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Local company cooks up biodiesel plan

For Peats sake: Peats Soil managing director Peter Wadewitz is a big fan of recycling and environmental programs.

South Australian company Peats Soil gets a green boost from biodiesel


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16 Nov 2015

SOUTH Australian composting and soil company Peats Soil says there could be up to a 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from fuel manufactured from greasy restaurant run-off that will soon be fuelling a commercial truck fleet.

The company, which has begun biodiesel production from grease trap waste it is paid to remove, is aiming to drastically reduce the fuel bill for its fleet of Scania trucks, including the first Australian delivered Euro 6-compliant models.

Working in conjunction with the University of Adelaide and partly funded by a $622,997 Australian Research Council grant, Peats Soil has developed its own biodiesel plant to take the fatty grease-trap waste primarily from cooking and produce more than one million litres of biodiesel a year.

Peats Soil managing director Peter Wadewitz, who has more than four decades in the soil and composting business, said he is a devotee of recycling and environmental programs.

“The university approached us because they knew we collected grease trap fats,” he told GoAuto. “I'm interested in the commercial environmental movement, I've looked into this and for example in China and India, the dirty grease trap waste, it's a massive problem.

“I thought if we could come up with a solution that is sustainable and commercially sustainable, what a project.” The company has its first batch of 1000 litres in production and is also aiming to establish an ethanol plant – replacing the imported ingredient to further reduce the production costs to supply its new fleet of 14 trucks.

“Last year we used about 1.3 million litres of diesel. We estimate this year it will be 1.5 million litres.

“The low end is about 65 cents a litre, the top end is 95 cents a litre. The biggest cost of that is the cost of the ethanol, which at the moment is imported and it's subject to the commodity price, that's why we're keen to build our own ethanol plant,” he said.

Finding viable and cheap base stock has previously been a key challenge for producing cost-effective biodiesel.

Associate professor Ted McMurchie, a biochemist consulting on the Peats Soil biodiesel program, said the laboratory proven production process had been dramatically scaled up and would have three daily deliveries of 30,000 litres of “dirty water” grease trap waste to use as the base stock for biodiesel.

“Eighty per cent of it is water and the rest is fats, oils and greases that was going into the compost piles,” he said.

Professor McMurchie said much of the solvent and ethanol involved in the chemical process to produce the 1000-litre batches of biodiesel was recycled.

“We’re thinking with all things working the way we want them to, it could be around about 65 cents a litre, which slashes the fuel bill in a green manner,” he said.

“It’s using a waste product that has no other real function apart from going into the compost or landfill.

“There’s enough grease-trap waste in Adelaide alone to run two or three of these things easily. There’s also the capacity to bring these into a continuous as opposed to a batch-fed reaction,” he added.

Scania South Australia regional executive manager Alfons Reitsma said the company was delighted Peats Soil’s existing Scania fleet was being replaced with new Scanias that can use 100 per cent biodiesel.

“We will be supplying Peats Soil with 480hp six-cylinder trucks and some V8-powered 560hp prime movers which will be used to collect waste matter and then deliver bulk and bagged organic supplies once they have been processed at the plant,” he said.

The company recently announced that its new Euro 6 range can run on hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO), provided the fuel used meets technical specification TS15940, and Scania said HVO does not affect a vehicle’s characteristics or its maintenance requirements.

Scania product affairs head Orjan Aslund said Scania is the leading alternative fuels powertrain manufacturer.

“It’s an alternative fuel that has relatively few disadvantages when compared to diesel, while also offering a large reduction in CO2 emissions,” he said.

Earlier this year, Scania approved HVO for use in all types of Euro 5 vehicles and all types of operations.

“Thanks to the certification and our own decision, all Scania hauliers with Euro 6 engines can use HVO, including in buses,” he said.

Few manufacturers will recommend or warrant their vehicles for 100 per cent biodiesel. At this stage the bulk of the passenger and commercial vehicle fleet will allow only single-digit percentage blends of biodiesel, with some – Audi and Subaru among them – not recommending any biodiesel fuel be run in their flat-four turbo-diesel engines.

Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles with Euro 5-compliant engines can run on up to 100 per cent biodiesel provided it meets industry standards, but its passenger-car range is limited to five per cent biodiesel blends.

Mercedes’ commercial vehicles spokesperson James Stanford said that means a reduction in the service intervals by two thirds.

“By ordering a special biodiesel engine package, it is possible to lessen the reduction in service intervals to some 50 per cent compared to the regular intervals,” he said,.

Benz also said the more common B20 biodiesel blend can be used in the breed’s Euro 5 power plants with only a slight reduction in service intervals.

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