TULSA — It almost sounds like something out of a medieval tale of alchemy: Syntroleum Corp. developed a process to turn animal fat into high quality diesel fuel. It may not be turning lead into gold, but it was enough to turn the former research and development firm into Oklahoma’s top company for the year that ended June 30. Syntroleum sits atop the Oklahoma Inc. rankings a year after finishing No. 33. The company’s revenues rose a state-best 420 percent to more than $24 million, while its earnings per share jumped 210 percent. Only one Oklahoma company topped that figure, the rankings show. Karen Gallagher, Syntroleum’s senior vice president and principal financial officer, is not surprised by the company’s gains. "We feel like we’ve done the right thing at the right time,” she said. Gallagher said Syntroleum is beginning to capitalize on years of research efforts. The company was not intended to make a profit during that period, she said, but now Syntroleum has a product to sell: a process called Bio-Synfining that can convert waste products into fuel. "We’re a very unique niche,” Gallagher said. "Not a lot of companies do renewable fuels.” Syntroleum is nearing completion of a $150 million plant in Louisiana, a joint venture with Tyson Foods Inc. that will churn out 75 million gallons on synthetic fuel each year. The company also is selling its shuttered demonstration plant at the Port of Catoosa to Sinopec Corp., a state-owned energy company in China. "We have a technique that can turn waste products like yellow grease and chicken fat ... into a much higher quality fuel,” said Ron Stinebaugh, Syntroleum’s senior vice president of finance. The Dynamic Fuels plant will be the first of its kind in this hemisphere, he said. It primarily will produce diesel fuel. Gallagher said officials hope to use the cheapest waste products while charging the highest possible price for their diesel, a business plan similar to almost any other company. Stinebaugh said the plant’s fuel will have a higher cetane rating than traditional diesel. "It means the fuel burns much more efficiently,” he said. The renewable fuel will be compatible with any diesel engine. "You just put it in the tank,” Stinebaugh said. The plant, which is expected to be done by early 2010, will employ about 45 people. Currently, as many as 260 construction workers are on the project. Officials said Syntroleum is interested in building additional plants, but right now they are concentrating on one. "In this economy, you have to be focused with what you’re doing,” Gallagher said. She said there are a lot of companies working on alternative fuels, but she isn’t worried about competition. "I think there’s room for all of us in the market because it’s such a large market,” Gallagher said. Gallagher, who joined the company in 2006, said Syntroleum has scaled down since it perfected its processes. The company has only 19 employees, but 14 of them are engineers. "Even our CEO (Gary Roth) is a professional engineer,” she said.