In other words, what sets BDT apart from the competition?

BDT: Our mission is to provide small-and medium-size investors an opportunity to be successful entrepreneurs in the energy sector, which has historically been the privilege of only giant multinational companies. BDT is not an engineering company-we do not design and build complicated turn-key factories. We are machine manufacturers. The modular system-a system that, in my view, represents the highest technological level of biodiesel production-enables the investor to start with a modest capacity and enlarge it step by step, if and when the business isrunning profitably.

Explain "plug and play" technology.

BDT: Our entire biodiesel processing technology is placed in a container frame. Before delivery, we test each machine in our factory. Therefore only fully-tested and quality-controlled units leave our premises. Start-up does not require weeks or months of adjusting and testing. Rather, after connecting to the utilities and storage tanks, and following a few hours of fine-tuning, our equipment is fully operational.
Please identify the key differences between the CPU and IPU? Also, please explain the various models offered for each unit (in terms of production capacity).

BDT: Our CPUs (compact production units) are meant for the processing of fresh vegetable oils. In chemistry terms, they are meant for processing feedstock with FFA (free fatty acid) content smaller than 1.5 percent. These units are built with 500- and 1,000-litre-per-hour capacities, and they utilize continous transesterification using a KoH or NaOh catalyst. The IPUs (integrated production units) represent a more complex solution, with the aim to process raw materials over 1.5 percent FFA (yellow and brown grease, grease trap waste, animal tallow and other fats), and provide a high-quality glycerine as a highly marketable byproduct. This unit turns the FFA content also to valuable biodiesel, without the use of a catalyst. In the case of the IPU, it is the heat and pressure that dominates the process, the capacity of our IPU 1200 is 1,200 litres per hour.

Beyond the units, what additional major equipment, as well as construction, assembly and start-up costs (and space considerations) would a future producer need to consider when buying a BDT unit? How does your company help determine those requirements?

BDT: As we are producing machines, turn-key project preparation-especially in the United States-is not in the scope of our activities. However, before going into detailed negotiations with our customers, we request them to fill out a questionnaire, and on the basis of that, we provide feasibility studies, construction and planning assistance, preparation of applications for permissions. Training of the personnel of the buyer and the assistance by our engineers in the start-up operation is included in our prices. We do have enough experience and we are flexible enough to assist our partners to their utmost satisfaction.

BDT units are built inside a 20-foot frame. How wide are they? How high?

BDT: The containters are actually 19.1 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8.6 feet high.

And they are shipped like regular ISO containers?

BDT: Yes, and it means that these containerized units are the smallest production units in the range of their capacities in the world.
What is the delivery time on these models? In other words, how long would it take an American producer to receive a single CPU?

BDT: Presently the delivery time on a CPU is five months, while IPUs take eight months to be delivered, from the receipt of prepayment.

The CPU needs one operator, while the IPU can be operated remotely. Please explain the disparity.

BDT: As the CPU uses a catalyst, it is to be fed manually, and this always requires a person on the site. The IPU does not use a catalyst, the flow of fluids (feedstock, methanol, methylester, glycerine) and other production parameters can be monitored by remote control.

The IPU can be adapted for the production of ethyl esters. Please explain the significance of this.

BDT: More and more customers request ethanol-based production of biodiesel, due to favorable ethanol prices or availability of ethanol in certain areas. This is common, for instance, in certain parts of the United States, Brazil and India. We provide those customers with a technology that uses locally-produced-and more popular-ethanol, especially in areas where there might be shortages of methanol or where methanol is higher priced. We have to adapt our process to ethanol. Our present tests show that very soon we will be on the market with our ethyl ester production equipment, and we will be positioned to satisfy another large group of customers.
What sort of energy requirements are needed for these models?

BDT: To be precise, the CPU 500 needs 75 kilowatts, the CPU 1000 needs 100 kilowatts and the IPU 1200 needs 200 kilowatts. The practical consumption is usually at 80 percent of the installed value.

Where are BDT units being used today? How many are in use?

BDT: We can proudly show more than five working units in Austria, Germany and Spain, while contracts signed with Bulgarian, Polish and United Kingdom customers will soon increase this number to 10.

Are these types of production units popular in the United States yet?

BDT: In the United States, we receive more and more inquiries. Presently, we are in correspondence with more than 100 U.S. companies. Based on our recent successful presence at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Palm Springs, Calif., we are hopeful that our first unit will be operating in Georgia or California very soon. We are convinced that sales will increase in the United States, especially if the energy bill passes and encourages American soybean oil producers to turn towards biodiesel.

Where will BDT be in five years? What kind of growth is BDT expecting in the biodiesel industry worldwide?

BDT: We want to be the market leaders in the medium-size, containerized units. The general boom all over the world will most likely enable us to produce 20 to 30 containers a year. And if the need is higher, we have capacity enough to satisfy the demand. The biodiesel industry is presently finding its rightful place in the world economy. Improved and more effective technologies, combined with cheaper and continuously available energy seeds, will provide the basis for the industry to flourish.

Dr. Kondor can be reached at [email protected]
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