Biodiesel plant may open soon

Goal is to open soon in Greenfield Industrial Park

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield with General Manager Phil Cherry and the processing equipment. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield with General Manager Phil Cherry with the proccessing center that turns used grease into biodiesel fuel. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield General Manager Phil Cherry. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield with General Manager Phil Cherry and James Hygate of Green Fuels with the control center for the processing equipment. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield fuel storage area. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield with General Manager Phil Cherry, Oil Recruitment Specialist Steve Ronhave and James Hygate of Green Fuels. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/21/2016 10:14:23 PM

GREENFIELD — The 50,000-gallon tanks are in place, the first 6,000 gallons of used cooking oil has been delivered and the computerized control mechanism is in place in the green metal building at the Greenfield Industrial Park in preparation for the opening of the Northeast Biodiesel plant soon.

Northeast Biodiesel LLC, owned by the Florence-based Co-Op Power energy cooperative, received its temporary certificate of occupancy last week as well as its first delivery of waste vegetable oil, to be used in its British-made Green Fuels processor that will begin churning out 1.75 million gallons a year of heating oil and diesel fuel in the coming weeks.

Still waiting for an Environmental Protection Agency registration process as well as American Society of Testing and Materials certification of the fuel to be produced, the $4 million biodiesel plant has been nearly a dozen years in the making.

Plant Manager Philip Cherry said he expects the registration and certification to be completed within a month, otherwise the plant is ready to begin operating.

Food Grease Trappers, Inc. collects used frying oil from a growing list of restaurants  including Pete’s Seafood Restaurant in Greenfield, Riffs Joint in Turners Falls and Easthampton, and Four Leaf Clover in Bernardston — along with used oil from restaurants from southern Vermont and New Hampshire to northern Connecticut and from Boston to Pittsfield, according to Steven Ronhave, Northeast’s oil recruitment specialist.

Ronhave is still working to sign up the several thousand restaurants he says will be needed, while trying to work through the process for large dining service accounts that may take time to arrange. Thus, he said, some food processing plants may help supply the 1.75 million gallons a year of grease that will be processed to an equal quantity of biodiesel.

In the process, engineered by Green Fuels, methanol is added and glycerol is removed as a byproduct, to be sold off, according to CEO James Hygate, whose father 13 years ago founded the company that has developed small-scale biofuel plants for “every continent except Antarctica.”

Hygate, who was named Britain’s New Energy and Cleantech “Entrepreneur of the Year” last year, said this is the first U.S. biodiesel plant it has provided a processor for. Green Fuels, which has sold equipment to 50 different countries, has also developed the biofuel for the British royal railway.

Its latest venture is a jet-fuel biodiesel process for which its first commercial plant is planned for somewhere in this country.

Cherry, who has worked at biofuel plants around the country, most recently in Texas, said Northeast Biodiesel will employ 14 workers, including himself.

Northeast Diesel plans to double the size of the Greenfield plant after a year, with the addition of a second processor to produce 3.5 million gallons a year of biodiesel, for sale as diesel fuel and heating oil through F.L. Roberts, Surner Oil, Cernak Oil, Orange Oil, J.P. Noonan and other distributors.

Some of that fuel would also be sold to Co-Op Power’s 450 members.

According to Rohave, most waste cooking oil is now sold to rendering plants, which filter it and ship it either to the Midwest to be used primarily for animal feed or overseas for animal feed and cosmetics.

The plant has two 20,000-gallon oil storage tanks, as well a 50,000-gallon biodiesel storage tank that can hold a 10-day supply in its storage room, as well as a pair of 20,000-gallon tanks for vegetable oil in the processing room, with fire-suppression equipment throughout.

In terms of fire safety systems, says Hygate, who’s overseen installations around the world, “this is as good as it gets.”

Ronhave said that the nearest biodiesel plants are in southern Connecticut, Rhode Island, North Haverill, N.H., and Sandwich.

On the Web:
www.northeastbiodiesel.com www.greenfuels.co.uk

You can reach Richie Davis at:
rdavis@recorder.com


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