Indiana city launches biodiesel production

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 15, 2009
Web exclusive posted Feb. 9, 2009, at 11:03 a.m. CST

On Feb. 5, the city of Kokomo, Ind., unveiled its new biodiesel processor tucked into unused space at the city's waste water treatment plant. The city of 50,000 plans to collect waste vegetable oil from participating restaurants, businesses and homeowners. In the beginning Kokomo plans to collect about 1,500 gallons per month from 12 participating businesses and another estimated 300 gallons from residents over the first few months. "These amounts will increase over time as more businesses partner with the city, And as our production and collection methods improve," said Paul Munoz, Kokomo's biofuels manager.

The city-owned biodiesel plant is the first in a series of sustainability measures planned for Kokomo. "We are taking our first steps towards a local economy that is more diverse, competitive, and rooted in sustainable practices. We want to be a hub of the renewable energy industry," Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said. "This program will eliminate about half-a-million pounds of carbon dioxide and several hundred pounds of diesel ash from our atmosphere every year."

Within 18 months the city expects to reach its goal of producing 30,000 gallons per year, enough biodiesel to meet 20 percent of Kokomo's annual diesel used in vehicles and heaters. The city will collect data on its oil collection and biodiesel production, as well as vehicle performance, which it will share as the program continues. "Our hopes are to grow this, bring in partners and expand to help other cities," explained David Galvin, Kokomo's sustainability manager. When production volume increases, the city hopes to develop a home fuel program for low income families. "We make the biodiesel for about 80 cents a gallon," Galvin said, "and we could distribute to low income residents using some sort of criteria to help with their heating bills."

During the second phase of its renewable energy effort, the city will look at using the glycerin producing during biodiesel production with other municipal waste streams for additional bioenergy applications.

For more information on the city of Kokomo's biodiesel facility, visit:
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