SafeFuels X

Rendering of future renewable diesel, jet fuels refinery near the Savage Rail Service. 

The Trenton area could soon be home to a renewable diesel and aviation fuel plant derived from agricultural feedstocks.

Williams County Commissioners have approved a conditional use permit, requested by AIC Energy Corporation, for a plant that would process 100 million gallons of renewable fuels per year using soybean and canola oil on an 87-acre parcel in Buford Township that is near Savage Service’s Trenton rail port.

The company’s application lists John F. Melk as the owner of AIC Energy Corporation, and the Trenton plant’s name as SAFuels X Production Facility. AIC, meanwhile, lists a Las Vegas, Nevada address.

SAFuels X recently received a $221,000 grant to assist in developing the biorefinery from the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission. They are also working with North Dakota Farmers Union to source soybean oil for initial production at the plant. Canola is not yet approved for use as a renewable diesel fuel.

In aviation fuel mode, the product produced at the plant would be blended barrel for barrel with mineral jet fuel. The resulting product would meet all criteria for existing military jets, without needing to change the aircraft. AIC plans to market this product to the Department of Defense for sustainable jet fuel.

Buildings and preliminary civil site work would be completed in 2021, according to the company’s April 2021 conditional use permit application on file with Williams County. Work on process equipment and tankage would not occur until the project is reviewed and approved by DEQ.

SafeFuels X expects to employ 150 people per day during construction, with peak employment at 300. The application does not say how many would be employed long-term.

Incoming vegetable oil feedstocks and outgoing jet fuels will arrive and depart via Savage Services. Operating in aviation fuel mode, the company expects to need 70 rail cars per day to ship its product out. In diesel mode, they would use half that. At initial capacity, they would use 10 rail cars per day of incoming vegetable oil, or 273,000 gallons per day.

Heavy haul trucks should level out at four to seven per week, with the exception of initial construction and maintenance outages.

Planning and Zoning unanimously recommended approval of the project at its May 20 meeting with several conditions.Among these, at least 5 percent of the project must include a landscaped area, and a buffer strip at least 10-foot wide and 6-foot high should be installed along the southern and eastern property line.

A traffic engineering analysis must be performed and approved by the North Dakota Department of Transportation, and any required improvements to ND 1804 programmed far enough in advance to secure funding.

The company will need a Township approach permit, approval by the Williams County Water Resource Board, and approval from the North Dakota Department of Environmental quality for a permit to construct.

A flammable/combustible bulk storage permit must be submitted to the Williams County Development Services Division, and approved to ensure compliance with fire codes, and a North Dakota Tier II report for hazardous chemicals preparedness and response must be filed with North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

The Conditional Use Permit may also be revoked if construction does not start within 18 months of approval.

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