Building a biodiesel plant and crushing facility gives farmers options to market their beans. Without additional outlets to market beans, farmers in northwest Minnesota are at the mercy of high basis. The basis, or the cost a producer must pay to ship his or her beans via rail to market, can be especially costly, as beans from the region are typically transported to the Pacific Northwest to be exported to a final destination.
Filling the mandate
Minnesota, the first state in the nation to require 20 percent biodiesel be blended in all diesel at the pump, has three biodiesel plants and produces roughly 85 million gallons of biodiesel annually. To fill the mandate volume of 110 million gallons, the state imports some of its biodiesel. Construction of a 30-million gallon biodiesel plant and soybean crushing facility would allow Minnesota to further fulfill its pledge to green, renewable fuel sources.
Who owns and operates the small crush facility?
The small crush facility will be owned by a non-profit. It will have a diverse board of directors, made up of individuals from agriculture, university, business and research. The mission of this non-profit will be to operate the facility, giving opportunities whenever possible to up-and-coming research projects from Minnesota and the surrounding areas.
What makes this specialty crush facility so unique?
This specialty crush facility will be unlike any other facility in the nation. While similar campus exist, such as the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University, which was built by the Ethanol industry, this facility will have a far greater reach and capabilities.
The reason few specialty facilities exist to do research is because most of these facilities are built to process only one feedstock. This is the most cost-effective process for a plant and is a sound investment. The specialty crush facility at the SI campus will have dedicated tanks and will be quick and easy to clean, allowing operators to easily switch between various crops, including GMO, non-GMO and organic in a cost-effective manner. The process used at this facility will be a mechanical crush process, which is the preferred method for the non-GMO customer base.
This facility will cater to students, agribusiness and potential customers with a viewing area.
Once established, the Soy Innovation Campus will be home to private industries that create products from the co-products of the four facilities.
Several companies are in the development stage with products representative of the types of products that could be created at the Soy Innovation Campus.
Each of these businesses could get its start by building a processing facility adjacent to the large biodiesel and processing facility, and ultimately sell these technologies across the nation and the globe.
Perhaps one of the most untapped opportunities this campus will provide is the ability to further demonstrate Minnesota’s leadership in the green revolution. Many green processing ideas have stumbled just past the bench-top research phase. In conjunction with the University of Minnesota, Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and private industry, ideas that could not afford to be proven out would finally have a place to prove their value.
By harnessing the capacity of the four facilities, the Soy Innovation Campus will breed new innovation. And with shared office spaces, collaboration will ultimately ensue.
New ideas. New technologies. New products.
Several companies are in the development stage with technologies representative of the types of products that could be created in Crookston.
A partial list of these projects include:
Additionally, many projects are stalled because testing is too expensive, or a facility doesn’t exist.
Several projects already moving forward that would benefit from the SI Campus include:
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