Arkansas Biodiesel Plant Soon to Open

John Davis

A biodiesel plant in Eastern Arkansas near the towns of Helena-West Helena on the Mississippi River is set to open April 1st… after nearly two and a half years of planning and building.

This story in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette says the plant will be able to produce 40 million gallons a year… making it Arkansas’ largest biodiesel plant:

“We started researching the project in late 2005,” Crowley said of the venture, which is being undertaken by Patrick Burks, Crowley’s grandfather, and David Griffin, a Phillips County farmer.

The last two-and-a-half years have been a roller coaster, Crowley said, as the price of soybean oil — the most commonly used raw material for biodiesel production — has skyrocketed. Soybean oil for March delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade reached a record 54. 36 cents a pound on Jan. 14, up 67 percent during the past year due to increased demand for alternative fuels made from oilseeds.

Although Delta American had not planned to do so, it will begin by making biodiesel from animal fat because that remains profitable, Crowley said.

“We’ve got a long way to go before [soybean oil ] is affordable again,” he said.

The plant will join to smaller refineries in the state… FutureFuel Chemical Co. near Batesville, able to produce 24 million gallons a year, and Patriot BioFuels Inc. in Stuttgart, producing three million gallons a year. Another 7.5-million-gallon plant run by Arkansas SoyEnergy Group will also start up on April 1st.