Expanding Fuel Choices

Bob Van Wingerden of Catoctin Mountain Growers in Keymar, Md., is the first grower to use a new vegetable-based biofuel as heating oil, expanding his fuel choices to four. At any given time, he can decide whether he wants to use No. 2 fuel oil, animal fat, the new biofuel or propane based on pricing and incentives.

The biofuel produced by New Generation Biofuels is a renewable and clean-burning fuel that’s a blend of vegetable oil, water and proprietary ingredients. A surfactant holds it together and the oil looks like milk. Stack tests demonstrate a significant reduction in nitrogen oxide (40 percent less) and sulphur dioxide (virtually zero) emissions compared to low-sulfur fuel oil.

Renewable fuels provider New Generation Biofuels has a production facility in Baltimore. In addition to Catoctin Mountain Growers, customers include a hospital, an asphalt plant and the city of Baltimore. Any business or institution that uses a lot of heat or steam is a prospect. Utility companies are also mandated to generate a percentage of their power from renewable fuels. The mixing plant in Baltimore has the capacity to produce up to 5 million gallons per year with additional capacity on site. Catoctin Mountain Growers will receive up to 370,000 gallons a year. The Baltimore plant serves a region covering New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Van Wingerden says the conversion to this type of fuel cost about $5,000 for new lines and adjustments to the boiler to increase air pressure and open nozzles for more fluid to flow through. He already had an extra tank that was being used for No. 2 oil. “While converting to a biomass heating system would be a huge investment in infrastructure and equipment, it took so little to change equipment to switch fuel oils,” he says. “I need to burn the least expensive fuel to stay competitive. I’m getting a dollar per gallon tax credit on biofuel. It burns nice and clean like propane. Propane was cheaper this year, but the credit made the biofuel more competitive.”

He has three years experience burning waste vegetable oil and animal fat. There are tax incentives with those sources, which are also renewable. Animal fat requires an insulated tank, to keep temperatures at 140 degrees F to prevent the substance from turning solid.

Phil Wallis, chief marketing officer for New Generation Biofuels, says growers could potentially benefit from a proposed carbon cap-and-trade system. “When carbon cap and trade comes in, depending on how it’s done, each business will have a certain number related to its carbon footprint,” Wallis says. “If a business exceeds that number, it can reduce emissions or buy credits. With our fuel, you can potentially achieve credits you can sell or offset your footprint with. There’s no dollar value yet but it’s coming. Incentives are emerging for switching to renewable fuels.”

For more information, visit http://www.newgenerationbiofuels.com/

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