Category Archives: Biodiesel Production

Biodiesel-powered breweries bring together two of our favorite things

That would be beer and biodiesel.

As more breweries invest in sustainable practices and green initiatives, biodiesel is a preferred fuel for use in delivery trucks, generators, tractors, and other brewery vehicles. A recent Biodiesel Magazine article provided an informative list of several breweries utilizing biodiesel in one capacity or another—including a couple California breweries. And I’ve tacked on a couple more sustainable breweries to the list.

Sierra Nevada

sierra-nevada-logo

Based out of Chico, California, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has been using biodiesel blends for the past six years. According to the company website, Sierra Nevada acknowledges that “getting beer from our brewery onto store shelves is no small feat. We recognize the toll it takes on the environment and we’re doing what we can to minimize our impact.” Biodiesel fuel is used to power both long-haul and local delivery trucks as well as the tractors working the eight acres of hops and gardens in Chico.

Ryan Arnold, Sierra Nevada communications manager, told Biodiesel Magazine, “At the brewery we’re always striving to essentially close the loop, and biodiesel helps us turn what could be a waste product into something useful.The trucks perform well. With up to B20, we don’t see much change in mileage.”

Stone Brewing Co.

SBC_Garg_small

The 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co.  strives to use stainable methods in all aspects of its business. According to Biodiesel Magazine, “The company has a fleet of 40 box trucks, one hybrid truck, two Sprinter vans, and four single axel daycabs that all use B20.” In addition to using renewable biodiesel fuel, Stone also produces energy from rooftop solar panels, repurposes “spent grain” in their gardens, composts some kitchen waste, and offers electric car charging.

New Belgium Brewing Company

nbblogo06

This Colorado brewery has an extensive sustainability program that focuses broadly on reducing New Belgium’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all aspects of the operation. And this includes using low-carbon “biodiesel made from recycled restaurant grease to fuel trucks and generators for its famous Tour de Fat, a philanthropic “bicycle, beer and bemusement” event that will travel to 10 cities this year.”

Red Lodge Ales

44868_145591335474467_145591232141144_263860_3299907_n

According to Biodiesel Magazine, this Montana brewery “has used biodiesel for almost 10 years in its small fleet of delivery vehicles. The company collects waste grease from its restaurant customers and trades it for finished fuel from a local supplier. Other efforts include a large solar thermal array that heats water, and a system that introduces outside air into a cold storage during the winter months, reducing refrigeration needs.”

Steam Whistle Brewing

6a00d8345250f069e20115704b7253970c-550wi

Our Canadian neighbors are on the sustainable bandwagon too. Steam Whistle touts on their website that it has been using biodiesel to power their delivery trucks since 2006. Steam Whistle partners with local biodiesel producer, Canada Clean Fuels, to fill up all of their delivery trucks with Biodiesel B20 overnight, making filling with renewable fuel hassle-free for Steam Whistle’s truck drivers.

Milwaukee Brewing Co.

MKEWebLogo

This Midwest gem proclaims that is was “founded on principles of crafting and creating beers using the best local ingredients and suppliers in a sustainable, creative and innovative environment.” And in order to adhere to these principles, the brewery hunts out sustainable operation processes—including, of course, using biodiesel.

One of the company’s boilers is designed to burn oil, so, according to the website, “the brewery scoundrels engineered a process to burn vegetable oil in that boiler. Waste vegetable oil from the Milwaukee Ale House and other local restaurants is used to provide VOC-free energy. In 2011, this furnished about 30% of the heating needs, and we continue to seek new sources of dirty vegetable oil. Fortunately, Milwaukee enjoys fried food, and the staple Friday Fish Fry alone could fuel the brewery for years to come.”

We’re thrilled to see so many brewers taking on a variety of sustainably measures, including the decision to seek out biodiesel fuel as a way to reduce petroleum oil use in the transportation and production of tasty, tasty beers.

kettle-beerAlso, if you’re looking for a crunchy treat to accompany your green-brewed beer, opt for Kettle Brand chips. They turn 100% of the waste vegetable oil from their production process into biodiesel. Plus, all of their inventive flavors are downright delicious.

Audi gets behind renewable gasoline made from sugar

Audi  sees renewable biofuel alternatives as an integral part of the future of motor fuels—in fact, according to a recent report from Wired, the automaker is investing in gasoline made from sugar. This sweet fuel can run in any gasoline-powered vehicle, without modification!

audi-inline-1

image: audi

Audi has partnered with Global Bioenergies, a French company creating bio-isooctane by fermenting sugar with specially engineered E. coli bacteria. This reduces production cost and increases efficiency.

“Bio-isooctane can be used as a direct replacement for gasoline, or blended with conventional gasoline much like ethanol. The company has demonstrated the process in a lab, and is in the process of building two production plants. The goal is to produce more than 100,000 liters of gasoline annually — a pittance from a global perspective, but the program is a working proof-of-concept, and that’s where Audi’s investment comes in.”

Bio-iooctane is not the only “drop-in” fuel headed to the pump. Renewable diesel made from tallow and other renewable oils is in production and ready to replace petroleum diesel in the near future. And it just so happens that Audi has several turbo diesel models on the roads and more on the way—looks like Audi is on board with renewable fuel and ready to offer drivers choice at the pump.

Read more from Wired.

Five surprising things that can be made into fuel for your car

You may be familiar with the most common feedstocks for renewable fuel, but there is a whole host of lesser-known products that can be made into fuel for your car. Below we’ve listed  a few of our favorites.

1. CHRISTMAS TREES!

Xmastrees_1227

Once January rolls around, un-tinseled and de-decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalks, waiting for garbage trucks headed to the dump. But in some cities, like San Francisco, California, discarded trees are turned into more than just landfill fodder. Instead, the trees are processed into biomass, which can be used as a renewable fuel feedstock.

Photo credit:  CINDY CHEW/S.F. EXAMINER

2. SUNFLOWERS

sunflower

Sunflowers, as it turns out, aren’t just for brightening up long stretches of rural highway or yielding seeds for snacking and spitting: they can also help power your diesel car. Those same seeds you seed scattered under the bleachers at the local Little League diamond have a high oil content that makes an ideal biodiesel feedstock. Next to solar-powered vehicles, it just might be the closest you’ll get to running on sunshine.

3. ALGAE

These little photosynthesis machines are masters of turning sunlight and CO2 into energy. Industrious producers, like the fermenting engineers at Solazyme, can capture the processing power of algae to create a super-efficient source of  renewable oil. Last year, in a successful month long pilot program, Propel Fuels and Solazyme partnered up to launch the nation’s first publicly available algae-derived biodiesel at Propel stations across the Bay Area. Hopefully, a full-scale launch is in the near future.

Photo credit:  National Algae Association

4. CORN COBS

Forget the kernel, just give me the cob! Ethanol producers are developing methods to use agricultural waste, like corns cobs and stalks, as feedstock for producing cellulosic ethanol, an alcohol-based fuel. In fact, “Project Liberty,” a 20-million-gallon cellulosic fuel plant operated by POET is slated to open this year, and the resulting fuel can be plugged right into today’s growing network of ethanol retail stations.

Photo credit:  Domestic Fuel

5. ANIMAL FATS

Mazda6-tallow

Turns out you can make biodiesel from pretty much any fatty oil including the leftovers from rendering plants a.k.a tallow a.k.a animal fats. In fact, the diesel Mazda6 NASCAR racer was loaded up with some “chicken guts, beef tallow and pork lard” biodiesel for the Rolex 24 Endurance Race in Daytona this past spring. Perhaps the bumper sticker, “My Car Eats Meat” is apt?

Producer Spotlight: New Leaf Biofuel

newleaflogo1

Driving with Propel biodiesel in Southern California? Here’s a look at the amazing people & process behind your favorite fuel. New Leaf Biofuel based out of San Diego California has been producing high quality biodiesel with pride and purpose since 2005.  Started by a group of innovative recent college grads, New Leaf has a mission firmly grounded in their San Diego community: to enhance air quality, sustainability, and strengthen the local economy.

13251851129197-950x390

The high quality biodiesel produced by New Leaf starts off as fryer grease and waste oil from local restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other businesses. New Leaf collects the used cooking oil and brings it back to their production facility, which is conveniently located right in San Diego. Once at the plant, the waste grease is filtered, purified, and cleaned up–all to prepare for the processor that turns the oil into high grade biodiesel ready to be distributed to fleets and retailers, like Propel Fuels!

“The best thing a potential consumer of biodiesel can do is to find a manufacturer who is strict about control,” said CEO Jennifer Case in a Union-Tribe San Diego article highlighting New Leaf. “We are trying to make a product that is going to be accepted in the marketplace. Therefore we have to be really strict about our quality standards. If everybody else who makes biodiesel did the same thing, we would be able to go into the next level and become a fuel that people used commonly and that states, cities and commercial fleets were confident that it wasn’t going to harm their engine.”

nlfp

The waste-grease-to-biodiesel-fuel is win-win setup on several levels. First of all, instead of paying  to dispose of waste grease, businesses and organizations with industrial kitchens have a reliable revenue stream from selling their used cooking oil New Leaf. Secondly, as a domestic (really, hometown) facility, New Leaf creates valuable industrial jobs that support the local economy. And, last but not least, New Leaf produces a cleaner-burning fuel from renewable resources for use in diesel engines across San Diego.

Creating value for business. Supporting the domestic economy. And helping to make a healthier, more sustainable community. All in a days work. Nicely done, New Leaf!

Fill up with New Leaf’s biodiesel at select Propel locations in Southern California.

Learn more about Propel’s renewable fuel producer partners.

Ethanol proves to be a sweet opportunity for California farmers

Most of California’s sugar mills have closed up shop in recent years, leaving sugar beet farmers without a market for their crop. But now ethanol derived from sugar beets is providing a new opportunity for these farmers and their communities.

beets_for_refining_1

Farmers in the small community of Mendota, California are leading an effort to bring back the once widely-grown sugar beet crop. In 2008, Spreckels sugar plant was shuttered, leaving many residents without a job and farmers without a purchaser for their beets. In a stroke of ingenuity, the seed company suggested the community grow beets for ethanol. Thus, the Mendota Bioenergy company was formed!

field_beets

According to a recent report from California public radio, “Mendota Bioenergy has a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission – and the partnership of university experts from UC Davis and Fresno State – to complete the test site. It should be up and running this winter and, if all goes as planned, the company will then build the nation’s first commercial sugar beet biorefinery in Mendota by 2017.”

Mendota Bioenergy will not only produce a domestic alternative to petroleum gasoline, but the ethanol plant itself will also have a sustainable focus with measures in place to let nothing go to waste. Plus, beets grow well on marginal lands and require very little fresh water. Overall, ethanol produced from California-grown sugar beets and processed in the Mendota refinery will have a much lower carbon footprint than petroleum gasoline, lower even than typical corn-based ethanol. Now that sounds like a sweet deal.

Read more from The California Report.

From Festive to Feedstock, San Franciscans “Treecycle”

Christmas trees are collected curbside in San Francisco. Credit: SFGate.com

In many American cities, nothing quite marks the end of the holiday season (or the beginning of the New Year) like gutters strewn with discarded Christmas trees.

But for the past 25 years, the city of San Francisco has been breathing new life into these signs of yester-yule with Recology’s “Treecycling” Program — an initiative that not only rescues Christmas castoffs from the local landfill but goes one step further by chipping the trees into valuable biomass, which can be used for things like renewable fuels.

According to Bob Besso, Recology’s waste reduction and recycling manager, who spoke with the Bay Citizen about the program, more than 500 tons of Christmas trees were collected in San Francisco in 2010.

Because of fir trees’ high acid content, they shouldn’t be mixed with regular compost, so turning the trees into wood chips is the preferred, if not perfect, alternative.

While the chipping process does result in air pollutants, it’s superior to allowing the trees to decompose, which would produce methane and 21 times the gases associated with chipping, according to Kevin Danaher, outreach and communication program manager with San Francisco Department of the Environment.

Perhaps the best solution for a city constantly on the cutting edge of eco-friendly practices? Renting fresh, if unconventional, Christmas trees that can be replanted following the holiday season through organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest (the program was so popular, it sold out in 2011).

Still, fans of tradition and the environment can rest a little easier knowing that the fresh-cut variety can fuel more than the holiday spirit thanks to Treecycling efforts. To learn more about the program and to read the full story, vist The Bay Citizen online.

B20 Biodiesel powers land speed record

This is not your granddady’s diesel pickup truck. The Hajek Motor’s Ford F250 Super Duty powertrain truck recently broke the land speed record for diesel vehicles on the Bonneville Saltflats–then they filled ‘er up with Biodiesel B20, turned around, and broke the record again!

The previous speed record was set by a BMW motorcycle at 130 mph. The Hajek Ford F250 had slight modifications to upgrade the fuel injectors, fuel system, and turbocharge, but was otherwise mostly stock. Running petroleum diesel, the truck reach over 177 mph, but with biodiesel B20 they smashed the record, reaching speeds over 182 mph.

Depending on the feedstock, biodiesel delivers greater energy density than petroleum diesel. According to the National Biodiesel Board, the B20 used by Hajek was produced by a Missouri biodiesel plant and purchased and donated by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council.

Read more from Autoblog.