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From waste to value

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From waste to value – right from the start, this has been BDI’s decisive guideline. The Styrian plant engineering company is widely recognized for customized turnkey biodiesel plants using state-of-the-art technologies that were developed in-house.

“Unlike most of our competitors we have always focused on the utilization of residual and waste products such as used oils and fats,” stresses Chief Sales Officer Dr. Edgar Ahn. “We do not use raw material such as palm oil – this is what sets us apart from the market and this is one of our greatest assets.”

BDI was founded by Wilhelm Hammer and Helmut Gössler as a management buy-out of Vogel & Noot Industrieanlagenbau GmbH. In 2006, BDI went public. “Back then, the biodiesel market was booming,” says Dr. Ahn. “Against this backdrop, going public was the right decision; it boosted sales for many years. The positive development only took a negative turn when the food or fuel debate came up. Although we did not use food as a raw material, our development was slightly affected by the discussion.”

Despite those issues, BDI never lost sight of its vision of sustainability. The company initiated a partnership with the University of Graz that was extremely fruitful.

“Together with the University of Graz we were able to significantly improve our technology,” stresses Dr. Ahn. “Our aim was to work with raw material of inferior quality as feedstock costs account for 80% of the entire production costs. We turn used cooking oil, trap grease, animal fat and vegetable oils into high-grade biodiesel that exceeds the most stringent quality standards. We were probably one of the few European companies benefitting from the BSE crisis. As we modified technologies at a very early stage, we are in the position to work with animal by-products, hazardous materials. In 2005 we got the official EU permission to use those animal fats to produce biodiesel. As our disposal concept of animal waste is absolutely safe we often work with slaughterhouses and rendering plants.”

BDI has 120 employees today and – depending on project sizes – generates annual sales of 20 to 40 million EUR. “On average, the realization of a new plant takes about two years,” sums up Dr. Ahn. “In Austria, we are the only developer and constructor of customized biodiesel plants and even internationally, there are not many competitors. When it comes to the use of fats and oils we are the world’s number one.”

So far, BDI has set up 40 industrial plants on four continents; mostly in Europe, but also in Asia and the United States. On-site, the company works with its own teams supported by selected local partners. “We provide customized solutions based on standard concepts that are flexibly adapted,” underlines Dr. Ahn. “Every customer comes up with specific raw materials; for this reason, we work out individual, long-term concepts. Concepts that still work out in case the raw material situation changes.”

Recycling companies, slaughterhouses and industries that deal with fats and oils greatly appreciate BDI’s longterm business approach. Besides biodiesel plants BDI develops biogas plants and offers retrofit solutions that are increasingly in demand.

Here, everything is about the optimization of existing plants. BDI aims to increase flexibility in terms of raw materials. Another highlight that mirrors the company’s profound know-how is the patented bioCRACK technology.

“bioCRACK is absolutely unique,” states Dr. Ahn. “It works with the liquid phase pyrolysis process, is feasible with little technical effort and has a high feedstock flexibility. Typical raw materials like straw and wood can be converted into biodiesel; the latter can be fed into the refinery directly.”

BDI is keen to consolidate its position as a full-service provider of innovative industrial greentech-solutions and aims to further broaden its customer portfolio by pushing forward innovative technologies such as the production of algae recyclables.

“Curiosity is a key driving force of BDI,” stresses Dr. Ahn. “We scrutinize and improve things; we always watch out for alternative solutions that may be better than established ones. Given this, from waste to value will always be our main challenge.”

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