Grantee: State Line Biofuels
State Line Biofuels: On-Farm Biodiesel Facility
Grantee: John Williamson, Tanner Willliamson
Location: Shaftsbury, Vermont; Bennington County
Crops: Sunflowers (organic, certification pending)
Project Description: On the forefront of oilseed crop growing in a northeastern climate, State Line Biofuels is Vermont’s first on-farm facility making biodiesel made from oilseed crops grown on-site and from neighboring farms.
The Williamson family has owned State Line Farm in southwest Vermont alongside the border of New York since 1936. For many years, State Line was run as a traditional dairy farm, but falling milk prices caused them to sell the herd and look towards diversifying the farm's operations. John and his family currently produce maple syrup, honey, sorghum syrup and hay for sale in local markets. Since 2004, State Line Farm has also experimented with sunflower, canola, mustard, and flax varieties in an effort to fuel their farm with biodiesel.
Between 2006-2008, State Line Biofuels developed a 120,000 gal/yr (300 batch capacity) biodiesel production facility. A dedicated building was constructed and most of the reactor system was designed by John using used milking equipment for a total capital cost of ~$135,000. This facility provides biodiesel and livestock meal for use at State Line Farm, as well as contract oilseed pressing and biodiesel production for neighboring farms. The production capacity of State Line Biofuels was developed to serve the fuel and feed needs of 10-15 farms within a 30 mile radius, encompassing 1,500-2,000 acres of oilseed crops.
State Line Biofuels is also an important educational demonstration center for developing and teaching best practices for small-scale oilseed crop and biodiesel production in the Northeast. At least one annual field day is held each summer with 100-150 attendees, while over the course of a year, John and Tanner provide tours of their biodiesel facility to 30-50 curious farmers. State Line Biofuels has enjoyed a lot of media attention over the past few years and has become the ‘go to’ place for farmers in New England interested in seeing and learning about innovative farm-scale production techniques. This farmer-to-farmer peer learning process is critical to the further development of on-farm biodiesel production in Vermont and New England.
In 2005-2007, State Line Biofuels was awarded $23,200 for technical assistance in the form of a safety review and engineering study of existing biodiesel production facility. For the 2008-2010 growing seasons, State Line was awarded $30,000 to investigate new crops and varieties of biofuel related crops, including a focus on sugar crops which hold promise for production of ethanol as a catalyst component for biodiesel production. State Line also sought to improve the ability to receive, clean, dry, store and press grain to oil by adding grain measurement components, additional grain storage, and an oil press upgrade. For 2011-2013, State Line was awarded $25,000 to provide new oilseed conveyance, drying, cleaning and storage infrastructure to support ongoing research and development of oilseeds being grown for fuel, feed and food in Southwestern Vermont.
Reports & Studies:
- Safety Review and Engineering Study (PDF, 1.5MB, 1/15/09)
- Harvesting Canola (Video by Callahan Engineering, 10/15/07)
- Harvesting Sunflowers (Video by Callahan Engineering, 9/14/07)
- Feasibility Analysis: Solar Seed Dryer and Storage Bin at State Line Farm (PDF, 2 MB, 10/6/2008)
- SLB Engineering Schematic (PDF, 115KB, 11/11/07)
- SLB System Overview (PDF, 721KB, 2008)
- SLB Standard Operating Procedures (PDF, 115KB, 2/13/08)
- SLB Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PDF, 131KB, 1/2/08)