case study: Philadelphia Fry-O-Diesel

Developed Innovative Strategy for Biofuel Startup

  • competitive research/market insight
  • strategic plan development
  • grant writing
  • technical/expert evaluation

The Energy Cooperative, in Philadelphia, desired to enter the biodiesel manufacturing market but had little details beyond this vague ambition. The Coop’s primary mission was providing residential electricity. It had no background in biofuels.

The Coop was familiar with my project, Fat of the Land, that demonstrated small scale biodiesel production, and brought me on board as a researcher. Outside of the Fat of the Land, I too had very limited knowledge about biodiesel manufacturing, the nascent biofuels market and fuel manufacturing in general. I was a researcher, not an environmental engineer.

Within a few months I quickly built up a knowledge base, identified emerging leaders and possible treatment technologies to be pursued. I recognized that a key to success would be determining the appropriate feedstock. While waste grease from restaurants was showing strong potential, the opportunities to access this waste was not an option in Philadelphia. I then turned my attention to another type of grease, one that was creating a myriad of problems in the sewer system, trap grease. Quantities and availability were sufficient for a meaningful operation and environmental engineers I consulted thought this waste feedstock had strong potential.

Based on my recommendation to pursue trap grease as a feedstock, I co-authored a successful grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, securing $250,000 to support a pilot project. This became the first effort in the United States to explore the use of this type of feedstock for biofuels.