New Mexico producer awarded Rural Development grant

By Erin Voegele | October 10, 2011

New Mexico-based Rio Valley Biofuels has been awarded a total of $40,962 in grant funding from USDA Rural Development to support upgrades at the facility and help support the hire of new employees. According to Dean Belcher, Rio Valley Biofuels’ plant manager, the grant will be used to upgrade the facility’s chiller and vacuum pump. He estimates the funding will also help the company hire two new employees.

Rio Valley Biofuels has been operating for approximately six years, and produces approximately 1.2 million to 1.5 million gallons of biodiesel annually. The plant operates primarily using recycled vegetable oil as feedstock. Belcher noted that his company continually looks for grant funding opportunities that would allow it upgrade operations. Rio Valley Biofuels found out about this particularly opportunity directly from their local USDA Rural Development Office.

Belcher said that the grant application took a lot of work to complete, but that the opportunity was well worth it. “I think we will look for similar opportunities again in the future,” he said. “When you are a small producer buying feedstock at a cost of $2 to $3 per gallon, you need all the help you can get to upgrade and improve your facility.”

The upgraded chiller will allow for more efficient cooling of liquids during processing. “Everything you do is with heat, so you need to get your fuel back down to a moderate level,” Belcher said. The grant will also allow the facility to replace two small, inefficient vacuum pumps with a single, more efficient one. “Devices that we had installed originally were obtained from auctions [or other sources of] used equipment,” he said. The USDA Rural Development grant will allow some of those used parts to be replaced with new counterparts. 

 

 
 
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