ST. GEORGE — Biodiesel fuel could soon be supporting Southern Utah’s economy and would also help sustain cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Such is the goal of Anderwood Ventures, a company working toward economic growth in Southern Utah through alternative fuel development and clean energy projects.
Currently, the company is working on creating premium quality biodiesel fuel from 100 percent waste material. The refinery would be established on land in the Fort Pierce area of St. George. It will release no emissions, Anderwood Ventures Vice President Woody Woodbury said, and every bit of recycled material will be used. There is no waste, he said.
Biodiesel fuel is a form of diesel fuel produced solely from vegetable oil waste or from crops and soybeans. Anderwood Ventures does not contemplate using crops or soybeans for their product but rather 100 percent vegetable oil waste material. The oil goes through a chemical process that produces biodiesel fuel and glycerin.
Robert Anderson, president of Anderwood Ventures, has been creating biodiesel fuel since he was 15 years old. He worked out of his dad’s garage and even created his own processing system.
“Biodiesel fuel burns up to 86 percent cleaner than petroleum diesel does,” Anderson said.
Many people who run biodiesel fuel through their diesel engine vehicle report better fuel economy, Woodbury said. Their vehicle engine runs smoother and they are doing less maintenance on their engine.
No modifications need to be done to a diesel vehicle in order to use biodiesel fuel, Anderson said. And a lot of vehicle companies support biodiesel and will still warranty your car.
School buses and diesel exhaust
Diesel exhaust soot has many harmful side effects. According to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, diesel exhaust contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, and many of those toxic contaminants are known to cause cancer. We are exposed to this harmful air quality just by breathing.
Diesel exhaust can cause immediate negative health effects and can pose a health risk, particularly to children.
In 2001, a study from Natural Resources Defense Council and the Coalition for Clean Air showed that children who ride a diesel school bus may be exposed to up to four times more toxic diesel exhaust inside the bus than someone traveling directly behind a car.
“So essentially, when your kids are sitting on the school bus,” Woodbury said, “they are sitting in a giant box full of smoke and exhaust.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, school buses travel about 4 billion miles each year, and more than 25 million American students ride a school bus every day.
“If we can run 100 percent biodiesel in our school buses, then that’s huge,” Woodbury said. “That drops a ton of harmful effects to our kids.”
Benefits of biodiesel
Along with cutting our health risks, biodiesel has many other benefits. By collecting trap grease, which would normally go to the landfill, Anderwood Ventures is able to recycle used oil and use it for economic benefit and help save the environment.
Unprocessed greases are considered a nonhazardous waste, Woodbury said. When you process that used grease, 80 percent is water, the water can then be recycled to nutrient-rich water that can be added back into Washington County’s water system.
“Processing 50 million gallons, that’s a lot of water we can put right back into Southern Utah, especially since we have such a huge need for water,” Woodbury said.
Anderwood Ventures plans to gather used oil from a 300-mile radius, starting in Washington County. They will collect trap grease and fry oil from local restaurants and even casinos.
“If we were able to collect everything in 300 miles, we would be able to build a 100-million-gallon plant,” Anderson said.
Restaurants are required to dispose of the grease and oil properly, but ultimately the grease ends up in the landfill. According to Sewer Smart, disposing of grease or oil into the landfill can cause major problems if they enter into the waste water system and end up in the oceans.
Anderwood Ventures will relieve those local restaurants of having to take those used greases to the landfill. It will be processing the waste material to put back into the community.
“The feed stocks are there, the demand is there,” Anderson said.
The project will also help Washington County’s unemployment rates. Anderwood Ventures plans to employ upward of 200 employees, which includes plant operators, truck drivers, a sales team and administrative employees, Woodbury said. Anderwood Ventures is projecting the refinery to be up and running in the first quarter of 2016.
Once the biodiesel refinery is built, the project’s main concentration will be on fleet accounts so that they can sustain cleaner air quality, Woodbury said. A fuel pump station will also be provided so the public can buy fuel directly from the source. As of now, the closest biodiesel fuel pump to Washington County is in Moab, according to Drive Biodiesel.
By recycling this hazardous material, Anderson said, biodiesel fuel can significantly reduce pollution and help cut costs in the community.
“This is a better way and it’s great for everybody,” Anderson said, “the local business owner, the restaurant owner and even the person that eats at the restaurant because that waste is going into biodiesel, which is good for the environment, and healthwise, it’s a lot better.”
Arguments against biodiesel
Opposition to biodiesel fuel production focuses primarily on biodiesel developed from crops. The arguments include:
- Production of biodiesel from crops will increase demand for corn, which causes the price of crops to increase
- Increased crop prices make it more expensive for farmers to feed their livestock, thereby increasing the price of meat and dairy products
- Biodiesel fuel production requires extreme amounts of water
- The increased demand for biodiesel crops leads to deforestation and destruction of wetlands and grasslands, to make space for the planting of those crops
- Keeping watch, active measures may avert air pollution in Dixie
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