The BioPro Biodiesel Processor
By Rick Da Tech
Springboard Biodiesel offers a line of semi automated stainless steel processors targeting the small biodiesel producer. They offer their processors in 40, 50 and 100 gallon capacities with a variety of options. Processing time is typically 48 hours. Although the Company reports that it is possible to reduce processing time to 12 hours.
The BioProTM design has been with us for several years and has become a popular mature product. It is a semi-automated processor, meaning it does everything unattended except for loading the chemicals and oil, and draining the glycerin. It even has a pump to pump the finished Biodiesel out of it with. You don't need to babysit this one like you do DIY processors.
A unique feature is that it is designed so that titrations are not needed. It accepts a wide range of organic oil, up to about 5% FFA, depending on how dry the oil is. 5% FFA is about the same as a titration of 9 using KOH. It is able to accept this wide range because it uses acid esterification to bring the FFA into a range that a fixed amount of catalyst can then be used for the base transesterification stage.
Customer support gets an A+ rating. They have real engineers on staff to help you with any problem you may have with your BioProTM. These guys know their processor and can usually get you going on the first contact.
They are expensive with the 150 starting at $7,400, the 190 starting at $10,000 and the 380 starting at $15,000. If they are operated about 2/3rds of the time, and your feedstock (grease) is free, they are cost effective. They become quite economical if you run them 24x7. So if you need about 140 gallons a week, then the 150 is quite economical. If you need about 350 gallons a week, then the 380 is for you. Keep in mind they do have optional upgrades available that reduce the time it takes to produce a batch, effectively increasing the maximum gallons per week it can produce.
One way to compare the cost of various commercial processors is to calculate the cost of the machine per gallons of biodiesel it can produce in a year. You still have to figure in the value of quality of construction and quality of fuel output. A Lexus will cost more per gallon than a Vega. Looking at the numbers the BioProTM 150 can produce 7300 gallons a year. The base model costs $7,400 plus shipping. This gives an annual production capital expense of 82 cents per gallon. The 190 base model is about 92 cents per gallon. The 380 base model works out to be 71 cents per gallon. Please note this is not the cost of the biodiesel your making, it's how much the processor costs per gallon of biodiesel produced in the first year when run at full capacity. These numbers convert processor costs into something that lets you compare the price of a processor to other processors by other companies. If you want to know how long it will take for your diesel fuel savings to pay for the processor, please contact a BioProTM dealer in your area.