SoyMor breaks ground on soybean biorefinery

Phase two' of the project is a proposed biodiesel plant
By | January 28, 2004
ALBERT LEA, Minn.-The SoyMor soybean farmer cooperative has broken ground on a vitamin-processing plant-a sort of biorefinery-near the EXOL ethanol plant, with the possibility of producing biodiesel here within two years.

SoyMor's plans come less than a year after the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring diesel in Minnesota to contain 2 percent biodiesel by 2005. When built, the vitamin plant will employ six to eight workers and the proposed biodiesel plant could employ 20, if built.

Plans call for the plant to produce as much as 25 mmgy. The EXOL ethanol plant, owned by many of the same farmers invested in SoyMor, currently produces 40 mmgy of ethanol and employs 38 people.

A representative of the investor group said the biorefinery is the first phase of SoyMor's plan. Biodiesel production is considered "phase two" of the plan, and involves the construction of a facility to crush raw soybeans into meal and oil.

SoyMor is made up of 500-plus southern Minnesota members. The proposed biodiesel plant would be considered a "sister site" to EXOL, and would utilize much of the ethanol plant's existing infrastructure: roads, rail, electricity, natural gas and sewer.

For now, SoyMor will focus on processing raw lecithin, a soybean component, into high-value, nutraceutical ingredients without using toxic chemicals. Lecithin will be refined into phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and improve the immune system and brain performance.
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