Canadian Renderer Powers Fleet on Its Own Biodiesel - In the Middle of Winter

By Tina Caparella

Rothsay, one of Canada’s largest renderers and the country’s first commercial biodiesel producer, is now powering its largest truck fleet, based in Dundas, ON, with a five percent blend (B5) of biodiesel produced at its Montreal biodiesel facility.

Rothsay produces approximately 9.2 million gallons (35 million liters) of biodiesel annually made entirely from rendered materials such as waste restaurant grease and beef, pork, and poultry fats. The 369,800 gallons (1.4 million liters) of biodiesel that will be consumed annually by the 40-truck Dundas fleet is equal to taking 30 cars off the road.

“This is a major step forward for sustainability at Rothsay,” said Todd Moser, vice president of Rothsay Biodiesel. “Not only will we decrease our environmental footprint by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released from our 40 trucks, but we’re fueling them with our own biodiesel fuel produced from animal by-products and recycled restaurant grease.” Biodiesel reduces emissions when burned and has a much lower level of carbon monoxide and carcinogenic hydrocarbons than petroleum diesel. Biodiesel can be used in all diesel engines without modification.

The renderer has been fueling its Montreal fleet with biodiesel since 2002, and with the addition of its Dundas fleet, Rothsay trucks will consume more than 528,000 gallons (two million liters) of biodiesel at a B5 level throughout 2009. With minor modifications to the fuel system, the company is also running 100 percent tallow-based biodiesel in two trucks at the Montreal facility. Rothsay’s biodiesel exceeds all North American and European quality specifications.

“Our biodiesel is clear and nearly colorless, which indicates the highest level of purity,” said Moser. “Biodiesel made from rendered materials contains very high cetane levels, which are important for more complete combustion and superior engine performance. It also has very high oxidation stability, which is important for storing fuel.”

Rothsay has managed to produce its high-quality biodiesel despite cold-weather conditions – the outside temperature at its Montreal plant, located on the St. Lawrence Seaway, can regularly reach minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. The fuel exceeds the requirements of the new cold soak test now included in the North American specification for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, which addresses cold-weather operability issues.

Although all biodiesels are challenging in cold climates, proper handling can help overcome potential issues. Rothsay has not experienced any temperature-related issues with its biodiesel, even through the most frigid conditions, proving that rendered product-based biodiesel is a viable renewable fuel solution for all seasons.

California Releases Biodiesel Evaluation

Because biodiesel blends are new fuels, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) must provide a “multimedia assessment” of their potential impacts before adopting new fuel specifications (as required by California Health and Safety Code, Section 43830.8). Further, CARB cannot adopt any regulation establishing a motor vehicle fuel specification unless a multimedia evaluation is conducted to determine whether the regulation will cause a significant adverse impact on public health or the environment.

CARB has just released the California Biodiesel Multimedia Evaluation Tier I Report prepared by the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Berkeley. The report summarizes previously-studied health, safety, and sustainability values for biodiesel. The report is available online at

Canadian Province One Step Closer to Mandate

Manitoba has established fuel quality standards for the production of biodiesel as the province moves forward with plans to establish a biodiesel mandate. The Manitoba Biofuels Act went into effect December 15, 2008, and establishes requirements for obtaining a license to manufacture biodiesel; reporting and keeping records by license holders; fuel-quality standards for biodiesel and blends of biodiesel and petroleum diesel fuel; and penalties for failing to comply with a biodiesel license.

Under the biodiesel regulation, manufacturers intending to sell biodiesel in Manitoba or produce 15,000 liters (about 4,000 gallons) or more of biodiesel annually will be required to have a commercial license. Small-scale manufacturers producing less than 15,000 liters a year for their own use will be required to apply for a non-commercial manufacturing license.

Connecticut Awards $3.1 Million in Grants

A total of $2.2 million in grants was awarded to four Connecticut biodiesel production facilities and is expected to leverage at least $6 million in private investment. The state also awarded three Connecticut universities a total of more than $900,000 in grants to test biofuel quality and study different production methods and feedstocks.

Greenleaf Biofuels, LLC, will receive $1.28 million to help fund construction and equipment costs for a New Haven Harbor biodiesel facility with an estimated production capacity of 6.7 million gallons per year. The plant will use multi-feedstocks, including waste and virgin vegetable oils, to produce biodiesel for the heating oil and transportation markets.

DBS Energy, Inc., intends to use its $503,844 grant to fund construction and equipment costs of its biodiesel-to-electricity production facility in East Hartford. The facility will process waste and virgin vegetable oils into biodiesel for use in diesel generators for peak electricity demand. The plant will utilize processing technology developed at the University of Connecticut to process 250,000 gallons of biodiesel per year.

CT Biodiesel, LLC, will apply its $350,000 grant to construction and equipment costs of its 50 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility in the New Haven Harbor area. The plant will utilize an array of feedstocks ranging from soybean oil to waste vegetable oil for biodiesel to be used as heating oil, transportation fuel, and electric generation fuel.

BioDiesel One, Ltd., will invest its $83,566 grant in further process automation and quality control equipment at its three million gallons per year biodiesel production facility in Southington. The plant also has the capacity to use multiple feedstocks.

The University of Connecticut will receive two separate grants. One for $598,244 will be used to develop the capability for remote monitoring and to build a biodiesel testing laboratory, while a second $97,000 grant will be used to conduct research on catalysts for conversion of biomass into biofuel.

The University of New Haven will receive $135,276 to identify species of algae from Long Island Sound that could be cultivated to produce biodiesel. Yale University will receive $69,752 to research algae feedstock growth optimization.

Aid to producers comes from the Production Facility Grant Program, and grants to the universities were awarded through the Fuel Diversification Grant Program. Both programs are administered by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology and funded by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

HydroGenetics Acquires Buffalo Biodiesel

In early January, alternative energy company HydroGenetics acquired Buffalo Biodiesel, Inc., a collector and recycler of used cooking oil to produce biodiesel, which is headquartered in Northern New York. Under the terms of the contract, Buffalo Biodiesel becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of HydroGenetics. Sumit Majumdar will retain his position as president of Buffalo Biodiesel.

Michigan Passes Biofuels Laws

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed legislation that will advance the state’s efforts to expand the production and use of renewable fuels in Michigan. The 11 bills were part of a series of recommendations from the state’s Renewable Fuels Commission, established in 2006.

Public Act 313 of 2008 requires the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to develop rules regulating the quality and purity of biodiesel. Public Acts 321 and 322 of 2008 create a new Renewable Fuels Fund to promote the production and use of alternative fuels in Michigan. State residents will have the option to contribute to the fund through a new checkoff on the state income tax form.

Following are other bills signed by the governor.

• Public Act 329 of 2008 adds five additional renewable fuels renaissance zones in Michigan, bringing the total to 15. Renaissance zones are specific geographic areas designated as tax exempt to encourage economic development. Additionally, the new law requires that five of the state’s renewable fuels renaissance zones be designed for facilities that focus primarily on cellulosic biofuels production.

• Public Acts 314, 332, and 334 of 2008 create tax incentives for the use of agriculture machinery that can harvest both grain and biomass. These bills encourage farmers to invest in equipment that will allow them to harvest their crops while also collecting biomass residue from the crop or grain that can be used in alternative fuel production.

• Public Act 320 of 2008 requires the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to publish an inventory of available sites for renewable fuel plants.

• Public Act 330 of 2008 requires the MDA to compile public information about establishing an alternative fuel production facility in Michigan.

• Public Act 335 of 2008 provides a Michigan business tax credit for gas stations that convert existing gasoline pumps to biofuels pumps.

• Public Act 333 of 2008 extends the sunset on the Renewable Fuels Commission to 2012 and asks the commission to report on the location of alternative fuel producers in Michigan, the amount of alternative fuel sold, and the economic impact of the industry.

Missouri Man Sentenced for Dumping Biodiesel Waste

After entering a guilty plea in July 2008 for Clean Water Act violations, James Raulerson was sentenced in late November to two years probation and a $10,000 fine for discharging glycerin, methanol, and oil into a Missouri waterway.

In October 2007, an anonymous call was received by the Missouri Department of Conservation stating that a tanker truck was observed backed up to and discharging its contents into Belle Fountain Ditch in Hermondale, MO. Upon arrival at the site, state and federal emergency responders discovered that an undetermined amount of decomposing glycerin that was generated from Natural Biodiesel Plant, LLC, was released into the ditch. Missouri Department of Conservation monitored the effects of the release and estimated at least 30,000 fish and other aquatic life were killed.

KFC “Excited” to Recycle Used Cooking Oil

The average KFC restaurant produces about 500 pounds of used cooking oil each month, and the fast-food chain’s owners are looking to convert the waste product into biodiesel.

Yum! Brands, Inc., parent company of KFC and other fast food giants such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, released its first Corporate Responsibility Report in early December that examines the company’s social, environmental, and economic impact. Converting used cooking oil into biodiesel is one area the company is “particularly excited about” in the report. Currently, most KFC restaurants work with collectors such as renderers in their communities to dispose of the waste oil.

The report states that Yum is work-ing to convert the grease into alternative fuels. It highlights one franchise in Nagano City, Japan, that is powered by biodiesel produced from its own waste oil. KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom also are already recycling their used cooking oil into biodiesel. The report does not go into specifics about the program, but a company spokesperson is quoted in a Louisville, KY, news article that the campaign likely would be tested first, possibly in Kentucky, before being expanded market by market.

Oxidation Stability in Long-term Storage Studied

Kemin Industries, Inc., and Renewable Energy Group (REG) have released the results of a research collaboration that offers a better understanding of oxidative stability and degradation of multi-feedstock biodiesel in long-term storage.

During a 10-week research collaboration, the Iowa-based com-panies conducted in-depth analyses of biodiesel’s oxidative stability characteristics.

“We looked for the identification of oxidation marker compounds, development of optimal dosing strategies, and researched ‘inoculation effect,’ which is the act of loading pristine biodiesel into storage tanks that contain residue amounts of poor quality material,” said Dr. Jennifer Radosevich, Kemin’s vice president of research and development.

REG provided the biodiesel utilized in the study. At 43 degrees Celsius, over 10 weeks, experts analyzed B100 made from 100 percent soybean oil and B100 whose feedstock included a combination of vegetable oil and animal fats. In testing used to simulate extreme storage conditions, results showed that oxidative stability decreased rapidly in untreated B100.

“Antioxidant treatment delayed these changes,” explained Glen Meier, REG’s manager of research and development. “Results show that dosage rates will depend on the specific biodiesel product and its feedstock composition as well as the storage and handling protocols in place.”

Collaborators also stated that late “rescue” treatments did not eliminate secondary oxidation products even when induction time could be increased. As was consistent with other recent reports on biodiesel stability, Kemin and REG found that oxidation in products measured indicate changes to the B100 that may foster polymer and sediment formation in blends and support earlier use of antioxidants to preserve quality.

“One of the goals in this long-term research collaboration is to help petroleum distributors prevent oxidative stability issues when handling or storage situations are not ideal,” said Radosevich. REG and Kemin intend to continue the partnership to further advance understanding of biodiesel oxidative stability and conduct educational and promotional activities in order to help educate petroleum distributors and biodiesel consumers on the best practices for enhancing oxidative stability.

Repairs to Fire-damaged Nova Plant Complete

Nova Biosource Fuels, Inc., has completed repairs to its biodiesel facility in Clinton County, IA, after a fire erupted in late September while the plant was idled for routine maintenance. The cost of the repairs was less than $100,000 and Nova’s goal was to restart the refinery in mid- to late-January. A review of the fire protection systems and procedures has been conducted to ensure proper functioning.

The fire is believed to have been started by a build-up of methanol vapors in a column during a ventilation process that is required as part of maintenance.

Seattle Biodiesel Fined for Spill

The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Seattle Biodiesel, LLC, $20,000 for an oil and chemical spill to the Duwamish River in 2007.

An overflow occurred July 27, 2007, at the company’s biodiesel pro-duction facility on First Avenue while an employee pumped a processing chemical mixture of vegetable oil, biodiesel, sodium hydroxide, methanol, and glycerin from a large tank to a small portable tank. The mixture flowed across a driveway into a small inlet along the Duwamish River. About 620 gallons of the mixture reached the waterway, of which all but 23 gallons was recovered. There were no reports of fouled birds or fish killed as a result of the spill. The cleanup ended August 3, 2008.

Seattle Biodiesel reported the spill promptly and hired a cleanup firm to contain the spill and clean oil from the water and shoreline. The spill was confined to the small inlet. The water-soluble glycerin, methanol, and sodium hydroxide dissipated into the river.

An investigation determined that an employee didn’t properly monitor the transfer from the 6,000 gallon tank to the 300 gallon container. Seattle Biodiesel immediately took measures to improve the oversight and control of oil transfers at the facility. The company has since discontinued manufacturing biodiesel at the site and uses the facility for research.

Biofuels Bulletin – February 2009 RENDER | back