American Ag Fuels expands

By | June 01, 2006
The expansion project of American Ag Fuels LLC, a biodiesel refinery in Defiance, Ohio, is out of the engineering phase with assembly scheduled for late this summer. This will bring the facility up to a 7 MMgy capacity-a 5.5 MMgy increase from its original nameplate.

"I didn't see the need to go big from day one," said Steve Lankenau, chief executive officer of American Ag Fuels. "With our size, we are able to move everything we make. But we were having a tough time keeping up which is a good problem to have."

American Ag Fuels will now have two "sides" to its facility, Lankenau said. The smaller part of the original plant will continue to produce biodiesel through a batch process, while the expansion line will be a continuous flow operation. Superior Process Technologies of Minneapolis provided the refining equipment for American Ag Fuels, which will manage construction of the project.

Both systems at American Ag Fuels-the batch and continuous lines-have multi-feedstock processing capabilities, but the plant has used mostly soybean oil until now, Lankenau said. American Ag Fuels is also actively seeking additional markets for glycerin. "Our production is about as big as our market and will grow with the demand, as with this current upsizing."
In September, the USDA Office of Rural Development approved a $500,000 grant for American Ag Fuels. These funds, allocated from the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program, are being used by American Ag Fuels to develop more efficient energy operations and acquire pretreatment equipment, which allowed for the use of additional feedstocks beyond soybean oil.

Lankenau, a former mayor in nearby Napoleon, Ohio, became interested in making biodiesel after reading a local newspaper article about the renewable fuel in 2003. The American Ag Fuels expansion comes only a year after Lankenau and partner Brent Damman built the pilot batch plant in what once was the Clipper Plow Company in Defiance.
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