David Cotten is plant manager of the Duonix Beatrice Biodiesel plant in the Gage County Industrial Park. This summer marks its first full year in business.
“We did acquire the plant out of bankruptcy and they had made a run at start-up. I don’t know how much equipment actually ran but we acquired a site that was down, moth-balled and just sitting here,” Cotten says. “We had to do some construction work, inspection work to really overhaul the plant.”
It’s the only biodiesel plant in Nebraska. The company joined with Irving, Texas-based Benefuels in using an advanced processing system to produce a low monoglyceride biodiesel. Cotten says the company believes in the long-term viability of biodiesel in the transportation fuels market.
“Our challenge is to implement the Benefuels technology into our process which allows us to streamline the conversion of feedstocks into biodiesel and we also can be more flexible in the feedstocks,” Cotten says. “That’s really the big bet for us, flexible feedstocks so we can buy the lowest-cost feedstock and convert it into high-value biodiesel.”
The plant is designed to produce up to 50,000 gallons of biodiesel per year though Cotten says they’re not quite yet meeting that goal.
Fuel produced at the plant can be shipped out by rail or truck for destinations nationwide. Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries, operates the plant.
Flint Hills also runs seven ethanol plants, including one at Fairmont, Nebraska, five in Iowa and one in Georgia.
Story and photo by Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice