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Agri-Energy begins production in the Volunteer State

By | February 01, 2006
Biodiesel started flowing at Agri-Energy's plant in Lewisburg, Tenn., in early January. Construction for the plant started Nov. 1 and was completed in three months. All of the design and construction duties for the plant were done in-house by Agri-Energy partners.

"We have our own engineers and own a construction company, which allowed us to keep our plans somewhat secretive," said Mike Tarr, president and CEO of Agri-Energy. The company plans to build as many as 20 5 MMgy plants in the future.
The plant's nameplate capacity is 5 MMgy, but it could produce as much as 7 MMgy. "In a perfect world, our capacity could be 20,000 gallons a day," Tarr said. "Today we can easily do 15,000 gallons a day."

Agri-Energy will use a refined crude, de-gummed and bleached soybean oil as its primary feedstock. With three major crushing facilities within 50 miles of the plant, Agri-Energy is able to acquire the oil at only 4 cents above the price of crude soybean oil. "Location was key for this plant," Tarr said. "With a crushing plant nearby, it provided a massive opportunity to cut shipping costs and provide a high quality product."

Agri-Energy is close to signing an agreement with Nashville, Tenn.-based Tri-Star Energy to market its biodiesel. "It pretty much is a done deal," Tarr said. "We are just waiting for them to get their blending license." Agri-Energy has its own blending permits but wants to concentrate on producing a quality fuel.

Unlike many producers, Agri-Energy takes its time to produce each gallon of biodiesel. "From start to finish, it takes us three days to make biodiesel," Tarr said. "We age the fuel, like a fine wine, and let it sit in storage tanks for at least one day." To make sure the fuel produced is to Agri-Energy's quality standards, there are no plans to speed up its production process. "That is why we chose to build multiple smaller facilities versus one larger one," Tarr said.
 

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