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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

BDI celebrates 25 years of innovation in biodiesel—and much more

biodiesel pioneers from Austria
Gössler, left, and Hammer founded BDI 25 years ago in Austria. (Photo: BDI-BioEnergy International)

Twenty-five years ago, on Sept. 12, 1996, Wilhelm Hammer and Helmut Gössler founded BDI-Anlagenbau GmbH, launching the beginning of an impressive corporate history that changed the global biodiesel landscape with its “from waste to value” concept. Today, BDI Holding GmbH operates a financially strong holding company as part of the internationally operating BDI Group. BDI’s affiliated companies are showcasing the thought leadership and expertise of the Styrian business landscape. Their approach to technology and innovation is unrivaled and has transformed BDI into global industry leaders specializing in areas such as plant manufacturing for renewable energy and production of high-quality algal recyclables.

“As BDI’s co-founder, I have always been dedicated to the idea of putting innovative concepts into practice,” said Gössler, who is currently an executive partner with BDI. “We were forerunners in the field of biodiesel production, and by building the world’s first multifeedstock plant in the United States, we led the way for development in that technology.”

BDI gained international acclaim for its outstanding competencies in both in-house development and the implementation of forward-thinking and environmentally friendly technologies. The latter enables the profitable manufacturing of renewable energies through waste products and residual materials. BDI-BioEnergy International was in fact the first company to build industrial plants worldwide to convert used cooking oil and animal waste fats into high-quality biodiesel. The company’s first contract in the U.S. was to design and build built Griffin Industries’ biodiesel plant in Butler, Kentucky, for conversion of rendered products into biodiesel.

Many of BDI’s patented technologies are the result of a long-term collaboration with local Styrian colleges including the University of Technology in Graz and the University of Graz in Austria. Among these technologies is RepCat (short for “repeatable catalyst”), an environmentally friendly biodiesel manufacturing process with a recyclable catalyst.

While the company built the U.S.’s first biodiesel plant utilizing animal fats, one of its more recent waste-to-value successes in the U.S. was building Crimson Renewable Energy’s new 12-million-gallon-per-year process line, adding to Crimson’s previously existing 24 mgy plant, utilizing BDI’s patented RepCat technology to produce biodiesel from low-quality feedstock. BDI has also been contracted by Cargill to build a new 35 mgy RepCat biodiesel plant at its existing oilseed crush and Bioro biodiesel facility in Ghent, Belgium, which is expected to be complete in summer 2022.

“Ever since BDI’s launch, I have been dedicated to the international marketing of biodiesel plants, continuously refining the use of groundbreaking technology,” said Hammer, the company founder and major shareholder. “Our global biodiesel plants produce fuel that could not be any greener. The plants ensure the intelligent decentralization of waste and residual materials processing—with a high, local value added.”

The ongoing development of new technologies has always been deeply and firmly ingrained in BDI’s corporate philosophy. For instance, BDI-BioEnergy International has established its own consulting department, GreenTech Solutions. Equipped with high-end engineering competencies and supported by state-of-the-art test and laboratory facilities, an interdisciplinary team of experts offers tailor-made services in all phases of the technological development—from concept to market.

“Our track record has been green and clean since the company’s founding, and we continue this today by cultivating algal recyclables,” Hammer said. “With this ‘fresh-juicy-Styrian’ natural product, we supply the international cosmetics and nutritional supplement industries and are on our way to conquer the world.”

Development and progress are driven by research, which is a core activity for BDI. For more than a decade, BDI Group has been examining algae as a sustainable energy source. Using cultivation technology developed in-house at the production site in Hartberg, BDI-BioLife Science GmbH manufactures natural premium algal recyclables that are distributed globally for use in the nutritional supplement and cosmetics industries.

Hammer said the company still has a few tricks up its sleeve. “With a new intelligent recycling technology, we’ll wage war against plastic trash,” he said.

While much has changed over the past 25 years, one thing hasn’t. BDI is still true to its vision of “from waste to value.”

“Many people have contributed to the success of BDI over the past 25 years,” Hammer said. “I am more than delighted that so many of them are still with us today to celebrate this anniversary. Their commitment, expertise, and patience have helped us shape BDI from the early years on.”

Gössler added, “Over the past 25 years, we have been focusing on our goal—our competence in development and implementation of resource-friendly technologies. Together with a team of creative and highly motivated experts, we have realized more than 70 international projects. Having set up BioLife Science, we can also use our research knowledge in new market segments like the production of natural algal recyclables. I am very proud to be part of this success story.”

BDI is headquartered in Austria, in the Styrian town of Raaba-Grambach alongside subsidiaries BDI-BioEnergy International GmbH, BDI-BioLife Science GmbH, and BDI-Betriebs GmbH.



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