Waste to Biofuel Projects Backed by California Energy Commission

By Ben Messenger
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Waste to Biofuel Projects Backed by California Energy Commission

A number of waste to renewable transport fuel companies are to benefit from over $17 million of funding from the California Energy Commission.

According to the Energy Commission chair, Robert B. Weisenmiller the awards, totalling $17,223,593 will help support the expansion of alternative fuels and zero-emission vehicles in California.

The awards were made through the Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.

The Commission said that the program is essential to fulfilling the state's climate change policies, is due to invest approximately $90 million during this fiscal year to develop new transportation technologies, as well as alternative and renewable fuels.

The program is paid for through surcharges on vehicle and boating registrations, and smog check and license plate fees, and the state's investments in these projects are safeguarded by matching fund requirements for awardees, and by making payments on a reimbursement basis after invoices are submitted.

The Commission added that the awards also assist in fulfilling Governor Brown's executive order directing state government to support the rapid commercialisation of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in California, with a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state's roads.

The order also requires the installation of sufficient infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs in California by 2020.

The eight award recipients are:

Eslinger Biodiesel - $6 million to build a commercial biodiesel production facility in Fresno which will utilise waste vegetable oils obtained from restaurants and commercial food producers, and animal fats obtained from rendering operations.

The first phase of this $32 million refinery is slated to be operating within a year of funding, producing 5 million gallons (18.9 million litres) of biodiesel per year. The plant is expected to eventually produce some 45 million gallons (170 million litres) per year.

The Commission said that the output will be shipped by pipeline to commercial blending facilities and is expected to be pre-sold to companies obligated to purchase carbon credit offsets. The plant will produce pharmaceutical and technical grade glycerin.

Blue Line Transfer - $2,590,929 to build an anaerobic digestion facility in South San Francisco to convert 9000 tons  (8160 tonnes) per year food and plant waste into biogas which will be used to produce compressed natural gas for a fleet of five refuse and recycling collection vehicles.

The Commission said that the fuel produced at the facility will be enough to replace 56,000 gallons (211,000 litres) of conventional diesel.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District - $1,819,166 to facilitate the completion of a project to demonstrate a patented process developed at the Argonne National Laboratory to optimise the production of biomethane and reduce carbon dioxide from anaerobic digestion.

The project will be demonstrated at the American River Packaging organic waste recycling facility in Natomas.

Paso Robles Waste & Recycle - $300,000 to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling station to serve a new fleet of CNG refuse haulers, as well as providing public fuelling.

The Commission said that CNG is much less polluting than conventional diesel and that over 50,000 gallons (189,000 litres) of conventional diesel fuel will be displaced by CNG annually by the five refuse trucks that will be initially used in the project.

CALSTART - $3,523,498 to extend and expand the California CLEAN Truck Demonstration Program. The additional funding will cover demonstration projects of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and range-extended hybrid electric/natural gas heavy-duty drayage trucks operating at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Aerovironment - $2,150,000 for the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging equipment. The goal is to expand the state-wide network of vehicle charging stations, to collect and analyse data to determine economic and environmental impacts, and to reduce emissions.

University of California, Irvine - $765,000 to enhance the Spatially and Temporally Resolved Energy and Environment Tool (STREET), including web-based user capabilities.

The Commission said that researchers at the university's Advanced Power and Energy Program have developed the STREET computer model as a highly detailed and dynamic tool for alternative fuels planning, including selection of optimal locations for the development of fuelling infrastructure.

City of Yucaipa - $75,000 to construct, operate and maintain eight Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations at three locations.

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