Tuesday, June 3, 2008

San Francisco to build grease-to-biodiesel pilot plant


SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco will build its first pilot facility to convert as much as 2.5 million gallons of the city's restaurant grease into biodiesel. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) received a US$1 million grant last month for the project from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

The new plant will be sited at SFPUC's Oceanside Sewage Treatment Plant. The new plant will create three treat three grades of biodiesel using brown grease collected from the city's restaurants. The three grades of biodiesel can be used to feed motor vehicles, sewage treatment plants and the city's heating and electrical needs.

The CEC is looking closely at this and similar projects to help cover California's anticipated 1 billion gallon shortfall of biodiesel by 2022. The shortfall is anticipated even with a growing number of yellow grease recycling programs like San Francisco's SFGreasecycle.

The SFGreasecycle program, which was launched last year, collected yellow grease-like fryer oil from restaurants to fuel the city's vehicles, buses and fire trucks. SFGreasecycle will also manage the brown grease pilot plant, which is scheduled for completion this December.

"Sewage treatment plants account for three per cent of the nation's electrical consumption because they run 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. "This brown-grease to biodiesel project is a win-win for our ratepayers and the environment. We'll keep more grease out of the sewers and reduce our reliance on outside energy sources for our treatment plants."

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