Iowa now has 13 biodiesel refineries either in operation or under construction. The six that are now producing biodiesel and the seven that are being built have a combined annual capacity of over 250 million gallons per year, according to Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
Western Dubuque Biodiesel LLC near Farley held a ground breaking celebration for it's refinery on July 19. This is the latest plant to begin construction. "While a rain storm earlier in the day turned the ground into mud, it couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of the many local investors who made the project a reality," says Norton. The facility will process soybean oil and animal fats into 30 million gallons of biodiesel and 3 million gallons of glycerin annually.
"The interest in our project has been overwhelming," says George Davis, treasurer of the board for Western Dubuque Biodiesel. "We are anxious to take a place in Iowa's renewable energy industry."
Demand for biodiesel fuel is huge
The refinery is being built by Renewable Energy Group of Ralston, Iowa. REG was formed through a partnership with West Central Co-op at Ralston, along with Todd & Sargent, an engineering and construction firm in Ames. Crown Iron Works of Minneapolis is building the process equipment for Western Dubuque.
"Western Dubuque Biodiesel is responding to the overwhelming demand for biodiesel fuel in the U.S.," says Monte Shaw, executive director of the IRFA. "This project is proof that locals can work together to develop and build a world class biodiesel refinery. Iowa is clearly at the heart of the biodiesel movement in this nation." For a complete listing of Iowa biodiesel refineries, go to www.IowaRFA.org/biodiesel_refineries.php.
What is biodiesel?
If you are looking for a definition for biodiesel, now you can find it in the 2006 version of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. This is the first time biodiesel has appeared in the dictionary and it signifies that biodiesel is becoming a household word.
Webster's defines biodiesel as: "A fuel that is similar to diesel fuel and is derived from usually vegetable sources such as soybean oil."
"Appearing as a word in the dictionary gives biodiesel the credibility it deserves," says Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "It shows we are making an impact on getting biodiesel into the mainstream, and that is very gratifying."
Biodiesel cuts harmful emissions from engines, boosts the U.S. economy and enhances energy security, notes Jobe.
Oil industry investing in renewables
Last week it was disclosed that Chevron Oil Company has taken an ownership position in Galveston Bay Biodiesel refinery near Houston, Texas. The biodiesel production and distribution center will initially produce 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually from soy oil and other renewable feedstocks. Chevron indicated this new venture is part of its strategy to pursue opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States.
Marathon Oil Company and The Andersons Grain Company, headquartered in Ohio, plan to form a joint venture to construct and operate a number of ethanol plants. The first plant is expected to produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually at a site yet to be determined. Andersons will manage the plants and provide marketing and other services.