The University of Hawai'i at Mânoa and Pacific Biodiesel Inc. have signed an agreement to collaborate in finding solutions for treatment of waste-trap grease from restaurants.
If successful, the project could turn restaurant waste-trap grease from a problematic waste into a new source of useful products, such as liquid and gaseous fuels and soil amendments.
Waste-trap grease, which is generated by restaurants, is a waste stream that is heavy in fats, oils and grease that cannot be directly discharged into main sewer lines.
Currently, this waste stream is collected by trucks that bring it to a central processing center, where it is processed into "fractions" or diluted form that then can be transported to various waste-treatment facilities.
Unfortunately, these fractions are still difficult to treat, and traditional waste-treatment facilities have become increasingly reluctant to accept them.
"Without a cost-effective way to treat waste-trap grease, the local restaurant industry will be threatened, which would negatively impact both the visitor industry and the community," said lead researcher Michael J. Cooney, who is an Associate Researcher with the Hawai'i Natural Energy Institute. "This is part of the University's serious and long-term efforts toward becoming a leading driver of sustainability in the state."
Locally owned Pacific Biodiesel is an industry leader in the production of high-quality biodiesel from used cooking oil and the treatment of waste-trap grease.
"We're excited to be working with the University of Hawai'i on solving some of these big wastewater problems," said President Bob King. "Our company was created and built on the premise of environmental stewardship, so it's gratifying that we are partnering with the state's preeminent university campus, as well as helping another start-up, RealGreen Power, to further the mission."