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Hurricane Ike and BioFuels

Texas biodiesel producer GreenHunter Energy says that hurricane damage to it's gulf coast refinery — currently the largest in the nation — will take it out of production for 6 to 8 weeks.

The GreenHunter facility is capable of producing 100 million gallons of biodiesel per year (Mgy) using a combination of animal fats and vegetable oils. Prior to Hurricane Ike, they had been ramping up production and last Friday announced that they had achieved a 65 Mgy output. It’s unclear how the hurricane damage will affect their time frame for reaching full capacity.

According to a press release, damages at the facility were mostly due to floodwater — which crested the 100-year flood plain — and not the wind damage that had been expected. According to Bruce Baughman, Senior Vice President of Technology and Engineering:

“So far in our assessment of this disaster, we have concluded that fortunately, damage to major process equipment is minimal. We have discovered damage to smaller reagent tanks, intermediate tanks and their interconnecting piping and pumps, as well as damage to the foundations of smaller tanks. Given the sheer volume of water and the extreme flood levels that we faced, our initial assessment is that we sustained overall minor to moderate impact to the Renewable Fuels Campus from Hurricane Ike.”

Apparently structural losses included damage to some office space, reagent tanks and foundations, as well as two bulk storage tanks. The company had evacuated all employees prior to Ike’s landfall so there were no injuries reported.

Written by Nick Chambers
Published on September 16th, 2008

Copyright 2008

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