Saturday, June 17, 2006

Biodiesel in San Francisco

San Francisco starts using Biodiesel as an alternative fuel for buses.

Cambridge University have developed a new continuous process for converting waste food processing oil into bio-diesel fuel.

Researchers at the Chemical Engineering Department at Cambridge University have developed a new continuous process for converting waste food processing oil into bio-diesel fuel. Bio-diesel is an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel and it may be used in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. The basic chemistry of bio-diesel production has been known for some time but it is normally carried out as a batch process.

By applying the Oscillatory Flow Mixing (OFM) technology developed at Cambridge it has been possible to design a continuous production plant. OFM technology is used not only in the esterification reaction but also in the washing and purification stages that are vital to produce a product that can be used in modern engines.

A pilot plant is now fully operational which can produce about 3 litres per hour of high quality diesel fuel with a flash point well in excess of 100o C and a Cetane number of about 53. The pilot plant can be used to test a wide variety of feed stocks and has recently been used for fresh rape seed oil, waste oil from a doughnut cooking operation and another waste food processing oil.

Sufficient information has been obtained form the pilot plant to enable the design of commercial scale plants.

More information:

Using Microtechnology to Make Biodiesel

Farmers are working with scientists from Oregon State University to make biodiesel from their own soybean, canola, rape and mustard seed crops. Using microtechnology, the scientists have developed a new, faster way to create biodiesel. Goran Jovanovic, professor of chemical engineering at OSU, serves as lead investigator in the research. Jovanovic keeps a design prototype in a sandwich bag in his office. It's a plastic plate with 30 microreactor channels running parallel to each other, each about the width of a human hair. The entire plate can easily fit in the palm of a hand.

At one end of the plate are two indents. Jovanovic fills one with alcohol and the other with oil. They flow down the channels, reacting and producing glycerol — a common ingredient in soap and biodiesel.

He noted that microtechnology produces biodiesel about 100 times faster than the classical method. Another benefit is the small size of the plates, which makes the microreactors discrete and deployable.

Tiny Reactor Boosts Biodiesel Production

A tiny chemical reactor that can convert vegetable oil directly into biodiesel could help farmers turn some of their crops into homegrown fuel to operate agricultural equipment instead of relying on costly imported oil.

"This is all about producing energy in such a way that it liberates people," said Goran Jovanovic, a chemical engineering professor at Oregon State University who developed the microreactor.

The device - about the size of a credit card - pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through tiny parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly.

By comparison, it takes more than a day to produce biodiesel with current technology.

Conventional production involves dissolving a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide, in alcohol, then stirring it into vegetable oil in large vats for about two hours. The mixture then has to sit for 12 to 24 hours while a slow chemical reaction forms biodiesel along with glycerin, a byproduct.

The glycerin is separated and can be used to make other products, such as soaps, but it still contains the chemical catalyst, which must be neutralized and removed using hydrochloric acid, a long and costly process.

The microreactor under development by the university and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute eliminates the mixing, the standing time and maybe even the need for a catalyst.

"If we're successful with this, nobody will ever make biodiesel any other way," Jovanovic said.

The device is small, but it can be stacked in banks to increase production levels to the volume required for commercial use, he said.

Biodiesel production on the farm also could reduce distribution costs by eliminating the need for tanker truck fuel delivery, part of the growing effort to meet fuel demand locally - instead of relying on distant refineries and tanker transport.

"Distributed energy production means you can use local resources - farmers can produce all the energy they need from what they grow on their own farms," Jovanovic said.

President Bush Backs Biodiesel

April 25, 2006…Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush today touted biodiesel as a key component of his plan to confront high fuel prices. A farmer-leader of the American Soybean Association (ASA) participated in a renewable fuel summit hosted by the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) today in Washington, D.C., where the President announced his plan.

"It’s truly rewarding to hear the President of the United States include biodiesel in his plan to address skyrocketing fuel prices," said ASA past-President Bart Ruth, who represented ASA at the RFA summit. "ASA has long advocated that farmers stand ready to help address our nation’s energy needs, and the President validated that point again today."

During his remarks, the President impressed upon listeners the need to continue investing in alternative fuels. He said,"…research and development has lead to new alternative sources of energy like biodiesel. So that’s one of the reasons why I signed into law the first ever federal tax credit for biodiesel producers. In other words, we’re interested in addressing our energy security on a variety of fronts. It makes sense for the United States to have a comprehensive strategy to help us diversity away from oil."

ASA led the charge to enact the biodiesel tax credit in October 2004, as part of the JOBS Act. Ten short months later, the ASA convinced Congress to extend until 2008 this critically important biodiesel provision, which would have expired at the end of this year.

ASA is currently working to extend the biodiesel tax incentive beyond 2008. To that end, ASA supports S. 2401, introduced by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT), and H.R. 2498, introduced by U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof (R-MO). Both pieces of legislation would extend until 2010 the biodiesel tax incentive.

"Extending the biodiesel tax incentive beyond 2008 is one action Congress can take to help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It’s a top priority for the ASA, and we urge our supporters in both chambers of Congress to cosponsor these vitally important measures," concluded Ruth.

ASA is the policy advocate for 25,000 U.S. soybean producers on domestic and international issues of importance to all U.S. soybean farmers.

Chevron Invests In Texas Biodiesel Plant

Renewable fuels received a big boost from the country's second largest oil company. After an investment in ethanol fuel, Chevron acquired 22% of a Texas soybean biodiesel plant, meaning that biodiesel production in the U.S. will increase over 50%.

Chevron acquired 22% of Galveston Bay Biodiesel's facility in Galveston, Texas. It produce up to 100 million gallons a year of biodiesel, a fuel that is made from components of soybean oil. The plant will boost U.S. biodiesel output by 54%.

"The Galveston plant will treat soybean oil with chemicals to extract esters, which will be processed into diesel that is indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel.

"This is a niche sector for us," Chevron spokesman Leif Sollid said.

"The investment follows Chevron's January announcement of plans to begin selling fuel made mostly from corn-based ethanol this summer in California. With crude oil approaching $75 a barrel, President Bush is encouraging production of biodiesel and ethanol as alternatives to petroleum-based fuels."

"The federal government indirectly subsidizes the biodiesel industry by giving refiners a $1-a-gallon tax credit for diesel made from fresh vegetable oil and a 50-cent-a-gallon credit for each gallon made from recycled grease."


State biodiesel plant will be world's largest

WASHINGTON -- A French company is about to begin building the world's largest biodiesel plant in Indiana, doubling the nation's capacity to make the alternative fuel.

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday announced the state would provide $6 million to $7 million in tax credits and other incentives to agribusiness giant Louis Dreyfus Corp. to build the plant near Claypool.
The project, which was announced last year, combines a soybean processing plant with a biodiesel production plant. The facility will crush nearly 50 million bushels of soybeans a year, producing more than 1 million tons of soybean meal for animal feed and 80 million gallons of biodiesel.
Biodiesel can be made from vegetable oil, recycled grease and slaughterhouse waste. It typically is mixed with conventional diesel, and it requires few or no alterations for use in vehicles with diesel engines.
More than 35 biodiesel plants operate in the United States. Many more are planned or under construction, including others in Indiana, according to the National Biodiesel Board. The concern is that supply is expanding faster than demand.
But Erik Anderson, chief executive officer of Louis Dreyfus Commodities North America, is not concerned.
"There's going to be a lot coming on, but we believe the demand will be there for it," Anderson said. "That's why we want to be investing and investing large, early."
Daniels, who made the announcement while attending a renewable energy summit, said the plant marks the biggest step forward for the state in a year in which Indiana has gone from "almost nowhere" to being a leader in renewable fuels.
Anderson said the company looked for a long time and picked Indiana for several reasons, including the abundance of soybeans, competitive truck and rail access to feed markets, and support from state officials.
The incentives include up to $95,000 in training grants, $137,500 in infrastructure assistance to the local community, and up to $5.295 million in tax credits. That's in addition to local incentives the company is receiving, as well as a federal biodiesel tax credit.
The federal government has been increasing its support for alternative fuels to try to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
Construction is expected to begin within weeks and be completed within 18 months.
The plant is expected to employ about 85 people, but the larger economic impact will be to the state's agricultural economy.
Although Indiana is the fourth-largest soybean-producing state and the fifth-largest corn-producing state, it has lagged behind other states in biofuels.
At the beginning of last year, Indiana had only one ethanol plant. Today, six ethanol plants and two other biodiesel plants are under construction, with more on the way.
Daniels' administration has targeted agriculture and biofuels to try to improve the economy and increase jobs. To continue the growth, Daniels said he plans to ask state lawmakers to expand the tax credit it approved last year for the industry. He didn't rule out additional incentives, as well as possible usage mandates.
"We're deadly serious about this objective and thrilled about our progress," Daniels said. [Source]