Alabama Starts Its First Renewable Biodiesel Production

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey cuts ribbon
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey cuts a ribbon to signal the start of a renewable diesel production facility in Mobile. (Business Wire)

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Alabama has taken steps toward building the state’s first renewable diesel production facility in Mobile using soybean oil from state farmers to make low-carbon fuel.

The renewable diesel fuel produced there can be seamlessly integrated as a direct replacement for traditional petroleum diesel.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood and Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce President Bradley Byrne recently joined in the commissioning event at the Vertex Energy Inc. facility during a ribbon-cutting.

“By sourcing feedstock locally within our own state, Vertex fosters economic growth opportunities from farm-to-facility and offers low-carbon fuel products that contribute to a cleaner environment, not only here in our beautiful Alabama, but across the nations where these products are sold,” Ivey said.

The site was on a former Shell conventional fuels refinery acquired by Vertex in a $115 million conversion project launched last year.

Vertex CEO Benjamin Cowart noted the renewable diesel will help reduce emissions and take the state in a new direction.

Vertex Energy CEO Benjamin Cowart


“The opportunity to bring this kind of innovation to my hometown and the state of Alabama is incredibly meaningful. I believe this is just the beginning as we progress on our commitment to a cleaner environment by creating a sustainable growth path for the energy transition,” Cowart said.

The goal of the project was to convert a stand-alone unit within the refinery to produce renewable diesel as a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel fuel.

“Alabama’s soybean farmers will play a crucial role in supplying the feedstock, along with other suppliers across the country. The collaboration between Vertex and these suppliers is expected to help strengthen the local agricultural sector and help foster a stable transition to renewable energy sources,” a company announcement noted.

Although the facility initially will rely on soybean oil as the primary feedstock for the production process, it was engineered to use other organic waste oils in the future.

Michael Regan


In other renewable fuel developments, the Clean Fuels Alliance America sent a letter May 12 from five trade associations, including itself and American Trucking Associations, encouraging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to substantially raise the biomass-based diesel and overall advanced biofuel volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2023-2025.

It contended EPA’s proposed rule for the RFS program undercounted current production of biodiesel, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation and other advanced biofuels.


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EPA also listed proposed volumes that “are simply inconsistent with the investments our industries have made and plan to make to expand production and commercial availability of these fuels by 2025. We encourage you to ensure adequate supply and availability of these low-carbon fuels by substantially raising the biomass-based diesel and associated overall advanced biofuel volumes” when finalizing the RFS standards this year, the letter urged.

It also was signed by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Association of American Railroads and National Energy & Fuels Institute.

“Sustainable, low-carbon, domestically produced liquid fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel and Bioheat fuel are commercially viable today and have sufficient resources to scale up rapidly,” the letter stated. “Our industries need these fuels to decarbonize air transport, longhaul shipping and trucking, and home heating, and meet the needs of our customers and supply chain partners.”

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