Major Expansion for Diamond Green Diesel

By Tina Caparella

Diamond Green Diesel is investing $190 million in its Norco, Louisiana, facility to expand annual capacity from 160 million gallons to 275 million gallons of renewable diesel produced from animal fats, used cooking oil, and other feedstocks. Start-up is expected for second quarter 2018.

A joint venture of Darling Ingredients Inc. and Valero Energy Corporation, Diamond Green produces renewable diesel that is chemically identical to petroleum diesel and qualifies as biomass-based diesel under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard. In its latest earnings report, Darling noted that engineering and construction planning is progressing on the Norco project and equipment has been ordered.

BDI to Upgrade US Biodiesel Plant

After the successful completion of a project in California, Austria-based BDI – BioEnergy International AG is retrofitting another biodiesel plant in the United States, this time for American GreenFuels LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kolmar Americas Inc. BDI will modernize American GreenFuels’ plant in New Haven, Connecticut, to increase production capacity and feedstock flexibility for the utilization of used cooking oil at the facility.

REG Reaches Several Milestones

Less than three years after marking its first billion gallons of cumulative biomass-based diesel sales, Renewable Energy Group (REG) Inc. has sold more than two billion gallons cumulatively of biomass-based diesel. It took REG nearly 18 years to sell its first billion gallons of biofuel between 1995 and April 2014. Through accelerated growth over the last 10 years, including expansion into the European market, REG achieved the second billion gallon milestone in just 33 months this January.

REG has also completed the acquisition of Petrotec, the leading used cooking oil-to-biodiesel producer in Europe. REG now owns two biodiesel plants primarily utilizing used cooking oil as feedstock in Emden and Oeding, Germany, and Vital Fettrecycling, a used cooking oil collection business. These assets are already operating in an integrated manner within REG’s network. The expansion into Europe increases REG’s worldwide capacity to over 500 million gallons annually.

An important part of REG’s growth is the restart of REG Geismar, the company’s 75-million-gallon renewable hydrocarbon diesel plant in Geismar, Louisiana. Following two incidents in 2015, REG made repairs and process improvements at the facility, including additional feedstock and finished fuel storage and significant pretreatment capabilities. With these improvements, the Geismar plant has run continuously at or above capacity since early October 2016.

Renewable Diesel Plant Considered in Canada

BIOX Corporation and Forge Hydrocarbons Corporation are exploring the co-location of a renewable diesel production facility using Forge technology on the existing BIOX site in Sombra, Ontario, Canada. In June 2016, BIOX acquired a 50-million-liter (13.2 million gallon) biodiesel plant at the Sombra site along with 25 acres of land. The existing facility is currently undergoing upgrades with commissioning expected in the third quarter of 2017.

Forge Hydrocarbons anticipates leasing up to four acres at the site for the construction of a new 25-million-liter (6.6-million-gallon) renewable diesel facility – at an estimated cost of $25 million – that will use animal fats, used cooking oil, and waste fats as feedstocks. Subject to both companies entering into a definitive agreement, BIOX would operate and manage production at the facility. Preliminary engineering work is currently being done by Forge to determine the site’s suitability for the plant. An agreement to co-locate is subject to, among other things, a successful outcome of the pre-engineering work, Forge securing the necessary funding, and an agreement on commercial terms between BIOX and Forge relating to the land lease and operations.

Forge Hydrocarbons, a private spin-off company from the University of Alberta, currently operates a pilot plant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, using a proprietary lipid-to-hydrocarbon technology developed by Dr. David Bressler. BIOX Corporation is a renewable energy company that owns and operates 287.5 million liters (76 million gallons) of biodiesel production capacity at two plants in southern Ontario and one in Houston, Texas.

SeQuential Biodiesel Plant Certified as Sustainable

SeQuential Biofuels, the longest-running commercial biodiesel producer on the West Coast, has been recognized by the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA) for its innovative and nearly zero-waste production of renewable fuel. SBA developed and implemented a certification standard for measuring the sustainability of biodiesel production and use. SeQuential has been awarded via independent third-party audit score. 

Dedicated to building a better energy model focused around regionally sourced biodiesel, all of the fuel SeQuential produces is made from used cooking oil collected from restaurants and businesses within a roughly 500-mile radius of its Salem, Oregon, plant. Additionally, the company fuels its collection and delivery vehicles with high blends of its own biodiesel and offsets its energy consumption by using solar panels and setting regular energy conservation targets.

The audit checklist for biodiesel production is based on the SBA’s Baseline Practices for Sustainability, and evaluates the following: air emissions, water resources, waste handling, plant energy, sustainable sourcing, community benefit, plant/worker benefit, and quality.

“We’re thrilled to be receiving SBA Gold Certification,” said Tyson Keever, SeQuential chief executive officer. “It’s rewarding to see our team’s commitment to sustainability recognized. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our sustainability practices through ongoing partnership with the SBA.”

Strong Demand for German Biodiesel

Export figures from the German Federal Statistical Office show a growing interest in biodiesel from Germany, especially in the United States where demand increased substantially. German biodiesel exports amounted to around 1.5 million tons (419 million gallons) in 2016, a 3.4 percent increase from 2015, although short of the 2014 record.

European Union (EU) member states continue to be the key recipients, taking around 87 percent of German exports. The top recipients, the Netherlands and Poland, imported significantly more biodiesel in 2016 than a year earlier as did Spain and Finland. French imports from Germany dropped 53 percent from 2015. According to figures published by the German Federal Statistical Office, the United States was the most important third-country (those outside the EU), with imports reaching 85,000 metric tons (23 million gallons), seven times the previous year’s imports. At the same time, German imports of foreign biodiesel went up approximately 38 percent to 718,000 metric tons (195 million gallons), the largest amount imported since 2012, according to information published by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH. More specifically, imports from the Netherlands jumped 87 percent to 248,000 metric tons (67 million gallons).

Washington Man Sentenced

After having previously pled guilty in mid-December 2015, Richard Estes, 77, of Renton, Washington, was sentenced in late January 2017 to nearly nine years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Estes was also ordered to pay $4.3 million in restitution to the taxpayers of the United States and will be under court supervision for three years upon release from prison.

According to information disclosed in court, Estes was a member of a conspiracy involving Gen-X Energy Group Inc., a renewable energy company formerly located in Pasco and Moses Lake, Washington. Between March 2013 and May 2014, Estes and his co-conspirators laundered the proceeds of schemes to falsely claim the production of marketable renewable energy credits and file false claims for refunds of excise credits with the Internal Revenue Service. Throughout this period, much of the renewable fuel claimed to be produced at the Gen-X facilities was either not produced or re-processed multiple times. In total, over $39 million in proceeds from the scheme was laundered through accounts owned or controlled by Estes.

April 2017 RENDER | back