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Published on December 3rd, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

10,000 Gallons a Day of Animal Waste Fuel Head to Market

Last month a rural Minnesota factory began pumping out commercial-scale quantities of biodiesel made from animal waste like pig parts and waste fats… and almost any other waste  fats and oils.   The idea isn’t new, – – Sweden was able to reduce carbon emissions 9% below their Kyoto goal while growing their economy 44% by switching to district heating that uses this kind of process – – but it is new here. And better too.

Piggy_Market

Image: Beatrix Potter

A spin-off start-up company based on discoveries initially made at the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry has successfully made that transition from wild and crazy idea in a pilot program a year ago to routine daily mass-production on a commercial scale.

Ever Cat Fuels ramped up production; from 50,000 gallons in their entire first year – to 50,000 gallons in just 5 days last month. The plan is to scale up more and be able to make 33 million gallons a year.

What is really exciting about the Mcgyan® process is the cradle to cradle sustainability.  Zero waste is produced.  There is no need for any added water to wash the biodiesel. No chemical reactants at all are needed.  And any waste animal fat or vegetable oil can be used as a feedstock.

The economic side doesn’t hurt either. EverCat is able to make biodiesel in mere seconds from start to finish, reducing costs to half that of any other biodiesel production. The reactor used is relatively small for such a large output.

Basically, the process works like this:

·    Raw fats and oils of any type are combined with an alcohol
·    The mixture is fed through a sulfated zirconia column and heated to 300 degrees Celsius
·    Excess alcohol and unconverted raw material gets recycled back through the reactor

End product: biodiesel. Student Brian Krohn and his professor  Arlin Gyberg thought they could improve on the catalyzation of the raw materials into biodiesel using esterification, and with help (of another scientist Ben Yan and Augsburg alum Clayton McNeff), they have done so.

All of the waste material is turned into biodiesel.  Literally everything that goes into the tiny reactor is turned into biodiesel.  With no emissions and no waste, permitting has been easy.

The US may have come late to making energy from wastes, but with this innovation, has catapulted to world leader in the field.

Source:  Gas 2.0




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