For our neighbors in Whitman county, we understand concerns around any new industrial operation. One of our top priorities at AgTech OS is to decarbonize the farming and heavy transportation industries, therefore engineering for minimal pollution is embedded in our designs.
Q1: How will the proposed biodiesel plant affect air quality in the Pullman area?
There will be very little, if any, negative effects on air quality. The plant will use solar power for a large fraction of power needs. This will be supplemented by biomass boilers with highly effective emissions reduction scrubbers. The proposed plant includes biodiesel production, seed meal production and 1,3-propanediol production arranged in a circular process to make use of all byproduct residues. The plant is designed to minimize emissions and be powered largely through renewable energy.
Q2: Will the proposed biodiesel plant put off any unusual odors that nearby residents will be able to smell?
No. Processes will be contained in buildings with controlled HVAC and well developed odor control equipment. The products produced in these processes do not generate significant odors.
Q3: How much noise will the biodiesel plant create? Will it run 24 hours a day?
The plant is intended to run 24/7, except for scheduled maintenance and 2 weeks over holidays at the end of year.
Noise produced by the biodiesel plant and the other included processes will not be noticeable in nearby residential areas. All noise producing equipment (seed crushers, centrifuges, pumps and similar) will be enclosed in buildings and will not be of significant volume. Some additional traffic noise will be introduced due to truck deliveries during harvest season, as is normal in Whitman County.
Q4: Where will AgTech OS get the water they may need for their manufacturing processes?
AgTech OS will be connected to the city of Pullman water supply. Consistent with the closed loop nature of the plant AgTech OS will recycle/reuse, 95% of the water required in production processes.
Q5: Will there be any contaminants that could affect the areas around the plant? Will the AgTech OS manufacturing process create any hazardous waste that would need to be disposed of?
No. The processes have been designed to use all production byproducts from one process in another process. This is a core value proposition of AgTech OS: Developing carbon neutral fuels within a closed loop process.
The nominal wastewater stream discharged to Pullman sewer system will fall within the pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), and other requirements of the water district.
Q6: Has anyone estimated the amount of additional traffic that will be generated due to the plant’s location?
During the harvest season there will be significant truck delivery of seed amounting to between 10 and 20 trucks per day over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. During the rest of the year, there will be approximately 4 to 6 trucks per day entering and leaving the plant delivering required materials and removing products.
Q7: How many square feet is the biodiesel facility?
The total square footage contemplated for development is 550,000 sq.ft. of building space.
Q8: Washington State has some very strict environmental laws and regulations. Do you foresee any difficulty meeting these in order to acquire permits?
There are always difficulties securing permits since the process is very detailed, but the major problems we anticipate are just following the process, not meeting the core requirements. This is because our whole mission is to set up a net-zero carbon footprint operation built around sustainable energy, minimizing emissions, and eliminating waste generation.
Q9: Looking at the Port’s bigger picture of the Agriculture Advancement Campus, do you see any industry or technology that would be a good fit for an industry cluster with AgTech OS?
Yes, we see three distinct areas for complimentary tenants:
- 1. Green Agricultural Resource Optimization Software Development in partnership with the NVIDIA corporation.
- 2. Green Methanol Production. The AgTech biodiesel production process uses methanol to produce biodiesel. Green methanol can be produced using state-of-the-art catalysts to combine carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methanol.
- 3. Biomass, Bioenergy and Chemical Engineering technologies focused on biomass conversion, green hydrogen production and advanced fuels development. All areas where WSU has particular strengths.
Q10: Why will this operation be financially successful when other canola-based biofuel plants have failed?
- Unlike most Biodiesel operations we have multiple products that serve distinct markets.
- This buffers volatility in any given market and offers us a significant competitive advantage relative to other biodiesel operations.
- We will be using a proprietary reactor design that increases operational efficiencies and decreases operational costs and converting typical biodiesel waste to a high value commodity chemical.
Q11: What is 1,3 propanediol used for and is it safe in the form that it will be produced at this plant?
- 1,3-propanediol is what is known as a platform chemical. This means it is used in many production processes. These range from plastics manufacturing to optical component manufacturing to medical device manufacturing.
- 1,3-PD will be produced by fermentation at a temperature of 37 C, or 98.6 F (body temperature), and will be immersed in water during the entire production process. The production process and the 1,3-PD are therefore very safe.
Q12: Is the renewable fuel you plan to produce safe for the environment? How does it compare to petroleum-based diesel in this regard?
- Unlike regular, petroleum derived diesel, Biodiesel is rapidly biodegraded and thus significantly reduces environmental risk relative to petroleum-based diesel.
- Hundreds of studies have documented that biodiesel produced from oil seeds have a 74% reduction in carbon footprint compared to petro diesel. For example, when burned, biodiesel typically emits 50% less particulates and more than 60% less unburned hydrocarbons. There is well established science on this topic.
Q13: Your website states “the operation aims for a sustainable net-zero carbon footprint” how will this be achieved?
- Net-zero will eventually be achieved by first, using only renewable energy to power the plant, a combination of solar and biomass.
- Second, production byproducts will be used in further processes to yield other value added
- Third, the biodiesel produced on site, from crops grown locally will be used in the trucks that ship the crops and tractors that plant and harvest the crops.
Q14: Your website mentions “next generation solar technologies” could you please provide a general overview of what this means.
We are partnered with a solar energy company based in Alberta, Ca. They have a suite of proprietary technologies that concentrate sunlight to generate steam that we will use for process heat.
Q15: What are the estimates on carbon emissions when using your renewable fuel in farm equipment versus petroleum-based diesel?
Lifecycle carbon emissions from biodiesel burned in diesel engines are approximately 74% less then lifecycle carbon emissions from petro-diesel.
Q16: There are recent news articles regarding safety at some biodiesel plants, especially around explosions. Will this operation be susceptible to these types of accidents?
- Fires at biodiesel plants generally derive from 2 sources: Glycerol storage and Methanol storage and transfer.
- The continuous reactor technology we will be using requires less methanol and less methanol transfer. This reduces the fire risk.
- Because we will be using the glycerol which is typically a waste product from the biodiesel production process in the production of 1,3 propanediol, we will not have significant glycerol storage. This nearly eliminates this risk.