Iowa company to build new biodiesel plant in Emporia

? An Iowa company plans to begin construction this summer of a biodiesel plant capable of producing 60 million gallons of alternative fuel each year.

A deal with Renewable Energy Group was announced Friday by the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas.

Construction of the $65 million plant is expected to employ about 100 people.

When the plant begins operation, expected in the summer of 2008, it’s expected to employ about 30 workers.

Renewable Energy Group is based in Ralston, Iowa, where it owns a 12 million gallon-per-year plant.

Company president Nile Ramsbottom said the company looked at Emporia because of its location and an ongoing partnership with soybean processor Bunge North America.

“They have a large soybean processing facility there, so they’re a natural supplier of soybean oil to us,” Ramsbottom said. “And (Emporia) is in a site where there’s animal fats available from the feedyards.”

Both materials can be used to produce biodiesel fuel.

Ramsbottom also said the company was impressed with the “very open relations” it had with the development association while negotiating the deal.

He said the plant shouldn’t produce any odor or noise.

“Anything that doesn’t go into the product is recaptured, if you will, and reprocessed,” he said. “As industrial prospects go, we make a very nice neighbor.”