Riverside, California's "Grease to Gas" Program


Restaurant grease, a bane to sewer systems everywhere, has gained new levels of respect as a feedstock for alt fuels tinkerers. The Public Utilities of Riverside, California, upped the ante two years ago with the pilot of its "Grease to Gas" program, in which waste oil from local restaurants was fed into the cogeneration plant. Not only did the experiment prove more productive than expected -- the grease, fed into methane digesters, produced 30% more gas than expected -- but has also made local restaurateurs very happy:

Riverside launched a pilot project to explore the merits of using restaurant grease as a cogeneration fuel after sharp increases in private waste disposal fees made it financially difficult for local restaurants to have their grease waste interceptors pumped on a regular basis. The fee increases posed a significant challenge for the city, too, because overloaded interceptors discharged restaurant grease waste directly into the city’s sewer collection system, clogging up entire sections of pipeline. In this context, the prospect of using restaurant grease as a fuel source was not only seen as a way to reduce local restaurant grease disposal costs, but as a way to help keep Riverside’s sewer collection system free of restaurant grease.
In fact, everyone's so happy with the results of this program in Riverside that the city plans to invest $100,000 in a fuel cell to expand the capacity for turning grease into power. They expect that this investment will create savings of $1 million a year in electricity and natural gas savings, making the program a winner for everyone. ::Riverside Public Utilities