North Carolina’s Role in Sustainability

Add another community-scale biodiesel project to the growing list
By Luke Geiver | January 12, 2011

North Carolina may soon need an asterisk by its name to denote the state’s efforts in harboring community-scale sustainability and biodiesel production. By now, the work and success of Piedmont Biofuels is well documented, but don’t forget about the EcoComplex, only one hour north of Charlotte in Catawba County. Described as an ecological industrial site, the development aims to utilize waste resources to produce renewable energy and breed economic activity all through public and private partnerships. The site is based on a landfill gas-to-energy project that started in the ‘90s. Today, the complex is surrounded by nearly 80 hectares (198 acres) of oilseed crops and has plans to produce everything from fuel to feedstock.

Through Appalachian State University, a collaborative biodiesel project is putting U.S. EPA funds to good use at the site as well. The goal for the project involves “developing a closed loop biodiesel processing facility that provides for its own energy needs, and recycles its waste products,” according to a description of the project by Appalachian State. The biodiesel produced on the site will be used initially for landfill equipment, but the ultimate goal is to create a processing system that others might one day duplicate. Keep an eye on the EcoComplex, and if a community-scale biodiesel complex shows up in your state, remember North Carolina. The processor used at the Catawba complex (after a few modifications) was, after all, based on another familiar name—Piedmont Biofuels.

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