The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
  • Front.homecoming Court
  • Cheer
  • Front.park.lights
  • Front.pull
  • Front.ropes
  • Front.sculpt
  • Front.tar.wide
  • Front.toss
  • Front.walk Across

NextDiesel turning corn oil to biodiesel 2008.08.20

Written by David Green.


The 2008 Agriculture and Land Use Tour made four stops in Lenawee County earlier this month. In addition, two speakers presented information during the lunch period at the Tecumseh Community Center.

First on the tour was the NextDiesel biofuels plant in Adrian.


When a group of investors formed Biofuel Industries and started talking about construction of a biofuels plant, they were not quick to take action.nextdiesel.jpg

Everyone involved was new to the field, said Jason Eisenberg, director of business marketing at the plant, and three years of study went into biofuel processing before ground was broken in December 2006.

Operating under the name NextDiesel, the facility went into production a year ago this month, choosing soybeans as the source of feedstock to create fuel.

“At first we used soybeans,” Eisenberg said. “It’s the easiest to run and there’s no fat involved.”

Then came the striking rise in crop prices that adversely affected numerous industries.

A year ago, NextDiesel was buying soy for 39 cents a pound. The price stood at 67 cents a pound in early July of this year.

“Very quickly we got out of the soybean business,” Eisenberg said. “We changed to choice white grease.”

Once again, the price doubled in a year’s time, rising from 23 cents a pound last August to 49 cents on July 9.

It was soon time for another change—this time a tie-in with the existing ethanol market.

“Now we’re using 100 percent inedible corn oil from ethanol processing,” Eisenberg said.

NextDiesel has installed equipment in several ethanol plants to extract the oil distillers dried grain (DDG)—a byproduct of the corn ethanol industry. The oil is shipped to Adrian and the DDG is used  as animal feed, as before, but in a healthier form for the animals.

Oil is currently obtained from ethanol plants in New York, Indiana and Wisconsin, and the plant in nearby Riga will soon join the pool of suppliers.

“We’re the only biodiesel plant that has a contract to get all that oil, for 10 years,” Eisenberg said.

Federal incentives for the production of alternative fuels keep the biodiesel market viable. A federal excise tax of one dollar a gallon is received when biodiesel made from virgin oils, such as corn oil, is blended with petro diesel.

For example, a B20 blend—20 percent biodiesel—would lower the price of a gallon of fuel by 20 cents. Blends vary by the time of year. A winter blend might be sold as B5; in the summer, the biodiesel component could reach as high as B75 for use in a diesel engine.

For recycled feedstock, such as restaurant grease or used oil, the federal subsidy dips to 50 cents a gallon.

“Most biodiesel produced today is sold to Illinois and Europe. Our biggest customer has fueling stations along the highway through Michigan and Ohio,” Eisenberg said.

The majority of European cars are fueled with diesel, he explained, and the state of Illinois offers residents a large incentive to use biodiesel fuel.

Eisenberg expects more of his fuel will stay in Michigan if the state offers an incentive to use it.

NextDiesel is creating about 10 million gallons of biodiesel a year—running three shifts around the clock with 26 employees—and production is expected to reach the 20 million level by the end of this year.

Only about a fourth of the company’s 25-acre parcel is developed, leaving plenty of space for expansion or for construction of another alternative fuel process. The property is the first in Michigan to be designated a Renewable Energy Renaissance Zone. This gives developers a 15-year tax abatement on property and personal property.

Eisenberg is delighted to be part of an effort to reduce America’s dependence on imported fuel and he believes biodiesel is an important step. The fuel also comes with environmental benefits. Burning biodiesel results in a substantial reduction in unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, compared to petroleum-based diesel. Carbon dioxide emissions are also substantially reduced.

Biodiesel is said to provide an energy yield three times greater than corn ethanol, and it could get even better.

“The technology is constantly improving and becoming more efficient,” Eisenberg said.

That goes for feedstocks, as well. Research continues for the use of algae, an energy source that reproduces in 24 hours and is nearly 60 percent oil.

In this rapidly changing field, Eisenberg said, he was advised against bolting equipment to the floor. Instead, many pieces of the processing plant are mounted on skids—waiting for the next advance in the future of biodiesel.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2015