2017 Summer Biodiesel Magazine (Q3)

Page 1


HERE TO SERVE Select Companies Provide

Vital Services, Products and Equipment to Biodiesel Industry Page 14

Plus New JV Couples Enzymatic,

Resin Tech with Advanced Distillation Page 22


CFIs Make Biodiesel Fit for Purpose, Cost-competitive Page 24




14 Here to Serve the Biodiesel Industry SPOTLIGHT

Select companies that provide essential products, services and equipment to the biodiesel industry are profiled.


22 Breaking New Ground PROFILE

Smisson-Mathis Energy plans to couple enzymatic and resin processing with advanced distillation to produce on-spec biodiesel from brown grease.




24 CFIs Help Make Biodiesel Fit for Purpose, ADDITIVES


Evonik’s Viscoplex cold flow improvers with polyalkylmethacrylates chemical technology are a cost-effective solution to meet low-temperature requirements.



DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note

7 Events Calendar


8 Business Briefs

BY RON KOTRBA 5 Legal Perspectives


5 Tips to Attract the Right Buyer for Your Biodiesel Plant

10 Inside NBB

BY TODD TAYLOR 6 Talking Point

Advertiser Index 9 27 21 20 17 2 26 19 16 7 23 18 8 28

2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo 2018 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo Biofuels Financial Conference D3MAX LLC Dallas Group of America, Inc. Evonik Oil Additives USA, Inc. ICM, Inc. Iowa Central Fuel Testing Lab Lanxess Energizing Chemistry NBB National Biodiesel Board Oil-Dri Corporation of America Reiter Scientific Smisson-Mathis Energy Universal Green Commodities

New Findings in Free Glycerin Research Point to Improved Fuel Quality Testing Procedure BY RICHARD HEIDEN


ICM’s Reliability Services team hopes to parlay decades of experience in the ethanol industry to new opportunities in the biodiesel sector. PHOTO: ICM 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 Biodiesel Magazine rkotrba@bbiinternational.com

Tim Portz Vice President of Content & Executive Editor tportz@bbiinternational.com Ron Kotrba Editor rkotrba@bbiinternational.com Jan Tellmann Copy Editor jtellmann@bbiinternational.com

P U B L I S H I N G Mike Bryan Joe Bryan



Chairman mbryan@bbiinternational.com CEO jbryan@bbiinternational.com

Matthew Spoor

Vice President, Operations mspoor@bbiinternational.com

John Nelson

Marketing & Sales Director jnelson@bbiinternational.com

Howard Brockhouse

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 high-quality 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 to rkotrba@bbiinternational.com.

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling

So many changes have taken place in the U.S. biodiesel industry over the past six months, but this constant flux is nothing new. It seems as if the moment one realizes the market has stabilized, it is bound for destabilization. Conversely, once market conditions appear to be at their worst, improvements become apparent. After Trump won the presidential election in November, speculation ran rampant on how this would affect the biodiesel markets, which made stellar recoveries in 2016 after two very bad years. With Trump’s mixed message of support for the Renewable Fuel Standard juxtaposed with a new administration stacked with friends of Big Oil, uncertainty reigned once again. The lapsed biodiesel tax credit, the fifth expiration in its relatively short life, and talk of massive federal tax reform only fueled the fire of doubt. Meanwhile, low-cost imports have been eating into the domestic market share. As spring emerged, petitions were filed with federal agencies seeking duties on imports from Argentina and Indonesia, and while the outcome of those trade cases are yet uncertain, the preliminary evidence seems favorable for U.S. producers. However, before domestic producers had time to get too excited, the first RFS proposal under the Trump administration was released and sought a modest decrease in advanced biofuels in 2018 and to flatline biomass-based diesel in 2019 at 2.1 billion gallons—not the fresh start needed to reinvigorate an unsure market. Even though 2017 has started out rougher than many had hoped, there is a very good chance the year will end stronger than it started. Bills have been introduced in Congress to both reinstate the tax credit as a reformed domestic producers credit as well as a blenders credit. The U.S. Court of Appeals made a finding that the U.S. EPA misused its waiver authority to reduce renewable fuel volumes in its 2014-’16 RFS final rule, which bodes well for future installments. Biodiesel advocates are rallying in the RFS comment period once again to demonstrate why EPA should increase its advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel volumes in the final rule compared to its weak proposal. The trade cases will soon come to a conclusion. And in state policy news, the commissioners in charge of Minnesota’s biodiesel mandate determined that, despite claims of inadequate blending infrastructure, the jump from B10 to B20 in the summer months will go into effect as planned May 1, 2018, once again making biodiesel history in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Finally, the companies we showcase in our Spotlight feature on page 14, “Here to Serve the Biodiesel Industry,” have ridden the ups and downs of this market over the years and have not wavered in their commitment to this sector. Their perseverance is evident and their market share will be rewarded as a result. Thank you for your continued support for this energy movement that history will show is on the winning side of a noble fight.


COPYRIGHT © 2017 by BBI International






5 Tips to Attract the Right Buyer for Your Biodiesel Plant BY TODD TAYLOR

The year 2016 was big for the sale of biodiesel plants in the U.S., with seven plants representing 256 million gallons changing hands.

Most of this activity was the result of larger companies buying plants to expand their footprint. In 2015, five plants sold for much the same reasons. This year has been, and will continue to be, a year with increased uncertainty, given the political climate counterbalanced with increased blending requirements under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and a California market under the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) that continues to provide opportunities for biodiesel. So, what should you do if a potential buyer comes knocking on your door? Even more importantly, what should you do if you want to be an attractive target for your friendly neighborhood buyer? Here are some tips to help you get ready. 1. Compare yourself to plants that have already sold. Most potential buyers rank all of the biodiesel plants by how desirable they are to be acquired. Take a look at the key metrics for each plant acquired before, including gallon capacity, RFS and LCFS fuel type, profitability, feedstock costs and more. Based on key metrics, you can likely guess how you rank vs. what you know were attractive plants, and then work to improve those metrics. 2. Realistically assess your weaknesses and strengths. Every business owner sees

their business through rose-colored glasses, but you must be brutally honest about where your plant may be weak. Is your feedstock cost too high, your market access too limited, your plant’s energy cost too much? Find these weaknesses and improve them first. 3. Consider technological, operational and supply chain improvements. Plants that have been acquired generally offer potential technological, operational or supply chain advantages. For instance, the ability to produce renewable diesel is a strong advantage, as is the ability to improve the plant to produce high-margin coproducts. Plants that have been debottlenecked and operational efficiencies increased are seen as more attractive. Likewise, improving costs and efficiencies in your supply chain, from inputs to outputs, will make a plant a better acquisition target. 4. Cut the fat. This can be a touchy subject, but some plants retain workers or vendors who are less than efficient. Sometimes they have consultants getting paid for questionable work. A buyer will look at all of those expenses and will reduce the purchase price accordingly, and when the price is a multiple of your earnings or profits, any noncritical expense will cost you. 5. Consider who your buyers might be and realize that having only one buyer is a bad idea. Investment bankers have a saying, “One is none.” One buyer has significant leverage with you as you have only one other option, which is to not sell. Once a seller

starts down the process to sell, it is usually hard for them to break off negotiations, even if the deal isn’t the best. The buyer has little incentive to pay more, concede on important deal points or provide other accommodations to the sellers. Having another potential buyer adds urgency and competition, which usually increases price and gets the seller better terms. Many times, sellers think they cannot risk finding another potential buyer, or that no other potential buyer makes sense—especially in the case of a “strategic buyer.” However, there are almost always other options available if you are willing to look. Once you are approached by a potential buyer, it is almost always too late to improve your position. Buyers will want to move fast to get you to sign a letter of intent so that you are prevented from talking to other buyers and to get you committed. Don’t sign a letter of intent until you have discussed it with experienced legal counsel and other advisors. Also consider hiring an experienced licensed broker or investment banker to help you get ready and sell for the most money possible. Author: Todd Taylor Attorney, Jux Law Firm 612-584-3406 ttaylor@jux.law




New Findings in Free Glycerin Research Point to Improved Fuel Quality Testing Procedure BY RICHARD HEIDEN

The cornerstones of quality programs for B100 biodiesel are gas chromatography (GC) test methods for residual glycerides and free glycerin (FG), formalized as ASTM D6584 and EN14105.

These are part of the legally enforceable fuel quality standards, D6751 and EN14214, used in commerce throughout much of the world. This article focuses on some results of ongoing research on impurities in biodiesel— their detection and quantification, discoveries made about their solubility, and implications outside the laboratory, which are truly surprising. Concerns about residual glycerides and glycerin emerged in the late 1980s during the development of commercial processing in Austria. Excessive levels were found to stimulate exhaust emissions containing the carcinogen acrolein. Deposits in fuel injector nozzles, on the bottom of storage tanks, and accumulated in blocked fuel filters1 were also discovered. This led to guidance on maximum allowable amounts of total and FG residuals in finished fuel. The first specification for FG was published in Austria by 1991 and was set at 0.03 percent. By 1997 it was reduced to 0.02 percent by a DIN standard, which was later adopted by both the U.S. and EU in 2002-’03. The total free and bound glycerin were set at 0.24 and 0.25 percent, respectively. In 2012 a new specification for monoglycerides was added, targeting saturated monoglycerides indirectly because of their involvement in fuel filter obstruction incidents. Fortunately, technological solutions to reduce or eliminate these impurities are now known and implemented successfully by many biodiesel manufacturers. Questions about the reliability of the testing protocols have persisted, however. For example, over many years both ASTM and EN round robin testing have indicated a high level of uncertainty for both total glyc6



erin and FG. And, numerous new analytical challenges have emerged. Early method development focused on relatively simple unused soybean and rapeseed oils as biodiesel feedstocks. Today, a host of new and chemically diverse oils are used that can increase the complexity of the GC fingerprint with added ester components, oxidation products and unknown substances. For FG, there are also no reference materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology or AGQM to mark the performance of analytical methods or commercially available internal and external standards widely used in the industry. Despite these challenges, the many advantages of the GC approach still prevail. Earlier this year an article was published highlighting some of the research on data scatter and the solubility of FG by our group2. Any of many possible error sources can ruin data. But among our results was the discovery of heterophases of FG in several B100 samples at initial levels originally measured at substantially below 0.02 percent. When agitated, the FG levels sometimes increased by as much as 217 percent, to well over acceptable limits, clearly demonstrating that these dense heterophases can cause severe underestimates. Moreover, simple agitation was itself found in several samples to increase the data scatter. A promising new and readily implemented procedure was developed, consisting of: 1) controlled agitation, 2) increased sample size, and 3) a pretreatment. This combination greatly reduced both imprecision and underestimates due to the heterophases. The existence of heterophases at room temperatures and levels below 0.02 percent was previously unrecognized. Solubility defines a threshold for the formation and disappearance of these dense heterophases, which are problematic for the variety of reasons mentioned above. The solubility of glycerin, when measured in a purified FAME, was less than one-fifth of the previously published data, and fell even more with the addition


of small amounts of moisture. This brought solubilities down to levels well-below 0.02 percent at 23 degrees Celsius. Additional factors affecting solubility include blend composition, temperature and interacting impurities. The high density of FG heterophases contribute to unwanted accumulations during storage and transport, and the high viscosity of dry FG phases can increase the risk for fuel-flow obstructions. Contamination of diesel fuels by heterophases is a not a new concern, but, in the case of FG, this has been ignored. For example, the test specification for sediment and water, based upon centrifugation of much larger samples, allows for 0.05 percent by volume of such phases, the equivalent of more than 0.06 weight percent glycerin. Other impurities with limited solubility, such as fatty acid soaps, catalyst residues, filter aids, water and more are likely to have similar influences on test procedures, particularly those that dictate the use of small sample aliquots. Adjustments to test methods will help restore confidence in test data. This renewed confidence will lead to a better appreciation of enforceable limits, and ultimately to an improvement in the consistency of fuel quality.

References: 1. Mittelbach, M., Remschmid, C. (2004) Biodiesel—the comprehensive handbook. Martin Mittelbach, Graz, pp 119–120. 2. Heiden, R.W., Schober,S., Mittelbach, M. (2017) Bias and imprecision in the determination of free glycerin in biodiesel: the unexpected role of limitations in solubility. J Am Oil Chem Soc 94: 285-299.

Author: Richard Heiden Owner, R.W. Heiden Associates LLC 717-299-6860 rwheidenphd@gmail.com


National Biodiesel Conference & Expo JANUARY 22-25, 2018 Fort Worth, Texas The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is the biggest biodiesel event of the year and registration is now open for the 2018 Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 22-25. Whether you are an industry veteran, or just getting your feet wet in the biodiesel world, the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo has plenty of reasons to attend this year. Speakers will present thought-provoking and engaging sessions, with keynote speeches and roundtable discussions presented by industry experts. The expo hall offers attendees the chance to network with other professionals from around the country, and events like the famous opening reception and Biodiesel Ride & Drive will showcase the latest diesel vehicles and bring plenty of fun and business networking to the week. 800-841--5849 www.biodieselconference.org

International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 16-18, 2018 Atlanta, Georgia Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop—the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 www.biomassconference.com



International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo


JUNE 11-13, 2018 Omaha, Nebraska From its inception, the mission of this event has remained constant: The FEW delivers timely presentations with a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production—from quality control and yield maximization to regulatory compliance and fiscal management. The FEW is also the ethanol industry’s premier forum for unveiling new technologies and research findings. The program extensively covers cellulosic ethanol while remaining committed to optimizing existing grain ethanol operations. 866-746-8385 www.fuelethanolworkshop.com

National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo JUNE 11-13, 2018 Omaha, Nebraska With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products.



866-746-8385 www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com


Learn More About the Biodiesel Industry


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People, Products & Partnerships

Daniel J. Oh

Randy Howard

Longtime leader of Renewable Energy Group Inc., Daniel J. Oh, resigned from his position as president, CEO and member of the board July 3. REG’s board of directors has appointed Randy Howard, a director on the company’s board since 2007, as the interim president and CEO. Howard said REG had been discussing for some time the type of leadership needed to take REG to the next level. In June, following the purchase of land in Geismar, Louisiana, where the company owns a 75 MMgy renewable diesel production facility, REG announced plans to expand renewable diesel production in Geismar and at other locations where REG currently makes biodiesel, such as in Grays Harbor, Washington, and Seneca, Illinois. Howard said his extensive leadership experience in the petroleum industry will facilitate acceleration and implementation of REG’s growth plans. The board of directors is beginning the search for a new CEO. “They’ve given me the reigns to run the company until we find a long-term leader,� Howard said. West Coast biodiesel distributor and glycerin refiner Whole Energy Fuels Corp. has been awarded a $100,000 federal grant to study whether a lower-cost pathway is possible to make estolides—a type of lubricant—from biodiesel. The company received notification

of the grant in June from the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research program. The Phase I grant will be finished by mid-2018, and Phase II will conclude mid-2020. Disbursement of the funds was expected in July. Unlike traditional methods, Whole Energy’s process uses fatty acid methyl esters—biodiesel—as the base fatty acid, rather than oleic acid. “On top of a lower cost, this reduces the need for a separate reaction later to esterify the fatty acid,� said Atul Deshmane, president of Whole Energy. The research is being conducted at Whole Energy’s lab in Anacortes, Washington. The German biodiesel quality management association AGQM has added four biodiesel oxidation stabilizers to its noharm list of additives, following completion of the organization’s 11th no-harm test round. The four antioxidants added to the list are Xtendra BL100 and BL200 (CFS do Brasil), Baynox Ultra (Lanxess Deutschland GmbH), and Pachem-BL (Pachemtech sp z o.o.). Antioxidants are added to B100 to help achieve the required stability of eight hours in an accelerated procedure used in standards testing. The noharm test was developed by AGQM in cooperation with the petroleum industry to ensure no negative interactions between the stabilizer additives in biodiesel and the petroleum diesel, engine oil and other additives used. Now, a total of 51 antioxidant additives from 28 manufacturers have passed AGQM’s no-harm test.


A Tesoro oil refinery in Dickinson, North Dakota, has plans to coprocess renewable feedstock along with regionally sourced Bakken crude oil to produce a 5 percent renewable diesel blend. Construction is planned to begin in October with start-up expected in December. Tesoro acquired the Dakota Prairie Refinery in Dickinson last year. The facility can refine up to 20,000 barrels per day (BPD). To coprocess renewable feedstock, such as soybean oil and distillers corn oil, Tesoro plans to retrofit an existing 8,000 BPD diesel hydroheater and associated equipment. The company plans to market the renewable diesel blend locally in North Dakota. Tesoro has applied for a $500,000 grant through the state industrial commission’s renewable energy program. The total cost of the project is $3.5 million. Tesoro selected Haldor Topsoe as the project’s technology provider and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. as engineering and procurement contractor. On Aug. 1, Tesoro changed its name to Andeavor to reflect the company’s ongoing transformation.

7XUQLQJ :DVWH LQWR %LRGLHVHO SME is producing ASTM Ultra Low Sulfur Biodiesel from exclusively Commercial Brown Grease and FOG from Wastewater Treatment Facilities









Solfuels USA LLC, a 40 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel facility located in Helena, Arkansas, successfully began trial production in June, according to CEO Henri Bardon. Last December, two Singapore-based companies, Agritrade Resources Ltd. and Solfuels Holdings Pte Ltd., jointly acquired the former Delta American Fuel LLC soy biodiesel plant in Helena, Arkansas. With help from Frazier, Barnes & Associates as the project’s engineering partner and Process Systems Inc. as the construction contractor, Solfuels USA retrofitted the plant with multifeedstock technology to accommodate yellow grease, rendered animal fats, inedible corn oil and refined vegetable oil. Solfuels USA has engaged Weaver for Q-RINs auditing and EcoEngineers to help qualify the plant for participation in California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The company expects the facility to be operating at full capacity this summer. The project created 15 plant jobs in Arkansas and four office jobs in Memphis, where the company is headquartered.

The DieselSellerz, stars of Discovery’s hit show Diesel Brothers, could be adding “bio” to their title after teaming up with Minnesota soybean farmers. That’s because the DieselSellerz are partnering with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council to promote biodiesel. The four “Diesel Brothers” will take on the task of building a biodiesel truck for MSR&PC, with the build set to air during a future episode on Discovery. The DieselSellerz are scheduled to make appearances Aug. 2 at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota, and at the 2018 MN Ag Expo in Mankato, Minnesota, where the Minnesota biodiesel truck will be unveiled. The partnership is part of a larger awareness campaign MSR&PC is embarking upon to tout the benefits of biodiesel in Minnesota.

Aemetis Inc. announced that its Universal Biofuels subsidiary in India has signed a three-year biofuels supply agreement with BP Singapore Pte Ltd. (BPS), the regional trading arm of BP Plc, which has an expanding biofuels portfolio. The Aemetis plant in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, has a capacity of 50 MMgy and is the first and only India biofuels producer approved under California’s LCFS for delivery of tallow and waste oil biodiesel. In April, Aemetis filed a patent on process technology developed at the plant in Kakinada, India, for the conversion of a wide range of waste feedstocks into biodiesel. Universal Biofuels has also won its first contract to supply biodiesel to the India government-owned Oil Marketing Companies in a public tender process. The OMCs provide about 70 percent of the fuel consumed in India, and the diesel fuel market is growing at a rate of more than 5 percent per year.


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Application of America-first Approach to RVOs Well-intended, But Misses the Mark The first action by the Trump administration on the Renewable Fuel Standard was much anticipated. The National Biodiesel Board and the entire biofuels industry eagerly awaited the 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVO) proposal released in July. The RFS was intended to move this country toward advanced biofuels, and the biodiesel industry has risen to the challenge of the RFS program every year with the potential to continue growing with the right policy signals. Donnell Rehagen, CEO, After much consideration and input National Biodiesel Board from our members, our industry working group dedicated to making recommendations on the RVOs and our governing board, NBB recommended U.S. EPA propose a 2018 advanced-biofuel volume of 5.25 billion ethanolequivalent gallons and a 2019 biomass-based diesel volume of 2.75 billion gallons. Increased volumes would enhance stability in the marketplace, provide room for growth in our industry, increase opportunities for U.S. producers, and provide a clear signal that American-made advanced biofuels are a key component of President Trump’s plan for “energy dominance.” While the July announcement was just a proposal, we felt the disappointment of maintaining the minimum required biomass-based diesel volume at 2.1 billion gallons from 2018 for 2019 and a proposal that slightly decreases the 2018 volume for advanced biofuels to 4.24 billion gallons from the 4.28 billion gallons EPA set for 2017. While the decrease in advanced biofuels corresponds with lower cellulosic biofuel volumes from 2017, EPA’s proposal does not show the growth in advanced biofuels that Congress intended or the growth in biomassbased diesel we know can be achieved.

BBD the Floor, AB the Ceiling. Raise the Ceiling.

In the proposal, EPA argues that the biodiesel industry’s ability to exceed the requirements of the biomass-based diesel category means that the proposed volumes are adequate: “For 2019, EPA continues to believe that it would still be appropriate to provide a floor above the statutory minimum of 1 billion gallons to provide a guaranteed level of support for the continued production and use of BBD. However, we also believe that the volume of biomass-based diesel supplied in previous years demonstrates that the advanced biofuel standard is capable of incentivizing additional supply of these fuels above the volume required by the biomass-based diesel standard.” But the RFS was intended to ensure growth of advanced biofuels to compete against petroleum, and the biomass-based diesel category ensures that growth occurs in the diesel sector. Market growth and





new investments are stimulated by the policy signals sent by increased volumes. Without the market stability provided by higher volumes, investors are less likely to fund infrastructure needs or new employee hires—curtailing the ability of biodiesel to create new domestic jobs. If we want to advance the primary goal of the law—to expand the country’s renewable fuels sector—the volumes in the advancedbiofuel category must be increased each year. Decreasing this volume will neither increase competition in advanced biofuels nor drive growth in biomass-based diesel fuel.

Domestic Producers Can Achieve Higher Volumes

The domestic biodiesel industry has made substantial investments and is being drastically underutilized. EPA acknowledges in the proposal that there is additional capacity and available feedstock for more American-made biomass-based diesel. Simultaneously, it cites growing biofuels imports as a concern and a reason for not increasing volumes. The RFS is simply not the appropriate place, nor is it an effective way to address this concern. Currently, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission are investigating whether to impose antidumping and countervailing duties against Argentina and Indonesia, because a flood of subsidized and dumped biodiesel imports have stolen market share from U.S. producers. The NBB Fair Trade Coalition filed petitions with these agencies in March to level the playing field for U.S. producers. Preliminary determinations on estimated rates of subsidization and dumping are expected from the commerce department as early as late August and October, respectively. Because subsidized biodiesel that is dumped in the U.S. is currently cheaper than American-made biodiesel, these will be the first gallons bought to meet the RFS volumes. Therefore, lower RFS volumes only exacerbate the harms to the domestic industry. If EPA wants to increase our energy independence, it needs to raise, not lower, the advanced biofuel requirements. Reducing these volumes will simply limit American producers’ share of the market even more until these trade issues are resolved. It will be up to our industry to make our voices heard during the comment period, with the administration, and through every avenue available until the rule is finalized later this year. It is clear from this proposal that we have our work cut out for us, but I’m confident we will be successful in showing the value our industry brings to the economy, environment, and American energy independence. . Donnell Rehagan CEO National Biodiesel Board


NBB Biodiesel Conference a Cornerstone of Industry Business The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is the place for the industry to come together to do business—and 2017 was no exception. Industry leaders from all segments of the biodiesel industry from coast to coast convened in San Diego in January for the annual event. “Year after year our industry gathers together for educational sessions, federal and state policy insights, updates from OEMs and other stakeholder groups, and most importantly to jumpstart the year’s business,” said Doug Whitehead, National Biodiesel Board chief operating officer and conference director. “Millions of gallons of biodiesel are bought and sold through the hundreds of business meetings facilitated throughout the week. Offering this platform for business to our industry is one of the great benefits NBB provides as a member organization.” Highlighting the expo hall along with more than 50 companies showcasing their businesses was the annual Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. This year’s showcase included new diesel vehicles from Ford, General Motors, Nissan, John Deere and others. The event also served as a platform for announcements from GM, which brought a record-setting 20 models approved for B20 to market, and Ford’s launch of a diesel option in the F150, the best-selling pickup in America for the past 40 years. The 2017 event featured speakers including biodiesel industry experts and representatives from the U.S. EPA, USDA, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York City, the Diesel Technology Forum, and the American Lung Association, just to name a few. “NBB works hard every year to deliver top-notch speakers and the most relevant content to the industry,” said Whitehead. “This year was no different, and attendees can expect the same level of great information and business opportunities in 2018.” The opportunity for business begins in 2018 as the event heads to Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 22-25. Registration will open this fall at www.biodieselconference.com.

Business deals, standing-room-only educational sessions, and industry announcements again highlighted the 2017 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo.




Tax Credit Advocacy Keeps the Pressure on Washington The biodiesel industry continues to press lawmakers for action on the biodiesel tax incentive. It’s a simple ask to reinstate the tax credit as a multiyear producer’s credit, given the growth potential for the U.S. biodiesel industry, including jobs and economic benefits. “It’s simple,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “Biodiesel can continue to grow American jobs and prosperity in communities throughout the nation. Our members are making real investments and significant impacts across America, and they want to do NBB staff, members, and industry leaders continue to press lawmakers on the biodiesel tax incentive. more.” Under the current structure of a blender’s tax credit, foreign fuel imported and blended with petroleum diesel “These aren’t any jobs—they’re great jobs,” Rehagen said. “But in the United States is eligible for the tax incentive. In 2016, importers American biodiesel will not reach its full potential under the current regbrought in more than 1 billion gallons of fuel under the program, mak- ulatory framework. We need commonsense changes to ensure taxpayer ing up nearly a third of the U.S. market and harming domestic workers dollars and programs are supporting American production and jobs.” and manufacturers. Along with ongoing meetings and visits to the Hill with NBB staff The American biodiesel industry currently supports 64,000 jobs and governing board members, recent efforts to update the tax code across the United States. Many are the highest-paying jobs in a county or have included a letter-writing campaign and a member fly-in timed region. Changing the structure of the tax credit would open the door for around the NBB membership meeting in late June. the industry to support an impressive 81,600 U.S. jobs and $14.7 billion in total economic benefit.

NBB Technical Program Sparks GM 20 for B20 Announcement General Motors made headlines during the 2017 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo when it announced eight new diesel vehicle options would be hitting the roadway this year, all approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends. “This announcement is a cumulative effect of more than 20 years of testing and research led by the National Biodiesel Board on behalf of the entire industry,” said NBB Technical Director Scott Fenwick. “Without the support of the OEM community, there is no way our in- GM introduced a lineup of 20 different diesel models, from passenger cars to pickups and SUVs. dustry could have grown to what it is today. And support All are approved for B20, thanks to years of technical work led by NBB. from OEMs wouldn’t exist without the extensive technisumer demands for powerful, clean and fuel-efficient vehicles capable cal data we are able to develop as an industry.” GM is taking bold steps to expand the U.S. diesel vehicle market of running on clean, renewable B20 biodiesel blends,” Fenwick said. beyond its traditional stronghold in full-size pickups. The automaker is “We applaud GM for its efforts, and look forward to partnering with providing more options than ever before for customers to reap the ben- the automaker in its continued support for biodiesel as its diesel vehicle efits of fueling up with B20. With eight new diesel vehicle options hit- product line continues to expand.” NBB technical programs are funded through resources competiting the roadways in the 2017-’18 model year, GM now offers a full lineup of 20 different diesel models, from passenger cars to pickups and tively sought by NBB outside of membership dues dollars. These ongoSUVs, to commercial vans and low cab forward trucks—all of which ing efforts ensure biodiesel’s seamless use once it hits the marketplace and continue to answer questions from auto manufacturers on issues are approved for use with B20. “GM is a shining example of a company that is getting it right like stability, metals content, ASTM standards and more as diesel techby continuing to invest in new technology diesel engines to meet con- nology evolves. 12





NBB Brings Value to Members Through Experience, Expanded Expertise The National Biodiesel Board has a staff team made up of experts in a wide range of fields with more than 180 years collectively at the organization, with even more experience directly involved in the biodiesel industry and from key contractors. This year, NBB welcomed new additions to the staff team and honored long-tenure milestones. Doug Whitehead, “Members of the National Biodiesel Board can be NBB Chief Operating Officer proud of the staff that serves the industry on their behalf,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “We have some of the most competent, well-respected experts in their field working to advance the biodiesel industry and the interests of our members on a daily basis.” During the June NBB Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C., the organization recognized milestone staff anniversaries. Along with a host of nationally recognized experts in their respective fields, the organization boasts a staff team that is uncharacteristically stable for a national association. “To be part of an organization where half of the staff has been together for 10 years or more shows how dedicated this group is to this remarkable industry,” said Scott Tremain, IT director at NBB, who was honored for 15 years of service at the organization. “Not only is it a great place to work, it is clear that the biodiesel industry matters personally to all of us.” Those recognized for more than 10 years of service include:

Brad Shimmens, NBB Director of Operations and Membership

Rosemarie Calabro Tully, NBB Director of Public Affairs and Federal Communications

• Scott Tremain – IT Director, joined NBB in 2002. • Tom Verry – Director of Outreach and Development, joined NBB in 2003. • Donnell Rehagen – Chief Executive Officer, joined NBB in 2004. • Desiree Hale – Accounting Specialist and BQ-9000 program staff liaison, joined NBB in 2005. • April Yaeger – Chief Financial Officer, joined NBB in 2006. • Anne Klempke – Accounting Specialist, joined NBB in 2006. • Don Scott – Director of Sustainability, joined NBB in 2007.

New additions include Rosemarie Calabro Tully who joined the team as the director of public affairs and federal communications, and Brad Shimmens, the director of operations and membership. Tully This year the organization welcomed two new team members and comes to NBB from Capitol Hill where she was previously the press an addition to the executive team. secretary for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. NBB named Doug Whitehead as its chief operating officer in Shimmens comes to NBB with a background in finance, business deFebruary. Whitehead joins the executive team after nearly 10 years in velopment and community outreach. various roles with the organization, most recently as the director of For a full list of the NBB staff team, their experience and roles, operations and membership. visit www.nbb.org/about-us/staff.





BIODIESEL INDUSTRY Biodiesel Magazine profiles seven companies providing invaluable services, expertise and products that have helped build, grow and sustain the biodiesel manufacturing sector BY RON KOTRBA

Lanxess Lanxess, a spin-off of Bayer AG, is a global leader in antioxidants with a range of stabilizers based on phenolic and aminic chemistry sold under the Baynox brand. The company has serviced the European and U.S. biodiesel industries since the beginning, adapting its products as feedstocks and technologies change. “We started with solid antioxidants based on Baynox (BHT) for palm- and rapeseedbased biodiesel,” says Susan Sokol, Lanxess business development manager. “Later, we added stronger antioxidants like Baynox Plus (double BHT) for soybean- and sunflowerbased biodiesel, and easier-to-handle liquid antioxidants.” Lanxess’ latest offering is the ultrastrong antioxidant Baynox Ultra X containing two balanced antioxidants plus a neutral metal chelator in an organic solvent. “It covers a broad spectrum of features, has a high oxidation stability index (OSI) starting value and a long shelf life,” Sokol says. “Other products may also have high OSI values, but deteriorate faster and can corrode engines.”




During transesterification, natural vitamin E gets destroyed, Sokol says. “Therefore, we have to bring in chemical molecules to replace the vitamin E, which selectively bind the free radicals,” she explains. Feedstock choice affects biodiesel stability, antioxidant choice and dosage rates. “Soy oil, common in the U.S., is difficult because it contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, so you have to choose a product with high effectiveness,” Sokol says. “In this case, Baynox Ultra X would be the right one. In Europe, rapeseed oil is often used and, for this, a basic product like Baynox Solution is the best choice.” Depending on the initial rancimat value of the oil, the transesterification process and the nature of the antioxidant, dosage rates can be from 10 to 1,000 ppm, or higher in cases where long-term stability is needed—like in heating oil. Lanxess leads the industry with six Baynox products on the no-harm list of AGQM, the German biodiesel quality management association. “For AGQM approval, several criteria have to be fulfilled, ranging from engine, nozzle fouling and filtration tests, to a compatibility check with engine oil, rancimat tests and more,” Sokol says.


Lanxess is committed to quality and puts the customer first, Sokol says, by offering innovative solutions and services. Lanxess offers complimentary biodiesel lab testing and product recommendations. “We have technical experts around the world for consultation,” she says, “and when a new facility is built, we often provide tank storage additive advice and more. We see our position as a partner in the biodiesel world. Therefore, we are also members of AGQM and the National Biodiesel Board to strengthen the biodiesel world.” Lanxess has recently undergone global realignment, especially in North America. “The company now has a clear focus with leading positions in mid-sized, profitable specialty chemicals markets, a well-balanced portfolio of less cyclical specialty chemicals, and a strong focus on the growing North American region,” Sokol says. Lanxess recently acquired U.S.-based Chemtura, significantly expanding its production footprint in North America and its portfolio of additives—one of the most attractive in the specialty chemicals industry.

SPOTLIGHT Oil-Dri Corporation of America With its roots in World War II era Chicago, Oil-Dri Corporation of America has grown into an international leader in sorbent minerals. Steven Powell, regional North American sales manager, says Oil-Dri offers a variety of adsorbents and provides valuable technical service supported by its Innovation Center in Chicagoland. As biodiesel production grew, Oil-Dri introduced its mainstay product line—Select —to the industry. Select products are specially modified, natural silicates for the removal of soaps, metals and phospholipids to help purify feedstock and biodiesel. While Oil-Dri offers a variety of other products, such as PureFlo bleaching earths, Powell says a majority of Oil-Dri’s product sales in biodiesel are for its Select FF product. “While all products are air-swept, Select FF is air-classified, which means it filters better,” Powell says. “It works better when processing oil with a high level of soaps, which is why we sell so much in the biodiesel industry.” FF stands for fast filtering. Biodiesel customers use Select FF for feedstock pretreatment or dry-wash, with most relying on its feedstock purification abilities. Before caustic refining, producers rely on Select FF to remove soaps and metals,

Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory The Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory began in 2006 as an offshoot of the Biofuels Technology Program at Iowa Central Community College. ICCC assisted in the Two Million Mile Haul, a B20 field trial with Decker Trucking. From there, the idea to form an on-campus, independent fuel testing lab was created. With federal and state funding, instrumentation was purchased and the ICFT Lab was born. Today, ICFT is a BQ9000-certified lab and the only such facility located on a community college campus. The facility is renowned throughout the biofuels space for its credibility, reasonable pricing and fast turnaround. It is also the state-designated fuel lab for the Iowa Weights and Measures Bureau. “We officially got our BQ-9000 certification in 2010,” says ICFT Lab Director Donald Heck. The lab is also ISO-9001-certified for testing petroleum-based fuels. “There are

but Select has an added benefit of removing color and chlorophyll— providing a lighter color—along with removing other polar contaminants that hinder reaction. On the backend, customers employ Select FF for a light polish to remove soaps and free glycerin. “It helps improve the flash point as well, by acting as a catalyst to evaporating some of the methanol off,” Powell explains. “For example, we’ve seen PHOTO: OIL-DRI CORPORATION OF AMERICA Select FF lower free glycerin from 0.05 to 0.016 percent, improve cloud point, droxide for chemical refining. Once the soaps and boost B100 oxidative stability index from are removed, Select FF is added at a ratio of 1.8 to 3.3 hours in tested control samples.” about 0.05 percent by weight of oil. The oil Select FF targets polar compounds. The is heated to 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit forces at work include physical attraction, or for 20 minutes under agitation. Then the oil the Van der Waals forces, and chemical inter- is filtered, removing solids and trapped polar actions in which the charged molecules of Se- contaminants—especially metals and soaps. lect FF attract and bond with polar contamiFor fuel polishing, the soaps and glycerin nants. Finally, a molecular sieve force allows are decanted off, methanol is stripped, and “good” molecules to pass through adsorbent between 0.5 and 1 percent Select FF is added media in filtration while contaminants can- by weight. The product is heated to 140 F and not. “The product is a unique charged-clay agitated for 30 minutes. Afterward, the fuel is mineral with many layers of aluminosilicate filtered. microstructures containing numerous pores,” Powell says as new techniques like superPowell says. “We add a proprietary surface critical processing emerge, using Select FF is treatment, giving it a higher affinity for metals important to remove metals from feedstock and soaps.” to prevent fouling equipment downstream, For feedstock pretreatment, most use especially heat exchangers. Select FF in combination with sodium hy-

a lot of labs out there that aren’t accredited,” Heck says. “With BQ-9000 and ISO-9001 certification, we have third-party accountability and procedures in place that are monitored. Clients need to know their data is being handled professionally and correctly.” Having worked with more than 200 clients in 40 states and five countries, ICFT Lab offers a range of analytical services for biodiesel producers, from the full slate of ASTM D6751 tests and critical spec slates, to a la carte requests. “We even do glycerin and feedstock testing,” Heck says. “If a client has a specific request, we can even make a custom panel and give a price break on it.” While a few tests must be outsourced to partner labs, ICFT Lab performs a vast majority of its testing services in-house. “We’re looking into purchasing octane and cetane test engines, but that depends on finding a new facility,” Heck says. “We’ve outgrown the one we’re in. We’re in the middle of that decision now.” Heck says biodiesel producers turn to ICFT Lab because it’s a cost-effective, notfor-profit, homegrown effort. “We are self-


sustaining and revenue-generating,” he says. “We have rapid turnaround and we’re a small, close-knit outfit that works diligently. People appreciate our customer-friendly service. With a phone call, a customer can speak to any of the five of us. We take time to talk and explain results to them. Also, if they have an odd request, we’ll do what we can to help out, whether it’s putting a study together for them or something else.” www.BiodieselMagazine.com


SPOTLIGHT ICM ICM Inc. is one of the most recognized names in ethanol, and now it wants to carry over its vast service knowledge and experience into biodiesel. About 60 percent of North American ethanol plants employ ICM process technology, says Debbie Harding, ICM’s marketing manager. The company already provides behind-the-scenes benefits to biodiesel producers with nearly 50 percent of the market in distillers corn oil (DCO) extraction technology, increasing availability of lower-cost feedstock to biodiesel producers. ICM’s corn oil extraction design employs a horizontal three-phase decanter, or tricanter, design. “We’ve had buyers of distillers corn oil say they prefer to get it from ICM systems because the product is more consistent,� says Brock Beach, ICM’s vice president of sales and marketing. ICM has also helped increase extraction rates. “We started with a base tricanter system,� Beach says. “That recovered 0.5 to 0.6 pounds per bushel. Then we added our Selective Milling Technology that increased recovery by

5 percent. Our Fiber Separation Technology added another 10 percent bump in corn oil. ICM’s Thin Stillage Solid Separation System (TS4) provided another increase. And at the end of the line, we have our gen 1.5 corn fiber to ethanol process. So now, in all, our systems can recover up to 1.2 pounds of DCO per bushel.� James Weber, ICM’s reliability services manager, says the company would like to grow its presence in biodiesel. “There’s a lot of the same services,� Weber says. “Soy-based plants have dryers, we have experienced crews doing work on all types of dryers. And in combustion, boilers—anything that’s gas-fired—we can service and work on any gas-fired burners. For piping projects, we do custom manufacturing in our shop. We do conveyor work, millwright work, and we repair pumps and valves. There’s a wide variety of things we can help out and service biodiesel producers in.� ICM also has a surplus cache of parts and equipment bought from ethanol plants and reconditioned, which could be sold to biodiesel producers. “We also have very good relationships with lots of suppliers,

James Weber PHOTO: ICM INC.

so we get really good pricing on parts,� Weber says. “The same goes for pump and valve manufacturers. We have buying power, and we can offer that to biodiesel plants as well.� Harding and Weber say they want biodiesel producers to view ICM as a one-stop shop. “We want them to come to us for everything they need,� Weber says. “We believe our level of experience and expertise is the differentiating factor.�


SPOTLIGHT Reiter Scientific Reiter Scientific started as a one-man operation in 2007 and has grown into a fully staffed consulting, trading and logistics company. “When I started, I would fix biodiesel plants having production—primarily quality—issues, which led to facility and process design work,” says founder Kristof Reiter. “Now we’re called upon by major producers when they have quality issues they can’t figure out.” In 2009-’10, Reiter Scientific entered the trading business. The company is in the midst of launching a software company with its flagship product debuting by fall. “More biodiesel companies are running their own oil collection routes, competing against the big guys who have really advanced software that allows them to operate efficiently, manage contracts, fuel, labor and all that,” Reiter says. “Only the top companies had access to that automation while everyone else is just winging it on spreadsheets or makeshift software.” Reiter decided to build a system to help automate his customers’ collection systems since no off-the-shelf programs were readily available. “Our in-house development team’s been working on it for more than a year,” Re-

iter says. “It’s the Cadillac of oil collection.” The system encompasses route optimization, tracking fuel, accounts, profitability, contracts, employee hours, vehicles, and providing the ability for drivers to photograph and digitally log issues or notes so nothing is lost. “We worked with a network of companies we trade with to find out what their needs are,” Reiter says. Five companies are beta testing the new software. Next year, the company will take its new automation to logistics for its trading business, the largest arm of Reiter Scientific. “The customer will get a client portal, see their order, and the trucks moving, and get an estimated time of arrival,” he says. People turn to Reiter Scientific because of its people, Reiter says. “Our judgment, responsibility and care for our customers is why we’re successful,” he says. “We’re not trying to trade the most volume or make the most money. We maintain a reputation for fairness. Everything’s transparent and we offer quality product.” Gladys Shoemake, Reiter Scientific’s logistics and operations manager, says the company’s experience is multifaceted—feedstock, production, logistics. “What you get with Reiter is educated responses to questions, and

Screenshots of Reiter’s new automation software

people doing more than just making money,” she says. “We’re solving problems by providing solutions.” Reiter even provides complimentary consulting to his sellers and buyers. “Our goal is to sell trouble-free product, and part of that is understanding the customer,” he says.

SPOTLIGHT Universal Green Commodities Boston-based boutique trading and logistics company Universal Green Commodities was launched in 2008 and will soon celebrate its 10-year anniversary in the American biodiesel industry. President and Founder Jamie O’Brien and his group’s biodiesel plant in Manchester, Tennessee—Tennessee Bioenergy Inc.—was lost to fire in 2010. “We were literally baptized by fire in the biodiesel business,� O’Brien says. Building upon his newfound industry relationships, O’Brien ventured full-time into trading to capitalize on new market opportunities. “People call us traders or brokers, but at the end of the day we’re simply expert deal makers,� O’Brien says. “I look at it like geology, the study of time and pressure. Make the calls, stay in front of people, be engaged, be relentless at knocking down the doors, do what you say you’re going to do, find the opportunities, service the hell out of the clients and business will get done. We’ve earned a lot of respect across the country from the lumps we’ve taken over the years in this industry and by doing things the right way while walking the righteous path. This business was built on integrity and that’s why we are so well-positioned in the industry today.� O’Brien says when he started the company, used cooking oil (UCO) was king. “And it’s still king in renewables,� he says. Now UGC trades not only in UCO but heavily in yellow grease, beef tallow, choice white, brown greases, soybean oil, DCO and tons of poul-

try fat. “That’s one thing that’s changed over the years,� O’Brien says. “A lot on our books is poultry fat now, as we have carved out a stronghold there.� UGC services both small and large feedstock renderers. “We have a lot of loyal suppliers we’ve serviced since 2008,� he says. “Not just the guys hustling in the streets of New Jersey and in major cities, but the big boys too. You’ve got to be a chameleon in this business and adapt to a wide range of character, personalities and egos. I love it. No call is the same as the previous one. All counterparts that have survived like us are now vetted, but back in the early days, you didn’t know who to trust. The people I’m dancing with today are the people I want to be dancing with.� UGC has its own railcar fleet and ships feedstock across the U.S. “We take possession of every transaction we deal in,� O’Brien says. “My partner and I bankroll deals with our own money. We don’t deal with banks. I have as much skin and risk in the game as anyone in a transaction.� Historically, about 75 percent of UGC’s business has been feedstock trading with the remainder biodiesel. “That will change soon,� O’Brien says. “I’ve brought on a seasoned player who’s very smart in the space.� The new addition to UGC is Azzedine Katane, previously with Archer Daniels Midland Co. “He came on as my business manager last year and in tandem, he’ll focus on my biodiesel book forward. The plants across the country trust and rely on us to feed their machine, so they are more than happy to sell us their biodiesel.�

U G C doesn’t just buy, sell and ship. “We consult with our clients on how to make their businesses better,� O’Brien says. “The smaller- to m i d - s i z e d Jamie O’Brien guys, we teach them how to do things better and keep them in the know so they can angle, plan and act accordingly. The bigger guys simply appreciate the efficiency and professionalism. As a buyer, our clients are paid promptly. They count on us for optimal cash flow experiences and to orchestrate logistics to keep product moving.� O’Brien says time served, vast business experience, a strong management team and excellent logistics are what brings customers to UGC—and keeps them there. “They trust me, and they know I’ll deliver,� he says. “When things go sideways, we get it fixed fast. We’re here for the long-term, and we’re not going anywhere. Plus, we’re an all-thingsbiodiesel company. We’ve never traded a pound of renewable feedstock into the feed or ag industries. We live and die in the bio economics and our biodiesel plant counterparts across the country respect us highly because of that.�

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SPOTLIGHT The Dallas Group of America The Dallas Group of America Inc. is an adsorbent pioneer in the biodiesel industry. In 1959, entrepreneur Robert H. Dallas formed what was to become one of the larger privately owned chemical companies in the post-war era U.S. In 1989, The Dallas Group of America Inc. was established as a spin-off and grew into a diversified manufacturer of basic and specialty chemicals. The Dallas family still owns and operates the company, which has facilities in North America, Europe and a newly constructed plant in China. The company debuted its D-SOL D series products under the Magnesol trademark in 2002. It was the first adsorbent introduced into the biodiesel market and the original dry-wash agent, says Brian Cooke, director of technical services. D-SOL D series adsorbents remove contaminants such as soap, excess catalyst, glycerin, metals, water and sterol glucosides after transesterification and glycerin separation. “D-SOL improves cold soak for biodiesel as well as increasing oxidative stability,” Cooke says. In the mid-to-late 2000s, The Dallas Group introduced the D-SOL R series to clean up various biodiesel feedstocks. “We recently introduced a patented process to enable biodiesel producers to clean up feedstock to improve process efficiencies or use lowerquality feeds,” Cooke says. D-SOL R series adsorbents help remove contaminants that interfere with transesterification, such as free fatty acids, soaps, metals including phospho-

rus and sulfur, and sterol glucosides, gums, waxes and water. D-SOL products are synthetic magnesium silicates. “They do not contain crystalline silica and are safe to use,” says George Hicks, an AOCS approved chemist and Dallas Group’s innovation and development manager. “D-SOL has both acidic and basic sites, which allow D-SOL to attract and hold onto polar compounds.” D-SOL is typically added to feedstock or crude biodiesel in an agitated tank. “The process can be performed batch-wise or continuous,” Hicks says. “Our adsorbents work over a wide range of temperatures, so it’s not necessary to chill the biodiesel before filtration. Typically the liquid to be purified is recirculated through the filter for a few minutes to build a filter cake. After a cake is formed, the clear filtrate is sent to a clean holding tank.” Having introduced the original PHOTO: THE DALLAS GROUP OF AMERICA INC. biodiesel dry-wash product, The Dallas Group continues to provide innovative that deliver value. “We recently increased our solutions to biodiesel producers on both ends field sales team and they are supported by an of the process. Cooke says D-SOL products experienced technical staff and lab,” he says, are unique among the choices available to adding that The Dallas Group is committed biodiesel producers. “Magnesium silicate is to, and partners with, its customers. “The a true adsorbent that also possesses superior need for solutions is on an uptick, especially filtration characteristics whether used alone or as producers try to squeeze more product out with a filter aid,” he says. “Its affinity for polar of existing assets. Our goal is to help simplify compounds is unsurpassed and we engineer and clean up the biodiesel process.” our products to enhance selectivity to remove, for example, metals or free fatty acids.” Hicks says the company is focused on providing effective and efficient solutions



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IMPRESSIVE CLEAN-UP: Through its enzymatic and resin approach to biodiesel conversion followed by advanced distillation, Smisson-Mathis Energy is able to take high-sulfur brown grease (left) and convert it to on-spec biodiesel. PHOTO: SMISSON-MATHIS ENERGY LLC


A Georgia-based joint venture is combining enzymatic and resin technologies with advanced distillation to convert brown grease to low-sulfur biodiesel BY RON KOTRBA

Dublin, Georgia-based Tactical Fabrication LLC and The Smisson Group of Macon, Georgia, formed a biodiesel joint venture, SmissonMathis Energy LLC, to retrofit an existing, idled biodiesel production facility in Laurens County, Georgia.

liliters a minute—very small—and we would perform reactions with different feedstocks and distill them in small units,” Mathis tells Biodiesel Magazine. “This January, we built the pilot unit we have running now with a 28-foot-tall column that runs 6 to 10 gallons an hour.” The idled plant SME is purchasing to scaleup its process will initially be sized at 1 MMgy, but once running, the team will expand to 5 MMgy. Mathis originally helped build the idled plant, so he is intimately familiar with its design, which will facilitate the retrofit. After testing trap and brown greases from all over the country, Mathis and his team quickly realized that fats, oils and greases (FOG) from wastewater treatment facilities are much cleaner feedstock than commercial brown grease. “FOG from wastewater treatment facilities has been water-washed so many times, many of the contaminants compared to brown grease have

The process technology to be employed couples liquid enzymatic and resin technologies for conversion of brown grease to biodiesel, and advanced distillation to reduce sulfur from hundreds of parts per million (ppm) to single digits. A pilot plant in Dublin, Georgia, scaled at 75,000 to 100,000 gallons a year, is where Franklin Mathis, CEO of Tactical Fabrication and SME, is proving out the process. “From July 2016 to this past January, we had a small distillation unit running 100 milBIODIESEL MAGAZINE 2017 SUMMER EDITION 22 l

been removed,” he says. “That means once the oil has been extracted, it needs less pretreatment and there’s less crud that comes out in distillation.” Cities all over the country pay to dispose of FOG and related wastes, but SME wants to partner with municipalities to employ its patentpending FOG Harvester to cut the volume of waste by up to two-thirds. “Our FOG Harvester takes the waste stream and separates the water, solids and oils,” Mathis says. “Then, the water can stay at the wastewater treatment plant, the oil can be used for fuel production, and the solids can go to the landfills for digestion.” The FOG Harvester utilizes commercially available equipment. “We’ve assembled it in a manner where we can use it in a landfill or wastewater treatment facility,” Mathis says. “The FOG Harvester pasteurizes the oil and separates the three fractions.”

Mathis says Novozymes does advertise conversion of most waste oils, but feedstocks derived from brown grease and FOG have until now been a distant dream. But, by combining Novozymes’ enzymatic process with SME’s refined advanced distillation, this dream is now becoming a reality resulting in low-sulfur biodiesel from brown grease and FOG. Mathis says the original version of the distillation process SME is using was developed and patented together with Stu Lamb of Viesel Fuel. “Stu and I own the patent, but in the past year several things have changed— we’ve encountered so many different elements in brown grease,” he says. “The learning curve has been steep and challenges have been found, but we are breaking new ground here.” Mathis says all enzymatic processes leave a small amount of free fatty acids (FFA) unconverted. “We use Purolite resins to do the conversion on the last remaining percentage of unreacted FFA,” he says. In early June, SME received a coveted “Green Light Letter” from USDA under the Section 9003 biorefinery assistance program to move to Phase II of a loan guarantee process, with help from Global Renewable Strategies and Consulting LLC and Sustainable Energy Strategies Inc.

PROVING GROUNDS: Smisson-Mathis Energy is buying this idled biodiesel plant in Georgia to retrofit with its processes, and to use as a commercial showcase. PHOTO: RAMON BENAVIDES, GRSAC

Phase I involved providing USDA a rigorous external feasibility study, to indicate a solid business plan and technology selection. Phase II includes a lender’s analysis by the prospective bank and a USDA environmental assessment, says Jill Hamilton, SES founder. “We are in the midst of completing the requirements for Phase II,” says Benjamin Smisson, SME project manager. “Part of that is a 120-day run at the pilot plant, doing data point collections, and organizing everything to USDA standards. Everything so far is looking great. We’re putting together the pieces to be ready for construction and plant modifications, and we are getting our feedstock agreements in place.”

SME’s plan is to make this a proof-ofconcept plant, Smisson says. “We’d like to offer these services to a number of plants moving forward” he adds, “optimizing or designing new facilities.” Mathis says, “Our goal is not to hide our candle under a basket. We want to make this available to every biodiesel producer.” Author: Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine 218-745-8347 rkotrba@bbiinternational.com





CFIs Help Make Biodiesel Fit for Purpose, Price-competitive Evonik’s Viscoplex cold flow improvers are the cost-effective solution to meet low-temperature requirements BY ALEX TSAY

Global energy consumption has been growing the past 30 years, except in 2008, due to the economic crisis. Many forecasts call for the increase in demand to continue— and not only for crude oil, but also for gas and coal. With growing concerns about the global warming associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, however, biofuels are becoming a more significant portion of total global energy consumption. Futurists also see continued increases in global commerce, the car population, and “dieselization” of vehicle fleets. If they are right, strong growth in demand for diesel fuel will contribute to higher diesel prices and sup-

ply issues. The result: A growing portion of the increased demand for diesel will be supplied by renewable fuels such as “acceptable” biodiesel. While the definition of “acceptable” is still evolving, note that the current standards for biodiesel require that the fuel be “fit for purpose” and cost-competitive with petroleum diesel. Additionally, its production and consumption must not compete for, or increase, the cost of the food supply, or cause a net increase in GHG emissions.

Feedstocks, Low-temperature Performance

Biodiesel can be a mixture of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) produced from vari-

ous feedstocks, such as vegetable oil or animal fats. Such a mixture can contain a variety of structures, including both unsaturated and saturated acids, with carbon numbers typically varying between 10 and 24. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, the saturated FAME components have such a high cloud point (CP), cold filter plugging point (CFPP), and pour point (PP) that they cannot be used when ambient temperatures are below the respective CPs. The primary negative influence on biodiesel cold flow properties comes from the crystallization of long-chain, saturated FAMEs at ambient temperature. Failure to address this issue results in the inability to fully utilize these

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). 24






ME Rapeseed/ Canola

ME Coconut

ME Soy

ME Used cooking oil

ME Lard

ME Palm

ME Tallow


Temperature °C

alternative fuels. Consequently, there is a vital need to improve these properties with specific additives to meet the performance standards of current fuel specifications. FAMEs start as a clear, solids-free liquid at room temperature, such as 20 degrees Celsius. Upon cooling, waxy components begin to crystallize. The temperature at which crystals grow large enough to be seen is defined as the CP and is measured using ASTM D2500 method. Upon further cooling, the waxy crystals continue to grow, eventually becoming large and numerous enough to slow or stop the flow of the FAMEs through a typical vehicle fuel filter. This temperature is determined by the CFPP test, ASTM D6371. As the FAMEs’ temperature continues to decrease, crystals continue to grow in size, forming a network extending throughout the fluid that prevents it from flowing. The temperature at which the fluid ceases to flow is the PP, measured with the ASTM D97 method. The CP, CFPP and PP are major factors in defining the practical utility of a specific biodiesel, and thus have a significant impact on its value. CP is an early warning sign that waxy material is coming out of solution and might impair flow. CFPP is related to the plugging of the fuel filter by wax crystals whose size matches or exceeds the filter pore size. Filter plugging leads to engine shutdown and immobilized equipment, resulting in loss of time and money. PP is important for FAME producers or transporters who want to avoid frozen biodiesel plugging tanks and lines. Given these operational considerations, FAMEs with better low-temperature performance tend to command a higher value.

8 4 0 -4 -8 -12 -16 Pour point



PAMA CFIs’ Mechanism of Action

Polyalkylmethacrylates (PAMA) are a widely accepted chemical technology used to make CFI additives. PAMA CFIs can improve the low-temperature properties of FAMEs by controlling the waxy structures formed at low temperatures. This is made possible by their ability to co-crystallize with the biodiesel’s saturated methyl esters crystalizing out of solution as it cools down. See the diagrammatic representation in Figure 3. In the top left drawing, a wax-like crystal has formed with a characteristic needle-like shape. As temperature decreases, the needles grow in size and number, forming a network that FIGURE 3





impairs the flow of the FAME (Figure 3, top right). PAMA additive alters the rate of crystallization of the waxy components, prevent-

ing the formation of large crystals and of a network structure to lower temperatures. The effectiveness of the PAMA depends on the

scientists tailoring the distribution of its waxy hydrocarbon side chains that range from 10 to 20 carbon atoms in length along the polymer backbone. When a biodiesel sample containing an appropriate PAMA is cooled, the waxy side chains of the PAMA co-crystallize with the waxy components in the biodiesel (Figure 3, lower drawings). The bulky polymer backbone interferes with the continued growth of the crystals, which are more numerous but also smaller in size. One area where biodiesel needs improvement in order to be considered fit for purpose lies in its low-temperature properties that are inherently inferior to those of fossil diesel. Biodiesel has a higher CP, CFPP and PP, and it requires specific additive treatment. This has led to the development of new PAMA CFIs engineered to improve the low-temperature performance of a variety of FAMEs to an acceptable level, which greatly increases their market value. Evonik’s Viscoplex CFIs can improve the low-temperature properties of FAMEs by controlling the waxy structures formed at low temperatures. This is made possible by their ability to co-crystallize with the saturated methyl esters in the FAME solution. Since different FAMEs have various waxy components, Evonik has engineered the CFI molecules to improve the low-temperature performance of a variety of FAMEs to substantially increase their market value. See the Viscoplex CFI selection guide (Figure 4). The oil additives specialists at Evonik are global leaders in the supply of high-performance fuel and lubricant additives for use in automotive, hydraulic and industrial lubricants. State-of-the-art regional technology centers and manufacturing facilities linked through a global supply chain enable Evonik to reliably provide high-quality customized products and solutions to customers worldwide. Evonik’s team of fuel and lubricant specialists is poised to help OEMs, formulators and marketers get an edge and boost efficiency in a range of applications. Author: Alex Tsay Global Marketing Manager, Oil and Gas Evonik Oil Additives USA Inc. 215-706-5808 alex.tsay@evonik.com





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