2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Generally, to expand the use of animal fats, vegetable oils and their coproducts by developing new and/or alternative processes to exploit the potential of these feedstocks as biobased products and biofuels. Specifically, to develop, demonstrate and implement a technological route for the production of biodiesel from trap grease, a waste product of the food industry, produced from animal fats and vegetable oils.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Generally, develop technologies to improve the economics of biodiesel from low-cost, agriculturally-derived lipid feedstocks using conventional alkali-catalyzed transesterification or alternative methods. Specifically, design, implement, troubleshoot, and operate at pilot and small production scale, a method to dewater and convert to fatty acid methyl esters the triglyceride and free fatty acid species found in trap grease from multiple sources. Design and implement qualitative and quantitative analytical methods to determine the composition of trap grease and biodiesel produced from it.
The collaborative interaction revolves primarily around two items: (a) start-up, operation, optimization and modification of an existing demonstration trap grease-to-biodiesel facility installed within the past year in San Francisco, CA, and (b) development of technology for purification of the resulting crude biodiesel. In regard to the San Francisco facility, ARS researchers advised on upgrades to methanol handling capabilities, and on technologies in place at that location for use in partial purification of the initial crude product, as well as on identifying and troubleshooting difficulties arising from contaminated reagents that had inadvertently entered the operation. In regard to the development of technology for purification of the crude biodiesel, approaches previously investigated over the course of this collaboration were investigated in combinations to explore their joint abilities to remove non-biodiesel species from the crude fuel. Substantial progress was achieved, with identification of a scheme able to produce a biodiesel able to meet official standards for purity and quality. The resulting treatment scheme is now being studied in pilot scale at the collaborators location.
ADODR monitoring of the collaborative effort and of progress by the overall team, ensurance of a tight interface between the various collaborating parties, and oversight to assure an accurate and timely flow of information to/from the ARS researchers and the rest of the collaborative team was primarily achieved via weekly teleconference calls. Additional monitoring was conducted in the form of regular emails and a meeting of all collaborators held May 12, 2011. An active and effective communication style has developed between team members, and this fosters rapid information transfer and technology development.