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Demonstration of new, challenging and high FFA waste oil and fat feedstock in biodiesel process with improved costs, conversion and high fuel quality

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BioDie2020 (Demonstration of new, challenging and high FFA waste oil and fat feedstock in biodiesel process with improved costs, conversion and high fuel quality)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Fossil fuel reserves are declining globally and are a finite resource. At the same time the levels of wastes going to land-fill or incineration are increasing. Green-house gas emissions continue to rise steadily. Waste fats oils and greases (FOGs) are amongst these wastes. This type of waste can be found in waste water treatment plants. FOG can often interfere with the correct running of these plants if its volume remains unchecked. The disposal of FOG is usually via land-fill. As FOGs are comprised of natural fatty acids these have the potential to be reacted with methanol into biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester – FAMEs)

Other waste fats including oils from food waste, oleochemical plants and fat traps can be reacted with methanol into FAME also.

The major objective of the BioDie2020 project was to convert waste fats and oils (different types of FOG, brown grease, acid oils, etc) in to high quality biodiesel product. However, the project also included upgrades to the pre-treatment plant for processing raw material waste oils along with their analysis. The use of microwaves in improving settling times of esterification reactions was demonstrated as well as trialling methods for reducing impurities of the biodiesel final product itself.

Finally fuel trials were carried out to investigate the impact of using the new biodiesel in buses which will include tail-pipe emissions and fuel economy monitoring. A life cycle analysis (LCA) from collection of raw material to tail-pipe emissions was undertaken. A business, market uptake and exploitation plan was also included.

The BioDie 2020 project has led to the ability of Argent Energy to handle greater volumes of waste-water treatment FOGs through its pre-treatment plant and ultimately create more biodiesel used for road transport from waste feedstocks. Analysis and use of the biodiesel in fuel trials proved that despite being derived from such challenging wastes there was no ill-effects observed. The life-cycle-analysis proved that significant green house gas emissions reductions were seen from feedstock delivered to the manufacturing site all the way to tail-pipe emissions.
All work that was outlined within the preliminary scope of this project has been completed.

The Stanlow Pre-Treatment Plant (SPTP) received several modifications which allowed Argent Energy to process increased tonnages of waste fats, oils and greases for biodiesel production. The analysis of key feedstock parameters using infra-red showed success in 2 tests. One of which using existing analytical methods is prone to poor reproducibility and requires several minutes to complete. An investigation into a new settling test was explored along with an assessment of the impact the degraded waste feedstocks used at Stanlow could have on the quality of Stanlow biodiesel side-products.

A new treatment for the removal of polyethylene from partially pre-treated waste feedstocks was demonstrated and will also be sold to potential end-users such as renderers. The use of microwaves in replacing traditional means of pre-esterification was demonstrated and the system was installed at full-scale at the Motherwell site. Investigations into the recycling of water for use in other parts of the process were successful but the methods explored were not deemed commercially viable.

Work was also carried out on the improvement on the quality of biodiesel. Removal of fatty amides was attempted by optimising reaction times in the Stanlow Biodiesel Refinery (SBDR). Levels were seen to be reduced after experimentation. The use of ionic liquids showed that free fatty acids and sulphur levels could be reduced but the levels of additive required were too high for this to be commercially viable.

The quality of full-scale manufactured biodiesel was monitored. Along with the use of high biodiesel blends and ULSD in buses. The impact on fuel economy, reliability, engine oil and tailpipe emissions were also monitored.

The life-cycle impact of producing biodiesel from challenging degraded fats, oils and greases versus existing biodiesel production was also calculated. A socio-economic assessment was carried out also.

A detailed analysis of the availability of feedstock and the impact on the profitability of Argent’s business model was carried out. Any potential intellectual property which could be exploited from the project was documented. Finally, an exploitation plan which outlined further work and plans for the results of the project was compiled.

The work carried out in the BioDie 2020 project has been of immense value to all parties involved. Output from the project has led to a commercial opportunity for BDI in improving polyethylene removal from waste fats, oils and greases.

There has also been improved contact and relations with potential suppliers of waste-water treatment fats, oils and greases. A maturing network of potential suppliers has and will be realised through the business exploitation plan. This is in turn will contribute to the reduction of material going to landfill and improve the profitability of Argent Energy.
The creation of a new method for polyethylene removal is a benefit beyond existing technology for pre-treatment plants and renderers.
The use of microwaves in pre-esterification had not been carried out before.

Over the course of the 24months, the average saving novel raw materials presented over traditional feedstocks (per tonne of oil extracted) has been £97/tonne; equating to a total saving of over £5.1million.

Overall the price per tonne differential between the oil content of degraded novel wastes and the more traditional feedstocks was around 20%; in line with the target feedstock cost saving set out in the BioDie2020 project scope

Biodie2020 continues to offer a disposal route via the Stanlow Pre-Treatment Plant for high FFA, degraded oils and fats such as FOG arising from the sewer and fatty food wastes and effluent streams. Ongoing work with technology companies on the extraction of FOG from within the network and at waste-water treatment works is significantly improving engagement from the water utilities. This covers “point source” extraction which will demonstrate downstream savings for the water utilities and establish actual volumes of FOG available from various scenarios. Alongside this Argent continues to gain momentum by developing solutions for use at waste-water treatment works, that will decontaminate and dewater tankers containing dilute FOG concentrations at less than 10% FOG content.

The increase in pre-treatment throughput of highly degraded waste fats, oils and greases leads to less waste going to landfill or incineration. This also has improved Argent’s efficiency as a business. The AD soup project has reduced considerable costs (around £800k/year) of waste management. The AD ‘soup’ supplied by Argent will also help AD plants within the UK to produce more biogas – another alternative energy source. Also, the increased production of waste-based biodiesel will contribute to more green-house gas reductions from customers using Argent Energy’s product.
Argent Energy Biodiesel Plant
Argent Energy Fuel Loading Point
Argent Energy Pre Treatment Plant