• May 27th 2009 at 3:54PM
  • 6
We talked about the uncommon but still serious cases of fires caused by biodiesel enthusiasts making the biofuel in their back yard just the other day. Even at industrial facilities, though, making fuel isn't exactly safe, and a fire at the Minnesota Soybean Processors Plant in Brewster, Minnesota forced local residents to evacuate their homes Saturday night. No serious injuries were reported, but the Deputy State Fire Marshall Investigator on the scene told local news station KSFY that the loss for the plant is substantial."In this case, just by crunching mental numbers that we've been given we're looking at this being a million dollar a day loss," he said.
There are two upsides to the fire. 1.) the fire rescue teams apparenlty performed amazingly well and fast, and deserve their shout out. 2.) The National Biodiesel Board has emphasized their biodiesel safety recomendations, noting once again that, "With a flash point of 200 degrees, biodiesel is the safest fuel to handle, store and use." Safe, but not fail safe.

[Source: KSFY Action News via Domestic Fuel, NBB]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 6 Comments
      • 7 Months Ago
      A tough break for MSP and the town. Thankfully, no one was hurt. I don't think this will have a major impact on local biodiesel supply, as there are other plants in the region that can step up until this facility is back in business.

      As you may recall, Minnesota just went (on May 1) to B5 at all diesel outlets statewide. So far, so good, with that effort. We (and the biodiesel industry) learned from some mistakes with the B2 mandate, hopefully this latest effort will go off without a hitch.
      • 7 Months Ago
      According to this article:

      http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/04/30/biodieselmandate/

      "...the plant lost $2.7 million last year on its biodiesel production...."

      "...The cost of its main ingredient, soybean oil, is too high and the sale price of biodiesel is too low...."

      Without mandates forcing the stuff down taxpayer's throats this fuel would not exist.

      • 7 Months Ago
      I guess this means the price of biodiesel just went up. Honestly, I can see somebody dropping a lit cigarette in some spillage at home, but a plant fire is a whole different level of f-up. I wonder what happened.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Watch the open flames and sparks around combustable materials and NEVER run with scissors... well, duh!

      (ever seen a grease fire in a restaurant kitchen?)
      • 7 Months Ago
      The big hazard isn't the biodiesel or the oil used to make it, it's the methanol and lye. Methanol is highly volatile and flammable, and lye is potentially corrosive.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Also, Diesel (and Biodiesel) have relatively low autoignition temperatures. So maybe it's unlikely to start the fire, but it's ready to join in the party real quick.