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Biodiesel from FOG

In May of this year, I wrote a post called “Recycling Renaissance”. The post described how Flagler Beach, Florida, seven miles from our Florida home, had developed innovative approaches to dealing with a difficult problem, recycling. This week I learned Danbury, Connecticut, where I live part of the year, has also done some highly innovative approaches to help the environment.

Mayor Dean Esposito announced the City of Danbury has successfully produced biodiesel from FOG. (Fats, Oils, Grease). FOG is a significant concern in wastewater management due to its harmful effects on sewer systems and the environment. When poured down drains, FOG can solidify and accumulate inside pipes, leading to blockages and overflows. The blockages can cause sewage backups into homes and businesses, and overflows can release untreated wastewater into the environment, contaminating waterways and posing health risks.

FOG can coat the surface of rocks and sediment in waterways, reducing the amount of oxygen available for aquatic life. It can also smother fish eggs and other organisms, disrupting the delicate balance of aquatic ecosystems. It is not just dangerous for aquatic life. Untreated wastewater can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause illnesses such as diarrhea, vomiting, and hepatitis. These illnesses can be particularly dangerous for young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. Another FOG problem is it can interfere with the wastewater treatment process, making it more difficult and expensive to remove pollutants from wastewater. This can lead to higher sewer bills for residents and businesses.

To prevent the harmful effects of FOG, it is crucial for individuals, businesses, and restaurants to adopt proper disposal practices. Avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease down drains, and instead, let them solidify in a container before disposing of them in the trash. Additionally, restaurants should install grease traps or interceptors to capture FOG before it enters the sewer system. Danbury has taken the remedies to another level.

The City established a Grease to Biodiesel project in 2019 to address the challenges. The City, along with partners Veolia North America, REA Recovery Resources, and the University of Connecticut, claims it is the first city in America to build a FOG to Biodiesel production facility. The project converts the waste to renewable energy. This project not only solves the increasingly difficult problem of FOG disposal, but it also creates a revenue stream instead of a cost burden.

The biodiesel project can enable the Wastewater Treatment Plant operators to either sell the biodiesel product, use it generate power, use it for heating fuel, or use the it to operate their truck fleets and reduce the vehicle carbon emissions up to 74%. The Biodiesel project will generate nearly 282,000 gallons of renewable fuel per year. Nearly 80% of the fuel produced is B100 biodiesel fuel.

B100 biodiesel is composed of 100% renewable organic compounds, primarily from plant oils or animal fats. It is a clean-burning fuel which can be used in unmodified diesel engines, and it has a number of environmental benefits compared to traditional petroleum diesel. B100 biodiesel is a renewable resource, and it also produces fewer emissions, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides, compared to petroleum diesel. B100 also meets the various government standards. The mayor is understandably proud of the project. He said that he was proud to drive the first truck fueled by the city’s very own biodiesel.

If you are interested in other topics related to climate change or the environment, you may enjoy my latest book, where I devoted one chapter to environmentally oriented topics. See Reflection Attitude – Current, Past, and Future.

Note: I use Bard AI as my copilot and research assistant. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.