ATP-SC LLC and Midlands Biofuels jointly announced an innovative collaboration to grow biocrops, produce, sell and utilize solid and liquid biofuels, and to expand the state’s bioeconomy, starting in Allendale, S.C., and expanding across the state.
This announcement is made in anticipation of National Bioenergy Day, which provides an opportunity to showcase bioenergy facilities and the bioenergy supply chain around the U.S. The U.S. Department of Energy will celebrate National Bioenergy Day with an educational display about the bioenergy supply chain and the bioeconomy in the lobby of the energy department’s Forrestal building in downtown Washington, D.C.
ATP-SC LLC, an Allendale-based operating affiliate of Columbia, S.C.-based Agri-Tech Producers LLC and founded by Joe James, is developing a pilot torrefaction plant at 1624 Bluff Road in Allendale, S.C., to convert biomass—plant and woody material—into a variety of bioproducts including a clean and renewable biocoal, which is co-fired in coal-burning electric plants with minimal alterations to help reduce carbon and chemical pollution.
Midlands Biofuels, owned by “Bio” Joe Renwick, converts waste cooking oil into a cleaner and renewable biodiesel fuel and has just begun its waste oil collections in Allendale. “Bio” Joe Renwick recently asked “Torre-Joe James” if he would grow the oilseed crop canola so Midlands would have an increasing supply of cooking oil that it could sell to the restaurants from which it collects used cooking oil.
James had already leased a 40-acre farm field, immediately adjacent to its Allendale pilot plant, with the intention of growing biomass sorghum next spring. However, Renwick’s request created an opportunity for James to immediately put his idle acreage to work, growing canola, a winter crop, while still planting his biocrop in the spring.
James and Renwick are hopeful that this small collaboration will inspire similar and larger collaborations across the state, where farmers can both grow canola for Renwick and biocrops for James on the same farm. Like James, participating farmers can purchase biodiesel for use in their tractors at a $1 per gallon discount from Midlands Biofuels for a limited time, and also benefit from added revenues from two crop rotations on a field per year.
Both James and Renwick are members of the South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance, which is a cooperative enterprise tasked with building a broad-based business alliance that fosters the development of a clean energy industry in the state and James is a founding member of the state’s Biomass Council, which believes that South Carolina can use its abundant biomass resources to be energy independent and generate a reliable, affordable, and green source of power, cleanly and efficiently.
Torrefaction is a carbonization process that takes place at temperatures between 250 and 500 degrees in a low-oxygen environment, which makes the physical and energy properties of the biomass much more comparable to traditional coal. The biomass is then made into pellets or briquettes and this biocoal is sold to end users or in other forms to be used as biochar. ATP-SC’s $3.65 million Allendale pilot plant will produce roughly 13,000 tons of torrefied material per year, which will be made into biocoal and other products.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be used in any diesel engine without modification. Winnsboro, S.C. is home to Midlands Biofuels, a green company dedicated to making biodiesel from local waste vegetable oil. The SC Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) recently awarded Midlands with its 2nd Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant. The grant allows Midlands Biofuels to provide biodiesel fuel, across South Carolina at a discounted price to increase biodiesel use through competitive market pricing.
The advantages of using biodiesel are increased performance and power, and decreased cancer-causing emissions and particulates.
Midlands Biofuels collects waste cooking oil from hundreds of the state’s restaurants, businesses, colleges, schools and recycling centers. Allendale County recently contracted with Midlands Biofuels to start the “BIO4EDU” oil collection program in their recycling centers on National BioEnergy Day.
This unique program allows Allendale County residents the opportunity to recycle their waste cooking oil rather than pouring it down the drain or in the back yard like many southerners have been known to do. Recycling waste oil benefits the county operating budget by decreasing grease-related problems in the sewers and storm water run-off. With every gallon recycled in the county, one gallon of biodiesel can be produced. Last year Midlands donated almost $3,000 to the Richland Lexington School District 5 with the BIO4EDU program.
The connection between James and Renwick was facilitated by the AgStrong Solio Family Canola Project, an endeavor active in nine states and numerous counties in South Carolina. AgStrong Solio Family Canola is certified Non-GMO and the oil is pressed through a natural, nonchemical process.
Though this is the first collaboration between James and Renwick, it is sure not to be the last as they pioneer a new sustainable industry and grow green jobs in South Carolina. They have a winning collaboration to grow, process and fuel South Carolina’s future.
A media event will be held for those interested in learning more. ATP-SC and Midlands Biofuels will both be onsite Oct. 22 at 1624 Bluff Road in Allendale, S.C., at 11:00 a.m. delivering biodiesel to be used for this project and collection containers for Allendale County recycling centers.