First biodiesel plant in Bali, Indonesia, undergoes commissioning
The biorefinery manufacturer Green Fuels is in Bali this week commissioning a turnkey biodiesel facility for Caritas Switzerland, an NGO that focuses on socioeconomic development in disadvantaged communities around the world. Green Fuels has installed its 3,000 liter (792.5 gallon) per day FuelMatic GSX 3, the newest and smallest of its processors, which offers the same fully automated technology as the larger FuelMatic GSX processors but at a lower price.
“The FuelMatic GSX 3 seems to be the key that unlocks the benefits of community-scale biodiesel production,” said James Hygate, CEO of Green Fuels. “We installed one in South Africa earlier this month and one in Australia last month. There’s a lot of interest in it, especially since it has all the trademark Green Fuels hi-tech features such as our automated GFM process control system, patent pending GSX glycerol separation technology, internal methanol recovery and stainless steel construction.”
The Bali installation is a prime example of how important it is for biodiesel production to be community-friendly. Thorsten Reckerzügl, the NGO’s country representative, explained. “This is the first time biodiesel has been introduced on the island and it’s the first time used cooking oil is being recycled here. It’s a big deal. We needed a system that was affordable yet hi-tech enough to deliver on our promises. We also needed one that could be located where we wanted it near the local municipality because we need to cooperate closely with them.”
Caritas has established a nonprofit social enterprise to run the biorefinery. “We wanted to be able to develop local skills and Green Fuels has trained a Balinese crew to run the biorefinery,” Reckerzügl said. “With its touch screen controls the FuelMatic GSX 3 is very easy to use, plus it can be diagnosed and managed remotely by Green Fuels if that ever becomes necessary.”
Finally, he cited the importance of the system’s own low-carbon footprint. “We couldn’t have introduced a biorefinery that damaged one of the world’s most unique holiday destinations,” Reckerzügl said. “The Green Fuels system emits no carbon, uses waterless purification and leaves so little waste it’s hardly noticeable. Frankly, the whole process was made easy for us with such a user-friendly system.”
Aside from a cleaner environment and economic development, Caritas’s primary goal in installing the biorefinery is to take used cooking oil out of the island’s food chain. They conducted an in-depth survey among more than 340 hotels and restaurants and found that 50 to 60 percent of used cooking oil was sold to waste pickers and then on to informal food stalls.
“Often unbeknown to their owners, customers and tourists, overused cooking oil forms carcinogenic substances, posing a serious risk to human health,” Reckerzügl said. “We also discovered that 10 to 20 percent of used cooking oil is disposed of with solid waste or ends up in waterways. At landfill sites the used cooking oil forms methane as it decomposes, a greenhouse gas about 25 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. The oil which ends up in waterways pollutes the aquatic environment and drinking water.”
Caritas has initial commitments totalling 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of used cooking oil per day from about 150 hotels and restaurants, with scope for more participants as the dangers of overusing cooking oil become more widely appreciated. Jerry cans will be distributed to the participating hotels and restaurants for the collection of their used oil. The project is cooperating with IDSIA, a Swiss university, which has developed software to optimize the collection route.
Caritas will sell the biodiesel for use in local transport and to hotels and other customers who can use it to generate power and heat, reducing their carbon emissions and demonstrating their ecological and social responsibility. They hope to replicate this project in other tourist areas where there are similar needs for health protection, environment cleaning and job creation.