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Ten added biodiesel pumps to boost production in state

Fort Collins firm also plans $3.3 million plant

By Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News
May 15, 2004

Denver's first biodiesel pump will open Wednesday at Offen Petroleum on 5201 York St., one of the most polluted urban neighborhoods in the state.

The same day, nine additional biodiesel pumps will open in various cities, including Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Durango and Greeley. It brings the total of biodiesel pumps in Colorado to 14.

Biodiesel is made by mixing 20 percent processed soybean oil with 80 percent petroleum oil. It can be used in diesel-run cars and trucks without any engine modification. It costs 20 cents more per gallon compared with regular diesel.

The pumps are being put up by Fort Collins-based Blue Sun Biodiesel, which has also earmarked $3.3 million pay for a new manufacturing facility in Johnstown. The plant will produce 3 million gallons per year - much less than the total U.S. consumption of 34 billion gallons of traditional fuel.

Blue Sun estimates the expansion will add $45 million in new income annually and create 240 jobs, a majority being in the rural areas that include growing crops, crushing seeds and transporting vegetable oil to the distribution centers.

"Blue Sun and the retailers are able to get on board and sell biodiesel because there are people out there who want to buy the stuff," said Bob McCormick, senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. "People are willing to pay more to use a fuel that has some benefits in terms of lower petroleum consumption and reduction in greenhouse/toxic emissions."

McCormick said the cost difference could be reduced by switching to different crops such as brown mustard and canola - a strategy Blue Sun already is trying in Colorado.

Jeff Probst, Blue Sun's president and CEO, said his company is working with local farmers to grow brown mustard on 6,000 acres. If demand picks up, the acreage will be expanded, Probst said.

He noted that biodiesel's higher cost compared with regular diesel is offset by lower operating costs that include a reduced number of oil changes and longer engine lives.

"We will develop the local market over the next three to five years," Probst said. "If demand grows, then we will expand the manufacturing facility to produce up to 15 million gallons per year."

or 303-892-2976

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