Darling, Valero Plan Renewable Fuel Plant

By Tina Caparella

Darling International, Inc., and Valero Energy Corporation are in the very early stages of developing a facility that will produce more than 10,000 barrels a day of renewable diesel.

Irving, TX-based Darling and San Antonio, TX-based Valero plan on building the plant on a site adjacent to Valero’s St. Charles refinery near Norco, LA. The facility will have the capacity of producing up to 135 million gallons of renewable diesel per year from waste greases – primarily animal fats and used cooking oil supplied by Darling. The two companies will jointly apply for a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which makes up to $8.5 billion worth of debt financing guarantees available to projects that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“We have long considered various paths that would allow Darling to participate in the country’s growing interest in using renewable fuels,” said Randall Stuewe, chairman and chief executive officer of Darling. “We believe that the combination of Darling’s ability to provide low-cost carbon-friendly feedstocks and Valero’s experience as North America’s largest independent petroleum refiner and marketer has the potential to create a sustainable biofuel facility geared toward meeting America’s growing renewable energy demands.”

Stuewe cautioned there was no guarantee the DOE would approve the project for inclusion in the program, or if approved, whether the funding level would be sufficient for the parties to move forward with the project.

The project comes after Tyson Foods, Inc., and Syntroleum Corporation partnered to produce renewable diesel using animal fats and other waste greases supplied by Tyson. The joint venture, Dynamic Fuels, LLC, is currently in the construction phase of its 75 million gallon per year renewable diesel plant in Geismar, LA. Production is expected to begin in 2010.

Argent Energy has New Owners

Argent Energy, a biodiesel company based in Motherwell, United Kingdom, has attracted new private investment and is now owned by a consortium that includes Souter Investments and existing managers. The company was bought for an undisclosed amount from a group of investors led by leading European buyout firm Cinven, Ltd., which have been backers of Argent Energy since its early stages in 2001.

According to the company, Argent Energy pioneered the large-scale commercial production of biodiesel in the United Kingdom. The firm began production in 2005 and uses tallow and recycled cooking oil as feedstocks. Argent Energy was voted “Sustainable Biodiesel Producer 2009” at the World Biofuels Markets Conference in March.

“Since we started production, we have delivered over 170 million liters [44.9 million gallons] of biodiesel and our plant is currently running close to full capacity,” said Managing Director Jim Walker, who is now a shareholder in the company. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop our business with the benefit of a strong local shareholder base.”

Argent Energy’s latest investment is a new facility at the Motherwell biodiesel plant to prepare tallow and recycled cooking oil for use in the biodiesel production process. The facility is nearing completion and will expand and improve the company’s locally-sourced raw material supply. The biodiesel plant has a yearly capacity of 50 million liters (13.2 million gallons).

The U.K.’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation is now in place and requires 3.25 percent of fuel sold in the country to come from renewable sources, with the percentage rising to five percent by 2013/2014. The United Kingdom has also agreed to the European Union target of 10 percent by 2020.

Canada Continues to Invest Millions in Biodiesel

After awarding up to $19.9 million to Western Biodiesel earlier this summer, the Government of Canada is now investing up to $72.4 million over the next seven years to support the production of biodiesel at the BIOX Canada, Ltd., Hamilton, ON, facility.

The funding is part of the government’s ecoENERGY for Biofuels program, which will invest up to $1.5 billion over nine years to encourage the development of a strong, competitive renewable fuels industry in Canada.

Canada’s Manitoba Mandates Biodiesel

Manitoba has become the first Canadian province to require biodiesel in the provincial diesel supply.

Beginning November 1, 2009, Manitoba will set a mandate that requires, on average, two percent biodiesel in all diesel fuel sold in a year. This will give fuel suppliers the flexibility to deal with cold weather conditions in Manitoba. It is anticipated that five percent biodiesel blends will be used on a seasonal basis during the warmer months to meet the mandate requirements.

Manitoba will also consider a higher mandate once there is a Canadian fuel standard in place for biodiesel blends above five percent.

The blend mandate builds on a previously announced regulation requiring the licensing of biodiesel manufacturers and the adoption of fuel quality standards that will help ensure the integrity of the fuel supply (see “Biofuels Bulletin” in the February 2009 Render).

Manitoba’s government intends to provide greater support for local biodiesel and economic development opportunities by replacing the current fuel tax exemption with a 14 cent per liter, five-year production grant for both on- and off-road biodiesel produced in Manitoba in the spring of 2010 to help keep Manitoba competitive with incentives offered in other North American jurisdictions.

Western Canadian provinces are leading the nation in blending biodiesel in their diesel supply. British Columbia has a biodiesel mandate of five percent due by January 1, 2010, and Alberta has a two percent biodiesel blend coming by July 1, 2010.

Ford’s New Diesel Engine Compatible Up to B20

Ford Motor Company is unveiling new diesel technology with its 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine in its 2011 F-Series Super Duty trucks, which will be compatible up to a 20 percent biodiesel blend (B20) allowing greener fueling options. According to Ford, the new diesel engine will deliver significant improvements in torque, horsepower, and fuel economy while adding more fueling flexibility and easily meeting stringent new emissions requirements.

High Plains Bioenergy Earns BQ-9000 Status

High Plains Bioenergy’s biodiesel plant in Guymon, OK, recently received BQ-9000 Producer status from the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC). This designation is the highest level of industry-recognized quality assurance. High Plains Bioenergy, a subsidiary of Seaboard Foods, operates a 30 million gallon per year biodiesel plant that uses animal fats, including pork fat, from the adjacent Seaboard Foods pork processing plant, and vegetable oils as the feedstock to make biodiesel.

BQ-9000 is a voluntary fuel quality assurance program overseen by the NBAC and adopted by the National Biodiesel Board. BQ-9000 couples the foundation of universally accepted quality management systems with the production specification, ASTM International D6751, and has become the premier quality designation in the biodiesel industry. The program covers storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

Illinois Ups Biodiesel Mandate for State Fleets

Diesel powered vehicles owned by the state of Illinois or any units of local government will now be running on a five percent biodiesel blend, up from a two percent blend first instituted in 2006, when refueling at a bulk central fueling facility. The bill was passed by legislative leaders and signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in August 2009, with an effective date of July 1, 2009.

Rothsay Expands Green Fleet

Rothsay, a business unit of Maple Leaf Foods, Inc., is now running its Moorefield, ON, Canada fleet of 25 trucks on biodiesel, bringing the total environmentally sustainable fleet to more than 100 vehicles. The Moorefield, Dundas, and Montreal fleets are fueled by a minimum five percent blend of biodiesel produced at Rothsay’s Montreal facility.  

“We’ve had great success running biodiesel blends in our own fleets, even in the harshest winter conditions, at our Montreal operation which provides a practical demonstration of how biodiesel usage can be successful in Canadian weather conditions,” said Todd Moser, vice president, Alternative Fuels, Rothsay.

Rothsay is reducing its environmental footprint by fueling its fleet with its own biodiesel produced from animal by-products and recycled restaurant grease. The three fleets combined will consume more than 3 million liters (792,500 gallons) of blended biodiesel annually, the equivalent of removing 51 passenger vehicles from the road each year.

The renderer began fueling its Montreal fleet with biodiesel in 2002 and expanded its program to include its Dundas trucks last fall. In addition, the Montreal facility now has two trucks running on 100 percent biodiesel year-round. Rothsay’s future plans include expanding the fueling program to other operations in Canada where practical. The company opened the first commercial-scale biodiesel facility in Canada in 2005 and currently produces approximately 35 million liters (9.2 million gallons) annually.

Massachusetts Releases Controversial Biofuels Mandate

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has released the state’s biofuels mandate after spending months evaluating input from stakeholders. From July 1, 2011, producers of petroleum diesel and heating fuel oil will be required to include two to three percent biodiesel in their product, with the decision made by the state at the end of 2010. Every gallon of biodiesel added to petroleum diesel in the 12 months prior to the mandate will be given credit toward the required amount added after the implementation date. The mandate officially begins July 1, 2010.

One point of contention with biodiesel producers and industry is the requirement that DOER will only qualify biofuels derived from waste feedstocks that yield the 50 percent greenhouse gas reduction threshold, eliminating biodiesel produced from food and non-food crops from the mandate. However, DOER has stated it and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection will “continue to track and engage with federal and California efforts to establish analytical methodologies and protocols for evaluating non-waste feedstock biofuels, and will expeditiously seek to adopt such protocols, as they become available, for the purpose of the Massachusetts Biofuels Mandate.”

Rocky Mountain to Supply Biodiesel

Rocky Mountain Sustainable Enterprises, LLC, has entered into a biodiesel fuel supply agreement with fuel distributor Gray Oil Company, Inc., to supply up to 4.5 million gallons per year of biodiesel fuel for a three-year term. The agreement has an estimated revenue value of $45 million over the length of the contract.

The biodiesel will be supplied from Rocky Mountain’s Colorado facility, a $5 million plant that breaks ground this fall in Fort Morgan, CO, after a three-year “due diligence technology period” in which a European company was selected. At the time of commissioning – expected in the summer of 2010 – the facility will have an initial annual production capacity of 4.5 million gallons per year and primarily use recycled cooking oil the company collects as its feedstock.

Students to Help Fuel Regional Biodiesel Efforts

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte, together with Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities, Central Piedmont Community College, and the Centralina Council of Governments, recently was awarded a Green Business Fund Grant. The $85,000 grant, along with a $99,850 grant from the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, will aid in the study and development of a highly integrated biodiesel production facility for Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities.

The regional partnership will cultivate an oil seed crop on five acres of land owned by Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities and irrigated with reclaimed water to produce biodiesel fuel.

Work will also be conducted through UNC Charlotte’s new Infrastructure, Design, Environment, and Sustainability Center to determine how much brown grease is generated in the county, its chemical makeup, and how much biodiesel could be produced from the region.

According to Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities, not many studies have been done on brown grease currently removed from restaurant grease traps and black grease collected in sewer lines, which is often taken to landfills because it is mixed with wastewater. Grease poured down drains is the leading cause of sanitary sewer overflows in the utility’s 4,000-mile wastewater collection system. The funding also supports a vetting process to identify qualified vendors with brown grease-to-biodiesel technology.

Students from UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College will assist with various aspects of the projects. Centralina Council of Governments is administering the grants through its Clean Fuels Coalition.

Tennessee Students Producing Biodiesel from Waste Grease

East Tennessee has welcomed a new alternative fuel production facility to the region, providing students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville a hands-on learning experience in the operation, maintenance, evaluation, and distribution of biodiesel.

Built with an Alternative Fuels Innovations Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in partnership with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the community-based biodiesel production unit will convert waste cooking oil from local restaurants into useable fuel. The production unit, which is located on the University of Tennessee agricultural campus, will also be a research center for other agriculture fuels like soybean oil and oilseed crops.

Full production for the medium-scale mobile unit will approach 380,000 gallons of biodiesel per year. SACE will collect the waste cooking oil from participating restaurants and food service establishments in the Knoxville, TN, area. The alliance will then supply biodiesel to the university, community businesses, and others. Known as Clean Energy Biofuels, SACE has been running a similar pilot program with 150 participating restaurants in Atlanta, GA, in partnership with Emory University.

Biofuels Bulletin – October 2009 RENDER | back