Biodiesel plant retrofitting underway

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A massive retrofitting of the Duonix biodiesel plant in west Beatrice is underway and on schedule to put the plant into production later this year.

Duonix Beatrice, a joint venture between Flint Hills Resources, which is a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., and Benefuel Inc., bought the plant in late 2011.

The plant has yet to be put into service since it was constructed in 2007, but Michael Harris, Flint Hills Resources venture manager for the project, said the number of contractors on site will continue to increase through the summer in anticipation of beginning operations

“There are quite a few contractors on site at 70-100 daily with a total head count increasing to 200-250 around May or July,” he said. “We are still targeting to start up the second half of 2015 and intend to produce 50 million gallons of biodiesel.”

For two years, the company has been retrofitting the plant to be feedstock flexible and utilize ENSEL technology.

The ENSEL process is designed to streamline production, eliminate waste and by-products and expand product capabilities to produce a biodiesel with enhanced cold-weather properties.

It also allows the use of cheaper feedstocks high in free fatty acids, such as distillers corn oil from ethanol refining, waste-vegetable oils, animal fats and unrefined oils.Glennis McClure, executive director of the NGage economic development group, said the state-of-the-art technology will have a positive impact on Gage County.

“I understand that it is a new technology to be able to do more with the feedstocks that can be utilized in biodiesel,” McClure said. “It’s wonderful that this is a new technology that we’re a part of in Gage County.”

In addition to the new technology, the company will employ nearly 50 workers when the plant goes into operation.

“The team that we are building – both employees we’ve hired as well as the contractors – it’s been an exciting process to see that team come together and see parts of the plant be constructed,” Harris said. “We will continue to hire and we’re happy and pleased with the current process and support we’ve gotten from the community getting into operation and being a strong corporate citizen in the community.”

McClure said another positive employment aspect of the plant is that local, full-time jobs with benefits were added early in the process.

“What’s good about it is they started hiring right away and have people in place before they even turn on the switch to produce,” she said. “Plus, they’ve had a bunch of contractors and have even more to come as they get ready to open this thing. They brought a lot of people to town to get it ready to go. Almost immediately since they took this over there was positive economic things going on.”

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