Final Report: A Closed-Loop Biodiesel Production and Research Facility in Keene, NHEPA Grant Number: SU833523
Title: A Closed-Loop Biodiesel Production and Research Facility in Keene, NH
Investigators: Traviss, Nora , Denley, Andrew , DiFraia, Joseph , Grotton, Mike , McKeen, Andrew , Paley, Donna , Plouff, Irissa , Swasey, Joshua , Treadwell, Melinda
Institution: Keene State College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: September 1, 2008 through September 1, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability
The purpose of activities during the Phase I period was to perform research and leverage funding for the Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative. Biodiesel is a fuel made from vegetable oil or waste grease that has significant benefit in reducing air pollution. The Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative will “close the biodiesel loop” at a community scale by making biodiesel from brown grease, using biodiesel within the community, developing an innovative, scalable “green facility” model, and performing research on biodiesel occupational and environmental exposure from “real world” community applications. While yellow or “fry-o-lator” grease has become a more common feedstock, no known cooperative initiatives have looked at converting the more readily available brown (or “grease trap”) grease into biodiesel due to the processing challenges inherent with converting trap grease to fuel. This project continued the collaborative process to develop a building design to connect production of 250,000 gallons of biodiesel annually, ASTM fuel quality testing, and research/community outreach. Much of this biodiesel will go to City and Keene State College use, and expansion of biodiesel into new applications such as heating in subsidized housing, thus benefiting the community and planet.
The main objectives during Phase I were to continue a Biodiesel Working Group, formalize the organizational structure of the Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative, identify a possible facility location, secure funding, provide novel curriculum for Keene State College students, and conduct a number of community outreach and educational presentations. These objectives were met, as well as the design and development of a 10,000 square foot safe and sustainable building design meeting L.E.E.D criteria, which was a novel interdisciplinary curricular program between Architecture and Safety Studies students at Keene State College. Research into regulatory compliance requirements, fire safety, and sustainable, modular design were incorporated into the final facility model. A model for organizational and facility replication (including start-up costs) is also presented as an output. The partnerships developed during the collaboration identified and overcame barriers to a community based biodiesel facility, as outlined in the Phase I narrative. The development of partnerships in key areas of production expertise and waste grease feedstock supply, as well as community support, were key criteria to the ongoing success of this project.
The next steps for the Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative are to implement research findings into an existing industrial space. Cost/benefit analysis indicated a better decision was to lease vacant industrial space rather than a new design/build concept. In this way, new building and transportation costs can be saved, and the biodiesel production can begin more quickly. A regulatory barrier was identified from the Phase I research that is proposed to be addressed in Phase II.
Proposed Phase II Objectives and Strategies
Phase I results produced square footage calculations, regulatory, safety and environmental requirements as a departure point for a facility design for the Monadnock Biodiesel Collaborative. Next steps must evaluate the specific building itself against this research. The second key area of support is to perform stack testing on a boiler running on biodiesel fuel. One of the key sustainable design elements is self-heating of the facility using biodiesel fuel; however, research determined this is currently not allowed under existing Air Toxics air regulations in New Hampshire, as only petroleum products are acceptable fuels in commercial boilers. KSC is prepared to work collaboratively with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to address this data gap by performing stack testing; however, funding for the stack testing continues to be a barrier for both parties. Without the data, currently B100 cannot be used in commercial boilers in New Hampshire, which would impede an important sustainability aspect of this project. These key areas are expanded in the Phase II proposal.