Sanimax Teams Up to Build Bioenergy Facility

By Tina Caparella

Sanimax and Green Energy Partners are teaming up to build a new bioenergy production facility, called SaniGreen BioEnergy, in South Saint Paul, MN.

The SaniGreen facility will use a biological reduction process to produce biogas that will be cleaned to pipeline quality natural gas and used to run a 1.1 megawatt genset. The facility will utilize organic waste products from local food processing facilities, local schools, grocery stores, and area municipalities as its main feedstock. The new facility will provide 150 construction positions and 20 permanent jobs to the South Saint Paul area.

The biological reduction process focuses primarily on reclaiming unwanted organic materials from landfill or land spreading, renewing those materials for other uses, and returning those materials to the marketplace. The entire process occurs in a sealed, negative pressure facility utilizing innovative filtration technology to mitigate odors. In addition to producing natural gas through an organic conversion process, the SaniGreen facility will generate its own electricity and sell organic fertilizer by-product to local and regional businesses.

The facility is an 18- to 24-month project with plans to begin construction in the fall of 2013.

Australia Beef Producer Receives Grant for Biogas System

Bindaree Beef of Inverell, NSW, Australia, has been awarded a Clean Energy grant of nearly AUD$23 million (USD$21 million) for the construction of a biogas system that will slash operating costs and increase jobs. The grant is half of the expected $46 million price tag for the project, which involves installing a more energy-efficient rendering plant and directing all organic waste through a digester to produce clean energy from biogas. Tony Windsor, Independent Federal Member for New England in the Australian Parliament House of Representatives, worked with the beef producer for two years on the project.

“Harnessing waste to generate clean energy will allow Bindaree Beef to replace a coal-fired boiler and cut electricity consumption by up to half,” Windsor said. “An on-site pilot plant is already operating, proving the concept works.”

Bindaree Beef General Manager Kerri Newton told a local news agency the high-tech biodigester is based on American technology and will reduce the company’s carbon emission by 95 percent, essentially eliminating its liability to pay carbon taxes.

Project engineer David Sneddon said the methane will be captured, stored in bladders, scrubbed, and then used to fire a gas-fired boiler that will eliminate the current coal-fired boiler, which currently uses about 7,200 metric tons of coal per year. Any leftover biogas will be used to generate electricity.

Global Group Acquires Scottish Biodiesel Producer

John Swire and Sons (Green Investments), Ltd. has acquired Scottish biodiesel producer Argent Energy. The acquisition ensures the company, which employs 70 people, will remain privately owned.

Argent Energy pioneered large-scale commercial biodiesel production in the United Kingdom (UK) when it started production at its state-of-the-art plant near Motherwell, Scotland, in 2005. The company makes biodiesel from used cooking oil, tallow, and sewer grease. The new ownership will allow Argent Energy to consider replicating its business in other parts of the world.

Argent Energy has won a number of awards recognizing both the business and the quality of its management. These include being named Green Business of the Year at the Scottish Business Awards 2012 and Most Sustainable Biodiesel Supplier/Producer at the World Biofuels Conference in 2009. In 2011, Jim Walker, Argent Energy’s managing director, won Manufacturing and Processing UK winner in the Ernst and Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Louisiana Renewable Diesel Plant Begins Production

Diamond Green Diesel, a joint venture between Darling International, Inc. and Valero subsidiary Diamond Alternative Energy, LLC, reached mechanical completion in late June and is in the startup process. Once in full operation, the 9,300 barrel-per-day plant in Norco, LA, will process animal fat, used cooking oil, and corn oil into renewable diesel fuel that has comparable properties to petroleum-based diesel. The renewable diesel can be shipped by pipeline and meets low carbon fuel standards.

NBB Opens to Renewable Diesel, Hires Former EPA Fuels Specialist

Traditionally representing only biodiesel interests, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has opened its membership to include renewable diesel producers. The decision was made unanimously by NBB’s governing board in early June to combine the larger biodiesel industry with the younger and smaller renewable diesel industry, creating a stronger and more effective voice for both.
Biodiesel and renewable diesel are both made from renewable resources such as soybean oil, animal fats, and recycled cooking oils. Biodiesel is produced through a natural chemical reaction that takes place when alcohol is introduced to oils or fats in the presence of a catalyst. In the production of renewable diesel, hydrogen is added to the oils or fats under high pressure and temperatures, converting it to a hydrocarbon very similar to diesel fuel refined from petroleum crude. 

“While produced with different technologies, biodiesel and renewable diesel are close cousins with a lot of shared interests, particularly in policy areas such as the RFS [renewable fuel standard] and the blender’s tax incentive,” said Joe Jobe, NBB chief executive officer. “Joining forces puts us in a much stronger position as a coalition to make our voice heard and spread the word that these policies are working and that advanced biofuels are here today.”

Jobe noted that with the change, NBB will represent the entire biomass-based diesel category under the RFS. The decision was welcomed by renewable diesel producers.

“We have long been impressed with the work NBB does to represent the biodiesel industry and felt that joining forces was the next logical step,” said Randall C. Stuewe, president and chairman of the board of Darling International, Inc., which is a 50 percent equity owner in Diamond Green Diesel, a Louisiana-based renewable diesel plant with annual production capacity of over 136 million gallons. “Many of the same issues face both biodiesel and renewable diesel producers and we’re glad to be speaking with one voice on these issues.”

In mid-June, Lindsay Fitzgerald joined NBB in a new position overseeing regulatory affairs in Washington, DC. She previously served as a specialist in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality working on the RFS.

“Her extensive knowledge of the RFS will be a tremendous benefit to our industry and to our members as they navigate the program,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs.

REG Keeping Busy with Start-up, Upgrade, and Purchase

Renewable Energy Group (REG), Inc. has completed major upgrades at its newest biodiesel plant, REG New Boston, LLC, located about 150 miles east of Dallas, TX. REG acquired the 15 million gallon per year facility in November 2012 after it had been shut down for nearly four years. This is the second Texas biorefinery REG has acquired; it also operates a plant in Houston.

REG plans on purchasing poultry fats and used cooking oils from the region as feedstocks to produce REG-9000 brand biodiesel and market it to petroleum distributors, truck stops, and oil refiners across the region. Martin Eagle Oil Co. of Denton, TX, pulled the first certified load produced from the biorefinery in late June.

In Minnesota, REG has completed $21 million in technology upgrades at its 30 million gallon biodiesel refinery in Albert Lea. The upgrades allow the plant to run a wide variety of feedstocks such as animal fats, used cooking oils, inedible corn oils, and yellow grease as well as vegetable oils.

On July 31, REG completed the purchase of a 30 million gallon per year capacity biodiesel plant in Mason City, IA, formerly owned by Soy Energy, LLC. Former Soy Energy, LLC unit holders approved the sale in a vote held on July 29. REG acquired the biorefinery for $11 million in cash and the issuance of a $5.1 million promissory note.

REG plans to repair and restart the facility by the end of this year using soybean oil and low free fatty acid feedstocks. The company expects to employ 15 to 25 full-time employees when the plant is restarted. The acquisition brings REG’s total annual production capacity to 257 million gallons. The company now owns and operates eight active biorefineries.

Renewable Fuels Boosts Iowa’s Pork Industry

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) took the opportunity on the state’s Swine Day in late June to reiterate how renewable fuels production is boosting the profitability of raising hogs in Iowa.

“IRFA members have developed solid relationships with Iowa’s pork producers and the numbers show it,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Whether it’s purchasing choice white grease for biodiesel production or supplying affordable distillers grains for feed, Iowa renewable fuels and Iowa pork production have a symbiotic relationship.”

According to IRFA, biodiesel production not only lowers the cost of soybean meal, it also increases the value of animal fats benefitting Iowa’s pork producers. A recent study by Cardno ENTRIX found that an Iowa hog producer realizes a $4 per head boost in profitability because of Iowa’s biodiesel industry. In addition, an Iowa farmer raising both crops and hogs would see nearly a 20 percent increase in net income because of Iowa biodiesel production.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production with 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.7 billion gallons annually, and one wet mill and two cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

Rhode Island Passes Statewide Bioheat Requirement

The governor of Rhode Island has signed legislation that requires every gallon of oil heat in the state to contain at least two percent biodiesel beginning July 1, 2014. The bioheat blend is a greener heating oil gaining popularity in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. Although other New England states have passed similar bills, Rhode Island is on track to be the first to implement a statewide bioheat requirement, according to the National Biodiesel Board. The legislation gradually increases the blend from two percent to five percent by 2017.

Julie Gill, executive director and chief executive officer of the Oil Heat Institute of Rhode Island, said getting the legislation passed took persistence and commitment.

August 2013 RENDER | back