Process-intensified Low-Cost Biodiesel Production using Meat Rendering Waste, Greases, and Food Wastes

EPA Contract Number: EPD09047
Title: Process-intensified Low-Cost Biodiesel Production using Meat Rendering Waste, Greases, and Food Wastes
Investigators: Elliott, Brian E
Small Business: TDA Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: March 1, 2009 through February 28, 2011
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2009) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Emission Reductions and Biofuels , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Biodiesel is a fuel that is made by processing vegetable oil or animal fats into a liquid fuel that can be combusted in a standard, unmodified diesel engine. The use of biodiesel reduces CO2 emissions by over 80% compared to petroleum and it reduces our dependence on foreign oil while promoting economic opportunities in rural America. When biodiesel is made from low-cost waste oils or fats the environment benefits are even greater. However, the growth of the domestic biodiesel industry is limited because the current production processes requires a highly refined (expensive) low free fatty acid vegetable oil, and the cost of biodiesel is almost entirely determined by the cost of the feedstock. Furthermore there is a limited supply of vegetable oil over and above what is needed for food and animal feed. TDA Research has identified a new process that should solve these technical problems, utilizing unused waste feedstocks and reducing the price of biodiesel. The process, which uses process-intensification to combine multiple chemical reactions in a single vessel, runs well on very low cost, high free fatty acid waste and recycled oils and fats. The Phase II project will operate and fully characterize a laboratory scale version of the process, and determine optimum operating conditions and the economics of producing large quantities of biodiesel. The environmental benefits that specifically address EPA programmatic concerns, Including (1) reducing CO2 emissions from on-road and farm diesel engines; and, (2) providing a technology that converts waste into fuel, reducing land fill mass. The results of the Phase I project include process performance results, and a detailed engineering and economic analysis. In Phase I we determined that a 20 million gallon per year production plant could produce biodiesel at a product cost of $2.63 per gallon (from waste oil). It is anticipated that in Phase II we will further develop the pilot process, evaluate possible waste feedstocks, confirm the catalyst does not lose activity and prepare a more detailed engineering and economic analysis that will be used to market the process.

Commercial Applications

The commercial application is a new process for making biodiesel from low-cost (waste) feedstocks. The U.S. biodiesel industry is expected to saturate at around 1 billion gallons per year using excess refined vegetable oils, but taking advantage of currently unusable waste oils and fats will allow the industry to grow beyond that level.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, waste to fuel conversion, energy conservation, sustainable transportation, biomass, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, energy efficiency, alternative energy source, fuel efficiency, bio-based energy, renewable energy

SBIR Phase I:

Process-Intensified Low-Cost Biodiesel Production Using Meat Rendering Waste, Greases, and Food Wastes  | Final Report