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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Ohio-based project developer plans to begin manufacturing biodiesel this fall

A new biodiesel production facility is being planned for Ohio. Clean Air Biodiesel says after four years of preparation, the company expects to open up a new biodiesel processing facility in Columbus this fall. In addition, the firm announced a used cooking oil (UCO) reclamation and recycling program for the city of Columbus, to be housed at its headquarters and future biodiesel processing site at 31 Merritt Street. The location is the former manufacturing and distribution center for a popular shop-towel producer, according to Bruce Burke, chief marketing officer for Clean Air Biodiesel.

Even though the facility is not currently configured for biodiesel production or any of the other services the company has planned, Burke said the 30,000 square-foot facility will house the waste cooking oil reclamation and recycling program, biodiesel production, administrative offices, a public education and demonstration space, and warehousing and distribution services.

“We are about 45 days away from installing the initial biodiesel production line,” Burke said. “Once that is configured, installed and commissioned, we are ready to start producing biodiesel fuel for resale.”

Burke said Clean Air Biodiesel will be installing a modular transesterification system that allows the plant to “easily add another biodiesel production line as demand increases. Each individual production plant can produce 3.2 million gallons annually. We are starting with a single production line and ramping up as necessary.”

The end goal, according to Burke, is 10 full production lines running simultaneously. He added that following conversion the fuel will be dry-washed with ion exchange resins to make on-spec fuel.

“Our biodiesel production line is being designed and constructed to our specifications,” Burke said. “We are building a modular, interconnectable system that can be scaled to meet production needs. We are not going with a standard system that’s widely available in the market. We are more interested in creating our own solutions. We found most of the production systems on the marketplace didn’t meet our requirements, so we have designed and will build our own.”

In addition to its UCO reclamation and recycling program, Burke said Clean Air Biodiesel is working with local soybean-oil processors in the Columbus area to guarantee feedstock supply.

Restaurants, food trucks and other businesses that need UCO pick-up services can contact the company through its website. The start-up also plans to install UCO collection bins around the city and outside its headquarters for 24/7 drop-off services.

Burke told Biobased Diesel Daily that the final cost of the modular biodiesel production outfit will be between $7 million and $10 million and is being self-financed. “Along the way we will be expanding the waste-oil collection to other Ohio cities and eventually other states,” Burke said. “We will grow as the market allows. We are an agile, nimble company that can pivot quickly to address trends and capture market share.”

The company, however, has yet to register with U.S. EPA. “We are still very early in the process,” Burke said. “We have secured the property, ordered the biodiesel production equipment, and purchased some initial trucks and equipment for the oil recycling program. But we have not yet started with the EPA registration process. Our consulting firm is handling all the steps associated with design, occupancy, and registration with local, state, and federal agencies.”

Although Clean Air Biodiesel has yet to lock in offtake contracts for its biodiesel, Burke said the company is working with various fleets and organizations to secure deals.

Clean Air Biodiesel’s sister company, Global Biodiesel Trading, is owned by the same entity and will work from a separate office location once Clean Air Biodiesel has reached the level to necessitate global import and export, Burke said.

“Not all the biofuel [Global Biodiesel Trading] imports and exports will be a biodiesel product manufactured by Clean Air Biodiesel,” he added.

Clean Air Biodiesel recently joined the Clean Fuels Ohio organization, a member of the Clean Cities Coalition Network, as a gold-level member.


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