Emerson Chosen to Digitally Automate Renewable Diesel Plant

Sept. 8, 2009
Dynamic Fuels LLC, a 50/50 venture of Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp., has awarded Emerson Process Management the contract to digitally automate Dynamic Fuels commercial-scale renewable diesel plant in Geismar, La.

With Emerson's PlantWeb digital architecture, Dynamic Fuels will gain control through the networking of thousands of Emerson smart devices, systems and predictive maintenance software, according to St. Louis-based Emerson.

The $138 million facility in Geismar, La, which is scheduled to begin operations in early 2010, will use Syntroleum's Bio-Synfining biofuels manufacturing process to convert animal fats and greases into 75 million gallons per year of ultraclean, renewable diesel fuel. With some plant modifications, the Geismar facility also can produce renewable jet fuel.

"This is not your typical biodiesel or bioethanol plant," said Jeff Bigger, senior vice president of business development for Syntroleum. "Emerson has a good background in employing automation. As a hydrogenation facility, we needed that reliability and to have the close operation control, which is integral in such an environment."

Bio-Synfining processes triglycerides and fatty acids from fats and vegetable oils with heat, hydrogen and proprietary catalysts to produce renewable diesel or jet fuel. The complex process is similar to petroleum refining.

"We are pleased to team with Dynamic Fuels in delivering precise control of the extreme processes in this first commercial-scale renewable diesel plant in North America," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. "Pairing the expertise and resources of our companies will help ensure that this innovative plant is developed on schedule, and operates smartly with high efficiency and availability."

Emerson has provided products and services to Syntroleum since before 2000. This will be the first Emerson installation for Dynamic Fuels.

"We need to have a design that can be exported to other locations," Bigger said. "And that's one of the things that we get with the Emerson system. It's scalable."

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About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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