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Ethanol producer to integrate renewable diesel production from corn distiller oil

Ethanol producer East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC (EKAE) intends to integrate renewable diesel production at its ethanol plant in Garnett, Kansas. Renewable diesel will be made from the corn distillers oil (CDO) already produced at the plant along with other feedstocks purchased on the market. WB Services is the technology provider for the catalytic renewable diesel process.

Construction on the new facility will begin soon and will be complete in about 12 to 14 months. The plant will be able to produce three million gallons of hydrocarbon fuel per year, with the ability to double that capacity in the future. The plant currently produces some 40 million gallons of ethanol; 200,000 tons of the livestock feed distillers grains; and 5 million pounds of corn oil each year from more than 16 million bushels of locally-sourced corn.

This is about maximizing revenue, leveraging activities that we already do every day, and enhancing the value of products we already produce now. Adding renewable diesel capability aligns perfectly with our business strategy of diversifying our energy portfolio and creating additional enterprises that are sustainable on their own.

—EKAE President & CEO Jeff Oestmann

WB Services’ renewable diesel production incorporates two catalytic processes: one to remove the oxygen from the triglyceride and one to reduce the length of the hydrocarbon chains. The process results in a feedstock conversion rate to diesel approaching 85%.

The renewable diesel, which meets the ASTM 975 standard for petroleum diesel, is feedstock flexible utilizing a wide range of vegetable oils and animal fats, which will allow EKAE to take advantage of commodity markets to improve margins.

Our renewable diesel technology is commercially proven. The process creates renewable diesel along with valuable co-products including steam, fuel gas and denaturant that are integrated into the ethanol plant. It is an elegant solution that adds value while reducing the carbon intensity.

—Ron Beemiller, president and CEO of WB Services

Renewable diesel qualifies under both the “biomass-based diesel” category and the “other advanced biofuels” category in the Renewable Fuel Standard. As an advanced biofuel under the RFS2, the produced renewable diesel generates 1.7 D4 RINs per gallon. D4 RIN valves fluctuate some but have consistently averaged about $1.40/RIN.

Additionally, renewable diesel has a very low carbon intensity score under the low carbon fuels standard established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which opens up a West Coast market for EKAE.

According to Oestmann, the co-products of renewable diesel are more valuable than those from biodiesel, creating greater marketing and revenue opportunities. High value co-products of the renewable diesel process include naphtha, a common component in gasoline and which is also used in ethanol production as a denaturant. Another co-product is a fuel gas similar to pipeline natural gas, which will also be used in the ethanol process to reduce energy consumption.



Converting food into fuel.  This will not end well.


The poet is right; this will not end well. Legislation mandates that almost all of the gasoline (petrol) sold in the U.S. has a significant corn ethanol component. Now the ag industry lobby is pushing for similar mandates for diesel. In addition to the corn-derived biodiesel referred to in this article, there is pending/proposed legislation in Illinois that would require soybeans to be used for diesel. Isn't there an ethical issue here? I've read that approximately 6,200 children die every day from malnutrition.

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