Pacific Biodiesel, Piedmont Biofuels Hold Plant Openings

Advanced technologies featured in both new facilities
By Ron Kotrba | July 17, 2012

Pacific Biodiesel was scheduled to hold a grand opening ceremony July 2 for its newest, most technologically advanced biodiesel facility, Big Island Biodiesel. The plant, Pacific Biodiesel’s thirteenth, is scaled at 5.5 MMgy and is designed for expansion. The new production facility is designed to process multiple feedstocks, including locally collected used cooking oil, trap grease, animal fats and virgin vegetable oils. First Hawaiian Bank helped finance the project with a USDA Rural Development loan guarantee. The Pacific Biodiesel Technologies’ engineering team, run by Engineering Manager Will Smith, designed Big Island Biodiesel with the most superefficient, state-of-the-art, zerowaste technology it has developed to date. Pacific Biodiesel said the construction and installation of all buildings, tanks and nonproprietary technical equipment brought 85 jobs to the local community. A job fair for staffing the plant was held on-site in March and brought 150 applicants. Hiring for permanent plant jobs began in May. Pacific Biodiesel Logistics, the trucking division of the company, collects local feedstock in the form of used cooking oil and grease-trap waste from restaurants, hotels and other food service facilities throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Pittsboro, N.C.-based Piedmont Biofuels was scheduled to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 22 for its new FaESTER enzymatic biodiesel refinery. The plant is adjacent to Piedmont’s existing production facility. Speakers were scheduled to include Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board; Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.; Larry Shirley with the North Carolina Department of Commerce; Steven Burke, CEO of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina; and a Novozymes representative. Novozymes is a global enzyme provider with a production plant in North Carolina. The company has been a partner in this biodiesel project since its inception. Construction of Piedmont’s new biodiesel plant was made possible with a three-year, $1.2 million U.S. DOE Small Business Innovation and Research grant. Most biodiesel is produced through transesterification using sodium methoxide. Piedmont’s new plant uses enzymes, not chemicals, for catalysis.

—Ron Kotrba

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