Biofuel Production from Grease Trap Waste

EPA Contract Number: EPD16002
Title: Biofuel Production from Grease Trap Waste
Investigators: Wilson, Donald
Small Business: Environmental Fuel Research, LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: February 1, 2016 through January 31, 2018
Project Amount: $300,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2015) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Waste to Energy Systems


Environmental Fuel Research, LLC (EFR-LLC), has demonstrated the technical feasibility of separating fats, oils, and greases (FOG) from grease trap waste (GTW) and converting FOG to biodiesel that can meet ASTM specifications. GTW is a dirty and low-value waste from the food service industry that is high in FOG and currently is treated as a liability. The EFR-LLC process uses a bubble column reactor with acid catalysts that simultaneously react FOG to crude biodiesel, remove by-product water, and facilitate reduction in sulfur content. With bubble column reactor technology proven, the peripheral pre-and-post conversion technologies now need adequate testing as proposed in this Phase II SBIR project. For the Phase II project, EFR-LLC proposes to partner with the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority (DELCORA) – a local wastewater treatment facility. DELCORA operates a grease receiving and grease concentration process that removes trash and partially dewaters GTW prior to incineration. Because DELCORA receives GTW from most of the regional waste grease collection companies, DELCORA is an ideal partner for process development and a potential customer for a full scale FOG-biodiesel process. The proposed pilot process at DELCORA will separate 50-100 gallons of FOG from 500 gallons of concentrated grease and convert the FOG to biodiesel. The pilot process will be used to evaluate and optimize several stages of the process including the reactor system, pretreatment and purification. Reducing the sulfur content of FOG-biodiesel is recognized by the industry as a critical limitation; Phase I results show that vacuum distillation can reduce sulfur content to meet the 15 PPM ASTM specifications; although optimizing the purification process during Phase II is critical to improving overall yields. The proposed FOG-biodiesel process has several environmental benefits including reducing the amount of GTW that is incinerated or landfilled, reducing the management intensity of waste greases, producing a valuable fuel that can substitute for petroleum-diesel, and reduced life cycle emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. The improved environmental performance of the FOG-biodiesel process will be evaluated using operational performance of the pilot process through refinement of the life cycle assessment model developed in the Phase I. At the conclusion of the Phase II process, EFR-LLC will have a design of a full-scale GTW-FOG-biodiesel process that can be sold to potential customers in the grease collection and wastewater management businesses.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Biofuel Production From Grease Trap Waste  | Final Report