Iowa Central Fuels Lab will be moving
Will be located in Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation
Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory came into being through direct appropriations from the Iowa Legislature led by state Rep. Helen Miller and the U. S. Department of Energy via direct appropriations led by former U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, former U. S. Sen. Tom Harkin and U. S. Sen. Charles Grassley. We have also had strong support from the Iowa and National Biodiesel Boards, as well as the Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
The Laboratory has grown so fast we are now looking to relocate off campus. Additional areas of growth include feedstock and by-product testing. As the renewable fuels industry evolves, recognizing and preparing for industry needs is essential for client satisfaction. The biodiesel industry is finding a growing need for glycerin testing so that this by-product of production can become a viable revenue stream. Likewise for the ethanol industry, corn oil production is becoming a viable revenue stream and requires appropriate testing. Feedstock testing will become increasingly important as the biodiesel and ethanol industries expand to include a vast and diverse array of potential feedstocks.
The approval of the 2018 $25.5 million bond issue will open up many new possibilities for the laboratory. The secured funding plus additional matching funds will be used to construct a new facility with greatly expanded capabilities. In addition to the much needed space for existing equipment and personnel, the new facility will allow the laboratory to acquire new equipment that will be beneficial to the laboratory’s operations and the fuel testing industry as a whole. New equipment will potentially include two separate test engines needed to determine the octane rating for gasoline fuels and cetane rating for diesel fuels. These are two tests that are routinely requested but must be out-sourced to other facilities for completion, adding additional time and cost for our clients. Having these capabilities in-house will not only greatly enhance our service to our clients, but will also add capacity in an industry where very few laboratories possess the capability to run these tests. Test engines we would need are very expensive but will allow for better services to our clients. It is estimated each machine could cost up to $450,000, so the bond election was very important.
The college will work closely with the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, local bio companies, the Webster County Board of Supervisors and the city of Fort Dodge as we move forward planning the project.
Construction of the new laboratory facilities at the Crossroad of Global Innovation, located 7 miles west of Fort Dodge, will allow us to support emerging new industries and technologies. The Crossroads of Global Innovation is home to global innovators such as Cargill, Valero and CJ Bio America. Co-localization of our new facility within the industrial center will allow existing and future companies to take advantage of our facilities and expertise where we can provide support for their research and development activities. Our presence will also help to attract new industries that will benefit from having the support of a full-service laboratory on-site to help with setting up their new operations.
Our new facility will give us the opportunity to expand our capabilities beyond the core business of fuel and fuel-related testing into the broader bioscience sectors. We will work with local, state and federal economic development and industry leaders to make sure the facility is designed for current and future testing and research needs across the bioscience sector here in Iowa and globally.
As the Iowa Economic Development Authority states on their website “Iowa is the leading producer of corn, pork, eggs and soybeans. Each of these commodities has spawned innovation and industries that seem very far away from their agricultural roots. They are already processed in Iowa into hundreds of different products, and researchers at are our universities are finding even more uses and there is a 38 percent higher concentration of biological technicians in Iowa than the national statewide average.” We want to help build upon that solid base.
Jim Kersten is vice president of external affairs and government relations at Iowa Central Community College. Dr. Don Heck is director of the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory.