I have a good friend in Missouri who is very tuned in to the livestock feed and grain markets and availabilities on the organic level.
He and I never run out of things to talk about.
One topic that does frequently come up between us is the possibility of setting up a local grain elevator of sorts, offering organic grains and feed supplements, as well as some of the mechanical services that grain elevators have offered in the past. Grain cleaning, corn shelling and soybean extrusion are three of the more common services, the latter generally being available only at specialized dealers, few and far between. It used to be much more common when every farmer had a few hogs on the farm. I have gone with my friend a couple times when he took his beans in to be extruded. The process involves running the beans through a very heavy duty screw auger, similar to that found in a meat grinder, but much heavier duty and at a much higher rate of speed. The process just about atomizes the soybean for the pressures and friction that the bean is subjected to. Beans have a nutrient inhibitor that all but eliminates a mammal's ability to utilize the high protein content.
That inhibitor is neutralized by heat. This is why we cook beans before consuming them. The heat generated by a soybean extruder is sufficient to kill the inhibitor at just under 300 degrees F for around thirty seconds. The standard practice at an extruder service is to run the customer's beans through the machine, reducing the bean to high grade soy meal, a valuable protein supplement common in livestock feeds. The resultant oil that comes off the press is retained by the business for their use or sale, and the customer is charged so much per bushel for the process. Setting up such a press and offering the service to local farmers would be a very simple way to generate large quantities of vegetable oil for biodiesel.
As for machine specs, there are several different sizes of oil press offered for sale on Ebay, all coming from what looks to be the same manufacturer. They each give a tons per day production spec, power requirement spec, and weight of the machine. The only other crucial spec that concerns me is whether or not these "oil presses" generate the requisite heat for neutralizing the protein inhibitor, as the commercial models used here in the states do.
One of the mid-sized machines is offered for sale in Kentucky, and there is a phone number. 270-879-8351
The presses in question are also advertised as being able to efficiently press oil from rapeseed, cottonseed, sunflower seeds, etc.
I was hot on this topic several years ago, but lost interest due to more pressing issues at the time, but some local developments have acutely renewed my interest. It turns out that Archer Daniels Midland, probably the largest pusher and manufacturer of such things as high fructose corn syrup in the world, is buying out a very high percentage of the local elevators for the purpose of Walmarting the grain markets across the Midwest. This is not a bad thing, given the scope of the socio-political landscape currently just over the horizon. It is to be expected, even. I see it merely as an eye opener and opportunity for the diligent to take action. My preference would be to procure the 6-8 tons per day model, which comes to just under 4 grand, with shipping included, available from Kentucky.
We'll see if we can come up with those funds while the machines are still available. In the mean time, if anyone comes up with a better model or good used equipment, let us know.