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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

New 11 mgy biodiesel project under development in Southeast Washington state

A new biodiesel project is being developed in Southeast Washington state. The Port of Whitman County has been awarded a $5 million loan from the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board to acquire approximately 100 acres of land and install public infrastructure for an agriculture-advancement center. The port has identified a potential property in Pullman, Washington, for the site. Committed private partner and startup company AgTech OS will serve as the anchor tenant.

AgTech OS plans to establish a biodiesel production facility that will convert canola oil into biodiesel for agricultural operations. Once at scale, the facility is projected to produce nearly 11 million gallons of biodiesel per year along with 60,000 tons of seed meal and 900,000 gallons of 1,3 propanediol from glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production.

The company will purchase approximately 100,000 tons of canola grain per year from local farmers. AgTech OS held growers’ meetings in 2022, in which farmers expressed positive feedback about a local company purchasing their crop, according to AgTech OS. The proximity to local farming operations will also reduce the overall carbon footprint and costs of the operation.

The port’s role in the project is facilitating the acquisition of a property within Whitman County and making the necessary public infrastructure improvements. The public infrastructure will include roads, sewer, water, electrical and telecommunications to serve the private-sector buildings. If a land purchase occurs soon, the planning, engineering and permitting could take place as soon as this summer.

Richard Parnas, AgTech OS’s chief engineer, told Biobased Diesel Daily that the biodiesel facility plans to generate all its own energy on site using solar and biomass power.

When Biobased Diesel Daily spoke with Parnas Jan. 20, he was on the property site expected to be purchased imminently by the port. Once the property acquisition is completed, Parnas said AgTech OS will move forward with feasibility and preliminary design studies.

“We want to work with the farming community to get [canola] and then the biodiesel itself will be sold back into the farming community, giving them the carbon credits,” he said. “We will use the canola meal, about 10 percent of what is generated from the crush, for energy in our biomass-fired boiler. We are excited about this.”

Parnas said a crush plant will be built on site. “If we provide a place for farmers to dump their grain, then we would be a preferred location,” he said, adding that canola is a rotational crop in eastern Washington, not a main crop, and farmers sometimes have trouble “getting rid of” rotational crops.

Anderson International plans to provide the crush facility, according to Parnas. “Their operations and equipment are highly automated,” he said. “We will own it and make it available for tolling for a few months throughout the year.”

Ernest Spicer, CEO of AgTech OS, shared his thoughts on the project as well. “We’re going uphill, but the Community Economic Revitalization Board award and partnership with the port are driving this forward,” Spicer told Biobased Diesel Daily. “These have solidified the project and its feasibility. We are looking forward to working with all of them.”

The port is matching the $5 million CERB loan for the land purchase, site preparation and utility construction with $1.25 million from its general fund.

The entire project, including facility construction, storage and crushing equipment, renewable energy infrastructure and industrial operations equipment, is estimated to cost more than $111 million.

AgTech OS plans to source this funding from a combination of private and public funding.


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