Renewable Energy Group of Ralston, Iowa, broke ground on a 60 million gallon per year biodiesel plant on Emporia's east side Tuesday. The $70 million facility – Kansas' first – will be running in 18 months, says Jeff Stroburg, chief executive officer of REG.
"This plant is in a great location, in the center of the country," Stroburg said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Biodiesel from this facility will be shipped to Kansas, Washington, Arizona, and North Carolina – about every state in the country."
The plant will use raw soybean oil from the Emporia Bunge North America soybean processing facility.
"Part of our success is partnerships and alliances," says Larry Clarke, executive vice president of Bunge N.A. "We'll leverage this experience with REG, which is a market leader in biodiesel production. We will continue to see great things happen here in Emporia."
Renewable Energy Group's Emporia plant will employ about 30 people when operational; nearly 100 jobs will be created during construction. The finished plant will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Raw soybean oil will be piped nearly 1.5 miles from the Bunge mill to the REG plant, where it will be refined into 100% biodiesel, marketed under the SoyPOWER brand.
"Our customers are petroleum distributors, and they typically blend our product with petroleum diesel in 2%, 10% or 20% quantities. Indoor mining applications use a greater percentage of soybean oil in the diesel," Stroburg says.
The plant will feature a pre-treatment area to refine and filter soybean oil, a storage area fro raw materials and finished product and automated truck and rail loadout facilities. An in-house laboratory will test biodiesel to ensure it meets industry quality standards before leaving the site.
Biodiesel, Stroburg says, improves the environment by reducing exhaust emissions, is good for farmers and helps move the U.S. closer to energy independence by using a renewable resource, rather than petroleum imported from volatile world markets.
All these attributes combine to spearhead REG's growth pattern. The company has biodiesel plants in Ralston (12 million gallons per year) has built and manages 30 million gallon per year plants in Glenville, MN and Wall Lake and Newton, Iowa. Additionally, REG has begun construction on another 60 million gallon per year facility in St. Rose, Louisiana, Algona, Iowa and 30 million gallon per year plants in Washington and Dubuque, Iowa. Groundbreaking for a 60 million gallon per year plant will take place near Cairo, Illinois soon. In all, the company will produce and manage 342 million gallons of 100% biodiesel per year by 2009.