Michigan startup offers small-scale processors

By Bryan Sims | September 20, 2010
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Posted Oct. 11, 2010

Flint, Mich.-based OnSite Energy LLC has launched a unique line of self-contained and on-site processing machines capable of converting virgin and used cooking oils into biodiesel.

Operational manager Jeff Woolman said OnSite Energy's biodiesel processors are fully automated and, with a simple push of a button, the units can produce high-quality biodiesel in less than 20 minutes.

"When we first got into this, we wanted something where users could come up with little to no time to start this process and then come back to it and have biodiesel ready for them," Woolman said. "Just drain the glycerin and you're ready to go."

OnSite Energy offers three processing unit models, each having distinct output volumes. The Genesee processor model, the smallest of the three, features a 110 gallon mixing tank with an 80-gallon output. The Huron and Marquette processor models have a production output of 150 and 220 gallons, respectively. The processors can also be mounted on trailers for easy storage and portability. The price tag for a Genesee model, Woolman added, is about $12,000.

Woolman added that the processors are economical. If a user chooses to purchase soy oil, for example, at an estimated commodity price of approximately $3.30 per gallon, the user would roughly break even. Using used cooking oil, Woolman said, would be more economical as biodiesel could be produced for less than $1 per gallon after paying off the machine.

"They can get their free feedstock from local restaurants," Woolman said. "We've also nailed down a lot of suppliers for the used cooking oil."

OnSite Energy's biodiesel processors are the result of a two and a half-year collaborative effort with the USDA, Mott Community College's Regional Technology Center, the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, and the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

Woolman said the company intends to market its biodiesel processors primarily to interested municipalities, agricultural operations, school districts and/or commercial truck fleets looking to produce/supply their own biodiesel. One local school district in Flint has purchased a Genesee model, with the Mass Transportation Authority also expressing interest in acquiring one.
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