BDI reports 9-month success will continue

By Luke Geiver | October 25, 2010
Posted Nov. 17, 2010

For the first nine months of 2010, BDI-Bioenergy International AG has seen an increase of 33.7 percent in sales, equaling a 304 percent increase over the previous year. The Austrian-based waste-to-biofuel technology provider attributes the nine-month span's success to the progress made in large projects, the intensified efforts for after-sales business and the optimization of existing biodiesel plants, according to BDI Chief Financial Officer Dagmar Heiden-Gasteiner. "Of the 30 biodiesel plants BDI has been building worldwide," Heiden-Gasteiner said, "26 work with multifeedstock technology," and expanding the use of that technology has also increased sales. Following the recent moves by the company, BDI said the company will continue a successful year based on the orders already on hand.

BDI has patented a multifeedstock technology designed specifically to convert a wide range of raw materials including crude vegetable oils, recycled materials, animal fats, used cooking oil, trap grease and others. According to Heiden-Gasteiner, "all free fatty acids are transformed into biodiesel-therefore the achievable yield is at the highest technical level-up to 100 percent."

After two consecutive oil crises in Europe in the 1970s initiated many research activities in the field of alternative fuels all over Europe, Heiden-Gasteiner said, BDI began collaborating with universities in Graz, Austria. They worked on developing a new flexible process for the production of biodiesel from all different types of oils and fats, and it was there the BDI multifeedstock system technology was born. "The first biodiesel plant built by BDI for a customer in Mureck, Austria, was in 1991 and was the first industrial-scale biodiesel plant for processing rapeseed oil worldwide," Heiden-Gasteiner said. "In the early 1990s the economic circumstances for biodiesel production worsened. Vegetable oil prices reached a high level, whereas mineral oil diesel prices dropped." In 1994, the plant in Mureck was upgraded to take advantage of low-quality feedstock like used cooking oil. "The research activities continued with regard to additional feedstock and in 1998 the first multifeedstock biodiesel plant for processing animal fats was built in the U.S. by BDI," according to Heiden-Gasteiner.

But the company doesn't plan on remaining exclusively in the biodiesel production business. "There is tremendous potential for biogas plants in the creation of added value from biologically degradable waste," Heiden-Gasteiner said, "particularly organic municipal waste in the future." BDI has already begun working with some biogas plants since purchasing 51 percent of Enbasys GmbH, a leading biogas company. In order to expand even more, Heiden-Gasteiner added, possible acquisitions are also being investigated that would add to the company's existing waste-to-biofuels portfolio.

As for the process of an upgrade to the BDI system, he said there are various approaches depending on the driving forces. "If, for example, a customer decides to improve the economic situation of the biodiesel plant, BDI elaborates several technical solutions for an upgrade to a multifeedstock plant, including feasibility studies for those solutions."
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