Coming Soon to an Ethanol Plant Near You The concept of co-locating biodiesel production at ethanol plants is finally taking shape. By Ron Kotrba
The synergies between co-located ethanol and biodiesel production have been discussed for a decade. Existing infrastruc-
ture to share process essentials, in-house feedstock with distillers corn oil (DCO), and use of ethanol rather than methanol for biodiesel reactions are the more obvious benefits. Biodiesel technology providers want contracts in this highly sought-after market. For ethanol producers, the attraction is added value through biodiesel sales and D4 RIN generation. But it’s also about diversification and fulfilling the renewable fuel standard’s (RFS) vision. “Over the past several years, biodiesel margins have been really strong,” says Ray Baker, general manager for Adkins Energy LLC, a 50 MMgy ethanol refinery in Lena, Ill. Adkins Energy announced last fall that it has contracted with WB Services LLC to install a 2 MMgy biodiesel facility onsite with help from a $500,000 grant from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. “But one of the reasons I think we really like the project and the idea behind it,” Baker says, “is that we are already producing a conventional biofuel— corn-based ethanol—and we’ll now be producing an advanced biofuel in biodiesel, and in the future we’ll have the opportunity to be producing cellulosic ethanol. So we look at all aspects of the RFS, and the growth that’s really built into that, and we see those opportunities.” In recent years, DCO has emerged as one of the fastest-growing biodiesel feedstocks, and technologies to effectively convert DCO to biodiesel have improved. “I think once they got to that point, that helped the technology evolve and the idea behind it become more economical to install into a plant,” he says.
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