Fire does little damage to MFA Oil Biomass pellet facility in Mo.

By Sue Retka Schill | October 17, 2013

The pellet production and storage facility In Aurora, Mo., owned by MFA Oil Biomass LLC was closed on Sunday, Oct. 13, when neighbors noticed smoke and called the fire department. “The fire department was excellent, they got there in six minutes,” Jared Wilmes, director of biomass operations, said. “There was some damage, but it didn’t do any damage to our equipment.”

A final report is not complete, Wilmes said, “but all indications are a lightning strike started the fire while we were closed.” Wilmes says the pelletizing facility can run 2 ton per hour, and is currently used to produce hardwood pellets.

MFA Oil is a farmer-owned supply cooperative handling fuels, lubricants and tires and operating Petro-Card 24 filling stations at more than 160 locations in Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa. MFA Oil Biomass was formed in the last few years to explore the emerging biomass renewable energy market, ultimately focusing on developing miscanthus as an energy crop.  

In an August article written by Wilmes for Todays Farmer Magazine,he said the project now has 13,500 acres planted to miscanthus and the company has begun work on market development. The company has produced enough miscanthus pellets for one test burn at a municipal power plant which is exploring a conversion to cofiring pellets with coal. A second test burn is scheduled next spring at the new University of Missiouri-Columbia fluidized bed boiler. MFA Oil Biomass has also worked with turkey producers to test the use of miscanthus as an alternative bedding. A long-term goal for the company is using miscanthus as the feedstock for advanced biofuel production.