City of Rialto Teams with Chevron, FuelCell Energy to Turn Restaurant Grease Into Renewable Power
Chevron Energy Solutions, a Chevron subsidiary, today announced that it has begun engineering and construction of an innovative system at the City of
Rialto's wastewater treatment facility that will transform wastewater
sludge and kitchen grease from local restaurants into clean, renewable
The environmentally friendly system will increase municipal revenues,
reduce landfill wastes and lower greenhouse emissions by nearly 5.5 million
tons annually, while decreasing the city's energy costs by about $800,000 a
year. The system includes a 900-kilowatt fuel cell power plant,
manufactured by FuelCell Energy, that will generate
electricity without combustion using methane, a biogas produced naturally
on site by the organic materials contained in wastewater.
"Through energy efficiency, renewable power and innovation, this system
solves a messy problem for cities," said Jim Davis, president of Chevron
Energy Solutions. "By looking at wastewater treatment operations
holistically, we're helping Rialto and other cities transform an urban
waste into an asset."
The new system will provide a beneficial use for the thousands of
gallons of fats, oils and grease (FOG) that are washed daily from
restaurant grills and pans. The watery liquid is collected by grease
hauling companies and often disposed of in landfills, where it releases
methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- as it decomposes, sometimes directly
into the atmosphere.
At the Rialto facility, a FOG-receiving station will provide an
effective disposal alternative, reducing the amount of FOG sent to
landfills. It also will provide a revenue stream to the city through
"tipping fees" paid by grease haulers for each disposal. Meanwhile, the
fuel cell plant and other energy-efficient improvements will reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually,
equivalent to removing 1,080 cars from the road each year.
In Rialto, a Los Angeles suburb of about 100,000 residents, forecasted
population growth necessitated the expansion and upgrade of the city's
aging wastewater treatment facility. The project, which costs $15.1
million, is eligible for a $4.05 million rebate on the fuel cell plant cost
from California's Self-Generation Incentive Program, administered by
Southern California Gas. The remaining cost will be self-funded through
energy cost savings and FOG station revenues, without any impact on local
"Our city council and I are delighted to have found a solution with so
many benefits all around," said Grace Vargas, Rialto's mayor. "It's a 'win'
for multiple stakeholders -- our city taxpayers, restaurants, grease
haulers, and the environment."
Chevron Energy Solutions will proceed with engineering and construction
of the project over the next few months. Project highlights include
installation of the FOG-receiving station; repairs to the current digester
equipment, where methane is naturally produced from organic matter; a new
automation system and controls; a high-efficiency boiler; and three
300-kilowatt Direct FuelCell units that will convert methane into
hydrogen and then use the hydrogen to generate power electrochemically,
without combustion. In addition, the residual waste heat from the fuel
cells will be put to work to warm the digesters to human body temperature,
to stimulate further methane production.
sold its fuel cell plant to Rialto through Chevron
and will maintain the plant after it is installed. Because
of its ultra-clean emission profile, the plant meets California's stringent
air quality standards and is expected to be sited easily. It will also
provide baseload power around the clock.
"Rialto can make use of existing resources and generate high efficiency
power that is environmentally friendly while saving money on its energy
costs," said William Karambelas, vice president of business development of
FuelCell Energy. "This is a consistent and compelling story from both
economic and environmental standpoints."
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