賓州州長瑞戴爾（Edward Rendell）以及AGRA生質燃料公司（AGRA Biofuels Inc.）主管6日共同宣布一項計畫，表明未來5年將在賓州建立並運作生質柴油生產工廠。州政府和該公司相關官員在賓州農業展上表示，賓州第一家生質柴油生產設備於1月1日在首府哈里斯堡南方的密德頓開始運作。
A plan to build and operate 11 biodiesel production plants in Pennsylvania over the next five years was announced Friday by Governor Edward Rendell and executives from AGRA Biofuels Inc. Speaking at the state Farm Show, the state and company officials said the first biodiesel production facility in the state started operations January 1 at Middletown, south of Harrisburg, the capital.
The AGRA plant employs 20 permanent workers, and will produce two to three million gallons of biodiesel each year. The plant was built entirely through private equity and will serve as a prototype for the company's next 10 facilities, each 10 times larger than the current plant.
The company’s 11 production facilities will produce more than 200 million gallons of biodiesel each year, and create as many as 3,000 new jobs in the next five years.
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in diesel engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification which separates the glycerin from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products - methyl esters, which is the chemical name for biodiesel, and glycerin, a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and cosmetics.
Each of the 11 facilities will use virgin soybean oil, primarily from Pennsylvania farmers, to create the renewable fuel. AGRA will also use feedstock from other states shipped to the facility via rail. Once all 11 plants are operational, the process will result in increased soybean demand for farmers, and higher prices per bushel.
Rendell and AGRA founder and CEO Don Coccia announced that the first 10,000 gallons of biodiesel produced by AGRA will be donated to Pennsylvania and will be used to reduce heating bills for some of the state's neediest families.
Home heating costs are rising. Residential heating oil prices are selling for $2.43 per gallon this week, an increase of 48.1 cents from this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When blended with regular fuel oil, the AGRA biodiesel will help provide fuel to low-income families participating in the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, at a 10 percent discount.