The U.S. Department of Energy is getting behind biodiesel, but not at the expense of agriculture. The government agency recently announced a conditional loan guarantee for a new biodiesel generating plant that will utilize the existing waste stream of the food and restaurant industry to create renewable fuels, effectively tripling the nation’s renewable diesel supply.
The guarantee for $241 million will go to back Darling International and Valero’s joint venture known as Diamond Green Diesel, a biodiesel facility planned on a site adjacent to Valero’s St. Charles refinery near Norco, Louisiana (20 miles outside of New Orleans). This plant will take grease (primarily animal fats and used cooking oil supplied by Darling) and convert it into over 9,300 barrels/day, or 137 million gallons per year of renewable diesel. Potentially, as other feedstocks become cost-effective, they’ll be integrated into the mix.
The Diamond Green Diesel project, it is said, “is expected to create 700 jobs during peak construction and over 60 jobs during operation.” In addition, reportedly 95 percent of the project components are expected to be produced in the United States.
The project will be the first of its kind in the country to use a new hydrotreating/isomerization process developed by Desmet Ballestra Group and Universal Oil Products, known as Ecofining, which converts processed feedstock into high-grade diesel. The expected output of the Diamond Green Diesel plant will singlehandedly fulfill almost 14 percent of a national mandate to boost production for biomass-based diesel.