Dexter duo plans to open biodiesel plant in early '07

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The plant, financed by Jerry Bagby and Harold Williams, could produce 15 million gallons of 'B20' diesel fuel in a year.

By Gary Exelby

Dexter Daily Statesman

Two Dexter entrepreneurs announced recently that they plan to have a biodiesel production plant operating early next year.

Jerry Bagby and Harold Williams are financing the production plant at the Stoddard County Ag Complex on Cuonty Road 731 between highways 114 and 60.

"We expect to break ground sometime in late summer or early fall," Bagby said.

Stoddard County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Director Gary Capps said the plant would produce pure biodiesel, "B100," which would then be mixed with standard diesel fuel at a rate of four parts regular diesel to one part biodiesel. "That means there will be about 15 million gallons of 'B20' produced annually right here in Dexter," he said.

Standard practice is to mix biodiesel and regular diesel in the stated proportions. Although concentrations of biodiesel as high as 100 percent will deliver power to a diesel engine comparable to regular diesel fuel, concentrations of biodiesel greater than 20 percent can dissolve engine seals.

Capps said the plant would employ 12 people and would stay in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will consume 3 million bushels of soybeans, grown locally, initially.

"But we plan on expanding after a couple of years," Bagby said. Cost to build the 6,000-square-foot plant, he said, was hoped to stay below $5 million.

Bagby added the plant is the first facility to be built on the 55-acre Stoddard County Ag Complex. The complex is believed to be the first one in the country to be dedicated solely to agricultural activities. "Mostly they are for manufacturing," Bagby said.

Harold Williams said the plant would also produce glycerine as a byproduct. Glycerine has uses in soaps, lotions, candles and paint.

The Jan. 1, 2007 production start date for the plant coincides with the implementation of new low-sulfur standards for diesel fuel. Williams said the elimination of sulfur, identified as an air pollutant, from diesel fuel would cause the fuel to lose its ability to lubricate the engines in which it is burned, leading to greater wear.

"But biodiesel is biodegradable and it's a lubricant," he said. "So it's essential to use for low sulfur fuel."

Bagby added he expected the plant, operating as Global Fuels, LLC, would be able to sell all it produced to local customers. "We expect to triple our production after two years," he said. "And then we will consider a pipeline to bring regular diesel in here, blend it here and pipe it back out."

Williams added Dexter and the Stoddard County Ag Center was therefore a natural site for such a plant. "We'll have a railroad, water, electricity, pipeline, everything is complementary," he said. "It's all about transportation."

Information contained in a flyer handed out during the announcement noted future transportation capability would include paving of County Road 731, currently gravel, to provide better access to Highways 60 and 114. Addition of a rail spur to the plant is also in the cards, as is access to the Texas Eastern Transit pipeline. "The pipeline will take the fuel to Chicago," Bagby said, "and even as far away as New Jersey. "So people in New Jersey will be buying B20 made right here in Dexter."

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