2018 Spring Biodiesel Magazine

Page 1



PATHWAYS A Spotlight on Biodiesel Technology, Feedstock Forerunners

Page 16

Plus The New

Feedstock Frontier Page 26

And Biodiesel’s Big Impact

On a Small Community Page 30


25 Years of Serving the Biodiesel Industry The National Biodiesel Board is celebrating 25 years of hard work and innovation by those who were driven to make the biodiesel industry what it is today and those who are driven to take this industry into the future. For Governmental Affairs, Communications, Market Development, Technical and Quality Assurance programs, and more, join NBB today. Contact Brad Shimmens, Director of Operations and Membership, at bshimmens@biodiesel.org for information.



www.nbb.org | www.biodiesel.org | 1-800-841-5849



16 Pioneering Achievements SPOTLIGHT

Biodiesel Magazine spotlights eight leading companies entrenched in the sector


26 The New Feedstock Frontier FEEDSTOCK

R&D efforts hold great promise for opening new feedstock possibilities




30 The Faces Behind the Statistics COMMUNITY

REG’s large biodiesel plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota, has a big impact on small towns in the surrounding community


26 DEPARTMENTS 5 Editor’s Note

9 Events Calendar

Industry Innovations

10 Business Briefs


12 Inside NBB

6 Legal Perspectives

Co-locating: Look Before You Leap


BY JOE LEO 7 Talking Point

Our Own Infinity Wars: Trade, Tariffs, Tax and Waivers

Advertiser Index



The teams from Calgren Renewable Fuels and RPS-Renewable Process Solutions are proud of the progress made on the supercritical biodiesel plant co-located with a California ethanol refinery. PHOTO: RPS-RENEWABLE PROCESS SOLUTIONS




8 2 19 21 22 34 35 33 28 36 29 25 3, 9 20 23 18 17

2018 Advanced Biofuels Conference 2019 International Biomass Conference & Expo Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions All-Line Equipment Co. BDI - BioEnergy International GmbH Biodiesel Magazine's Webinar Series Biodiesel Plant Map Dallas Group of America, Inc. HTH Companies IMERYS Maas Companies Minnesota Soybean Growers Association National Biodiesel Board Renewable Process Solutions Saola Energy, LLC Third Coast Commodities WWS, Inc.


www.BiodieselMagazine.com E D I T O R I A L Tom Bryan President & Editor in Chief tbryan@bbiinternational.com Ron Kotrba Editor rkotrba@bbiinternational.com


Editor Biodiesel Magazine rkotrba@bbiinternational.com

Jan Tellmann Copy Editor jtellmann@bbiinternational.com P U B L I S H I N G Joe Bryan John Nelson Howard Brockhouse



CEO jbryan@bbiinternational.com Marketing & Sales Director jnelson@bbiinternational.com Business Development Director hbrockhouse@bbiinternational.com

Chip Shereck

Senior Account Manager cshereck@bbiinternational.com

Jessica Tiller

Circulation Manager jtiller@bbiinternational.com

Marla DeFoe

Marketing & Advertising Manager mdefoe@bbiinternational.com

Jaci Satterlund

A R T Art Director jsatterlund@bbiinternational.com

Raquel Boushee

Graphic Designer rboushee@bbiinternational.com

Subscriptions Subscriptions to Biodiesel Magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge for any country outside the United States. To subscribe, visit www. biodieselmagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: Biodiesel Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Reprints and Back Issues Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational.com. Advertising Biodiesel Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and highquality print production. To find out more about Biodiesel Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or service@ bbiinternational.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. If you write us, please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space. Send to Biodiesel Magazine Letters, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email rkotrba@bbiinternational.com.

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

As any working magazine editor can tell you, the Editor’s Note is often the very last piece to be written before any issue goes to print. This is partially because editors—particularly a working editor who devel-

ops and selects the editorial lineup; secures, gathers and edits contribution materials; writes and edits all of the staff content; guides art selection in concert with the graphic designer; and co-copy edits the magazine with assistance from the copy editor—are too busy to think about their notes until the moment sandwiched between completion and printing. Just as some fortunate writers working for very successful, popular magazines may have six months to work on a single feature article, some editors may have an entire month to ponder their one-page piece. I postulate this is not the norm for most trade publications. A less frenetic and more responsible explanation as to why editors’ notes are written at the last minute is to gain a wide view of the particular magazine issue’s content, and to utilize this to summarize or highlight material as an entry point for readers. We launched our Spotlight section last summer, and since then it has become a fantastic way to learn about many of the amazing companies serving the biodiesel industry—whether large or small, well-established or emerging. The theme from this issue’s Spotlight section on page 16, “Pioneering Achievements,” became clear to me only after stepping back and editing the composite piece after I had written them all individually over several weeks. The theme, as I see it having emerged, is innovation. We spotlight eight companies this issue, half of which are technology providers—BDI-BioEnergy International, RPS-Renewable Process Solutions, Saola Energy and Air Liquide Construction & Engineering. We also feature two commodity trading firms (WWS Trading and Third Coast Commodities), one adsorbent provider (Imerys) and one equipment company (All-Line Equipment Co.). From novel biodiesel process technologies to original approaches to purifying and testing feedstock, blending biodiesel, and fostering important relationships, each of the featured companies in our Spotlight section is sure to impress and leave readers with something to think about. As a result, perhaps some readers will pick up the phone and give these companies a call to see what they can offer their business. More innovation is featured in our Feedstock feature on page 26, “The New Feedstock Frontier.” Researchers are developing new ways to sustainably grow the inputs this industry needs to take production volumes to the next level. We hope you enjoy our Spring 2018 Edition of Biodiesel Magazine. And remember, much like I needed to step back from this particular issue of the magazine to get a wider view of the emergent theme of innovation, I suggest we all do this occasionally to transcend petty politics and soundbite semantics in order to capture how pioneering, industrious and wondrous the clean energy sector of biodiesel truly is.


COPYRIGHT © 2018 by BBI International




Co-locating: Look Before You Leap BY JOE LEO

Recently, my wife and I purchased an acreage directly next to property owned by my wife’s sister and her husband. I immediately started

dreaming about all of the ways I could use this arrangement to make work around my house easier. We could share a lawn mower, a really nice one that I won’t have to store at my house. It would be such a great mower that my nephew would be begging me to mow my lawn for free and he would not lose interest until at least the middle of August. I could have builtin babysitters and someone to help me move furniture around the house. These dreams quickly faded when I started thinking about all of the additional work I would have to do to maintain the additional property. I also started thinking that maybe I would also have to do some additional work in return and maybe store some of this shared equipment at my house. My situation is not much different from that of my clients who are considering colocating with a complementary facility. At the outset, it is easy to look at the obvious benefits of co-locating without considering the additional risks and potential costs associated with it. While these arrangements can be very mutually beneficial if properly structured, a full consideration of the benefits requires an equally searching evaluation of the costs and potential risks as well. So, as my title implies, it is best if you look, before you leap, into a co-location arrangement. Environmental Permitting. Frequently with co-locating facilities, the biggest hurdle is compliance with environmental permitting requirements. The closer two separate facilities are located to each other, and the manner in which they are related, the more scrutiny they




may receive from environmental regulators. Increased scrutiny from environmental regulators frequently results in increased environmental permitting and compliance costs for both facilities. The U.S. EPA could consider one of the facilities a “support facility” or could consider both facilities as a “single source” with respect to the environmental regulations, even if the two facilities are owned by different companies. In order to determine if the facilities should be treated as a single source, the EPA considers whether the two facilities are part of the same industrial grouping (as determined by applicable SIC codes), whether they are physically contiguous or adjacent to each other, and whether they are under common control. The EPA has been aggressive in determining whether two facilities are support facilities and therefore should be considered as one for environmental permitting purposes. Real Estate. Frequently the first consideration in co-locating is whether one party will lease property from the other or if each will own their respective adjacent sites. Both have their benefits and costs, but leasing arrangements need to be considered especially carefully. If the parties elect to have one facility lease property from the other, both need to consider the term of the lease and what will happen when and if the lease terminates. It is not necessarily easy to move a building and the equipment inside, which can make leasing property risky for the party building a facility on leased ground. However, for less-established facilities without access to the capital necessary to purchase property, leasing can reduce upfront capital costs and make the facility more profitable. Both parties to a leasing arrangement need to carefully consider in which situations the lease can be terminated and what effect the termination will have. For example, will the leasing


party be required to remove the building and equipment once the lease terminates? Who will be responsible for environmental spills and contamination on the site, and what control can the land owner have in order to avoid contamination? How long does the lease have to last in order for the facility to secure financing? While more of a practical concern, the parties need to also consider how each will access their respective facilities and whether any easements or other rights need to be extended in order to guarantee continued access. Will the leased facility require utility easements, roads or other rights in order to continue operating the facility? Insurance and Liability. Co-locating arrangements can have an impact on the respective insurance costs and liability risks for both parties. While sharing infrastructure between two facilities can be efficient, it can also change the risk profile of these facilities and could increase the likelihood and magnitude of an accident. In conclusion, while co-locating two facilities can offer both financial and operational benefits to both parties, there are additional risks that should be considered and mitigated before two facilities decide to pursue such a project. Negotiating these issues up front when both parties are on good terms is significantly easier than facing them when problems arise in the future. Author: Joe Leo Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm 515-242-2462 leo@brownwinick.com


Our Own Infinity Wars: Trade, Tariffs, Tax and Waivers BY GRANT KIMBERLEY

I’ve watched with interest as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has evolved over the past decade, culminating with this spring’s blockbuster release of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. I can relate to

the drama of those Marvel movies, and how the Avengers always seem to face relentless attacks with seemingly insurmountable odds, and larger-than-life adversaries. Since Iowa is a national leader in both soybean and biodiesel production, I know as well as anyone that, like the Avengers, the agriculture and biofuels sectors have come a long way in the past 10 years despite constant attacks. We have taken a remarkable journey with many highs and lows, but we should feel proud of the progress we’ve made—even as the stakes couldn’t be higher in the past year alone. Both agriculture and renewable fuels have faced a never-ending string of battles full of countermeasures; meetings at the state, national and global levels; press conferences; media interviews; and market gyrations that hang on the balance of the latest tweet. More than once, the fate of agriculture and renewable biofuels seemed on the verge of defeat. Our movie trailer would show the possibility of losing out on existing and future trade agreements, the threat of soybean tariffs, backdoor Renewable Fuel Standard waivers for some villainous oil refiners, unjustly low RFS volumes, closed door White House meetings, and Ted Cruz holding hostage a well-qualified USDA undersecretary candidate. It has taken a strong team of ag and biofuel Avengers to defend our industry.

When it comes to feedstock, the threats have been dramatic of late. Some of them are smaller—such as the new Food and Drug Administration regulations if you want to sell your glycerin for feed or food uses. (The Iowa Biodiesel Board recently rolled out a program to help producers in every state with this—check our website for details.) Other threats are more menacing. In addition to my role as IBB executive director, I serve as Iowa Soybean Association’s director of market development, plus I’m a partner in my family’s sixth-generation farm. When the recent trade disagreements erupted, dragging soybean farmers into great peril, I had just returned from a trade mission in China. We met with former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, now the U.S. Ambassador to China. He warned us that this battle was coming, and to hold on as it might be rough for a while before it hopefully gets better. He was optimistic that with his knowledge of the issues and all the players, we would succeed. He assured us he will do all he can to keep both countries talking and negotiating to find a more reciprocal winwin trade relationship. The road to get there will be rough and could be full of setbacks, but in Ambassador Branstad we’ve got a biofuels “hero” keeping watch for us. In much the same way, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst—our Guardians of the Galaxy—have battled on behalf of agriculture and the renewable fuels industry against the opposing forces that are trying to dismantle the RFS. This plot is led by Ted Cruz and others aligned with The Dark World—certain oil refinery interests. It is very disheartening to watch the RFS undermined like

this, and EPA seems to be helping them do it. Likewise, we have had to contend with the on-and-off-again biodiesel tax credit. That level of uncertainty makes it challenging for the industry to continue to grow and mature. The good news is we are not alone. Like the Avengers, we have assembled a powerful group of our industry’s mightiest heroes to defend against our adversaries. I take great comfort in our friends, who help us in more ways than we can see on our journey. Knowing we are not alone keeps me going in the Age of Chaos. Biodiesel and all of agriculture is still well-positioned to grow and be successful in the U.S., but we must continue to band together. Sorta like a team, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes type-thing. I know, I know—sounds exhausting. But when the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the River of Truth, and tell the whole world, “No. You move.” Biodiesel Avengers, assemble! Author: Grant Kimberley Executive Director, Iowa Biodiesel Board 515-727-0664 grantk@iowabiodiesel.org




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People, Products & Partnerships

the inability to successfully operate the solid catalyst esterification system developed and patented by Lutros LLC. Mark Mauss, CEO of Lutros, said Bridgeport Biodiesel’s struggles were more equipment-related than technology based. Baker said he hopes someone invests in, acquires or merges with Bridgeport Biodiesel and reopens the plant.

AltAir Fuels in Paramount, California

quarter three,” the company stated. “Since September, the European Union has seen an influx of imported biodiesel, which has placed significant pressure on the local market, impacting profitability for Europeanbased producers. With continued imports and increasingly poor margins, the company has taken the difficult decision to cut back production in the region.” ADM first announced plans to build the Mainz biodiesel plant—the company’s third German biodiesel manufacturing facility—in 2005.


World Energy LLC closed on the purchase from Delek US Holdings Inc. of its interests in renewable jet and diesel producer AltAir Paramount LLC, its Paramount Petroleum LLC refinery assets, both co-located in Paramount, California, as well as an adjacent tank farm and most of Delek’s California pipeline assets. The purchase includes a 63-acre complex consisting of a 45 MMgy renewable jet and diesel fuel production facility, 1.7 million barrels of product storage, a truck rack with 28,000 barrels per day of throughput capacity, rail storage for up to 70 railcars, and pipelines stretching over 71 miles connecting the facility to major southern California distribution hubs including Long Beach.


Bridgeport Biodiesel in Connecticut has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The biodiesel refinery was engineered as a 13 MMgy continuous flow plant and built next door to the original, smaller batch facility in Bridgeport. CEO Brent Baker said the financial woes are related to the process technology installed at the facility, including





A new food safety program has been developed by the Iowa Biodiesel Board to help biodiesel producers comply with the U.S. government’s Food Safety Modernization Act. FSMA compliance is necessary for biodiesel producers whose glycerin may end up in the food or feed supply downstream. September is FSMA’s Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls deadline for companies with less than 500 full-time employees. Working with Degart Global, a committee of biodiesel producers, ingredient marketers and food safety experts developed the program. It consists of information, materials and the opportunity for consulting. The one-time cost ranges from $3,000 to $6,000, and a one-day, off-site desk review of the plant’s documents or two-day, on-site implementation assistance are available for additional fees. Archer Daniels Midland Co. announced plans to temporarily cease production of biodiesel at its 275,000-ton-per-year facility in Mainz, Germany, as a result of increased biodiesel imports into the EU. “The standstill is expected to last at least the duration of quarter two, and will be reviewed during


Riley, second from left PHOTO: IOWABIO

Bob Riley Jr., chairman of the board and founder of Feed Energy, CEO of the Riley Resource Group and owner of Corn Oil One, has been awarded the 2018 Cultivation Corridor Iowa Biotech Leadership Award. The award recognizes an individual who in the past year has demonstrated leadership, innovation, advocacy and commitment to advancing Iowa’s biotechnology industry. Riley received the award March 20 at an Ankeny reception as part of the Partnering for Growth Biotech Innovation Showcase and Forum. A Des Moines native, Riley has worked for more than 40 years in the fats and oil processing industry in many capacities. Corn Oil One is a startup company within the Riley Resource Group that is bringing new technologies and products to market to add value to the biofuels, life sciences, oleochemicals and feed industries.

Biodiesel technology developer Benefuel Inc. is exploring construction of a 20 MMgy biodiesel plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.


With an investment from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, Benefuel is working to complete engineering before breaking ground by end of year, said Rob Tripp, CEO of Benefuel. One of Benefuel’s largest investors, Suncor Energy, operates an ethanol facility and a petroleum refinery in Sarnia, which may provide distillers corn oil feedstock from ethanol production and could utilize the finished product in its established distribution channels as a compliance tool. Benefuel’s solid acid Ensel technology has been demonstrated for nearly two years at a 50 MMgy biodiesel plant in Beatrice, Nebraska. The new 20 MMgy will employ Ensel technology but will be designed on a modular basis. Tripp said he anticipates the plant to be operational by 2020.


At the California Advanced Biofuel Alliance annual conference on March 1, the National Biodiesel Board honored Celia DuBose, a founding member and longtime executive director of the California Biodiesel Alliance, with the Climate Leader Award. DuBose played a key role in grassroots biodiesel development efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been a leader and trusted resource on biodiesel technical and policy issues in California for more than a decade. Her leadership played a vital role in making California the largest biodiesel market in the nation. She is a pioneer on both biodiesel and environmental issues. As the group’s longstanding executive director, DuBose oversaw the organization’s recent expansion into representation of other renewable diesel replacement fuels and rebranding as the California Advanced Bio-

fuels Alliance. DuBose is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.


California regulators have certified CATANOX, a NOx-mitigating biodiesel additive developed by biofuels marketer Targray to help meet the latest requirements of the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. In an executive order published Feb. 22, the California Air Resources Board stated the additive had been tested in accordance with the Alternative Diesel Fuel regulation and demonstrated NOx emissions equivalent to standard diesel, as well as particulate matter emission reductions of more than 20 percent when compared to the benchmark CARB diesel. Targray, one of the largest biofuels marketers and distributors in California, is now the second company in the state to offer a CARB-certified NOx mitigation solution for biodiesel blenders. In March, Targray began offering its CATANOX additive as part of a fully blended, B20-ready turnkey solution at five fuel terminal locations in California.


Austrian state of Styria. The company has been researching algae production for years and developed its proprietary algae reactor system under its wholly owned subsidiary, BDI-BioLife Science GmbH, which will own and operate the plant as a raw material producer of algae for the food supplements, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Edgar Ahn, a member of the management board, said the annual capacity of the new plant will be 15 tons of algae biomass per year. In its 22nd year of business, BDI-BioEnergy International and its subsidiaries employ 110 people and is a market leader in various biodiesel technologies specializing in waste to value.


Pennsylvania-based biodiesel producer Lake Erie Biofuels LLC, doing business as Hero BX, has formed a strategic partnership with Iowa Renewable Energy LLC based in Washington, Iowa, to manufacture and market biodiesel from IRE’s 30 MMgy Iowa facility. With more than a decade of successful biodiesel production and marketing expertise behind it, Hero BX will apply its established business model to help capitalize on the new venture. Ron Lutovsky, IRE’s chief operating officer, said, “Iowa Renewable Energy is thrilled to be partnering with Hero BX and joining its growing national network of biodiesel supply and distribution.”

Biodiesel technology and engineering firm BDI-BioEnergy International officially broke ground Jan. 26 on its new algae biomass production plant at Hartberg Ecopark in the www.BiodieselMagazine.com




Whirlwind of Uncertainty in Washington Damaging, but Not New Spring in the Midwest can be unpredictable. It can bring damaging storms with lightning, tornados, and flooding—but it also brings the rain that grows the next year’s crops and springs life to flowers and trees from the long, dormant winter. While devastation and damage are impactful when they happen, they aren’t new or altogether unexpected. Some level of threat almost comes with the territory. Much like a Donnell Rehagen, CEO, Midwest spring, the biodiesel industry National Biodiesel Board lives in a world closely tied to politics that brings with it the threat of devastation in parallel to the opportunity for growth and abundance, side-by-side. The three-legged policy stool the industry stands on—the Renewable Fuel Standard, trade and tax—has seen real challenges and successes since the calendar last turned over. On the RFS, the whirlwind of reform talks at the White House and in Congress, Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ bankruptcy blame game, a flood of “hardship” waivers for refiners and more delivered significant uncertainty to biodiesel markets in April. RINs traded at their lowest level in more than three years, cutting discretionary blending and overall demand. This directly reflects the real harm being done to our industry. Demand destruction is real and was even addressed by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a hearing before the Senate agriculture committee recently when asked about the refinery waiver issue. We have also seen our champions in Congress weigh in with U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and directly with the president through phone calls, meetings, letters and appearances on network political talk shows. Our efforts at NBB have included a Freedom of Information Act request to EPA; a joint letter with NBB, the American Soybean Association and the National Renderers Association urging the president to halt the issuance of RFS waivers and to bring transparency; an economic study to quantify the damage of capping RIN prices; countless meetings with administration and congressional staff and leadership; and more. While all the activity around the RFS has been incredibly damaging to our industry in the short-term, one bright spot from the spring in Washington, D.C., is the success in the trade case to level the playing field against unfairly dumped imports of biodiesel from 12




Argentina and Indonesia. After a four-to-zero vote April 3 from the U.S. International Trade Commission in favor of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition’s position, the Department of Commerce issued final antidumping duty orders on April 26. This win, in conjunction with an affirmative decision on the companion countervailing duty determination from early November, establishes a level playing field for true competition in the market that will allow the domestic industry the opportunity to put to work substantially underutilized production capacity. NBB and the coalition members invested significant resources to defend a fair market with true competition. We’ve said all along we are for free trade, but it must be fair trade. This leveling of the playing field has already helped stimulate demand for U.S.-produced biodiesel and the corresponding economic and environmental benefits that come with it. The biodiesel tax incentive continues to garner broad bipartisan support but is hampered by the hyperpartisan nature of tax issues in the current environment. We remain grateful for our champions and their tireless effort, but this year has been a mixed bag so far. While we were able to get a retroactive extension of the credit for 2017 in a two-year budget deal passed in February, we were disappointed that some of the negotiators prevented the extension from covering 2018 as well. We continue to make the case that a long-term extension of biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentives is good energy and tax policy, and it would produce more of the environmental and economic benefits that were envisioned when Congress originally designed the incentives. The biodiesel industry is in the midst of a storm in Washington, D.C., but we’ve been here before. It has again brought damage but also growth opportunity. We will do—and are doing—everything we can to minimize the damage and capitalize on the growth to ensure the good outweighs the bad when the sunshine returns. Donnell Rehagan CEO National Biodiesel Board


NBB Biodiesel Fly-in, Member Meeting Gathers Industry in DC The biodiesel industry is converging on Washington, D.C., as the National Biodiesel Board hosts its annual summer membership meeting and fly-in June 25-27 to focus on association business and critical federal policy initiatives. “It is a perfect time for our members to be in the nation’s capital, meeting with their senators, representatives and agency staff on all things biodiesel,” said Kurt Kovarik, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “With the RVO volume proposal, legislative and administrative RFS discussions, and the biodiesel tax incentive still unaddressed this year, now is the time to turn up the volume on issues critical to growing the biodiesel industry.” NBB is again coordinating visits to Capitol Hill for its members to meet with their representatives in Congress and key leadership positions to most effectively utilize time and resources. “Having a relationship with your representatives in Washington is essential to any business that operates in a policy-heavy environment like the biodiesel industry,” Kovarik said. “It takes regular, year-round communication to build that relationship—none more effective than face-to-face meetings. Anyone and everyone with a stake in this industry should be here to ensure their voice is heard.” Members will hear in-depth presentations from association leadership, staff and key subject-matter experts on a variety of topics, raise

funds for the National Biodiesel Political Action Committee and be treated to an exciting keynote. The governing board will also consider bylaw changes designed to assure NBB’s long-term success. If you are not currently a member of the NBB and would like to attend and participate, contact Brad Shimmens, director of operations and membership, at 573-635-3893 or bshimmens@biodiesel.org to join NBB ahead of the meeting.

Government Study Finds Even Greater Biodiesel Emissions Reductions A recent study on biodiesel’s lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission effects confirms that biodiesel has the highest GHG reduction of any heavy-duty transportation fuel. According to the study, biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by 72 percent and fossil fuel use by 80 percent compared to petroleum diesel. The study, a collaboration between Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University and USDA, represents the most up-to-date and comprehensive lifecycle analysis of biodiesel ever produced. It is the latest in the significant body of transparent, peer-reviewed studies that conclusively quantify biodiesel’s widespread benefits. The National Biodiesel Board worked closely with the study authors to share the most current data in an effort to continually improve the science that can ultimately impact policy decisions. This is exactly the kind of information biodiesel champions in Washington, D.C., and statehouses across the country need to lay the foundation for the industry’s legislative priorities.

This study represents the first time Argonne National Laboratory has published a lifecycle assessment of biodiesel including indirect land use change (ILUC). The improvements to ILUC modeling in this study were not possible just a few years ago, because the data was not available. “It’s not news that biodiesel is good for the environment,” said Don Scott, NBB’s sustainability director. “Where credible results are needed for sound policies, it serves us well to look at transparent, reliable science.” The more the models reflect real-world data, biodiesel’s benefits become even clearer. The improved model reduces ILUC emissions by more than 30 percent relative to the score adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2015. “Biodiesel’s emission-reduction benefits are so great that you can overapply penalties aligned with the most conservative models and biodiesel is still the cleanest alternative for today’s diesel engines and the heavy-duty transportation of tomorrow,” Scott said. www.BiodieselMagazine.com



NBB and ‘Diesel Brothers’ Tout Biodiesel at California Truck Unveil The Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers recently unveiled their latest custom creation, a biodiesel-powered F550 truck during the 2018 Commodity Classic conference. The show’s stars were on site in the National Biodiesel Board booth during the reveal to meet fans and show off their new ride, built as a project by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council to bring attention to biodiesel. “For what started as an idea from a few council members and staff, to turn into this, it is hard to imagine,” said Kris Folland, a farmer-leader from Minnesota. “I don’t think anyone could have believed it would have been this amazing. And then to have Discovery get involved, how do you put a value on that? It’s invaluable.” The goal of the project was to promote and solidify support for B20 in Minnesota, using the head-turning truck as a promotional piece. However, the biodiesel angle sparked interest from the Discovery Channel due to the fuel’s environmental benefits, which led to the filming of the project build for the television show. “I thought this was going to be successful off the bat because of the audience we could reach through just the people who follow DieselSellerz and the Diesel Brothers,” said Pat Sullivan, another soybean farmer involved with the project. “We wanted to reach mechanics, gear heads, fuel guys and people who maybe heard bits and pieces about biodiesel but didn’t know much about it or were

still thinking back to that one bad experience 15 years ago. We’ve definitely captured the attention of that crowd, and we’ve sparked a conversation.” The biodiesel truck build is anticipated to air over two episodes as part of season four of the show early this summer on Discovery Channel.

Survey Says: Biodiesel No. 1 Alternative Fuel in Fleets North America’s top fleets have spoken and their No. 1 choice for greening their fleet operations is biodiesel. America’s advanced biofuel also took top honors in projected growth, with more fleets planning to acquire or continue using biodiesel than any other alternative fuel option. “The findings of this survey validate what we hear anecdotally all the time,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board. “While other technologies may get more attention, biodiesel is consistently the best way to store solar energy for transportation use. Nothing beats the power and performance of a new technology diesel engine to get the job done in heavy-haul or high-mileage operations. And when fleets learn that they can immediately reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using biodiesel blends in their existing diesel equipment, it is truly a win-win.” The 2018 Fleet Purchasing Outlook study conducted by NTEA—The Association for the Work Truck Industry—shows 18 percent of fleet participants use biodiesel now, up from 15 percent in 2017. Seventy-five percent of fleet respondents planning to acquire trucks in 2018 also said they plan to maintain or increase the use of diesel technology, showing that the powertrain is here to stay for work truck fleets. “Nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated they currently operate alternative-fueled trucks in their fleets, up 4 percent from BIODIESEL MAGAZINE 2018 SPRING EDITION 14 l

2017, and interest is at the highest recorded level since 2014,” said Steve Latin-Kasper, NTEA director of market data and research. “While interest in alternative fuels may wax and wane a bit due to the inherent volatility of oil prices, it will likely rise steadily across time. Most fleets are well aware of the need to keep exploring clean energy solutions.” This consumer confidence is a testament to the industry’s more than two decades of diligence to fuel quality work, OEM development and targeted outreach.


Biodiesel Champions Honored for Their Industry Successes Each year, the National Biodiesel Board recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to biodiesel. The 2018 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners, below, were announced in conjunction with the industry’s 25th anniversary.

City of Seattle—Climate Leader Award

The city of Seattle is one of the leading biodiesel fleet users in America. City fleet directors turned to biodiesel for its carbon reduction benefits and ease of use. In 2014, the city enacted the Green Action Fleet Plan with a goal of reducing its carbon emissions by more than 40 percent by 2020. This began the city’s use of B20. Seattle now uses nearly 200,000 gallons of biodiesel per year, significantly lowering carbon emissions. The city also educates other fleets that are interested in transitioning to biodiesel, and it even partnered with NBB as a featured fleet in the 2015 national biodiesel advertising campaign.

Samuel P. “Pat” Black III—Initiative Award. Founder and CEO, Hero BX

With a vision to help revitalize Erie, Pennsylvania, with a return to a booming manufacturing sector, Samuel P. “Pat” Black III founded Lake Erie Biofuels, doing business as Hero BX, in 2005. Hero BX bears witness to Black’s commitment to investing, creating and managing companies with innovative products to capitalize on economic opportunities in the Lake Erie region and beyond. He envisioned a company that would create meaningful jobs, spur technological innovation and produce ecofriendly products. Hero BX is the largest biodiesel plant in the northeastern U.S. It also operates a production facility in Moundville, Alabama, a blending and distribution terminal in North Hampton, New Hampshire, and a recently added expansion to Iowa. This year, Black commissioned a book, The Biodiesel Solution, to help bring the biodiesel story to a larger audience.

Mike Youngerberg—Impact Award. Director of Product Development and Commercialization, Minnesota Soybean

Since 1986, Mike Youngerberg has worked to advance soybean industry priorities as a member of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association staff. As executive director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council, Youngerberg plays a critical role in one of the most proactive biodiesel states in the country. In 2002, Minnesota passed legislation requiring that diesel fuel contain at least 2 percent biodiesel. On Sept. 29, 2005, Minnesota became the first state to require biodiesel blends. The program increased to B5 in 2009, to B10 for the summer months in 2014, and moved to B20 this May. This tremendous growth wouldn’t have been possible without Youngerberg’s leadership.

Andrea Pratt, Green Fleet Program Manager, City of Seattle

Stephen Censky—Pioneer Award. Deputy Secretary, USDA

As the long-time CEO of the American Soybean Association, Stephen Censky was instrumental in the growth and advancement of biodiesel. ASA’s primary focus is policy development and implementation of soybean farmer issues, including biodiesel. Under Censky’s guidance as CEO from 1996 to 2017, ASA played a critical role in passing the biodiesel tax incentive in 2005, and the inclusion of biodiesel in the revised Renewable Fuel Standard through its national network of farmer-leaders and extensive grassroots advocacy power. At USDA, Deputy Secretary Censky continues to provide critical leadership on agricultural policies. He also served at USDA in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Earl Christensen—Innovation Award. Senior Chemist, National Renewable Energy Lab

Confidence in biodiesel blends in the marketplace relies on sound scientific data. Earl Christensen has been instrumental in conducting work related to biodiesel stability that has bolstered confidence in B20 by both original equipment manufacturers and end-users. At NREL, Christensen led critical efforts to analyze the positive benefits of stability-enhancing additives in pure biodiesel, as well as the positive impacts of readditizing B100 whose oxidative reserve has gone down over time. His recent work showed all samples of current market B20 biodiesel blends meeting today’s ASTM specifications had a minimum simulated shelf life of at least one year, with many samples having simulated shelf life of more than three years. This work shows that it is possible for B20 to be stored as long as or longer than petroleum diesel.




SUPER SUPPORT: The Calgren Renewable Fuels and RPS-Renewable Process Solutions teams proudly pose in front of the supercritical biodiesel plant, SJV Biodiesel LLC, co-located with Calgren’s ethanol facility in Pixley, California. Technology provider RPS anticipates completion of the project by year’s end. PHOTO: RPS-RENEWABLE PROCESS SOLUTIONS


ACHIEVEMENTS Biodiesel Magazine spotlights eight companies—four process technology providers, two commodity firms, a blending equipment manufacturer and an adsorbent supplier—forging new paths in their respective fields BY RON KOTRBA





SPOTLIGHT WWS Trading For more than 25 years, WWS Trading has been a family-owned commodity merchandising firm buying and selling fats, oils and proteins. “Trading is only part of what we do,� says Tyler Storlie, whose mother, Wendy Weihe-Storlie, started the company in 1992—the year he was born. “We offer a fullpackage service.� Storlie joined WWS a year ago bringing the company a younger perspective on technology integration and marketing. Storlie says WWS makes the process of buying and selling easier by matching new buyers with suppliers, fetching better pricing and finding profitable substitutions. “We work to lower prices for everyone and optimize the market,� he says. “And we take care of the logistics. It saves our customers a lot of time and money.� Trucking is a market within a market. “We source from a huge number of carriers and capitalize on their capabilities, rates and locations to draw better prices,� Storlie says, adding that much juggling and relationship management goes into logistics. “We’ve come to learn about the different carriers we work

with—which lanes they prefer to run, where headaches or bottlenecks show up—and over time we’ve built a data base of that information. We optimize that system to meet demand and keep prices low. People trust us to handle it. We get ahead of issues before they happen.� Mark Napier, a senior trader with WWS for 13 years, says trucking is especially difficult today, with mandates limiting driving hours and less available labor. “Call us, tell us what you want, get us numbers and dates, and that’s all you have to worry about,� he says. “We have a whole team dedicated to finding trucks and we have longstanding relationships with the carriers.� WWS also helps with cash flow and risk mitigation. “We carry credit insurance, which allows us to do a few things,� Storlie says. “We can guarantee on-time payment to our suppliers, mitigate our exposure, and provide more generous payment terms to our customers.� The company also provides market advising. “We’re plugged in and can sense where prices are going,� Storlie says, “so we can tip off customers and suppliers to trends we see.� WWS services biodiesel producers of



all sizes. “We offer competitive pricing and a large network of suppliers,� Napier says, adding that biodiesel producers surviving the industry’s “culling� have become more conservative in their bids. “They use our networks to help with that,� he says. WWS not only provides feedstock to biodiesel producers, but it also sources their glycerin and fatty acids and finds buyers. The company was founded on the model of service. “If we’re not helping our customers make money, there’s no reason for them to use us,� Napier says. “Finding the best deal for them is the best deal for us.�

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SPOTLIGHT Third Coast Commodities Third Coast Commodities was founded in 2013 by Paul Dickerson. Then Dan Weiss came on board. “They came out of the trenches,” says Rob McHugh, a Third Coast junior trader. “And me, I learned to make fuel from used cooking oil 10 years ago and operated a small collection company, Chicago Biofuels, working with Loyola University Chicago’s biodiesel program.” This boots-on-the-ground experience and early work with Loyola allowed Third Coast to build solid relationships with vendors, customers, and students, graduates and faculty of Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability. “We’ve found that students and graduates of the institute possess the right DNA to support our trading partners beyond transportation, marketing, hedging and price discovery, to support the more meticulous requirements of the biodiesel industry—particularly in regulatory compliance,” McHugh says. “We’ve been very impressed with their skill sets, maturity and acumen—and we hope to maintain our relationship with Loyola well into the future. What these students do academically can springboard into real-world experience here and beyond.” Case in point: Gabrielle Habeeb.

Third Coast was privileged to work with and hire Habeeb, a graduate of the institute who started as a Third Coast intern. At Loyola, Habeeb researched invasive crustaceans in Chicago’s waterways. “My analytical background prepared me for the challenges at Third Coast,” Habeeb says. “Third Coast’s fast-changing environment taught me adaptability and the ability to multitask that made me an appealing candidate for the Natural Resources Defense Council,” where she begins working this spring. “Everyone at Third Coast wishes Gabrielle the best at her new position at NRDC,” McHugh says. “Third Coast can hire only so many Loyola graduates. We hope other companies in the industry will utilize the university’s great resources and incredible talent.” Many small businesses suffer from inadequate resources. “Primarily deficits in capital translate into a deficit in human capital,” McHugh says. “We support our trading partners in these specific areas by offering guidance, resources and time to reach very specific goals, and to mitigate as much risk as possible.” As evidenced, Third Coast is more than a commodity trader and merchandiser. The company is a relationship builder and maintains that people—not profit—come first. And while doing the right thing is its own reward, collateral benefits follow. “We stick to our word, make

From left, Dan Weiss, Gabrielle Habeeb, Evan Helfrich (intern), Rob McHugh and Brandon Kassam (intern) PHOTO: THIRD COAST COMMODITIES

things right and we’re always willing to navigate unforeseen hurdles in any operation,” McHugh says. Trading partners turn to Third Coast for these reasons, and for its belief in biodiesel and best practices in responsible, transparent chains of custody. “The industry deserves all the support it gets,” McHugh says. “It hasn’t been earned easily and we’re proud of the contributions we’ve made. We think highly of the industry, the people in it, and the quality clean-energy fuel that biodiesel is. If the students coming out of Loyola are any guidepost, then the future looks bright for our industry.”

Working together for the benefit of clean energy development Thirdcoastcommodi es.com | www.luc.edu/sustainability/ 18




SPOTLIGHT Air Liquide Engineering & Construction Air Liquide Engineering & Construction has been instrumental in oleochemical and biodiesel plant development over the years. In 2007, Air Liquide acquired Lurgi Group and its decades of development in oils and fats processing technologies. The firm has delivered more than 300 extraction and refining facilities, ranging from 100 tons per day (tpd) to 6,000 tpd. “We have built more than 70 oleochemical plants in the past 15 years,” says Etienne Sturm, business development director at Air Liquide Engineering & Construction in Houston. “All of them are still in operation.” Sixteen are complete fatty acid plants with feed capacities up to 600 tpd. “Our teams have been involved in plant expansion and upgrades as our customers grow,” he adds. “We’ve built 12 fatty alcohol plants, 28 glycerin recovery and pharma-grade glycerin distillation plants, including the world’s largest distillation unit of 600 tpd, and 75 biodiesel plants.” Making recent headlines is Air Liquide Engineering & Construction’s agreement with Cargill to engineer and supply a 60 MMgy biodiesel plant in Wichita, Kansas, using its Lurgi process technology. “We established the cur-

rent industry norm of 60 MMgy, still recognized across the industry today,” Sturm says. “Through our R&D, we have been developing oleochemistry that adds value for our customers.” Air Liquide’s developments include technologies for on-spec, sediment-free biodiesel, even from feedstocks with 100 percent free fatty acids; a low-pressure process for fatty alcohols (around 75 bar); methyl ester hydrolysis; and glycerin to bio propylene glycol (Bio PG). Air Liquide’s aspirations for the North American market are supporting its biodiesel technology, expanding implementation of its solvent extraction technology, and further developing its commercially proven Bio PG technology. “Our solvent extraction technology— Lurgi Sliding Cells—is well-suited for multifeedstock operations because of its advanced control features and ability to handle high levels of fines,” Sturm says, adding that Air Liquide has built more than 200 units worldwide as large as 6,000 tpd. “We want our customers to benefit from its flexibility in operations and feedstock, higher safety standards and higher efficiency.” Air Liquide’s Bio PG technology converts low-value crude glycerin into high-value propylene glycol worth about 70 cents a pound. “This technology provides a higher return on


investment for owners—over 20 percent— and is commercially proven, safe and more competitive than traditional propylene glycol,” Sturm says. Sturm, who’s been with Air Liquide for 20-plus years, says Air Liquide brings a onestop-shop to the U.S. market for all technologies—from oil extraction to various oleochemicals. “We excel in process integration and optimization, and we’re the only technology supplier to possess such a variety of technologies,” he says. “Air Liquide Engineering & Construction is a center of expertise for project execution. We can deliver full engineering and procurement if necessary, including the process guarantee. This represents a step forward for owners who want to reduce project risk.”

SPOTLIGHT RPS After engineering and building 18 biodiesel plants with Jatrodiesel, Rahul Bobbili decided to go a different way and invest in his own vision. RPS-Renewable Process Solutions was born. “My vision is to diversify and give customers options,� Bobbili says. “Every plant is looking at how to gain value from products they’re producing.� When Bobbili formed RPS, Calgren Renewable Fuels’ biodiesel project in Pixley, California—a 5 MMgy supercritical biodiesel plant co-located next to its 57 MMgy ethanol refinery—was given a choice to continue construction with RPS. “Calgren opted to go with RPS because of my technology know-how and understanding,� Bobbili says. Moving forward, RPS is pushing two technology pathways: a biodiesel technology called Hybrid.T (Hybrid Traditional) combining supercritical and conventional processing; and an alternative approach to renewable diesel production. Feedstock with free fatty acids (FFA) requires pretreatment such as esterification, involving high solvent and acid usage. “Acid esterification hinders transesterification, deteriorates process equipment and final fuel quality,� Bobbili says. “When I developed the supercritical process at Jatrodiesel, it was

a promising technology to handle high-FFA feedstocks, but it comes with a cost. So I developed an alternative technology that uses parts of supercritical and traditional processing techniques.� Hybrid.T strips FFA from feedstock and processes them through a small supercritical reactor. “The advantage is lower pressure and temperatures compared to our regular supercritical process,� Bobbili says. The FFAstripped feedstock is transesterified through conventional processing. FFA conversion to biodiesel through the parallel supercritical step is 98 percent. This stream is introduced into the transesterification reactor, where the remaining 2 percent FFA is converted to soaps. Bobbili says advantages of Hybrid.T are low processing costs; fractional methanol usage compared to esterification; low sodium methylate usage for transesterification; high yields compared to traditional production; no salt deposits, corrosion or high maintenance common with sulfuric acid usage; and low capital costs with short deployment time. The supercritical reaction is driven by temperature, pressure and FFA concentration. “The higher the fatty acid concentration, the lower the pressure and temperature requirement,� Bobbili says. “The fatty acids act as a catalyst under supercritical conditions and


drive the reaction forward.� RPS is focused on co-locating 3 to 5 MMgy Hybrid.T plants at ethanol refineries with a return on investment of three to five years. The Calgren project is expected to come online by end of year. RPS is also working with petroleum companies to develop alternative approaches to renewable diesel processing. “The entire renewable diesel industry is using triglycerides,� Bobbili says. “We’re doing it differently, and it eliminates catalyst degradation and high hydrogen usage because glycerin has to become a gas, which is a loss. We developed a pretreatment process with two products coming out. One goes to hydrogenation, with the other a high-value byproduct.� Bobbili says RPS is developing a new project in California that will be online in 2019.

www.rpsol.com Email: support@rpsol.com | Phone: (833) 777-6566

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SPOTLIGHT All-Line Equipment In March 2001, after nearly 20 years working in the petroleum business, Steve Disselhorst founded All-Line Equipment Co. Soon after, Steve’s brother Scott joined the company, bringing his military discipline and computer savviness to the table. When ultra-low sulfur diesel was mandated, additives became essential to improve lubricity, keep injectors clean and provide better fuel economy. “All these additive companies needed to sell product without overadditizing and wasting money,” Steve says. “Tracking this became a new problem. Big terminals had super-complicated systems, but at the smaller retail level there weren’t many options. We developed our system to fill a void.” This naturally evolved into biodiesel blending. “With the tax credit, biodiesel blending became pretty lucrative and people wanted solutions,” Steve says. A South Carolina client wanted to blend biodiesel at different dispensers at two rates, just like additives but at larger ratios. “We scaled up the pump and meters for the right range of flow and pressure,” Scott says. The Bio Blender was born.

“No one manufactures high-capacity blending dispensers like those truck stops use,” Steve says. “They want a high flow rate. To achieve that, you need larger inlet valves, meters, and there’s no room in the dispenser to house this additional equipment.” All-Line Equipment’s Bio Blender is designed for high flow. The Bio Blender is positioned between the fuel storage tanks and dispensers. “Our proprietary controller runs the variable speed bio pump,” Scott says. “We can run the motor barely turning, full throttle, and anywhere in between depending on the flow rate of the diesel fuel.” Diesel passes from the tank to the island through a meter on the platform, and as soon as it’s flowing, the system registers how much and how fast. “Based on that, our bio pump runs to add bio to the diesel stream at the right ratio,” Scott says. Controls constantly monitor the two streams and react quickly and accurately, Steve says. “That’s the challenge—getting the algorithm right,” he says. “We’ve done a good job fine-tuning that. It keeps human error out of the equation.” The retailer can change the blend ratio to maximize profit or meet changing customer demands vs. being locked into a preblended

From left, Scott and Steve Disselhorst. PHOTO: ALL-LINE EQUIPMENT CO.

inventory from the terminal. This system does not require delivery drivers to interact with it at all. The system also allows more intank diesel storage and avoids product separation. The Disselhorsts say the Bio Blender is the most accurate, hands-free, real-time blending system available. “When we sell a system, we come on-site and do a startup to ensure quality control and proper installation,” Scott says. “We offer remote monitoring if the customer is interested.” When asked how many hours the system can run before a failure, Steve says, “I’ll let you know once we have a failure.”

• Maximizes Your Fuel Storage • Eliminates Storage of Mixed Fuel • Simple Setup and Monitoring • Fully Automated Blending • Earn Your Blending Credit • Suitable for New Installs or Retrofits • Adjust Your Blend at Any Time • Ensures Accurate Blend to Islands


www.BioBlending.com www.BiodieselMagazine.com 21

SPOTLIGHT BDI Biodiesel producers continue to rely more on waste-based feedstock, but the nature of these degraded materials means varying degrees of impurities and significant problems in phase separation, resulting in emulsions and yield losses. After pioneering advancements in the waste-to-biodiesel industry for more than two decades, BDI-BioEnergy International has developed a novel method to characterize feedstock behavior. With grant funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, BDI’s biofuels research and development expert Robert Raudner set out to develop a simple but effective phase separation test for biodiesel feedstock. The starting point was the existing ISO 6614 method for petroleum products, but the mixing in this method is too intense, inhibiting phase separation. The procedure is simple, Raudner explains. Separately preheat water and feedstock samples to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill 40 milliliters (ml) of feedstock into a 100 ml graduated cylinder. Add heated water until the 80 ml mark is reached. Seal the cylinder with a stopper. Mix gently by turning upside down five times in 10 seconds, then place the cylinder in

a heated location to ensure the temperature will not drop significantly below 185 F. Wait five minutes for phase separation and then read the results. Raudner notes that as mixing of the phases is key, the test should always be performed by the same person. Since oil is lighter than water, a clean, pure feedstock will ideally show 40 ml of oil on top, a sharp interface, and 40 ml of water on bottom. If, for example, the reading shows 20 ml of oil on top, 60 ml of emulsion in the middle, and no water phase, this means a lot of water and oil is held in emulsion and pretreatment of feedstock is necessary. If, however, 30 ml of oil, followed by 20 ml of emulsion and 30 ml of water is read, blending with clean feedstock could improve phase separation, and if not, pretreatment is another option. The characteristics of the layers and interface should be described using a standardized repertoire of qualities, Raudner says. Layers, for example, can be described as clear, with bubbles, cloudy or hazy, while interfaces can be described as sharp, bubbly or lacey. Raudner points out that most biodiesel plants run the same chemical process but on different equipment, resulting in their tolerance against separation problems to be varying. Therefore, when introducing this method, the quantitative results gained need to be in-

Raudner Feedstock with poor separation, left, contrasted with feedstock displaying ideal separation. PHOTO: BDI-BIOENERGY INTERNATIONAL

terpreted with the performance of the plant first. By doing so, clear limits can be defined in order to say what feedstock is acceptable. Identifying feedstock with poor separation from this method may lead to rejecting a batch on delivery, mixing good and bad feedstock, or implementing pretreatment. Once pretreated, the feedstock can be tested again to check the efficacy of the pretreatment process.

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SPOTLIGHT Saola Energy The team at Saola Energy likes doing new things. “We love problem-solving,” says Adam Belyamani, Saola Energy’s chief operating officer. “We enjoy fixing difficult issues.” Dean Camper, the firm’s chief technology officer, says, “While we excel at providing engineering services to clients, our primary focus is offering novel technologies.” Although the company is relatively young, Belyamani and Camper say it’s made a big impact in the two years it’s been around. Saola Energy is an up-and-coming technology company in the renewable fuels space with its roots in WB Services, whose technologies were avant-garde and bolstered by Camper’s extensive hydrotreating experience in the oil industry and Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Saola Energy has an exclusive agreement to provide engineering for integrated biodiesel plants co-located at ethanol refineries, which is a patented process now owned by Rayeman Elements. “We picked up projects that were ongoing at WB and we came in to help finish them,” Belyamani says. Included in this was East Kansas Agri-Energy’s nameplate 3 MMgy renewable diesel plant, which is now running above nameplate capacity. “Once we

get started on a project with a client, and they become familiar with our capabilities and see the results,” Belyamani says, “they tend to give us additional work.” Saola Energy’s services range from plant evaluations, debottlenecking and mass-balance studies, to engineering, project management and complete general contracting services, as well as plant operations. “We provide support until the project is completed and beyond,” Belyamani says. For projects co-located at ethanol refineries, Saola Energy is engaged on two fronts: enzymatic biodiesel processing and renewable diesel production. “We can do traditional chemical biodiesel, but for smallersized plants we think enzymatic makes more sense,” Camper says. Saola Energy personnel is very familiar with the commercially available Novozymes enzyme used at the 2 MMgy enzymatic biodiesel plant co-located at Adkins Energy’s 50 MMgy ethanol refinery in Lena, Illinois, built by WB Services four years ago. This was hailed as the nation’s first biodiesel production facility co-located at an ethanol plant. “The feedstock-flexibility enzymatic biodiesel brings to the table, particularly as margins on soy tend to get tighter—especially without the tax credit—is critical,” Belyamani says. Saola Energy is also in discussions with

EKAE’s renewable diesel facility PHOTO: SAOLA ENERGY

standalone biodiesel plants to retrofit chemical processes to enzymatic. The company has filed for a utility patent on renewable diesel technology for its intellectual property implemented at the EKAE plant. Until the patent is published, it prefers to keep this information close to the vest. “We’ve done lot of work with EKAE, getting the plant up and running—they’ve been patient and graceful,” Camper says. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons in the past two years. This was a first-of-its-kind renewable diesel facility co-located with an ethanol plant, and we continue to develop strategic partnerships. We are gearing up to build more of these and are in advanced discussions.”



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SPOTLIGHT Imerys With 18,300 employees and more than 4.5 billion euros in annual revenue, Imerys is a French multinational company specializing in the production and processing of industrial and advanced minerals. Nearly a year ago, Imerys hired Chris Abrams, a renowned expert in chemical adsorbents for biodiesel applications. Abrams has spent 25 years working in chemical adsorbents, with 19 of those focused on biodiesel applications. Abrams recalls how the dry-washing term for biodiesel first came about. “Decades ago the term was used by small home brewers of biodiesel before any commercial-scale plants were in existence,” Abrams says. “Those home brewers first used the ‘dry washing’ term as a descriptor for washing their biodiesel without water.” Twenty years later, the sophistication of the biodiesel industry has greatly increased and use of chemical adsorbents is a commonplace and valuable component of processing— whether in feedstock purification, washing, or as a final fuel polish. Imerys’ Filtration Division is headquartered in San Jose, California. The company’s CynerSorb line is innovative and effective, Abrams says. “We use a diatomaceous earth mined in California with an extremely high surface area that is chemically enhanced with a proprietary adsorbent,” he says. “We see biodiesel producers using other adsorbents in concert with diatomaceous earth, but when using multiple products like this, it may cause too much pressure in filtration and slow down production. So the general idea was to combine two concepts—diatomaceous earth and an adsorbent—to provide great filtration characteristics while trying to fix a problem that plagues the industry.” Diatomaceous earth is used to remove solids, but it’s not activated. When combined with Imerys’ proprietary adsorbent, the two-in-one product can remove a host of impurities that either product alone would leave behind. CynerSorb is a surfacefunctionalized diatomaceous earth. “Using CynerSorb reduces the overall adsorbent amount and weight used, thereby reducing yield loss in the filter cake,” Abrams says. “Also, by reducing the total amount of powder added to the system, the 24



longer the filters are up and running. So it improves production rates and decreases yield losses.” Imerys offers five grades of CynerSorb product with varying filtration characteristics, depending on the customers’ needs. “This is the widest selection for the end user, and they’re used in all points of the biodiesel process,” Abrams says. “In feedstock pretreatment, CynerSorb removes metals and can degum too, which can be done with or without adding acid.” He says the best application for CynerSorb is on the front end, addressing impurities early on so producers don’t have to deal with them later. “It’s not that there is no need for adsorbents at the back end,” he says, “but taking care of the bad things on the front end helps improve conversion and separation down the line.” CynerSorb is also used to replace water-washing after transesterification for removal of soaps, residual gycerin and metals, but to a lesser extent. “The way the industry is now, a majority of producers are waterwashing or distilling, so our product would mainly be used on the back end as a final polish,” Abrams says. “But some use it quite effectively for washing.” On the tail end, it is a cold filtration solution too. “Using CynerSorb in the cold filtration process gives better results for cold-flow characteristics of the final fuel,” he says. Where CynerSorb really shines, Abrams says, is in its ability to offer feedstock flexibility to biodiesel producers when used in feedstock purification. “As markets get tighter and producers turn to different types of feedstock, we’ve come up with the tools that allow them to be more feedstock-flexible,” he says. “Lower-quality feed means better economics but greater difficulty in processing. Imerys has invested in R&D and analytics to give producers the tool set needed to be flexible and capitalize on those better economics. CynerSorb works in a broad range of temperatures and feedstocks. The oil is heated, mixed with CynerSorb for 10 to 30 minutes, or for continuous flow based on the volumetric oil rate, then filtered out. “The reason it works so well is the activated sites throughout the product,” he says. “There is extremely high surface areas internally and externally, so it’s a tortuous filtra-


Left, tallow before treatment with 35 ppm phosphorus (P), and same product after CynerSorb treatment on right with less than 1 ppm P PHOTO: IMERYS

tion path for liquids around and through the surface-functionalized diatomaceous earth. It removes impurities chemically and physically.” Phosphorous and the resulting soaps formed during neutralization of free fatty acids are two of the main impurities targeted and removed on the front end, along with a broad range of metals and salts. For a final fuel polish, glycerin, soaps and any remaining metals are removed. Abrams says Imerys is a one-stop shop for filtration needs and has the broadest range of solutions. “We have the right products with multiple ranges of permeability and the expertise to help with a wide variety of applications,” he says. “If you’re trying to change feedstock or equipment in your plant, we have the knowledge to help you. We can also create one-off solutions for very specific processes. And we can help you become more feedstock-flexible.”








Cutting-edge research and development has the potential to turn conventional wisdom on its head and revolutionize how, and from where, plant oils are obtained BY RON KOTRBA

Detractors have long argued that one of the greatest limiting factors to biodiesel growth is feedstock availability, but what if convention were tossed aside and the once-impossible became completely feasible? Soybean

oil, for instance, provides half of the feedstock for U.S. biodiesel production. Modern farming practices and improved crop varieties have led to incremental increases in per-acre yields over time, but what if scientists could tap into the genetic makeup of the beans and remove the inhibitor that caps oil production at 20 percent? Or how about if researchers could redirect oil production to grow significant quantities of harvestable oil not in seeds but in vegetative stalks and leaves? Work at Brookhaven National Laboratory and schools such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Florida are pioneering such research to make the impossible a reality. Scientists at BNL led by biochemist John Shanklin have identified an enzyme—ACCase—central to determining the rate of oil production in oilseeds. The enzyme is made of four subunits, all of which are necessary for the enzyme to function. With all four subunits in place, ACCase drives the first step in fatty acid synthesis. Previous work by Shanklin in 2012 revealed that when plant cells were fed a shortterm excess of fatty acids, a “feedback loop” inhibited this enzyme, slowing oil production. When fatty acid concentrations dropped within two days, the enzyme and oil production would turn back on—but a longer-term excess of fatty acids would permanently disable the enzyme. 26



At the time, scientists knew of multiple ways to inhibit the enzyme, but none explained the irreversible inhibition observed. When University of Missouri researchers in 2016 discovered an inactive version of one of the four enzyme subunits, Shanklin thought the inactive subunit taking one of the active subunit’s place might be at play and sought to test this hypothesis. It turns out cells with combinations of the disabled genes didn’t turn off oil production. In effect, disabling the inactive subunits turned off the off-switch. “We had been studying what happens when the plant senses it has made too much fatty acid,” Shanklin tells Biodiesel Magazine. “Just like the thermostat in your house, when the temperature gets to its high point, the furnace turns off.” He says living systems use homeostasis, which is a set point not unlike a thermostat in a house used to control temperature. “We tried to figure out how this thermostat worked in plants, so when it has too much of something it stops producing it,” Shanklin explains. “Our hypothesis was that this new component”—aptly named BADC, for biotin-attachment-domain-containing proteins— “could be a candidate. We identified a mutant and showed how plants that did not contain BADC made more fatty acids. The BADC protein was the thermostat.” One might expect wild plants being fed excess fatty acids would limit oil production, but the BNL team was surprised to see that, even under normal conditions, the enzyme driving oil production was much more active in plant cells with the disabled genes than in the wild, unmodified variety. “That means that, even under normal conditions, inactive


subunits are putting the brakes on ACCase, reducing its activity and limiting oil production,” Shanklin says. The work was performed on Arabidopsis due to its rapid growth and small stature. “Soybeans take a whole season to grow,” Shanklin says. “It’s like how human geneticists work on fruit flies because it’s much faster. Arabidopsis grows very rapidly, and you can grow thousands of plants in a small space. It’s an oilseed about nine-inches high compared to canola, which is about three feet high.” Shanklin says this research, recently published in Plant Physiology, will soon move into the hands of seed companies. They will take their own elite lines, the specific properties of which they know intimately, and make manipulations themselves for in-depth study. “Whenever you change something like this, you have to check whether it’s changing agronomic properties,” he says. “There has to be field testing. We provide the intellectual foun-

UNCONVENTIONAL SOURCES: Stems from a variant of sugarcane called energycane are where some researchers target concentration of oil production, yielding from grassy crops in excess of 10 times more oil per acre than canola. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

dation upon which others will build.” Shanklin postulates that this development could provide a 20 to 30 percent increase in oil yields for crops such as soybeans. “That would be a guess,” he says. “Forty percent would be a big jump.” Shanklin says he wears two hats in this type of work. “The first is as a basic scientific researcher, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of oil production in plants—the end of the story in that role is discovery of new mechanisms, which points the way to strategies to improve oil yields in commercial crops. But I also wear a second hat and participate in a large project with partners such as the universities of Illinois and Florida, which is an applied science project taking very productive crops like sugarcane and trying to rewire them metabolically to produce oil.” Earlier this year the U.S. DOE awarded the University of Illinois a $10.6 million, five-year grant to transform two productive

nonoilseed crops—a variety of sugarcane called energycane and miscanthus—into highoil-yielding crops that could revolutionize the plant oil industry. The new research project is called ROGUE, which stands for Renewable Oil Generated with Ultra-productive Energycane. Shanklin says he received a call from Steve Long at University of Illinois in 2012. “With my knowledge of lipids, he asked me if there was a way to rewire sugarcane to produce more oil,” Shanklin says. “We are co-principal investigators on ROGUE.” The work utilizes computer models that project these two crops can achieve 20 percent oil, a major increase from natural levels of less than a tenth of 1 percent. “If fully successful, these crops could produce as much as 15 times more biodiesel per unit of land compared to soybeans, a food crop that currently produces half of our nation’s biodiesel,” says Long, who leads the project’s efforts at the Carl R. Woese Institute

for Genomic Biology at University of Illinois. In oilseeds—as the name suggests—oil accumulates in the seeds, whereas in vegetative or biomass crops such as energycane or miscanthus, oil is produced but is then metabolized. “What we learned before this project is, in sugarcane, if we regulated [oil] synthesis and inhibit consumption, we get oil accumulation,” Long tells Biodiesel Magazine. “We added a protein found in rapeseed, which coats the oil and ‘hides’ it from the plant so it’s not metabolized—that was the strategy we took.” In earlier work, the researchers were able to demonstrate 8 percent triglyceride accumulation in sugarcane leaves. “If we add the fatty acids, this is more like 12 percent,” Long says. ROGUE is targeting accumulation in the stems rather than the leaves. Long says this oil is much the same as oil accumulated in oilseed crops such as soy or canola. “It’s really very similar to soy oil or other temperate oilseeds,” he says. www.BiodieselMagazine.com


FEEDSTOCK stem,” he says. “Oil requires more energy than sugar, so we’re also boosting photosynthesis, and our work there would have relevance for other C4 crops. In this project, however, we’re only applying this to energycane and miscanthus.” The actual genetic transformation work is being performed at University of Florida. “They’re one of the most experienced places in the world doing this,” he says. “We’ve shown we can accumulate oil in vegetative tissue like leaves, but now we want to get oil in the stem—and that’s probably one of bigFEEDSTOCK PHENOMS: The team from Brookhaven National Lab gest challenges presently.” involved in disabling the off-switch in production of oil in oilseeds includes group leader and biology department chair John Shanklin (standing), Jan Why the stems? Because that’s where 80 percent of Keereetaweep (front right), Hui Liu (front left), and Zhiyang Zhai. PHOTO: BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY the biomass is, “so that’s where you want the oil,” Long says one aspect of the ROGUE project is modifying oil synthesis in the stems Long says. “Furthermore, the technology is in for accumulation. “We’re identifying gene place to harvest and process the stems—that’s promoters that target oil accumulation in the what sugarcane processors do. To process the

leaves, you would need an organic solvent to get the oil out. And it wouldn’t achieve the high numbers needed to make this attractive.” Long discusses the patented method to extract the oil from the energycane stems. “It’s based on technology used in sugarcane processing,” he says. “The stems are crushed with hot-water washes to get out sugar, but this also removes any oil, which floats.” He says the mixture is then centrifuged, much like what’s used in corn ethanol plants to remove distillers corn oil. “The technologies exist to do all of this,” Long says. “Energycane is grown the same way as sugarcane and processed the same way. Then a centrifuge can be used to get the oil out after the crush.” The commercial potential for grasses is “really huge,” Shanklin says. “Our goal in ROGUE, for instance, is to eventually get to 15 to 20 percent oil by dry weight.” He says even if the research led to commercialization and extraction of energycane yielding just a tenth of their goal—1.5 percent oil in the stem— this would yield on a per-acre basis the same amount of oil as canola. “If we realize our goal of 15 to 20 percent, then 15 percent oil content in one acre of this grass would be equivalent to the amount of oil from 10 acres of canola,” Shanklin says. “And at the end of it, there’s still

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FEEDSTOCK a whole lot of sugarcane stems left that can be dissolved and made into ethanol or used to fire the plant.” Targeting grassy crops such as energycane or miscanthus that can be grown on marginal lands is important to Long, Shanklin and this work. “The Southeast seems to be our best target,” Long says. Shanklin agrees. “There’s a lot of marginal land in the Southeast U.S. currently not used for commercial production of anything,” Shanklin says. “This land could easily be converted to grow ‘oilcane’ without impacting food supply. If we can use this land that is otherwise fallow at moment, we completely avoid the food vs. fuel problem. That’s something I’m very excited about—creating new sources of renewable fuel with a very low carbon footprint on land that is fallow. Owners can make money from the land and it doesn’t have to compete with food production.” As recently as 10 years ago, scientists thought oil was only produced in seeds and that there was a reason for this. “The big surprise is plants can tolerate high levels of oil production in

any tissue, it’s just that evolution selected production of oil in seeds because it’s the most energy-dense form of storage,” Shanklin says. “Because they don’t make much oil in the leaves, we thought there was a biological reason for this. But to our surprise the reason is that it’s just not necessary. When we try to make oil in leaves, we can make high levels without any real detriment to any other function.” Shanklin says we are on the verge of extremely exciting developments in the next decade. “I think it’s fair to say the potential for this research is enormous for boosting the biodiesel industry in terms of volumes produced, and its significance in reducing fossil fuel use.” Author: Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine 218-745-8347 rkotrba@bbiinternational.com

ON-SITE CRUSH: Grasses grown with oil in the leaves are crushed in the field with this mobile system at University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN






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BIO PROUD: Bryan Christjansen is the general manager for three of REG’s facilities in Albert Lea, Minnesota; Mason City, Iowa; and Okeechobee, Florida. Christjansen takes pride in the economic impacts his biodiesel plants have on the surrounding communities. PHOTO: MINNESOTA SOYBEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

The FACES Behind the STATISTICS While the economic effect biodiesel manufacturing has on small towns is quantifiably beneficial, the human effect is immeasurably invaluable BY TOM SLUNECKA

CONTRIBUTION: The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biodiesel Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s). 30




COMMUNITY Bruce Springsteen recorded the song “My Hometown” in 1983 and, although the words describe scenes from his childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, the sentiment—vacant stores on Main Street, plant closures, and the loss of jobs—resonates with many who grew up in rural communities across the country. A sole employer, possibly a manufacturing plant, loses market share to overseas competition and shutters its doors. There’s a ripple effect both immediate and delayed: laid-off workers seek employment farther away in larger metropolitan areas, local businesses suffer as the population shift becomes permanent, a longtime high school is absorbed into a larger education system in a neighboring county. Some towns bounce back. Some never recover.

Biodiesel Fills the Gap

Albert Lea, Minnesota, has seen good times and tough times. A meat packing plant shut down in 1990, putting 1,200 people out of work. In 2001, a devastating fire at the Farmland Foods meat processing plant left the city without its second largest employer. “We’ve seen ups and downs in this community,” says Josh Quinlivan of Albert Lea Electric. “Our economy in this region is based on farming. If farming is not doing good, we’re not doing good.” In 2002, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to require that all diesel fuel sold contain at least a 2 percent blend (B2) of biodiesel. Some hailed it as a muchneeded lifeline to the agriculture community, and towns such as Albert Lea. Not so fast. Painstaking work remained as it would be another three years before implementation. The state’s biodiesel industry had to grow just to meet the requirements of the B2 mandate. In 2005, Renewable Energy Group Inc. constructed a facility for SoyMor Biodiesel LLC in Albert Lea. Six years later, REG acquired the plant and spent $21 million in upgrades, supporting nearly 80 construction jobs in the process. And as the saying goes, the future was now. Minnesota was becoming a trailblazer

LOCAL SERVICE: Josh Quinlivan of Albert Lea Electric, an electrical contractor in commercial and residential, as well as farms, says REG’s Albert Lea plant is one of the company’s top customers. PHOTO: MINNESOTA SOYBEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

in the production and use of biodiesel. In 2014, another “first” was in the books as the state moved to require 10 percent biodiesel, or B10, in diesel blends sold during the summer months. B10 was required from April 1 to Sept. 30 and B5 is required during the remaining winter months. Beginning this May, however, the summer blend increased to B20. And the impact of REG Albert Lea on the surrounding community? In 2016, the plant supported 33 direct jobs, produced 38 million gallons of biodiesel, and purchased 182 million pounds of feedstock from Minnesota vendors, resulting in $51 million of added value to the state’s economy. Impressive, indeed, but numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story. In the words of journalist Campbell Brown, “Human faces shouldn’t get lost amid the statistics.”

More Than Just a Job

John Priefer was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He witnessed the struggles of manufacturing in the Rust Belt, working in the fastener industry and watching jobs move offshore. Prior to his move to North-

wood, Iowa, not far from Albert Lea, Priefer ran a valve and pump rebuilding company in Cleveland. A maintenance supervisor for seven years now at REG Albert Lea, he believes the plant has been a real plus for the area. “It’s a pleasant change,” Priefer says. “Instead of watching something decline, you’re watching something progress.” After a 12-hour shift at the REG plant, he counts his blessings, loves small town living, and is grateful his talents are in high demand. “It’s a nice surprise that those skills are still valuable in an agricultural area,” Priefer says. Southern Minnesota has always been home to Jeremy Larsen, operations supervisor at REG Albert Lea, but after high school he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the rest of his family. In 2012, he relocated to Glenville, Minnesota, a town of about 600 people just a short distance from the REG facility. He began as a night operator and now manages 17 employees. Larsen and his wife are plugged into the Glenville community and he’s proud of the fact that he knows pretty much everyone in town. “It means a lot to me,” Larsen www.BiodieselMagazine.com



TRICKLE DOWN: Knutson Oil Co. in Glenville, Minnesota, hauls wastewater from REG Albert Lea, Minnesota, and Mason City, Iowa. The company added personnel and equipment as a result. PHOTO: MINNESOTA SOYBEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

MAYORAL SUPPORT: Wes Webb, the mayor of Glenville, Minnesota, runs Com-Tech, which provides onsite communications equipment to REG Albert Lea. PHOTO: MINNESOTA SOYBEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

says. “But it’s more important for my kids. I can share childhood memories with them in an area I grew up. And growing up in an agriculture community, it’s awesome being able to help support local farmers.” Bryan Christjansen is the general manager for three of REG’s facilities in Albert Lea, Minnesota; Mason City, Iowa; and Okeechobee, Florida. A veteran of the renewable fuels industry, he believes biodiesel is a strong product. “We’re taking people’s waste streams and producing a product,” Christjansen says. “That in itself is a much better sell for renewable energy.” He takes a great deal of pride in REG Albert Lea’s economic impact on the surrounding community. “We’re providing good-paying jobs and good benefits to this community,” he says. “A lot of the younger 32



'The total economic impact of the biodiesel industry in Minnesota is estimated at $1.7 billion.'

generation that’s coming through now finds that this is a very good place to work, and a safe working environment.”

Fueling Communities

“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” The words of the late Walmart founder Sam Walton ring true in the communities surrounding REG Albert Lea. Born and raised in Albert Lea, Josh Quinlivan attended college in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul but returned 14 years ago and joined Albert Lea Electric, an electrical contractor in commercial and residential, as well as farms. He says the REG plant is one of Albert Lea Electric’s top customers. “We’ve done a lot of their Datacom wiring, fiber-optic stuff, maintenance and troubleshooting,” Quinlivan says. “Anytime


you have a successful company that seems like it’s sustainable, and we have a great relationship with them, that’s obviously good for us.” Down the road in Glenville, Wes Webb runs Com-Tech, which provides on-site communications equipment to REG Albert Lea. Webb has lived in the community for 57 years and serves as the mayor of Glenville. Of the biodiesel plant, Webb says, “It’s nice to have them here. It’s a good asset. There’s employment. They purchase locally. They’re a good community partner. Every employer you have contributes to the overall well-being of the area. And to have an employer such as REG that pays good wages and that has good jobs is important.” Knutson Oil Co. is located about a block-and-a-half away from the community

COMMUNITY business,” he says. “I’m kind of proud of what we’ve done, especially in a small community.”

More Than Statistics

JOB CREATOR: In 2016, the REG Albert Lea plant supported 33 direct jobs, produced 38 million gallons of biodiesel, and purchased 182 million pounds of feedstock from Minnesota vendors, resulting in $51 million of added value to the state’s economy. PHOTO: MINNESOTA SOYBEAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

center in Glenville. The business was started by Bob Knutson’s father in 1951. Bob joined the business in 1975, followed by his brother Larry a few years later. REG Albert Lea and Mason City contracted Knutson several years ago to haul wastewater from the plants. “We probably hired another three to four guys,” Knutson says, adding that the company bought three additional semis and a couple trailers, all locally. “There again you get that trickle

down,” Knutson says. “We haul the wastewater over to Riceville, Iowa, where they take the methane gas off it and make electricity to put back on the grid. We’ve got six trailers total to haul this wastewater, and now all of a sudden, between what we were doing for REG, we have other customers that want our services.” Knutson says the new hires are local, and it’s had a positive impact on the community. “It’s grown to be a big part of our

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the total economic impact of the biodiesel industry in the state is estimated at $1.7 billion, with the total employment impact estimated at nearly 5,400 jobs. In this day and age of Twitter and social media as a whole, statistics seem to have lost a great deal of impact as they are bandied about in an atmosphere of dueling keystrokes. But we can’t blame technology or the younger generation. Almost 25 years ago, I can recall the Wendy’s commercial when Clara Peller hollered, “Where’s the beef ?” A catchy phrase was then hijacked by political campaigns and remains to this day a term to question an idea or claim. Maybe our society has become so divided that we’ve been relegated to “seeing is believing.” In southern Minnesota, folks are seeing the impact of biodiesel beyond just statistics. In these communities, Main Street is back. Author: Tom Slunecka CEO, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association 507-388-1635 tom@mnsoybean.com





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