Grape & Almond Waste Being Turned into Biodiesel

John Davis

Menon&AssocA California company that makes biofuels out of several sources has received a state grant to work on turning the waste from grapes and almonds into biodiesel.

This story in the San Diego Business Journal
says local contractor Menon & Associates picked up the $800,000 from the California Energy Commission to convert grape pulp and almond husks into the green fuel:

The Sorrento Valley company, which is putting up $500,000 of its own money towards the three-year program, plans to convert the pulp, known as “cellulosic waste,” into an oil-based triglyceride similar to palm or coconut oil.

“We make the intermediate product that can be used by the refinery to make fuel,” says President Suresh Menon. “Cellulosic materials have carbon in them. What we do is concentrate the carbon into the intermediate products that can be used by a refinery.”

Menon uses a combination of enzymes to break down the cellulosic material.

While they’ll be working with grape and almond waste materials in this program, almost any cellulosic material can eventually be converted, such as paper, cardboard, tree cuttings, switch grass or sugar cane waste, he says.

Officials point out that 80 percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and of course, the state is a major producer of grapes, providing plenty of feedstock that would be otherwise filling landfills or being burned. The hope is that they’ll get 30 gallons of fuel for every ton of waste.

Menon & Associates is a subprime contractor on a $19.6 million Department of Defense contract to make jet fuel from cellulose.