Renewable Energy Group, Inc. celebrated Thursday the completion of upgrades to its 30-million gallon biorefinery in Mason City, Iowa, which allows the plant to produce biodiesel from a wide variety of raw materials.
Several state and local government and business leaders were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion. REG began the $20 million project approximately one year ago, shortly after the company re-started the plant, which the company purchased in July 2013.
The upgrades enable the Mason City biorefinery to utilize multiple raw materials, such as inedible corn oil, animal fats, and greases, in addition to the refined vegetable oils the plant was originally designed to process. The upgrades were completed almost two months ahead of schedule and within budget.
“These upgrades further expand and strengthen our multi-feedstock business model, which allows REG to produce and deliver high-quality biomass-based diesel at an affordable price to growing regional and national markets,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are well-positioned to meet growing demand in Iowa, with its retail incentive for advanced biofuels, and in Minnesota as it increases its use of higher biodiesel blends.”
Biomass-based diesel produced at the plant meets the company’s REG-9000™ quality specifications, which meet or exceed the industry ASTM standards. The upgrade project supported 56 full-time construction jobs.
REG also improved the existing front-end technology at the biorefinery that enables higher yields from free fatty acids in the production process.
“Enhancing the plant’s pretreatment and distillation capabilities will enable us to take a broader spectrum of lower-cost feedstocks and produce a high quality product,” said Brad Albin, REG Vice President, Manufacturing. “The increased feedstock flexibility helps drive greater demand for local feedstock suppliers and keeps more of their products in the Midwest.”
REG acquired the Mason City biorefinery in July 2013 and reopened the plant three months later. The company was awarded approximately $2.5 million in incentives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the City of Mason City for the project. The plant employs 30 full-time, skilled workers and supports jobs in other industries including farming, transportation, processing and rendering.
“This is a great investment for Mason City,” said Iowa State Sen. Amanda Ragan. “REG has invested millions of dollars in our local economy while bringing permanent jobs for skilled workers to our area. By making biodiesel in Mason City, REG is helping Iowa remain the largest advanced biofuel producing state in the nation.”
REG now owns 10 biorefineries in six states, including two other Iowa plants in Ralston and Newton. REG also owns a 30-million gallon a year facility in Albert Lea, MN, which completed a similar upgrade project last year.