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

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

NextDiesel turning corn oil to biodiesel 2008.08.20

Written by David Green.

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.

NextDiesel

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.

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