Biodiesel May Benefit Missouri
"We don't use it in the winter because of some winter operability problems we've had," MoDOT biodiesel user, David Dewitt, said. "We don't really have the confidence that the biodiesel is mixed well enough."
Right now, MoDOT uses biodiesel in the summer because in the winter it sometimes gels up. They hope that further research will solve this problem, so they can use it year round.
Missouri is a leading researcher in soybean biotechnology.
The state produces about 5 million acres of soybeans each year.
Researchers at MU are working to create a soybean that contains more oil which is used in biodiesel production and less of its bi-product, soybean meal.
"You know they are basically dealing with other issues," Henry Nguyen, Director of Soybean Research, said. "You know, in other words, how do we get more of the industry? Commercial vehicle, so far so on, that will be using the biodiesel."
Biodiesel is sold three ways: in 2 percent, 5 percent, and 20 percent biodiesel.
MoDOT uses B-20 biodiesel 7 months out of the year, but a proposed legislation would force a 5 percent standard on all Missouri fuel.
"It improves air quality, it reduces wear on your engine, as well as reducing our dependency on foreign oil," Dale Ludwig, Director and CEO of Missouri Soybean Associates, said.
The process may sound new, but it's really just refining a familiar kitchen product.
"We're actually taking the vegetable oil, that you use if you were frying French fries, for example, that's most of the time vegetable oil that's made out of soybeans, it's that exact same product that we're using to make biodiesel," Terry McClatchey, AGP marketing manager, said.
The plant being built in St. Joe will produce about 55 million gallons a year.
The process isn't cheap, but the state is willing to invest in the technology.
It's an investment they hope pays off in the long term for Missouri.
The largest biodiesel plant in the state is in Mexico.
They refused to comment for our story, saying it was not in their best business interest.