Resodyn heads trap grease research

By | June 01, 2005
In March, the U.S. EPA announced $2.6 million was awarded in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to 34 small businesses to control and monitor air and water pollution, manage solid and hazardous waste, prevent pollution, and ensure safe buildings and drinking water security.

Among those, Resodyn Corporation of Butte, Mont., was given $70,000 for a study titled, "Sewage Trap Grease Conversion with an Acoustic-Driven Reactor." This study will examine the potential to produce more than 1 billion gallons of biodiesel from more than 11 billion pounds of annually available trap grease, which forms on the surface of sewer water.

Today, trap grease is collected and sent to landfills. Some of it seeps into the ground or forms a residue. "It's the kind of grease no one can do anything with except pay people to dump it in a landfill," said Principle Investigator Fx Yang. He told Biodiesel Magazine that removing trap grease will reduce maintenance on existing sanitary sewer collection mains and the loads on local landfills.

The EPA grant will cover the first phase of the research proposal, which will run from March 1 to August 31. Yang plans to collect trap grease as the starting material in an acoustic grease conversion reactor (AGCR). Initially he will work toward producing fatty acid methyl ester biodiesel, and later expand to lubricant, polyester monomer and solvent production. An experimental AGCR will be built at Resodyn to test the process and examine conditions such as temperature, pressure, methanol- or alcohol-to-grease ratio and resident time. Yang told Biodiesel Magazine that shorter resident time, or time the raw material spends in a reactor, produces optimal results.

The reactor would ideally process trap grease and other types of waste grease in one step, converting free fatty acids and triglycerides into value-added products such as biodegradable plastics and lubricants. The proposed process would eliminate the use of solvents and catalysts as well as the generation of waste byproducts.

Yang said after Phase II, a pilot-scale AGCR with a 1 mmgy to 2 mmgy capacity, would be constructed. It would produce either biodegradable plastics or lubricants, but not both because each process is different.

For more information about Resodyn, visit
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