Facility in Southern California for Fourth Quarter 2017
Expected to Produce Fuel with a CARB CI in the Low Teens
UrbanX is applying $5 million in California funding to help convert idle equipment at a Los Angeles-area petroleum refinery into a biorefinery capable of producing 30 million gallons per year of renewable diesel – solely from spent restaurant cooking oils – by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Company president Bruce Melgar describes the project: “UrbanX has begun construction on the largest renewable diesel manufacturing facility on the West Coast, applying $5 million in grant funding from the California Energy Commission’s Commercial Biofuel Production program in addition to the latest funding round it recently closed with participation from its founders, existing and new investors.
“The construction will convert idle equipment at a Los Angeles-area petroleum refinery into a biorefinery capable of producing 30 million gallons per year of renewable diesel – solely from spent restaurant cooking oils – by the fourth quarter of 2017.”
A 100% Drop-In, ASTM D975-Compliant Fuel
The economically competitive product will be a 100% drop-in, ASTM D975-compliant fuel, the company says.
Although the biorefinery will have the flexibility to produce renewable jet and renewable marine diesel fuels, it will exclusively produce ground transportation renewable diesel in support of California’s program to combat the effects of climate change and air pollution from this source, UrbanX says.
‘Feedstock Aggregation Network’ Is in Place
Technology from partners including Chevron and ARA/Applied Research Associates, as well as Matheson Tri-Gas, will allow Long Beach-based UrbanX to convert not only the yellow grease used for conventional FAME/fatty acid methyl ester biodiesel, but also the “brown grease” that’s not suitable for conventional biodiesel, Melgar says.
“Our true competitive advantage is our ability to use 100% free fatty acid material,” he told F&F.
“UrbanX has remained steadfast in our approach towards developing a robust feedstock aggregation network and harnessing the energy-value of this problematic waste product to produce a high-quality environmentally responsible fuel without compromising fuel logistics or diesel engine performance,” Melgar added in an email.
“We’re able to use that material,” he says. “There’s no other direct market for the waste-based high-acid grease.”
Thousands of Collection Points
The feedstock collection network was established during the company’s days as a conventional biodiesel producer, Melgar says.
“We collect oil from 3,600 accounts in Southern California, and that number continues to grow every quarter” he says.
A CI in the Low Teens
UrbanX won’t have it officially until its plant is in operation for at least one quarter, but Melgar says he anticipates a California Air Resources Board CI/carbon intensity number of 12 to 14.
“Our carbon intensity is a critical emission reduction measurement that can’t be matched by other conventional petroleum diesel replacement fuels,” Melgar says.
Renewable diesel produced by Neste in Singapore has a CARB CI number as low as 33 (depending on feedstock), while conventional petroleum-based diesel is in the 90s.
‘Cost Per Gallon Is Significantly Lower’
A CI in the low teens will stand the company in strong stead in LCFS and other carbon credit markets.
But even without such credits, UrbanX intends to be cost-competitive. “Our cost per gallon is significantly lower than biodiesel and competing renewable diesel products,” Melgar says.
Contact information is only available to premium subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Source: Fleets & Fuels interview & follow-up