Novel biodiesel plant online in Texas

By | April 01, 2005
A grand opening ceremony for "the world's first renewable-energy powered biodiesel facility" was held in Denton, Texas, on March 29 at the City of Denton Landfill, where a 3 mmgy plant is "up and running."

Cooperatively owned and operated by the city of Denton and California-based Biodiesel Industries Inc., the biodiesel plant is novel because it is powered by renewable biogas-methane-extracted from the landfill itself. The biogas is used to fuel the plant's specially designed boilers and an advanced electrical generating system. From an energy balance perspective, the facility comes out highly positive-reportedly in the range of plus-4 to plus-5.

According to Biodiesel Industries' Corporate Project Manager Jake Stewart, the methane-a potent greenhouse gas-is harvested by "boring through 30 years of garbage" and establishing wellheads. The plant utilizes only 10 percent of the methane recovered from the landfill; the rest is being marketed to other end users in the area.

"By channeling the methane into a productive use instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, we are helping to mitigate global warming and reducing our dependence on foreign oil," Stewart said. "The municipality is, in essence, creating its own oil well."

Although Biodiesel Industries did not provide specifics on other prospective projects, the Denton plant has reportedly garnered international attention as a renewable model that holds real potential for governments worldwide that are seeking an economical, less polluting, locally produced fuel source. "It is our belief that the facility in Denton is the model for other municipalities moving toward sustainable energy independence," Biodiesel Industries' Denton Project Manager Charles Fiedler said.

The plant, which was on line and in the "calibration phase" in late March, utilizes a proprietary process technology that is feedstock-neutral. The facility is receiving support from Dallas area restaurants that are offering their used cooking oil as a production feedstock; the oil is collected by Biodiesel Industries.

Dallas area restaurants produce more than 12 million gallons of recyclable cooking oil annually, according to Vance Kemler, director of solid waste for the city of Denton.

"This project works with participating restaurants to utilize that recyclable resource along with other farm-grown sources to produce this cleaner, Texas-made fuel," Kemler said. "We are proud to be part of the first biodiesel project of its kind that uses entirely renewable and recycled resources as part of the production process."

According to Stewart, quality control systems are built into the process control automation for the facilities, ensuring that the biodiesel produced at the plant meets stringent U.S. and European standards.
The city of Denton will fuel its diesel vehicle fleet with B20 made from biodiesel produced at the facility. The fuel will also be sold through regional distribution channels.

"We're excited about this path-breaking venture," said Denton Mayor Euline Brock. "We will be able to resolve some of our major environmental challenges while providing a major service to the public."

The Denton plant was under development for about a year and erected in just three months. It is the fifth biodiesel production project completed by Biodiesel Industries.
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