Phase one of Tri-City Energy construction underway

By | March 01, 2006
John Rothgeb, owner of AMI Pipe and Supply, decided to get serious about biodiesel last September when diesel fuel prices began to rise. He gathered together some local investors to build Tri-City Energy LLC, a biodiesel plant in Keokuk, Iowa, in four phases. With phase one completed in January, Tri-City is well on its way to producing 5 MMgy of soy-based fuel in the Midwest.

Each construction phase will expand capabilities of the previous phase. The first phase will convert an old General Mills wheat processing facility into a biodiesel processing plant. Constructed by Techno-Chemicals, the $5 million plant will use pure soybean oil as its primary feedstock. According to Rothgeb, also the general manager of the plant, a biodiesel marketer is still being considered. Fabrication of the existing facility began Jan. 8 and will start biodiesel production in mid-July.

Phase one also includes construction of a grinding mill, allowing Tri-City Energy to create its own soy oil for biodiesel production. The crushing facility will process 25 million to 30 million bushels of soybeans annually. The crushing plant will be located on the Mississippi River, allowing Tri-City Energy to receive soybeans by truck, rail and barge. "We have secured riverfront property," Rothgeb told Biodiesel Magazine. "This will allow us to receive soybeans three ways, which will be a great advantage." Construction on phase two and three is expected to begin in December or early January 2007.

Phase three will involve the construction of a 30 MMgy to 35 MMgy biodiesel plant adjacent to the crushing facility. "The crushing facility will provide more than enough soybean oil for the plant," Rothgeb said. "We are looking at the possibility of selling any overstock to other biodiesel plants in the future."

The final phase will convert the original 5 MMgy plant into a multi-feedstock plant. "After the conversion is complete, the original plant will use animal fats and waste restaurant grease as its feedstock," Rothgeb said.

The cost involved for all four phases is estimated at $50 million and will create 62 jobs.
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