Community-scale producer establishes oil recycling initiative

By Erin Voegele | November 30, 2011

A community-scale biodiesel project in Kentucky is working to gather waste cooking oil feedstock. On Nov. 22 the Louisville Biodiesel Cooperative, the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District and the Green Triangle in the 9th District announced a partnership to recycle waste grease. The project’s initial recycling station has been established at Louisville Biodiesel’s production facility. According to Christian Thalacker, the cooperative’s co-founder and director, his organization is working to establish additional grease recycling locations in the local community, including at select elementary schools, churches and community centers.

The goal of the Louisville Biodiesel Cooperative is to make biodiesel available for use by local farmers and school bus fleets. “We’ve already talked with farmers, and there is more demand than we can take care of,” he said. “We’ve also talked with the executive director of fuel procurement [for the local county] school system, and they’ve expressed interest in more than doubling the amount of biodiesel [that they use].”

Oil gathered through the recycling initiative will be converted into biodiesel by the cooperative. According to Marc Verdi, the Louisville Biodiesel Cooperative’s brewmaster-in-chief, his organization currently has a production system that can produce up to 45,000 gallons of biodiesel per year. The cooperative’s batch processor was built in-house, Verdi said.

The current production process is pretty cut and dry, Verdi said. Feedstock is dewatered and preprocessed. The production unit features a two-step process that features acid and base catalysts, followed by gravity settling, drying and polishing via ion exchange resins. The system will be used as is until mid-2013, when upgrades are expected to occur.

“We are in the final rounds of securing some capital and moving to a continuous production model,” Verdi said. The continuous process will still feature a two-step catalyst method, but will also feature high-sheer mixing in-series inline mixing technology, Verdi added. Once upgrades are completed, the facility is expected to increase its production capacity of approximately 2.2 MMgy. 


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