First S.D. biodiesel plant to begin production

By | March 01, 2006
At press time, Midwest Biodiesel Producers LLC, the first biodiesel plant in South Dakota, expected to begin full-time production by the end of February, according to Lewis Bainbridge, board member and area farmer.

The plant will churn out between 1 MMgy and 2 MMgy of biodiesel. For feedstock, the company is purchasing soybean oil from the South Dakota Soybean Processors crushing facility in Volga, S.D.

Midwest Biodiesel Producers, a 10-member ownership group of whom eight are farmers, is interested in producing biodiesel with soybeans grown in the area rather than shipping the feedstock out of the area. The farmers on the board were already involved in value-added projects, such as ethanol plants. "We grow an awful lot of soybeans in this area," Bainbridge said. "We just thought this would be a natural next step."

Board members started working on the idea of a biodiesel plant about three years ago. It began with company President Paul Iberg, who took three Iowa State University biodiesel classes and started experimenting with biodiesel production using a blender from his kitchen, Bainbridge said.

Construction on the plant began last summer, with board members and their families doing the bulk of the work. Using an existing building and mostly used equipment, the plant was completed in early winter 2005. "We built it ourselves and designed it ourselves," Bainbridge said.

In test runs, 20,000 gallons of biodiesel had been produced by mid-February. The fuel, which meets the ASTM D6751 standard, has already found a market in the area.
"So far, we've marketed quite a bit of it ourselves to local farmers, irrigators and that sort of thing," he said.

Currently, two full-time employees handle work at the plant in one shift. Board members and their families have also been working a lot of hours on the project.
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