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Nation’s Largest Biodiesel Refinery Opens in Albert Lea

Albert Lea, Minn. — Renewable energy proponents in Minnesota have cause to celebrate. SoyMor, the nation’s largest biodiesel manufacturing facility and the second to be built in Minnesota began operating in late June.

Owned by more than 600 farmer members and investors, the refinery can produce 25 million-gallons of biodiesel per year from soybean oil. It will process 3,150 gallons per day from 1,700 acres worth of soybeans — for an annual total of about 18 million bushels of soybeans.

SoyMor’s capacity activates the so-called “Minnesota mandate,” which requires every gallon of diesel fuel sold in the state to include a 2-percent biodiesel blend. Minnesota’s production capacity needs to reach 8 million gallons and be certified by the commissioner of agriculture in order for the act to take effect.

The cooperative is also constructing a lecithin fractionation refinery set to begin operating in the next several weeks. The innovative facility will further refine crude lecithin, a component of soybean oil, into food and nutraceutical ingredients.

“SoyMor has been and continues to be very progressive in their thinking,” says Max Norris, AURI director of projects and technology. “It’s a great way to add value to Minnesota soybeans.”

A grand opening ceremony on June 14 included an address by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and tours of the biodiesel refinery.