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Getting ready for biodiesel

By TY BEAVER Herald and News 2/1/07

Lower oil prices aren’t keeping one Klamath Basin resident from moving ahead with an alternative energy plant.

Greenfuels of Oregon is working to complete a biodiesel production facility in southern Klamath County. The company is still looking for growers to provide the source of the fuel — canola.
Spikes in the cost of fuel and other commodities prompted the facility’s construction, said Rick Walsh of Greenfuels and a local grower. In prior months, as the price of diesel grew, it made the cost of producing alternative fuels more cost effective.

“It looked pretty lucrative back then,” he said.

Walsh also said that the nation is looking to break from its reliance on fossil fuels. In his State of The Union address, President Bush said he wanted to reduce American gas consumption by 20 percent in the next 10 years. Automobile producers are making vehicles with better mileage.

Construction on the biodiesel plant on Lower Klamath Lake Road began in September. Walsh said the company doesn’t have a solid opening date, and it is waiting on shipments of lab equipment and construction of storage tanks.

Would use primarily canola

The facility would primarily use canola to produce biodiesel in 550 gallon batches. The crop provides several benefits that other oil-producing plants don’t, especially in the Basin, because it can tolerate cool temperatures and requires less water, Walsh said.

Despite the market for the crop, Walsh said the company has trouble finding producers to supply the canola. Wheat and other feed crops are commanding high prices, encouraging growers to produce them. Those who back growers financially also are more willing to grow traditional feed crops because they have a more likely chance of success.

“Feed prices are going up and people aren’t going to want to experiment,” Walsh said. A few growers, including Walsh, are growing the crop or planning to test it, but that isn’t enough to supply the facility’s needs, he said.

People are interested in the facility’s final product, though, which means there will be a ready market once a canola supply is secured and the plant is online. Walsh said the company plans to sell the biodiesel through local fuel distributor.

For more information about producing canola for Greenfuels, contact Walsh at (541)-885-8886.

H&N photos by Ty Beaver Rick Walsh shows two of the devices that will be used to grind canola to produce biodiesel at Greenfuels of Oregon's production facility. The company is still looking for growers to supply canola when the facility comes online.

Production and cleaning tanks for creating biodiesel installed at Greenfuels of Oregon's facility in southern Klamath County. The company doesn't have a date for when the facility will start up but expects it to be soon.


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