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Ethanol plants are not the only alternative fuel options that are popping up across the state and the Midwest. Soy biodiesel plants are just as much in demand.
The Show Me Ethanol plant in Carrollton began production this past May and production for biodiesel is expected to begin next March in Carroll County as well with a new plant currently being constructed north of Carrollton.
Field Manager for the Missouri Soy Bean Council, J.P. Dunn spoke with members of the Richmond Kiwanis Club on Tuesday about the plant and the overall production of biodiesel in Missouri.
As with ethanol, Dunn wanted to disprove the food versus fuel controversy surrounding alternative fuels. Dunn said the council’s primary product is animal feed. He said 95 percent of what is produced is animal feed.
Dunn said about 20 percent of soy bean is oil and the rest is seed shell, protein and carbohydrates.
“Nobody has ever really, for the most part, eaten whole soybeans or have fed whole soybeans to livestock,” Dunn said. “Soybeans have always been grown to be processed.”
Dunn said in the past money has been spent to research uses for the soy vegetable oil and now the funds are being directed at producing beans with higher oil content.
Dunn said the biodiesel industry is dependent on livestock production. He said producing the biodiesel leaves the plants with a heavy load of leftover animal feed.“We want to grow the livestock industry because they are our number one customer,” he said. “If we’re going to sell the fuel, we’re going to have to get rid of a lot of food or otherwise that food is going to be worthless and all of that price demand is going to be on the fuel side.”
Dunn said the biodiesel industry needs the livestock industry to grow because of the demand for biodiesel. He said the vegetable oil used to be a by-product of the animal feed. Now he said that trend is starting to reverse because of the demand.
“There’s going to be twice the amount of soybeans entering into an already mature feed market,” he said. “We’re going to have an overabundance of soy mean at some point.”
Dunn said for every gallon of biodiesel produced, feed by-product will equal enough feed for 10 chickens or a hog for every four gallons produced.
“Now we’ve taken a 180 degree turn and it’s reversed,” he added.
Dunn said there are nine plants operating or under construction in the state. He said construction at the Kansas City Cargill plant will double soybean crushing production. He said production demands are not a concern because southwest Missouri has broken the world record for yields two years in a row. He said that is good news for farmers at the market.
“Prices wouldn’t be twice as high as they are if there was not a demand for fuel,” he said. “For the first time in history we are going to see soybean prices higher in Kansas City than they are on the Mississippi River.”
Dunn did dispel rumors that biodiesel is driving up the cost of cooking oil. He said that cost increase is now being made up with the recycling of used cooking oil. He said buyers are paying about $0.10 a pound for used oil.
Dunn said he hopes to see the B5 or B20 symbols on diesel fuel outlet pumps soon just like E10 symbols on gas pumps. He said a diesel engine can run a 20 percent blend with no engine modifications in most engines.
Dunn said biodiesel production is energy efficient. He said it takes about one unit of energy to produce 3.5 units of fuel and the fuel gets the same mileage no matter what the blend.
“You don’t hear the petroleum companies talk about biodiesel because of how energy efficient it is,” he said.