Springboard sells 50th BioPro system into educational market

By Erin Voegele | January 19, 2011

California-based Springboard Biodiesel LLC recently announced that more than 50 U.S. universities and school systems now own and operate its BioPro biodiesel processing equipment. Arkansas State University is the latest educational institution to purchase the fully-automated system.

Springboard manufactures, markets and sells the BioPro and SpringPro lines of small-scale biodiesel processing equipment. “The BioPro is a self contained all-in-one small-scale production unit that will take vegetable oil and turn it into ASTM-grade biodiesel,” said Springboard CEO Mark Roberts. The BioPro processing system is available in standard configurations that can produce 50 or 100 gallon batches of biodiesel every two days. “We can also configure it so that it can make 100 gallons every 12 to 13 hours,” Roberts said, noting that they system is designed to process virtually any animal- or vegetable-based oil that is 5 percent free fatty acid or less.

The SpringPro line is a dry-wash system that can be incorporated into the BioPro biodiesel processor. “It allows you to produce biodiesel without the use of water,” Roberts said. “Instead, it uses resins to basically polish the raw biodiesel. Those entities that buy SpringPro are interested in either speeding up their production capacity—because if you connect it to the BioPro, you can make biodiesel quicker—or are focused on having a waterless biodiesel production system.”

According to Roberts, there seems to be increasing interest from colleges and universities in utilizing the BioPro system. “I think that there is certainly a heightened awareness from the educational community about reducing their carbon footprints, so they are looking at all sorts of energy solutions for their campuses,” he said. “They are not only feeding the hearts and minds of their students, they are also often feeding their stomachs. They are creating what they view as a waste product, and they can actually turn that waste oil into a valuable fuel commodity in our unit.”

“Safety was a very important consideration when we chose to purchase a BioPro,” said Kevin Humphrey, director for agricultural educational at Arkansas State University. “After all, students are the ones who will be working with this equipment, so we are obviously very safety conscious. When you take into account the automation and the rugged construction of the BioPro, then you know that safety was an important factor in its design.”

Special attention has been paid to the safety parameters of the BioPro system, Roberts said. “The units are made out of stainless steel,” he said. “They are designed with safety in mind, so all of the motors are explosion proof. It’s a fully automated system. The way it’s constructed you don’t have to interact with caustic chemicals after you’ve loaded the machine. It’s well ventilated.”

In addition to the BioPro and SpringPro lines of biodiesel production equipment, Roberts said Springboard is also working to develop a larger-scale production system. “We’re currently working on a larger—still small-scale—but certainly larger, processing system that will produce up to half a million gallons a year from 15 percent free fatty acids,” he said. “The prototype is probably two or three months from being out on our floor. It’s something we are extremely excited about.”


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