La. biodiesel plant Oswalt Bioenergy completes startup in 6 days

By Ron Kotrba | May 10, 2012

A biodiesel plant in northeastern Louisiana has gone from construction completion to full startup in less than a week.

Oswalt Bioenergy, a 5 MMgy multifeedstock facility close to the Mississippi River in Lake Providence, La., was engineered and built by Agri Process Innovations.

“We checked all of our instruments, motors, and control loops prior to startup,” said Brian Mattingly, API’s chemical engineer who led the startup. “And Oswalt had everything we needed onsite and ready to go.”

Oswalt Bioenergy marks API’s 22nd biodiesel plant opening.

“In six days, we were up and running at full nameplate capacity with a product that passed all our testing,” said plant president and manager Hal Oswalt. “I guess when you hire a group that has done this almost two dozen times, the process is more likely to flow more smoothly.”

Oswalt told Biodiesel Magazine that the new biodiesel refinery is located close to a Griffin Industries rendering facility, and in addition to chicken fat, he anticipates used cooking oils and virgin soy to be part of the plant’s incoming feedstock mix.

Oswalt Bioenergy employs the feedstock financing plan offered by FCStone Merchant Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of INTL FCStone Inc., to help it run at full capacity without tapping out plant finances with hefty, upfront operating costs.

“The past five years in the biodiesel industry have been extremely volatile,” said Nate Burk of FCStone Merchant Services’ Renewable Fuels Group, noting that the ongoing growth of the industry speaks volumes to the dedication and commitment of companies such as Oswalt Bioenergy.

While the plant is mechanically ready to run at full capacity, Oswalt said it could take another six weeks to wrap up registrations, certifications, safety training and education on renewable identification numbers (RINs) before it is selling fuel and generating RIN credits.

Frazier, Barnes & Associates is providing Oswalt Bioenergy with registration services for U.S. EPA under its renewable fuel program (RFS2), including an independent engineering review. 

Oswalt said he and his father Earl K. “Sonny” Oswalt, the plant owner, have also been in discussions with Lee Enterprises Consulting about assisting in several other remaining endeavors before commercially running the plant. 


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