Minnesota's first biodiesel plant is on line

By | December 01, 2004
FUMPA Biofuels, Minnesota's first commercial-scale biodiesel plant, was brought on line Dec. 5 and was preparing for performance testing at press time.

The 2.8-mmgy facility is co-located with Central Bi-Products, a full-service rendering plant in Redwood Falls, Minn., and is owned and operated by the Farmers Union Marketing and Processing Association (FUMPA). The plant was designed and built by Lurgi PSI Inc., a Memphis-based build/design firm. Seven employees, mostly operators, will run the plant seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

"The plant is now officially running-we're in operation," said Chuck Neece, FUMPA research and development director. "At the moment, we are waiting for ASTM testing results from Magellan [Midstream Partners' Laboratory Services]. Commissioning is all but complete."
Neece told Biodiesel Magazine that performance testing will guarantee that the plant meets design standards, achieves its nameplate production capacity and produces biodiesel that meets ASTM specifications.

FUMPA, a 75-year-old farmer-owned co-op, includes Central Bi-Products, Northland Choice, which manufactures feed and pet food ingredients, and Midwest Grease, which collects and recycles restaurant grease and fat. Central Bi-Products processes multi-species raw materials, including poultry feathers. Rendered animal fats and recycled oils are suitable biodiesel production feedstocks. However, FUMPA Biofuels has launched its initial production efforts with virgin, refined soybean oil. According to Neece, the biodiesel plant could eventually rotate rendering-based feedstocks into production. "We are prepared to utilize feedstocks that offer the best value to our customers," he said. "That's our plan."

Minnesota has mandated a statewide 2 percent biodiesel requirement that is slated to go into effect in the summer of 2005 if in-state production levels are at or above 8 mmgy. With FUMPA now able to meet a third of that requirement and two larger Minnesota biodiesel plants under construction vowing to handle the rest, Neece said, blenders and refiners have been told to prepare.

"The [Minnesota Department of Agriculture] commissioner recently made clear to us that a mandate could take effect on July 1 or August 1 of 2005," Neece said. "He essentially gave everyone a six-month notice."

Minnesota's two other biodiesel plants are being built in Brewster and Albert Lea; they are expected to produce 30 mmgy each, coming on line by July 2005 and September 2005, respectively.
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