San Francisco Leads the Way Turning Grease-Trap Grease into Biofuels

It was a veritable love-fest down at  five-star rated (sort of) RōE Boutique Nightclub and Lounge on 651 Howard in the SOMA this afternoon. Why? Grease. Brown grease. The City has a plan in operation to raid grease traps in order to make BioDiesel down by the San Francisco Zoo.

We’re not talking about fryer grease here. We’re talking messy, water-drenched brown grease.  

Who’s paying for all this? The state of California – it’s a done deal. Does that make it two non-ridiculous new ideas in San Francisco over two consecutive days? Possibly. Read all about it below.

Forget plastics, the future is grease. Click to expand

All different kinds of gross stuff. Can you use trap grease to make B100 biodiesel, the hard stuff? Yes you can.

What restauranteur wouldn’t welcome this green truck, coming for some grease.

A grease trap, as big as you’re going to see here. This is waste, so it’s unlike America’s wasteful corn ethanol program that turns food into fuel, just the way Big Corn likes it.

And lastly, for City Hall’s youthful gay mafia, a “funny picture,” per their request. Normally, you don’t see this kind of thing on this particular website, but all three of them wanted it, so anything for the clique. Click.

San Francisco’s famous Gold Club. And look, all four of this car’s tires are the same size and brand, unlike the previous car. That’s progress. 

Anyway, think grease! 

Read on:

Biodiesel Honors Awarded at National Conference
“Eye on Biodiesel” awards recognize industry champions
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Two seafaring captains and musician Melissa Etheridge were among the fuel advocates for environmentally friendly biodiesel recognized at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, which wrapped up today. The National Biodiesel Board’s 2009 “Eye on Biodiesel Award” winners are:
Influence – Melissa Etheridge. Grammy and Academy Award winner Etheridge often powers her worldwide tours with biodiesel. Etheridge said she liked using biodiesel in her tour vehicles so much that she sold her personal cars to buy a diesel SUV, which she calls the “Bio-Beast.”
Inspiration – Bryan Peterson and Pete Bethune.  Fourteen years ago Peterson made his way around the world in a biodiesel powered boat. Peterson’s adventure generated some of the earliest news on biodiesel.  New Zealander Bethune’s Earthrace boat, fueled by biodiesel, broke the speed record for circumnavigating the world in 60 days.
Initiative – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. In 2006, Newsom issued an Executive Directive to increase biodiesel use in San Francisco. Today, virtually all of the city’s 1,500 diesel vehicles run on B20.
Industry Partnership – Ronald Hayes/State of Missouri and Randy Jennings/State of Tennessee.  Both worked in conjunction with state and national regulatory agencies to create and enforce standards for biodiesel fuel.  They also helped develop test methods and labeling requirements.
Impact – Randall von Wedel.  Von Wedel helped bring biodiesel to the West Coast.  Since the early ’90s, he opened California’s first retail pump, implemented biodiesel in major fleets, introduced fleet quality control programs, and helped pioneer biodiesel marine uses.
The NBB also presented the Pioneer Award to Kenlon Johannes, the first Executive Director of the National SoyDiesel Development Board, which later became the NBB.
“To mirror the theme of this year’s conference, ‘Leading Change Now,’ each of these leaders is furthering our mission of public education on biodiesel’s societal benefits, and opening doors for the growth of the fuel. They have helped to bring positive change in the U.S.,” said Joe Jobe, NBB CEO. “Honorees have either brought a public face to the fuel’s effectiveness, or have eliminated barriers for greater acceptance of the fuel.”

More deets after the jump.

   S.F. Lands $1.2M in State and Federal Grants for New “Brown Grease”
Biodiesel Plant and Development of “How-to” Manual for Cities across Nation
 Grants from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Energy
 Commission fund innovative S.F. pilot project to turn previous waste-only
                        brown grease into biofuel
SAN FRANCISCO, CA –Mayor Gavin Newsom, today joined the California Energy
Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the
National Biodiesel Board (NBB) to announce an innovative state and federal
grant-funded biofuel project by the San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission (SFPUC) that will potentially serve as a model for cities
throughout the nation. $1 million dollars from the California Energy
Commission  will galvanize the City’s first brown grease-to-biodiesel plant
to break new ground for sustainable fuel production in California, with the
U.S. EPA’s grant ensuring it serves as a tangible model—via a “how-to”
manual or open source toolkit—for cities across the entire nation to
replicate the project.
Though programs to turn yellow cooking oil into biofuel are increasingly
popular, this project makes full use of the “brown grease” that is
currently discarded as waste.  Brown grease is the mix of used oils and
food scrapings that flow down the sink drain during dishwashing, food
preparation, and daily cleaning. In commercial kitchens, before brown
grease has a chance to enter the sewer pipes, it is captured in a mechanism
called a “grease trap.” Putting this previous waste-only product to use,
San Francisco will refine brown grease collected from restaurants and
residents and create multiple types of alternative energy.
“Thanks to these collective grants, our cutting-edge
brown-grease-to-biodiesel plant will break new ground toward accessible,
sustainable energy and serve as a model for the entire state and the
country,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The pilot project is a joint public-private collaboration between the
SFPUC, BlackGold Biofuels, and URS. The brown grease biodiesel plant will
be constructed at the award-winning Oceanside Treatment Plant next to the
San Francisco Zoo.  It will be the first of its kind combining a sewage
treatment plant with this new technology to generate three different types
of alternative energy sources:
1.    High-grade, road-worthy certified biodiesel for vehicles;
2.    Lower grade boiler fuel for running sewage treatment plant equipment;
3.    Converted methane to run the treatment plant
“This City has long been a leader in biodiesel and serves as a role model
for what communities can do with renewable energy,” said Joe Jobe, National
Biodiesel Board CEO.  “We are proud to be a part of driving powerful
innovations such as this new technology to convert higher volumes of waste
The program is an extension of the SFPUC’s existing SFGreasecycle program
that since 2007 has been collecting used cooking oil for free and recycling
it into biodiesel.  In addition to providing a renewable fuel source, the
diversion of the Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) helps save cities money from
costly grease-related sewage backups.  The SFPUC estimates that grease
blockages in San Francisco sewers account for 50 percent of all sewer
emergencies and annually costs the City $3.5 million in cleanings.
“By investing in projects like SFGreasecycle, we are demonstrating
California’s significant commitment to fund innovative research and
development projects,” said California Energy Commission Vice Chair James
Boyd.  “With efforts like this, California continues to be a bold leader in
its pursuit of technologies that drive our economy and benefit our
“This project brings together diverse partners to achieve multiple
environmental benefits, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect
San Francisco’s water and minimize waste,” said Deborah Jordan, the U.S.
EPA’s Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “By making
this tool kit available to others to replicate, you are expanding the
environmental benefits beyond the city of San Francisco.”
Sewage treatment plants account for three percent of the nation’s
electrical consumption because they run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By keeping grease out of the sewers and reducing reliance on outside energy
sources, projects like the SFPUC’s brown-grease to biodiesel project are a
win-win for ratepayers and the environment.
“This is the perfect marriage between local sewage plants and the ability
to generate a sustainable resource for the benefit of the public and the
environment,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington.
For more details about SFPUC’s existing SFGreasecycle collection program,
please visit

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