Biodiesel company making cleaner product

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; The best soybean oil in the Miss-Lou just got a little bit better.

Thanks to the recent acquisition of a centrifuge, Ferriday Oilseed Company can now strain more of the residual soybean meal from its oil.

This produces a cleaner and more attractive product for biodiesel producers.

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The producers appreciate this and, consequently, buy more of it.

&8220;Before, the oil was selling, but it wasn&8217;t really what they wanted, there was too much meal in it,&8221; manager Ronnie Goodwin said. &8220;Now it&8217;s good and clean, and they&8217;re much happier with it.&8221;

With the centrifuge, Ferriday Oilseed now produces what is classified as clean crude soybean oil, the second of five purity levels. The highest level is called Refined, Bleached and Deodorized and is edible.

Ferriday Oilseed doesn&8217;t want to eat it, however, they want to make money off of it, so they decided clean crude was the most cost-effective option.

Soybeans are approximately 20 percent oil.

Ferriday Oilseed leaves almost half of that oil in with the meal it grinds in order to produce superior feed.

The oil is valuable, however, and investing nearly $40,000 in the reconditioned centrifuge has increased the sales potential for its oil.

Another selling point would be cheaper transportation costs, an advantage a railroad line would provide.

At the moment, Ferriday Oilseed produces 1,200 gallons of oil per eight-hour shift. A tanker truck holds 6,500 gallons.

A railroad tanker, however, holds roughly four times that amount, making it cheaper to transport.

Distance also affects transportation costs, and the company knows an uptick in local production would benefit their business.

One such facility, Vanguard SynFuels, a biodiesel plant planning to open this month in Pollock, La., has tested their clean crude oil and likes it, putting a huge new customer nearby.

&8220;They could use a lot more oil than we could produce unless we got a lot bigger,&8221; he said.

Rail access would help the company access new markets for its meal, which would go a long way toward the designed 24-hour, seven days a week &8212; and 350 tons of meal &8212; production the plant is capable of.

On balance, Goodwin said business is going as well during their first year as they had planned. And that&8217;s pretty good considering they couldn&8217;t have predicted hurricanes Katrina and Rita would decimate the dairy feed market &8212; their main projected market &8212; right as they were opening shop.

&8220;The dairy market is starting to return, and we expect to see demand continue to increase,&8221; he said.