Patriot BioDiesel expands Greensboro plant capacity

By Erin Voegele | October 05, 2011

Greensboro, N.C.-based Patriot BioDiesel LLC is expanding its operations in response to increased local demand for biodiesel. Once complete, the upgraded facility will have an annual production capacity of between 2.5 million and 4 million gallons. According to Patriot BioDiesel President Gabe Neeriemer, the expansion is scheduled to be complete by mid-October.

Patriot BioDiesel temporarily suspended biodiesel production in early 2010, following the expiration of the biodiesel tax credit. During that time, the company collected and refined waste oil, which was sold to other biodiesel plants. However, as RIN values increased in mid-2010, Neeriemer said the plant restarted operations. Due to increased local demand for biodiesel, the company recent decided to increase capacity.

According to Neeriemer, one of the primary reasons demand has increased is the price of his company’s fuel. Patriot can sell its biodiesel for approximately 40 cents under the price of diesel at the rack, he said. That allows a B5 blend to be sold for a nickel a gallon less, which makes blending to a B5 and attractive option for petroleum suppliers.

Patriot BioDiesel purchased the new equipment from Tactical Fabrication LLC. Before the tax credit expired, another company had placed an order with Tactical Fabrication for a biodiesel system. While that company did put a down payment on the equipment, it did not complete the purchase. “[Our supplier] had a complete biodiesel system in his shop just sitting there collecting dust,” Neeriemer said. “We worked out a deal. We would use it as a show piece for his equipment, and he would give us a big discount.”

Rather than installing a new boiler to go with the new production equipment, Patriot BioDiesel elected to go with a unique heating system featuring ceramic elements manufactured by Innovative Heat Concepts. According to Neeriemer, the highly efficient elements can detect the media that they are in and adjust the heat that is put out. In other words, the heating elements will not scorch oil and reduce the risk of fire because they will not heat methanol vapors to the point of ignition. Innovative Heat Concepts has been trying to break into the biofuels market for some time, Neeriemer added. “We’re the first biodiesel plant in the United States to actually use it in our reactors.”

Once upgrades are complete, Neerimer said his facility would be capable of producing 15,000 gallons of biodiesel per day. However, it is unlikely the plant will be operated 24/7 in the immediate future.

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