soybean processing plant

Perdue AgriBusiness has opened a new processing plant for soybeans in Marietta, Pennsylvania.

Developed at a cost of $60m, the facility is one of the most efficient and technologically advanced plants in the country. It will process soybean into soybean meal, hulls, and oil.

The project employed 1,250 workers during construction and has created 35 permanent jobs upon commencing operations in September. A further 500 indirect jobs are expected tol be created in transportation and crop production.

Perdue was provided an $8.75m grant by the Pennsylvania State Government under its Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

Location and benefits of Perdue’s new soybean processing facility

The new plant is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s biggest soybean growing region, which helps to reduce costs and increase profitability.

Soybean-producing counties including Lancaster, York, and Berks are located within a 50-mile (80.5km) radius of the plant.

Pennsylvania consumes more than 1Mt of soybean meal for its dairy and livestock industries. In 2014, 29.6 million bushels of soybeans were produced, and just one third could be processed by domestic soybean processing facilities. The remaining production was shipped out of state for processing or export, meaning farmers received a lower price for production and feed costs increased.

The new facility will reduce the extra costs incurred by farmers and ensures that they receive the maximum value for their produce.

Details of the soybean processing plant

The soybean processing facility is spread over a 57-acre site and includes a grain elevator, a soybean crush plant, and associated facilities.

Capable of functioning as a stand-alone facility, the grain elevator acts as a centralised grain transportation and storage hub for the surrounding farmers. It includes a meal storage shed, a grain dryer, a grain dump with two receiving pits, and grain storage facilities.

"Pennsylvania consumes more than 1Mt of soybean meal for its dairy and livestock industries."

Other facilities available at the plant include a wellness building, an administrative building, crude and degummed oil storage, and a load out facility. There are also access roads for inbound and outbound trucks.

Capacity and processing

The grain elevator has a capacity of 1.5 million bushels a year, while the processing plant has a capacity of 17.5 million bushels.

Soybeans will be transported to the facility from farms located nearby. Upon arriving, the soybeans are cleaned and cooked to reduce their moisture content to 10%. They are then cracked, dehulled, and flaked. Oil is extracted from the flaked beans in an oil extractor using hexane.

The extracted oil undergoes water degumming to produce raw soybean oil, which can be used in cooking oil, salad dressings, and biodiesels.

The beans are washed, dried, toasted, dried again, and cooled before being sifted and ground into protein meal, which can be used as animal feed.


Construction of the project involved participation from 99 contractors and subcontractors. The work required 17,600 cubic yards of concrete, 26,800 linear feet of bored piling, 140,000 linear feet of conduit, and 1.72 million linear feet of pulled wire.

The oil extraction facility required 17,000ft of pipe, 7,600 welds, 1,200t of structural steel, and 20,000ft² of floor grating.

Sustainable features of Perdue’s soybean processing plant

The Pennsylvania plant will use steam supplied by Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority’s waste-to-energy facility located nearby. The use of steam reduces the need to use fossil fuel-based heat boilers for heating purposes. In addition, the processing water and steam condensate from the plant will be returned to the waste-to-energy facility for recycling.

In addition, the new plant will recycle 99.9% of all hexane used in extracting oil from the soybeans. It is equipped with advanced leak detection and repair (LDAR) systems to prevent emissions. It is also equipped with advanced equipment and process control technology, which limits annual plant emissions to a maximum of 208t.

As soybeans no longer need to be transported out of the state for processing, the new plant will reduce fuel consumption for transport.

Contractors involved

Stewart & Tate was the general contractor for the plant, while Site Design Concepts provided site planning and design improvements services.