Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Sep 30

Delaware Biodiesel Refinery Opens

Posted in Biodiesel Fuel | Biofuels | Energy Industry

Biodiesel RefineryDozens of government and business leaders turned out Friday for a ceremonial opening at Delaware’s first commercial bio-fuels plant, a soybean oil-to-diesel factory in Clayton that could reach full production by January. President Martin Ross of Mid-Atlantic Biodiesel Inc. said during a ribbon-cutting that the new plant eventually could grow from 6 million gallons yearly to about 15 million gallons per year.

The project began taking shape before and during a Delaware Energy Task Force study commissioned by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in 2002. Ross was a member of that panel, and recalled telling Minner once that Delaware was “swimming” in soybean oil, a potential fuel source.

“This is the first step in what I think will be many, many as we look at clean energy fuels and alternate fuels,” Minner said Thursday.

Mid-Atlantic received more than $5.7 million in state and federal assistance through grants and loan guarantees.

Soy biodiesel is now mostly blended with regular fuels, and can already be purchased locally from at least 10 fuel outlets.

Officials cautioned that soy biodiesel never will replace all of the nation’s oil imports, but could contribute to easing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil while also improving markets and prices for local soybeans. Biodiesel production nationwide has grown from about 500,000 gallons in 1999 to an expected 245 million gallons this year.

Soy biodiesel plants produce fuel by crushing soybeans for their oil and using a solvent to separate glycerin from the oil. Left behind is biodiesel, a biodegradable material that is also called methyl ester. Glycerin byproducts can be sold to other industries, including soap manufacturing.

Emissions from soy biodiesel are lower than conventional diesel fuel.

Ross said that Mid-Atlantic already has arranged contracts with wholesalers for the Clayton plant’s output.

Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael T. Scuse said Mid-Atlantic’s operations could increase demand for local soybeans, moving prices upward and supporting the state’s farm economy.

The new plant relies on other crushing operations to produce the soybean oil used as raw material, Minner said. Officials are examining opportunities to develop additional local processing capability to support the plant.

Friday’s ceremonies come amid what state officials described as a mounting interest in alternate fuel projects for Delaware. At least three groups are exploring opportunities to develop ethanol distilleries in the state that would provide gasoline additivies to refineries along the Delaware River.

Pennsylvania-based FSI Energy reportedly is weighing sites around the Mid-Atlantic, including the former General Chemical along the Delaware River in Claymont. NRG Energy has queried the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control about building an ethanol plant in tandem with construction of a new coal-gasification power plant at its Indian River site near Millsboro.

Minner said a third group also is studying sites in Delaware and Maryland for an ethanol plant, but said she could not identify parties involved.

  • CleanBurning

    Why don’t alternative fuel projects acknowledge natural gas as a viable option? Both ethanol and biodiesel have adverse effects on the environment and on global market prices. Although emissions on soy biodiesel are low, they are still significant enough to consider to raise the eyebrows of many environmentalists.

    If it’s meeting emissions standards that concern government and business leaders in Delaware the most, then it should be noted that natural gas reduces NOX emissions by 50%.

    And please explain why ethanol plants are popping up when ethanol has a lower energy content than an equivalent barrel of gasoline, making it actually more expensive.

    Natural gas helps achieve energy independence because it is not refined from oil. Over 90% of the natural gas used in the USA is from North America. Natural gas is cheaper, cleaner, and more domestically abundant making it popular with cities and other fleets with low-emission programs.

  • Just watching

    Take a look at what is going on in the Arctic. The NOAA research has found vast amounts of methane gas escaping from the ocean (THE ICE HAS MELTED) and this will cause a catastrophic climate change very soon. The gulfstream may stop and that’s all folks. Go on and burn some more gas and coal, I am old and will soon be gone and you young people may be going with me.
    Stop polluting our world or we will all die.
    Use the clean energy that is provided every day.


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