Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cape Town firm pioneers production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil, chicken fat

A Cape Town-based renewable-energy company, BioGreen Diesel, is currently pioneering the conversion of waste cooking oil into a less expensive, pollution-free biodiesel product.

In an interview with Engineering News, BioGreen Diesel CEO Roy de Gouveia elaborates that the company became operational earlier this year in an effort to advocate sustainability by producing biofuels.

While the debate rages among industry members as to what feedstock should be used to create biofuels, De Gouveia believes that the only viable feedstock option is waste cooking oil.

Thus, the aim of BioGreen Diesel is to create high-quality biodiesel feedstock from waste cooking oil and chicken fat.

The plant, which is based in Goodwood, Cape Town, has a capacity of 2 000 ∙/d.

The company uses the first patented jet reactor, invented by Org Nieuwoudt, to convert waste oil and chicken fat from restau- rants and retailers into an environment- friendly fuel that can be used as a mixture with, or a substitute for, diesel.

“Our biodiesel product is of a very good quality and meets both European Union and US specifications,” De Gouveia tells Engineering News.

Petrochemicals giant Sasol conducts tests on BioGreen Diesel’s finished product, ensuring the company produces high-quality biodiesel that meets international standards.

“No other company in South Africa has set this as a norm,” enthuses De Gouveia.

According to him, biodiesel has a minimal impact on the environment. It is nontoxic, has a higher flash point than mineral diesel, so it is safer to handle, and has reduced exhaust emissions in comparison. (four hundred litres of biodiesel exchanged for the same volume of diesel will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by one ton.)

De Gouveia states that the company currently sources its waste cooking oil from 150 restaurants in Cape Town and sources the chicken fat from rotisseries located at Pick n Pay outlets in the Cape Peninsula.

“We are currently targeting the top restau- rants in Cape Town as it is important to source the best-quality waste cooking oil,” states De Gouveia.

The company sources the best-quality waste cooking oil owing to the fact that, as waste cooking oil is reused, the free fatty acid content increases, making it harmful to consumers and decreasing the quality of the biodiesel that can be made. (Often this oil finds its way into animal feed, pet food, or sold back to unsuspecting consumers.)

Although BioGreen Diesel only became operational earlier this year, it has nego- tiated supply contracts with major retailers Pick n Pay and Spar, as well as with Cape Concrete.

De Gouveia elaborates that Cape Concrete was the company’s first client and, as a result, the trucks delivering concrete to the Green Point stadium this year used a blend of diesel and biodiesel.

Major retailer Pick n Pay uses a 20% biodie sel blend in its delivery trucks in the Cape Peninsula.

Pick n Pay is following in the footsteps of international retailers such as Walmart, which has also adopted the practice of using a biodesel blend to fuel transport trucks.

By using a biodiesel/diesel mix, Pick n Pay and Spar, combined, will reduce their carbon emissions by about 1 500 t in the Western Cape over the next year.

BioGreen Diesel is experiencing significant growth, currently evidenced by the fact that the company opened a second plant in Johannesburg last month.

De Gouveia elaborates that the Midrand-based plant has a much larger capacity of 6 0000.

“We are currently negotiating supply contracts with major retailers in the Gauteng region,” continues De Gouveia.

The company also intends to expand operations to Port Elizabeth and Durban by mid-2010.