SarTec gets DOE grant to support pennycress, camelina cultivation

By Erin Voegele | October 14, 2011

Anoka-Minn.-based SarTec Corp. has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. DOE as part of a project to enhance the use of inedible energy crops for production of advanced biofuels using the Mcgyan biodiesel process.

According to information released by SarTec, the project will involve local farmers in the central plains region of the U.S. who will be contracted to grow pennycress and camelina crops. The oil from these crops will be collected and transported to the 3 MMgy Ever Cat Fuels plant in Isanti, Minn., where it will be converted into biodiesel using the Mcgyan process.

The Mcgyan process is a one-step biodiesel production process develop by SarTec, said Dave Wendorf, director of marketing at Mcgyan Biodiesel LLC. SarTec provides research and development services to Mcgyan Biodiesel, which licenses the process to companies like Ever Cat Fuels. “The process simultaneously performs a catalytic conversion of triglycerides and free fatty acids into biodiesel fuel,” Wendorf said. While the process has been used to successfully convert nonfractionated pennycress and camelina oils into biodiesel on the lab and pilot scales, the DOE grant will be used to show the oils can be converted into ASTM D6751 biodiesel at the commercial scale.

According to Wendorf, the grant will help support the initial investment in procuring the seed and assistance in growing camelina and pennycress crops. “Farmers will harvest and transport their crops to selected areas where the oil from seeds will be pressed,” he said. “Oil presses will be procured for use in pressing the oil. The oil will then be transported to the Ever Cat Fuels facility…and converted into ASTM grade biodiesel. Farmers will be selected and educated on how to plant, grow and harvest these crops and will be compensated for the oil they produce. They will also be educated on the USDA [Biomass Crop Assistance Program] which will allow them to be further compensated for producing energy crops.”

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