California Energy Commission to award Biodico project $2 million

By Biodico Inc. | April 09, 2012

Biodiesel Industries of Ventura LLC, a subsidiary of Biodico, has been named in a Notice of Proposed Award from the California Energy Commission for a $2 million grant. The grant proposal project will use renewable energy and innovative feedstocks to produce biodiesel at Biodico’s 10 MMgy facility under construction in Port Hueneme, Calif.

“We are pleased to have the California Energy Commission again acknowledge and support our work,” said Biodico president and founder Russell Teall. “The team we have assembled for this project represents some of California’s best and brightest leaders in the renewable energy industry, agriculture and academia. The objective is to produce all of our process heat and energy onsite from renewable resources, and to use innovative approaches to cultivate low-impact feedstocks for biodiesel production. This will substantially reduce our carbon footprint. California is leading the way in promoting innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and we are proud to be part of that endeavor.”

Accomplishing these objectives requires the integration of several emerging renewable energy and agricultural technologies being developed in California. Process heat and power for the Biodico project will be generated by a suite of three technologies: (1) Congenra’s solar cogeneration modules will use a tracking parabolic trough and highly efficient photovoltaics to produce 20 kW of electricity and 80 kW of heat; (2) ALL Power Labs 20 kW cogeneration gasification PowerPallet will use inedible oil seed solids and algae biomass to produce 20 kW of power and 19 kW of heat; and (3) a 12-month demonstration and validation of three different anaerobic digestion (AD) modules will be administered by SeaHold and include AD technologies from Hi Mark, Novus and Eisenmann, all of which will utilize biodiesel glycerin bottoms as a codigestion accelerant for variable combinations of residual biomass resources to produce 20 kW of power and 19 kW of heat. The scaled up use of these technologies has the potential to produce 25 times more electricity and nine times more heat than is required to operate the biorefinery, with the excess to be distributed via net metering.

Another key to reducing the carbon footprint of biofuels is the use of appropriate inedible, low-impact feedstocks. According to Biodico’s chairman, J.J. Rothgery, “As a company we have an axiom, ‘feedstocks first.’ Without long-term, secure, multiple sources of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable feedstocks, the best biofuel production technology in the world is secondary.”

A key issue with biofuel production has been the ability to access inexpensive feedstocks that do not compete with agricultural land use or the production of food. As Rothgery went on to explain, “We are pleased to be working with Stephen Kaffka of the University of California and John Diener of Red Rock Ranch. Both gentlemen have decades of agricultural experience and are respected agricultural and renewable energy leaders.”

Kaffka is the director of the California Biomass Collaborative and is responsible for the research and development of viable biofuel feedstocks. For this project he will be working on a unique low-impact feedstock suitable for underutilized land. Research will be conducted at four UC-Davis agricultural research stations representing a wide variety of agricultural conditions. 

John Diener is the president of Red Rock Ranch, a 5,400 acre farm in California’s Central Valley started by his family in 1927. Diener has pioneered specialized environmental practices to conserve and reuse water resources, and cultivates 40 different conventional and organic crops. He is the former head of the Westlands Water District and was the first individual to receive the prestigious California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. Diener will be responsible for scaling up Kaffka’s work to commercial-grade farming.

Emerging cogeneration technologies and innovative feedstocks are essential elements for producing biofuels that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions economically. Trey Teall, Biodico’s vice president and technical director, said, “Creating truly sustainable systems requires a thorough understanding of every aspect of biofuel production, from feedstock production to fuel utilization. The life-cycle analysis pathways developed by the California Energy Commission are a starting point from which to work on new pathways. To achieve the next generation of ultralow carbon intensity fuel will require innovation at every step along those pathways. We feel that distributed generation and biofuel production, coupled with local sustainable feedstock resources, are the keys to accomplishing this.”

Biodiesel Industries of Ventura LLC is a subsidiary of Biodico Inc., which operates the Biodico patented and proprietary biorefinery in Port Hueneme, Calif. Both companies are privately held and build, own and operate sustainable biorefineries, conduct research and feasibility studies, and collaborate with strategic partners to implement new initiatives. The companies and their management have been pioneers in the industry for the past 19 years, with an emphasis on using advanced technologies for the multifeedstock modular production of next-generation biofuels. Additional information about Biodico can be found on the company’s website.


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