View Full Version : Biodiesel for buildings

10th March 2008, 08:50 PM
Hello, my name is Robert Lord and I co-own & run an engineering company called CUNDALL. We specialise in the design of green buildings.

What I am searching for is a very reliable supply of biodiesel for high profile buildings on the Gold Coast and also in Brisbane. Buildinsg range from Hospitals to large office buildings to skyscrapers.

We will burn the fuel to generate electric power and also use the heat generated to drive air conditioning processes. The source of fuel is critical for carbon accounting reasons.

I am ignorant of the issues of the local market but I ask that someone explain to me why the State (Qld) most affected by climate change and also the State with the best access to the largest sources of biodiesel & crop fuels (sugar crops) is unable to have this fuel easily and reliably available? Is it market barriers, gov regs or simply lack of ignorance all around?

Rob Lord

10th March 2008, 10:21 PM
Hi robert and welcome.

Be mindful of what feedstock you get your biodiesel sourced from. There are some green issues surounding oil/biodiesel sourced from land cleared from rain forests. I would source from a company that uses waste vege oil or tallow as their stock. (Is that an oversimplification anyone? Please inform me if I'm wrong!!)

As to why the production plants are set up where they are prehaps they are looking at transportation costs to their consumers?!?

Also sugar isn't a feed stock that biodiesel is made from. Ethanol is, which can be used in petrol powered cars.

Yes there are market barriers, govt regs, negetive campaigns etc stifling biodiesel production and consumer acceptance and uptake. Also World canola and tallow prices are making biodiesel production unviable.

Call ABG national sales on 1800 090 512. They are in Narangba. They have ceased production but may be of assistance.

Tony From West Oz
10th March 2008, 11:59 PM
Congratulations on choosing a "green tinged" career.

Gull Petroleum operate a tallow based biodiesel plant in BQueensland and may be able to assist you with the supply of B100 and/or biodiesel blends.

You may be able to obtain contact numbers from their website of the white pages.

Regards, and keep up the good work,


11th March 2008, 07:05 PM
Something to be aware of - due to the scale of the projects you are working on, it may actually be "greener" to source your electricity from your local electricity provider. Western Power presently will sell "green" power at a higher than normal market rate.

Not saying it's necessarily the case, but given that most commercially produced biodiesel has methanol derived from fossil fuel, as a feedstock, that your generator will likely not be as efficient as industrial power production and that it contributes to emissions due to it's manufacture, it may turn out not to be a more environmentally friendly option, if you were to do a life-cycle analysis of it.

Just worth thinking about.

Tony From West Oz
11th March 2008, 10:42 PM
Using the fuel in a combined cycle plant will improve efficiency as the waste heat component of losses will be used to offset energy consumption from other sources.
The point of the exercise is (i Believe) to reduce the carbon emissions from the building.

By generating "on-site" transmission losses are eliminated.
Using a reciprocating engine to drive the generator is less efficient than steam operated plants, but when the combined cycle efficiencies are incorporated, the carbon emissions should be significantly improved.

Cost per unit of energy will depend on the capital costs, the maintenance and fuel costs of the generation plant and the avoided additional energy costs for the heating loads.
Combined Cycle is a proven concept with proven emission reductions.


12th March 2008, 10:37 AM
I'm not saying there will be more emissions associated with it, but simply that it is worth looking at to find out.

Despite what would be significant transmission losses, could a generator running on biodiesel really account for less carbon emissions that a wind or solar power generation plant, connected to the grid? I wouldn't bet on it without doing a comparison.

The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 means that most (if not all) of the power companies in Australia would be providing access to power generated by renewable means (and according to Western power; "Renewable generators include photovoltaic cells, wind energy, wave energy, biomass,
tidal and geothermal.")

Like I said, it's just worth considering if you will be really reducing emissions in the most effective way.

Tony - you mention it is proven to reduce emissions. Is that in comparison to a simple generator with no waste heat recycling, or compared with commercial electricity from fossil fuels, or with commercial electricity sourced from renewable sources?

Tony From West Oz
12th March 2008, 11:09 PM
Compared to the majority of power produced in Australia - Coal fired steam plants and Gas fired (non combined cycle, non combined heat & power). There are very few in WA which use waste heat to offset energy inputs. Alcoa have a couple of Gas fired Combined heat & power plants and Verve have the Cockburn combined cycle gas fired plant (the gas turbine exhaust is used to make steam which powers a steam turbine (~50% of power of first turbine) for no added fuel cost.

I believe that all of the output of the current solar and wind generation plants in WA is oversubscribed for Green Power and more is needed, just to keep up with the demand.

I have not done the calculations for carbon emissions from biodiesel generation locally compared to renewable generation hundreds of kilometers away from the load usage, and the contribution the infrastructure provision has on these emissions.

I believe that the cost/benefit analysis may also be a worthwhile exercise.