Incobrasa Industries continues soy evolution into biodiesel

By Lindsey Irwin | January 24, 2007
The evolution of privately-owned Incobrasa Industries Ltd. has spanned over 10-plus years, with the origin of its roots in Brazil. The company's rich experience and history in the soybean industry make it difficult to believe that its first soybean biodiesel refining facility just recently produced its first batch on Jan. 2. So far the new venture has been successful, said Craig Kief, Incobrasa's head of biodiesel research and development.

Incobrasa's sole owner, Renato Ribeiro, has more than 50 years experience in soybean oil extraction. For many years he operated two soybean crushing facilities in his home country of Brazil, but in 1995 he agreed to sell the facilities, accepting as part of the contract a one year no-competition clause, which meant he would have to look elsewhere to continue his trade, Kief said. Ribeiro began investing in United States farmland in 1982 and his experience with real estate purchases led him to a location in Gilman, Ill., where all the conditions of a successful crushing facility were present-namely feedstock supply and nearby rail and truck transportation.

Incobrasa began construction on a 2,000 ton-per-day crushing facility in 1995 and started operations in 1997, but then expanded operations in 2000 in order to enter the refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD-or food grade-market, Kief said. To increase profits Ribeiro decided once again to reform in 2004 and constructed on-site bottling and packaging facilities in order to fill, label and package bottles of oil for retailers, Kief said.

As interest increase in the use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel for vehicles, so did Ribeiro's intrigue. As a result, the company began construction on a 30 MMgy biodiesel plant in August 2006 and finished in less than five months in mid-December, Kief said. Utilizing the latest in Brazilian technology, Ribeiro's Brazilian connections and consultants from the industry and academic communities, Incobrasa currently puts out B100 and B99.9 from 100 percent soybean oil, Kief said.

"Anything's possible," Kief said. "From the past you can see how fast we moved when we put our sights on something, but for now we are going to focus on making this the best plant it can be and do the best job for our customers."

Lindsey Irwin is a Biodiesel Magazine staff writer. Reach her at or (701) 746-8385.

Posted: 4:34 p.m. CST Thursday, March 1, 2007
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