Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Community Based Biodiesel Production from Trap Grease: The Evaluation of Technical and Economic Feasibilities

EPA Grant Number: SU835291
Title: Community Based Biodiesel Production from Trap Grease: The Evaluation of Technical and Economic Feasibilities
Investigators: Lu, Mingming , Gregory, Jarod , Schutte, Mark , Tu, Qingshi , Weng, Wendy
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $90,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2012) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability



The overall goal of phase II project is to generate and evaluate a transferable model to successfully convert trap grease into biodiesel to benefit the community. The phase II proposal builds on the success of phase I, and will evaluate two additional candidate technologies for trap grease to biodiesel conversion, steam stripping (heat extraction) and glycerolysis. These technologies have not been much used in the biodiesel industry due to the higher temperature required, but can potentially be suitable for trap grease due to its high FFA (free fatty acid) content. Glycerolysis is the esterification of FFA with glycerine (glycerol, glycerin, interchangeably) to form monoglycerides, and then can be convert to biodiesel via the conventional transesterification process. Steam stripping is a physical process to separate the FFA from the raw material based on the volatility difference between the two. The advantages, disadvantages and limitations of these processes will be evaluated. We will work with our partners, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and Blue Grass Biodiesel for their feedbacks on the trap grease to biodiesel technologies. A comprehensive cost/energy/pollution estimates with a life cycle approach will be carried out for the community.


Lab-scale experiments will be performed to obtain data for the proposed technologies. Based on the lab-scale investigations, a pilot-scale reactor will be set up and the experimental data will be retrieved in a collaborative effort with partners. Life cycle Inventory (LCI) of the material and energy inputs/outputs during the integrated biodiesel production processes (from trap grease pretreatment to final biodiesel purification), will be performed mainly on the basis of our pilot-scale data.. Economic life cycle assessments will be conducted by applying the selected conversion factors (e.g.$/Btu, $/lb) to the LCI. Environmental life cycle assessment will be performed based on the LCI developed through commercial LCA software (e.g. GaBi, SimaPro) to assess a variety of environmental impacts, such as GHG emission and criteria pollutant emission.

Expected Results:

The phase II project will result in trap grease reduction and new business development in our area. This student-lead project demonstrates the proof-of-concept of waste grease treatment, and can serve as a real world example for the community, including the teachers, students and residents, to engage in waste reduction and alternative energy production. It also serves as an example for the State of Ohio and the nation of simultaneous waste reduction and alternative energy generation.

Supplemental Keywords:

trap grease, biodiesel, glycerolysis, steam stripping, life cycle assessment

Relevant Websites:

Phase I abstract