At Twin Rivers Technologies, OU Kosher Glycerin is Now in Production

Twin Rivers Technologies was founded in 1994 by Jim Ricci. With his background in energy, Mr. Ricci had built and owned “waste to energy” incinerators for several years in the North Shore area of Massachusetts. In 1994, Mr. Ricci was looking to expand his involvement in the energy industry with biodiesel production. The technology at time was already well-developed in Europe but was still in its infancy in the United States.

That year, several laws were established requiring state and local government vehicles to comply with the same emissions standards that were in place for the general public. This provided an opportunity and a market, which combined with a determination by Mr. Ricci that a 20 percent blend of biodiesel into diesel fuel will meet and exceed the new emissions standards, provided an economic solution.

With this technology in place, Mr. Ricci now needed a facility in Massachusetts to produce and transport the product. It happened that at that time P&G was closing its Quincy plant, one of its largest fats and oils refinery and soap/detergent packaging facilities, to consolidate operations in Cincinnati. In November 1994, Twin Rivers Technologies had a home in Quincy, Massachusetts. The name Twin Rivers Technologies was chosen because the facility is at the point of two rivers, the Fore and the Town. The plant sits on 22 acres, and includes a fats and oils refinery with splitting, fractionation, hardening, distillation and crystallization capability. It has a dock to receive ocean going vessels, as well as warehouse, tank storage, rail service and full boiler operations.

Paul Angelico, who was P&G’s chief engineer responsible for shutting down the facility, came onboard as Vice President of Operations. Mr. Angelico, now President of Twin Rivers Technologies, together with Ken Thode, Executive Vice President, were key in transferring and starting up Twin Rivers Technologies.

The first two years of operations were extremely challenging. Biodiesel was a developing business and fatty acids manufacturing was done to base load the plant. The turning point for the company came in 1997, when in a strategic move to obtain all of P&G’s coconut business, P&G in turn asked Twin Rivers Technologies to provide it with all of its fatty acids needs, for internal as well as for merchant market use.

In 1998, the Quincy facility went through a major expansion that nearly doubled its capacity. Since that time, the plant has been near or at capacity, which has provided several expansion opportunities. One is the Cincinnati Natural Ingredients (TNI) facility, purchased from P&G in 2002. This plant produces olestra, omega-3, esters and biodiesel.
To date, Twin Rivers Technologies Quincy is one of the largest producers of fatty acid in North America and Twin Rivers Technologies TNI is the largest single facility producer of methyl esters for the biodiesel industry.

The TNI plant is an all-vegetable kosher facility, while the Quincy plant has the capability of producing kosher and non-kosher products in separate isolated systems.

In 2007, Twin Rivers Technologies was purchased by FELDA, a Malaysian company very interested in expanding its position in the worldwide market. FELDA is a land development company largely involved in palm oil and palm plantations.

The Twin Rivers Technologies-Orthodox Union relationship started at the very beginning. In 1995, as part of the fatty acid manufacturing start up, an entire splitting, distillation and hardening system was separated, isolated and kosherized. This set the foundation for a working partnership with the OU and also laid out how we will approach any kosherization project. All such projects begin with a diagram/graph and explanation of the project sent to the OU for review and feedback, followed by a meeting to lay out the action plan and timetable. This protocol has been very successful and is definitely the reason for the strong relationship and trust.

With the financial support of FELDA, the Quincy plant recently underwent an expansion to include the capability of producing kosher glycerin. With the support and assistance of the OU and Rabbis Abraham Juravel and Avrohom Stone, an entire fatty acid splitting and glycerin evaporation system was taken completely apart, sandblasted, cleaned and kosherized, an extremely large, complex, but successful undertaking. (See the accompanying sidebar.) This provides Twin Rivers Technologies with the capability of servicing the important kosher glycerin market. The kosherization followed the plan developed back in 1995 which has been in existence ever since.