Business Briefs

By Staff | February 09, 2011

The Culinary Institute of America has found a sustainable use for the school’s waste vegetable oil (WVO). At the Greystone campus located within Napa Valley, the CIA is making high-quality biodiesel from the WVO to fuel campus shuttles. The WVO is taken from fryers in the teaching kitchen and from a restaurant on campus, and converted using a BioPro biodiesel processor from Springboard Biodiesel LLC, according to Greg Phipps, facilities director on campus. The biodiesel is used in two shuttle vans and other all-terrain vehicles used to move equipment around the campus. The switch saves $64 per fill-up. The winter mix will be 50 percent biodiesel while the summer mix will be 70 percent. Phipps adds that starting the process was not easy and required homework, but they learned a lot by taking an online biodiesel production class from Utah Biodiesel Supply Co., and also received help from Springboard.

Port of Stockton officials in California have reviewed the environmental impacts of a proposed expansion to Community Fuels’ existing 10 MMgy plant in Stockton and, according to CEO Lisa Mortenson, the results were positive. The environmental assessment went through a rigorous vetting process through the California Environmental Quality Act. “It was a lengthy evaluation that looks at all the impacts of the [expansion] project, including traffic impacts, emissions, impacts on land, soil and other areas,” Mortenson tells Biodiesel Magazine. “Thankfully, everything came back positively and it appears that we should have a Notice of Determination indicating there are no significant impacts of the project.” Mortenson says Community Fuels intends to install 500,000 gallons of additional finished product storage, in addition to enhanced truck and rail loading capabilities. The expansion project would also allow Community Fuels to handle more volumes of biodiesel produced outside of the state and distribute it in the California market, in addition to the fuel it produces at the Stockton plant.

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,” says CEO Mark Roberts. 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.”  Springboard is also working to develop a larger-scale production system, and Roberts says a prototype is only two to three months out. 

Raptor Technology Group Inc. recently announced that a company it’s in the process of acquiring, Raptor Fabrication and Equipment Inc., has started up its newest biodiesel plant for Greenwave Biodiesel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company says it produced its first batch of ASTM-certified biodiesel and will now begin commercial production of biodiesel. The Greenwave facility, according to the company, utilizes Raptor's flagship mid-sized, multifeedstock production system and is capable of producing 3.6 MMgy. System production can be remotely monitored by Raptor to insure maximum efficiency and up-time. Raptor Technology Group has signed a Plan of Merger Agreement with Raptor Fabrication and Equipment.

Houston-based Endicott Biofuels LLC has signed an agreement with KMTEX Ltd. to construct a 30 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel production plant in Port Arthur, Texas. The proposed facility was expected to break ground in late January. It will employ Endicott’s proprietary technology to convert variety of waste fats, oils and greases into its trademarked G2 Clear biodiesel. KMTEX will host Endicott as well as provide certain construction and operational services, according to Endicott principle Christopher Frantz, adding that the company plans “to get it up and running shortly after construction is complete to help the U.S. EPA meet its RFS2 mandates.” Endicott’s proprietary process is based on esterification technology developed by Davy Process Technology Ltd., a subsidiary of Johnson Matthey Co., a leading technology provider for the chemical, oleochemical and petrochemical industries.

The competitive singing phenomenon American Idol is back for an 11th season and the show will commence with a nationwide bus tour fueled by biodiesel. The month-long, 16-city national tour will start in San Diego and end in Boston. Allan Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, praised the decision by the Fox television show as “an excellent choice toward being environmentally friendly while still having the power and fuel-efficiency” to complete the tour.

Adamstown, Md.-based Chesapeake Green Fuels LLC has retained Pasadena, Md.-based Equity Partners Inc. to sell its idle biodiesel plant. CGF has been trying to sell the facility, which is located in Clayton, Del., for approximately six months. Due in part to the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit, Equity Partners Managing Partner Ken Mann estimates the plant will sell in about 60 days. Fagen Inc. built the Desmet Ballestra-designed facility in 2006, says Mann. The bank handling the original owner’s financing foreclosed on the plant and sold it to CGF in 2008. The current owners began retrofitting the plant in 2009 to make it multifeedstock capable. Work had also begun on pump repairs and other maintenance needs. The facility needs some additional work, Mann says, noting that CGF chose not to spend money on the plant in 2010 due to the expiration of the biodiesel tax credit. The decision to sell the plant has been made because the plant’s current investors do not have tolerance for further investment in the plant. Mann estimates that it will take approximately 60 to 90 days for the facility’s next owner to complete the needed work and begin operations.

A Florida-based biodiesel technology developer formed in 2006 has released a new product that can lower methanol requirements by up to 5 percent. Florida Biodiesel Inc., a company that works with both consumer and commercial biodiesel operators, has been developing the Cyclonic Mixer over the past year. “The Mixer is a device that is made to shear the catalyst and the feedstock, giving a more complete mixing, which is able to reduce the amount of methanol used,” says Bill Gehrs, president, adding that it can save the plant operator between 2 and 5 percent in methanol costs. Described by Gehrs as a “passive” device, the mixer has been used in other consumer and commercial systems, and the Florida Biodiesel version can be scaled to work in a 60 gallon system all the way up to a 2.3 MMgy facility. “It has no moving parts,” Gehrs says. “The high shear mixer is encased in a pipe when the feedstock and the catalyst are moved through the multi-veined system in the mixer.”

Enervation Advisors LLC has partnered with the former owner of an idle biodiesel plant to bring it back online. The Keokuk, Iowa-based 5 MMgy plant was originally owned by John Rothgeb and operated under the name Tri-City Energy. According to Paul Tantillo, Enervation’s director of operations and managing member, the facility has been idle for nearly three years. Enervation is working to retrofit and staff the plant, which features a glycerin refining system that can process 4 MMgy. The glycerin capacity will be brought online first, and is set to begin producing by March. Work on the system is being completed now, Tantillo says, noting that little was required to bring the refining system back online. The front end of the biodiesel plant is being upgraded to accept a wider range of feedstocks. Once the retrofit is complete, Tantillo says the plant will be able to process feedstocks containing up to 15 percent free fatty acids. Tantillo estimates the biodiesel capacity of the plant will be brought online in approximately 60 days.

Pacific Biodiesel Inc., Hawaii’s only commercial biodiesel producer, announced new appointments to the management team to keep pace with the its planned growth in coming years. Kimberly Vanderlaan has been hired as chief financial officer. Vanderlaan is a certified public accountant and was most recently a partner with the CPA firm of Levin & Hu LLP. She has more than 20 years’ experience in public accounting and private industry. Vanderlaan will work closely with Mike Bradley, corporate controller at the company’s Kahului headquarters. Pacific Biodiesel also promoted Beth Mathias to director of marketing. Mathias joined the firm as a marketing associate in August and quickly advanced her position.


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