Tyson, Syntroleum Open Renewable Diesel Plant

By Tina Caparella

Operations are finally underway at the Tyson Foods, Inc., and Syntroleum Corporation joint renewable diesel fuel plant in Geismar, LA. Production began in early October at the Dynamic Fuels plant, with 2,500 barrels of the biofuel being produced each day, and growing, using animal fats and greases.

“We’re very pleased with the progress of the plant and the quality of the fuel it’s producing,” said Jeff Webster, group vice president of Tyson’s Renewable Products Division. As of early November, the plant has manufactured renewable diesel with a cloud point as low as minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit and cetane as high as 88, more than twice that of the ASTM International petroleum diesel specification. The facility’s renewable diesel fuel product meets all ASTM D975 specifications for diesel fuel.

Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a 50/50 joint venture of Syntroleum and Tyson, has been making jet fuel for testing by the Air Force Research Laboratory. According to the company, this is the first renewable jet fuel to be tested by the Air Force that has been produced in a domestic commercial scale facility. The plant also makes renewable distillate products that can be used in a wide variety of applications such as dry cleaning, ink cartridges, and drilling fluids, and the company is pursuing these markets.

The plant uses non-food grade animal fats produced or procured by Tyson Foods, such as beef tallow, pork lard, chicken fat, and greases. The plant is designed to produce up to 75 million gallons of renewable fuels per year, and currently has 44 permanent full-time positions onsite, and maintains 13 full-time start-up support personnel.

Tyson and Syntroleum officials remain hopeful Congress will restore the $1 per gallon renewable diesel tax credit that expired in December 2009. Fuel from the Geismar plant qualifies for the credit, which would help the economic feasibility of the operation and help recover development costs.

California Awards Energy Grants

The California Energy Commission approved eight grants that leverage more than $9.6 million in state funding with $11.9 million in private funds for projects that will reduce petroleum use, cut pollution, and provide jobs by advancing the manufacture of electric vehicles and vehicle batteries, adding vehicle charging stations, and encouraging the use of biofuels. The funding is from the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation Program.

Of the four biofuels projects awarded, two were for biodiesel production. The first was $1 million awarded to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in San Francisco, CA, toward its wastewater treatment plant project in Oakland. The process utilizes waste fats, oils, and grease collected at its wastewater treatment plant to make an estimated 300,000 gallons of biodiesel each year. EBMUD provided $1.5 million in matching funds to construct the facility and install two 30,000 gallon storage tanks.

Western States Oil Company received $69,233 to convert an existing 8,000 gallon retail tank used for premium gasoline into one that can dispense wholesale biodiesel. The tank is immediately adjacent to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Terminal in San Jose, CA, so delivery trucks leaving the terminal will be able to easily access the biodiesel.

The tank will hold 99 percent biodiesel that will be mixed in the vehicle to make blends of five percent, 20 percent, and up to 99 percent biodiesel. The project lowers the price of biodiesel by reducing the cost of distribution in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Western States Oil will provide funding of at least $217,380 to match the energy grant.

EPA Releases Draft Guidance on Underground Storage Tanks

As part of its commitment to help ensure that biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are safely stored in underground storage tanks (USTs), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in the November 17, 2010, Federal Register draft guidance for UST owners and operators who wish to store these fuels.

EPA is requesting comments on the proposed guidance that clarifies how an UST owner or operator can comply with the federal compatibility requirement for UST systems storing gasoline containing greater than 10 percent ethanol, and diesel containing a percent of biodiesel yet to be determined. After reviewing comments that are due December 17, 2010, EPA intends to issue the final guidance in early 2011.

More information is available at www.epa.gov/oust, or at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-11-17/pdf/2010-28968.pdf.

NBB Elects Leadership

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) members selected their trade association leadership, including the first producer to take the chairman role. Members also elected four returning governing board members and three new members to serve on the leadership committee.

Officers elected to direct the board are Gary Haer, chairman, Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (producer); Ed Ulch, vice chair, Iowa Soybean Board (farmer); Ron Marr, secretary, Minnesota Soybean Processors (producer); and Jim Conway, treasurer, Griffin Industries (producer).

Biodiesel board members also voted to fill seven board member spots. Members elected to the governing board include officers and the following: Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board, and David Womack, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board, both farmer members; and Ramon Benavides, GEN-X Energy Group; Steven Levy, Sprague Energy; Dave Lyons, Louis Dreyfus; Doug Smith, Baker Commodities; and John Wright, Owensboro Grain Company, all of whom are producer members.

Florida Companies to Build Brown Grease Recycling Plants

Green Equity Holdings, Inc., of Deerfield, FL, and Strategic Energy Supplies Corporation (SESC), also based in Florida, have entered into a letter of intent to jointly build and operate brown grease feedstock recycling plants nationwide. SESC currently operates one such plant in Florida.

The agreement provides that SESC will initiate construction of not less than three brown grease recycling plants within the first year of the joint venture, and Green Equity Holdings will be required to invest up to $1.5 million for each plant under construction in the first year in exchange for scaled ownership interests.

SESC is the owner of patent-pending thermal depolymerization2 grease trap waste technology that uses hydrous pyrolysis for the reduction of complex organic materials into light crude oil.

New Biofuels Association Formed

The Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), Inc., is a new nonprofit trade association representing small and midsize biofuels producers, traders, marketers, distributors, and other interested biofuels parties. The GBA’s formation was prompted by the need for a voice for small and medium size companies active in the U.S. biofuels industry to ensure that federal policy and policymakers respond to issues facing its members.

GBA welcomes new members to join the five founding members who are existing biofuels producers, a biofuels equipment manufacturer, and biofuels traders from various parts of the United States. New members will have an opportunity to immediately participate in shaping the GBA’s advocacy agenda and strategy, and have access to Tier 1 health effects testing data for biodiesel from an agreement the alliance has with one of its founding members, Nextfuels, Inc.

GBA’s current focus is to advocate for reinstating and extending the federal biodiesel blenders tax credit that expired at the end of 2009.

Trap Grease-to-Biodiesel Plant Opens

A demonstration plant that creates biodiesel from restaurant trap grease and located at the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Francisco, CA, has begun operation.

Developed by URS Corporation, it is the first municipal wastewater program in the United States to create biodiesel from the waste feedstock. The demonstration treatment plant will process 10,000 gallons per day of trap waste, recovering 300 to 500 gallons a day of brown grease and converting it to biodiesel.

The program is an extension of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) SFGreasecycle program to prevent fats, oils, and grease (FOG) from being released into city sewers where they solidify and constrict wastewater flow, causing back-ups and damage to sewer lines. For the past three years, the SFPUC and URS have worked to develop a comprehensive FOG control program that considers the needs and characteristics of restaurant operators, city government, residents, environmental agencies, and the commercial grease industry.

It is estimated that the demonstration plant will save about 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year with a commercial scale facility of more than 40,000 tons a year. A URS-developed, 12-month research and testing program will be used to monitor the brown grease recovery and biodiesel production plant’s performance and to establish a business case that will facilitate program replication by other municipal agencies.

The program was financed by federal funds and approximately $1 million from the California Energy Commission.

University Set to Produce and Sell Biodiesel

The Loyola University Chicago Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy’s (CUERP) Biodiesel Program has become the first school program in the United States to be licensed by state and federal authorities to produce and sell its biodiesel fuel. The program has received the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Internal Revenue Service, Illinois Department of Revenue, and the National Biodiesel Board.

Loyola’s first customer is The Free Enterprise System, Inc., which runs the university’s shuttle service between its Chicago, IL-based Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. Purchasing biodiesel fuel from Loyola will allow the company to run its six Loyola buses with less diesel fuel, eliminating the use of nearly 3,000 gallons of diesel every year on the shuttles.

In addition to selling biodiesel fuel, the university will also sell the lab’s “BioSoap” at its campus stores and select retailers across Chicago. The BioSoap is made from glycerin, a by-product of the biodiesel fuel production, and retails for $7.99, or $2.49 for a sample size.

The university’s biodiesel program began in 2007 when CUERP was awarded a $10,000 grant from the EPA to implement a new educational model on campus called “Solutions to Environmental Problems,” or STEP. This interdisciplinary program brought together faculty, staff, and students from all over the university to tackle a tangible environmental problem that Loyola was facing.

The program’s first project was to focus on the problem of carbon dioxide gas emissions on Loyola’s campuses. From there, the students identified, designed, and implemented an array of projects to contribute to the solution, including fuel production research, the drafting of a biofuels legislative bill, the development of a documentary film, the establishment of the biodiesel lab, and outreach to local high schools that allowed teachers to deliver the STEP curriculum to their students.

After another $75,000 grant from the EPA for high-school outreach, the biodiesel program is now its own stand-alone program and is run by students with the help of one staff member, the biodiesel lab manager. To date, the lab has produced more than 1,500 gallons of biodiesel fuel.

Biofuels Bulletin – December 2010 RENDER | back