San Juan Bio-energy is completing construction of a crushing plant and bio-diesel facility that will transform locally grown sunflowers into a host of energy sources.
On a recent tour of the new facility, a company spokesman explained that the plant was originally envisioned to create bio-diesel. However, they soon realized that there were a number of products that they could produce with locally-grown products.
The company now states that they are in the business of providing energy that can be transformed into a number of products, including energy to run machinery, energy that can be used to cook, or energy that can be put into food products.
The completed facility will create a number of products, including bio-diesel, vegetable oils, and food additives. In addition, the plant will produce food pellets for livestock, stove pellets for heating, and by-products to run the plant.
The facility will be able to produce all the energy needed to fuel their crushing process and about half of their in-house electrical needs.
The plant has the capacity to produce about 3,000 gallons of fuel each day. There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil.
The total investment in the plant exceeds one million dollars, and the organization has “a couple of million of dollars” per year in contracts with local farmers.
At the current time, there are more than 50 local farmers who have contracted to raise the sunflowers. Each year, the company expects to double or triple the amount of ground under cultivation until there are 50,000 to 60,000 acres helping to feed the plant.
The sunflowers are processed in a mechanical process that creates a high quality oil which can be used for a variety of purposes. The company anticipates that buyers will be interested in the sunflower oil for many reasons.
In addition, the plant will be able to process canola and safflower, giving an expanded choice to local growers.
San Juan Bio-Energy has been purchasing local sunflowers for four years. Steady growth to date portends increasing growth in the future.