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Biodiesel Plant Produces 1.2 Million Gallons Per Year
“Five years ago I filled up my semi tractor with diesel and the bill came to more than a thousand dollars,” says Luke Jaeger of Minneola, Kan. “That’s when my brother and I decided to figure out a way to produce our own fuel for our farming and trucking business.”
  Luke and his brother Matt made their first batches of biodiesel in the kitchen but it didn’t quite meet fuel standards. They kept tweaking the process and eventually devised a workable system. They built their own reactors to expand production capacity rather than buy expensive new equipment. “That’s probably the smartest thing we did,” says Luke, “because we’ve paid for the materials as we’ve grown rather than borrowing a big sum of money to build a large capacity plant.”
  For a few years they produced biodiesel only in the winter. Now their plant can produce up to 5,000 gal. in 24 hrs., 23,000 gal. a week and about 1.2 million gallons a year. Their commercial license allows them to produce and sell biodiesel to farmers, truckers and other customers in the area.
  “We get most of the oil to make our biodiesel from a nearby soybean processing plant but we also collect used vegetable oil from several businesses,” Luke says. “We’ve also made biodiesel using canola oil, corn oil, chicken fat and beef tallow. Some of those products have low value on the commercial market, so it’s a real benefit for us to make some very good fuel from what is basically a waste product.”
  Some of the equipment in the Jaegers’ current plant was purchased used from an oil refinery. Other pieces they made themselves or had custom-built in a local machine shop. “It’s wasn’t too difficult to scale up the production once we knew the process and had the system figured out,” Luke says. “We have an engineer who oversees the operation so we can run the plant 24 hours a day.” With their current production they make all the biodiesel for their own farm tractors and diesel-fueled trucks and sell to several customers within 100 miles of the plant.
  The Jaeger’s plant has allowed the brothers to help build better awareness among friends and neighbors of the benefits of biodiesel. “The fuel we’re making is better at lubricating an engine and it has 10 to 15 percent higher cetane than straight petroleum diesel,” says Matt Jaeger. “That means an engine will have less wear over time and produce more power. Our biodiesel also has 80 percent lower CO2 emissions, so engine exhaust is cleaner.”
  The Jaegers have been able to sell all of the biodiesel their plant can produce, but they’re not going overboard to expand. “The plant is making money and paying for itself,” Jaeger says, “but we’ll move slow on expansion. We’re giving our customers a quality product for less money than petroleum-based diesel, and that’s the main focus right now.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Matt Jaeger, Emergent Green Energy, Inc., 450 County Road C, Minneola, Kan. 67865 (ph 620 450-4320; www.egebio.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #4