Orbitek Launching Biodiesel Production

Demand for biodiesel continues climbing, as analysts believe U.S. production of biodiesel can top 1 billion gallons a year by 2012.
Some are convinced that mark will be reached much sooner because the drivers for alternative fuels are growing stronger and more compelling every year.
Better performance and greater availability for diesel engines in passenger cars are putting upward pressure on markets for biodiesel, said Martha Hyde, director of marketing for Orbitek Inc.
Orbitek is the new name for Biodiesel Technologies Inc. The Tulsa-based company changed its name in August to separate itself from all the biodiesel production equipment companies with similar names.
“We needed the name change because several ‘Biodiesel Technology’ companies exist,” Hyde said.
Orbitek manufactures the equipment, with a proprietary process for biodiesel productions, which will be marketed to other biodiesel producers.
Orbitek plans to build an 8-foot x 20-foot, skid-mounted production unit. The entire operation can fit inside an acre-and-a-half. It is designed to produce 4 million gallons annually. The company can simply grow production by stringing units together.
The first plant is scheduled to open around May 1, Hyde said.
The patented process is a closed loop, continuous flow system that makes biodiesel by combining methanol and sodium methylate with feedstock, which may be any vegetable or animal based oil. The mixture is cycled through a reactor, which achieves a 99.8 percent conversion in less than a minute.
Hyde intends to use used cooking oil in Tulsa for a truly sustainable facility. She is in the process of raising $10 million to make the project a reality. The first $2.5 million is dedicated to building plants in Tulsa.
The diesel market is 38 billion gallons annually, and that is just the tractor-trailer rig market. It does not include rail.
“There is room in the sandbox for everybody,” Hyde said.
The energy supply concerns of the 1970s renewed interest in biodiesel, but commercial production did not begin until the late 1990s. Today, supply in the U.S. easily outstrips demand. Yet, spot market prices in Chicago top $4 a gallon. At those prices, 53 percent of the biodiesel made in the U.S. is shipped to Europe.
“Europe can afford it as their prices for petroleum are so much higher,” Hyde said. “It is hard to make a business plan work with those prices.”
European car manufacturers are taking advantage of the 40 percent more power, 60 percent more torque and 35 percent better fuel economy that diesel engine vehicles enjoy over their gasoline powered counterparts.
Slowly, however, the U.S. market is moving in that direction as Daimler Chrysler, GM, Volkswagen and Subaru introduced diesel models in 2007.
The National Biodiesel Board aim to capture 5 percent of the on-road diesel market by 2015, Higgins said.
That equals about 2 billion gallons, which happens to be equivalent to the amount of diesel fuel we currently make from oil imported from Iraq, Higgins said.
Biodiesel can be used up to 100 percent biodiesel, known as B100, said Jenna Higgins, spokeswoman of the National Biodiesel Board.
Most automakers recommend blends of B20 and below to ensure compatibility and for best operations, she said. Higher blends may need special consideration, especially in cold temperatures and in older vehicles. ?

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