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New Leaf Biofuel Plans to Double Biodiesel Production Capacity
by Ron Kotrba (Biodiesel Magazine) San Diego-based biodiesel producer New Leaf Biofuel has received a notice of proposed award from the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which will help fund an expansion project to double production capacity on-site from 6 MMgy to 12 MMgy. The grant, provided under the “Community-Scale and Commercial-Scale Advanced Biofuels Production Facilities” solicitation, is for nearly $3.8 million and will require matched funding from the company for an additional $4.5 million.
The project seeks to double capacity without expanding the footprint of the plant through conversion of batch to continuous processing using Tennessee-based Lutros LLC technology. Case said to grow production with its current batch system would require additional space the plant doesn’t have.
“Our small footprint is our challenge,” she said. “To go bigger using our technology, we would need bigger processing equipment, a bigger vacuum pump, bigger cooling tower—bigger, bigger, bigger. But we can’t get bigger, so we’re going to move to continuous processing and make everything smaller. Instead of reacting 4,000 to 5,000 gallon batches at a time, we’ll have a continuous flow reactor through which the feedstock will be reacted in a much smaller receptacle. Going to continuous flow processing reduces the size of all our utilities and tanks. And our big batch reactors will no longer be used as reactors, but instead as surge and storage tanks. We’ll probably be oversized for what we’re doing, and getting more flowing in and out of our plant will be our next challenge.”
Case said this is the most massive project New Leaf Biofuel has ever taken on since its inception. READ MORE