UCO (Used Cooking Oil) to Biodiesel

February 5, 2015

Buster Biofuels is an interesting customer located in Escondido, California. The firm is developing advanced technology for the production of biodiesel fuel.

Currently the company is processing UCO – Used Cooking Oil – to recover clarified oil. This oil is being used to further develop their process for converting it into biodiesel. The key to this is the use of advanced enzymes which accelerate the chemical process required to convert the cooking oil into engine fuel.

Novazyme, the Danish company, is helping with the modified enzymes which are required for the process. In addition, a specialty enzyme development firm in Florida is contributing to the effort.

Used cooking oil is purchased from local restaurants and transported to the processing plant. This oil is first screened to remove plastic film, rags, big bones, and other large trash. Next it is filtered in a self cleaning filter. These use slotted wedgewire screens which are kept clear with a wiper mounted on a piston. The sludge pushed out by this piston goes to the Vincent screw press, and the filtered oil goes to heated clarification tanks.

The screw press being used is a rental CP-4 which they purchased after trials. It features a tapered shaft design which improves separation of oil from the sludge. The press liquor (oil) goes to the clarification tank system.

The plant is designed to produce 800,000 gallons/year of biodiesel from their UCO network. Actual production, using recovered waste oil purchased from others, will get the capacity up to 5,600,000 gallons/year.

Press cake is hauled by Miramar Greenery, where it is mixed with other organic waste to produce compost.

Vincent supplied newer screen designs for the press with a goal of reducing the fine contaminants which now come through the screen. This led to the selection of the optimal screen configuration.

Issue 271