Business Briefs

By Staff | January 18, 2012

San Diego-based biodiesel producer New Leaf Biofuel LLC has forged an agreement with the San Diego Unified School District to supply biodiesel to its fleet of more than 500 buses through the city’s intergovernmental fuel contract by the end of the 2014-‘15 school year. The San Diego Unified School District Trustees voted in favor of the plan in December to use B20 in its entire school bus fleet. The company already provides biodiesel to businesses in San Diego, as well as surrounding cities such as Chula Vista and Oceanside, including local universities, the U.S. Navy and Allied Waste, a local waste management firm. New Leaf produces approximately 2 MMgy of biodiesel from recycled cooking oil, much of which is sourced from more than 1,500 local restaurants. The company experienced a growth year in 2011 with the hiring of 10 employees, bringing its workforce to 25 employees. Plans are underway to double annual production capacity to 4 MMgy by June, which is expected to open six more jobs. New Leaf is also working on becoming BQ-9000 certified.

Lee Enterprises Consulting of Little Rock, Ark., the world’s largest biodiesel consulting group, recently announced its plans for expansion this year of the group’s services into ethanol, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal, and the addition of consultants and strategic partners. Wayne Lee, principal owner, says the expansion is a natural progression for the group, and that each of its larger strategic partners—Stoel Rives (legal), Christianson & Associates (accounting), IMA of Kansas (insurance), FCStone Merchant Services (feedstock financing), and Executive Leadership Solutions (staffing)—already has a significant presence in these other alternative fuels sectors. Lee says that alternative fuels present a solution to many of the world’s problems—economic, environmental and security—and that the ramifications of failing to strengthen alternative fuels very quickly may be drastic. Lee says that the group’s expansion into other alternative fuels will clearly involve the addition of new consultants and strategic partners this year and beyond. His first goal will be to create strategic relationships with companies that are experienced and have a stellar reputation in the design and building of these other types of alternative fuels projects.

Verenium Corp. has announced the launch of Purifine phospolipase C (PLC) enzyme for the pretreatment of oils for biodiesel production. The product has been used to process food-grade oils since 2008. According to Janet Roemer, Verenium’s chief operating officer, Purifine PLC is designed to remove phosphorous impurities from crude soybean, rapeseed and canola oils. While some similar enzymes on the market can actually increase the free fatty acid level of a feedstock, Roemer stresses that is not the case with Purifine PLC. “One of the key benefits of our product is that it actually gets an increase in the oil from the degumming step,” Roemer says. It also provides a more environmental and cost-effective method to degum oils when compared to caustic refining. In addition, Roemer says customers using the product have noted that it makes their products flow through processing systems better, and it’s easier on their pumps. While it is easiest to add an enzyme pretreatment process to a new plant during construction, it is also possible to retrofit the process into existing plants. According to Roemer, the infrastructure costs are relatively low, and the payback period is swift. Biodiesel facilities located adjacent to crush facilities and those that purchase crude soy oils will benefit most from the process.

Connecticut-based Greenleaf Biofuels LLC and Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska BioFuels LLC have signed an exclusive, multiyear agreement for Tenaska to supply feedstock to and sell biodiesel from Greenleaf Biofuels’ 10 MMgy production facility currently under construction in New Haven, Conn. The multifeedstock plant is expected to come online in late second quarter. Greenleaf Biofuels’ future production facility will feature access to water, rail and road transportation for inbound and outbound transport. Additionally, the facility will feature a Greenline Industries system that was purchased at auction. The company is working with JatroDiesel and Innovative Design Engineering Associates to redesign and upgrade the process to include methanol recovery, distillation systems and cold filtering as part of the final polishing process. Construction is progressing on schedule with the majority of the foundation already nearing completion in preparation for walls to be erected shortly. Most of Greenleaf Biofuels’ future biodiesel product will end up in the Northeastern heating oil market to be blended into Bioheat.

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