Eastman converts chemical equipment to increase biodiesel capacity

By | June 01, 2006
Eastman Chemical Co.-Arkansas Operations, a specialty chemical plant in Batesville, Ark., is expanding its biodiesel capacity, according to Gary McDonald, manager of administration. Existing chemical processing equipment was, at press time, being converted to biodiesel production capability.

Eastman Chemical Co. is headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., and has various manufacturing sites around the United States, that produce chemicals, fibers, polymers, plastics and other items, McDonald said. The plant in Batesville has been in operation since 1977. About 30 different chemical products are manufactured at that location.

In late 2005, the Batesville plant became the first and only Eastman plant to begin producing biodiesel, he said. Unused chemical processing equipment was converted for production of the biofuel. "Being a chemical producer helped us enter the biodiesel business in that we had existing technology capabilities," McDonald said. "We had existing quality systems. We had an existing facility to easily get into biodiesel production and marketing."

The plant's primary feedstock is soybean oil. However, the production facility does have multiple feedstock capability. Rendered oils, such as poultry fat, for example, can also be used.

The company is completing the project internally. There are no current plans to add more employees due to the expanded capacity. "We should be able to handle the conversion with our existing workforce," McDonald said.
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