OnSite Energy partners with MSU's Freeway to Fuels project

By Bryan Sims | December 13, 2011

Having finished the first phase of exploring the feasibility of growing, harvesting and utilizing bioenergy crops last year on unconventional growing lands in Michigan, such as highway right-of-ways, vacant urban land and airport property, Michigan State University Extension has entered into the second phase of its Freeway to Fuels project by partnering with Flint, Mich.-based OnSite Energy LLC to test the actual potential of growing oilseed crops on such lands for biodiesel production.

Through the partnership, OnSite Energy and MSU Extension have developed a portable production unit that features oilseed crushing press capability for conversion into methyl esters. According to a statement by OnSite Energy, the equipment is mounted in an enclosed cargo trailer and it can be pulled from farm to farm to teach farmers how to make their own biodiesel. Oil can be extracted from a range of oilseed crops such as soybeans and canola. Once oil is extracted using the press, the oil is then pumped into the biodiesel reactor unit, conversion chemicals are added and the automatic system processes the oil into biodiesel.

During the past three years OnSite Energy, in conjunction with the USDA, the Michigan Corn Growers Association, Mott Community College’s Regional Technology Center and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing have surveyed and researched the Michigan Agricultural market. Research results prompted OnSite Energy to develop a fully automated biodiesel production unit for use in farm demonstrations aimed at teaching farmers how to produce biodiesel.

“Making fuel onsite allows for long-term fuel price stabilization, up to $1 per gallon in savings, as well as support of local industry,” said Michael Witt, CEO of OnSite Energy. “We are all about local economies and getting the most out of Michigan’s resources. Michigan is primed for success with biodiesel fuel on a local, scalable level.”

OnSite Energy manufacturers and offers three processing unit models, each having distinct output volumes. The Genesee processor model, the smallest of the three, features a 110-gallon mixing tank with an 80-gallon output. The Huron and Marquette processor models have a production output of 150 and 220 gallons, respectively. OnSite Energy’s biodiesel processing units, which range in price from $10,000 to $42,000, are fully automated and can be mounted on trailers for easy storage and portability.

“We would like to reach as many farmers as possible, show them how to make their own fuel and discuss the economics of the process,” said MSU Extension Bioenergy Educator Dennis Pennington.

Interested parties seeking a demonstration or hosting one at a farm are urged to contact Pennington at [email protected] or (269) 838-8265.


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