Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Opposition to big Biodiesel plant in Suffield

There's trouble brewing at a proposed biodiesel manufacturing plant in Suffield. CT Biodiesel is moving to open a 50 million gallon per year plant, which would easily be the largest in CT. However, neighbors don't seem to want a plant in their quiet rural community. While biodiesel itself is very safe and non-toxic, methanol is highly volatile and doesn't have the greatest safety record. Methanol will be used as an catalyzing agent and storing 286,000 gallons on site makes some people uneasy.

Read more about it here:

Residents Cool To Biodiesel Plant Plan
Hartford Courant

Big turnout for meeting on biodiesel plant in Suffield
Journal Inquirer

Biodiesel Plant Doesn't Excite Suffield Residents
Channel 3 Eyewitness News (see video)

5 comments:

Tim White said...

I thought methanol was a byproduct. But it's a catalyst? am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Biodiesel is created by mixing vegetable oil and methanol, with a small amount of catalyst (sodium methylate in this case). The products of this mixing are biodiesel (methyl ester) and glycerin (a common ingredient in soaps and foodstuffs). So no, methanol is not a product, or a catalyst, but rather one of the original ingredients.

CT Energy said...

Anonymous is correct. In most processes I've seen, the methanol is mixed with the catalyst before reacting with the oil so I considered it to be part the catalyst (physically), though technically it is not (chemically). Thanks for pointing this out.

Tim, there is often some methanol contained in the final product only because excess methanol must be added to ensure complete conversion. This can be extracted and re-used.

Anonymous said...

interesting.

With private investors trying to open a biodiesel factory in Cheshire, and... the Cheshire town gov't using methanol in the sewage treatment plant's denitrificaton component... I've been wondering if the two could work together...

i.e. methanol byproduct at the biodiesel plant and methanol catalyst at the sewage plant.

Anyway... thanks for explaining it to me.

TW

Anonymous said...

The group opposing the plant is supposedly quite small and already splintering - the fear factor seems to be wearing off and people are focusing more on the benefits. Methanol comprises less than 10% of the on-site storage capacity and the nearest resident is nearly a half mile away.

Plus, Suffield already hosts and ice cream plant that stores a lot of anhydrous ammonia and a Praxair plant that makes industrial gases - biodiesel can be a good neighbor in that mix.