SEABROOK, TEXAS --- Renewable Energy Group, a major biodiesel company headquartered in Ames, Iowa, on Sept. 10 opened its first Texas plant in Seabrook.

REG's 35-million-gallon-per year plant in Seabrook provides a strategic hub on the Gulf Coast for distributing the fuel through the South. REG acquired the Seabrook plant in June when it purchased U.S. Biodiesel Group. At the time, the plant was nearly completed, the Houston Chronicle reported. Initially, the plant will produce biodiesel from soybean oil, canola oil and animal fats. But within a few years, REG hopes to use algae oil to produce the fuel.

Last month, REG announced it has scalable commercialization technology capable of refining and producing large volumes of high-quality algae biodiesel.

REG said it has implemented technology to refine the oil from a variety of algae strains and produce algae biodiesel. REG has pre-treated and produced algae biodiesel at the pilot scale level. With available feedstocks and additional algae oil production partners, REG said it can augment current pre-treatment and production of algae biodiesel in greater volumes as part of the commercial-scale process technology.

With these scalability options, REG looks to form additional partnerships for commercial-scale production of algae biodiesel at volumes comparable to those from other vegetable and animal feedstocks now in use, said Chief Operating Officer Daniel Oh, who oversees technology and research and development programs for the company.

"Commercial demonstration of algae biodiesel at this level is a major step forward for the industry," Oh said last month. "By defining the processing parameters for larger volumes of algae oil, we can process the algae oil using REG’s commercial scale production technology like any other feedstock out there today."

"REG's successful demonstration of technologies presents the flexibility and opportunity for it to partner with almost any algae oil supplier for biodiesel," explained Research and Development Manager Glen Meier. "Universal compatibility is the fastest means to procure the volumes of feedstock needed for large-scale commercialization."

As part of the commercialization process, crude algae oil is cleaned and refined using REG's pre-treatment technology. It is then converted to biodiesel using a system similar to that in the current commercial-scale biodiesel production process. Despite algae oil's distinct processing challenges, REG has produced algae biodiesel that exceeds quality specifications.

REG has been involved in biodiesel commercialization since 1996 and currently uses a multi-feedstock approach to biodiesel production.