Longer rail spur means increased efficiency at Dakota Gas

Rail cars being loaded at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant.

While the rest of the country sleeps, the team at Dakota Gasification Company is busy filling rail cars with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which is used in selective catalytic reduction technology to remove nitrogen oxides from diesel engines.

Dakota Gas has the capacity to produce 64 million gallons of DEF per year, and has about 1 million gallons of on-site storage. Customers of the product range from truck stops to distributers who may dilute it and resell it in bulk or package it into totes, drums, or 2.5 gallon jugs. “We ship DEF via rail and truck all over the United States. Railcars go as far as California, but stay mostly in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest,” said Zach Jacobson, manager of Marketing and Sales at Dakota Gas.

Due to load demand, Dakota Gas recently expanded its existing rail spur to make way for two additional rail cars. Prior to the expansion, the spur was only able to accommodate eight rail cars. “Typically, nine cars are required to be loaded on any given night, which meant operators had to take time to railroad two separate strings of cars to meet demand,” said Sara Dow, Dakota Gas fertilizer section engineer.

Dakota Gas employees reached out to Dakota Missouri Valley Western Railroad (DMVW) for quotes on extending the existing spur and installing the extension. They also contacted Dug Rite Excavating for quotes on reworking the existing dirt road surrounding the spur extension. The 117-foot addition allows the team to meet the load demand without having the need for additional railroading, which in turn saves operators time while increasing the number of cars that can be loaded.

“The benefits of the rail spur expansion include improved loading efficiency – time spent moving railcars is now spent loading. The spur also adds revenue for the company, while payback on the project is relatively short,” said Aaron Marquardt, Dakota Gas fertilizer section manager.

The rail spur expansion was completed in just under two days, and was in service on Oct. 19.

The project team consisted of Marquardt; Dow; Dan Madche, Dakota Gas fertilizer section engineer; Operations and Electrical & Instrumentation staff; and the contracted services of DMVW and Dug Rite Excavating.

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