Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brandon pulls plug on biodiesel processor

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BRANDON -- The City of Brandon is saying goodbye to its biodiesel processor.

Getting the proper licensing from Manitoba Labour to run the processor proved too expensive and time-consuming, said Rod Sage, Brandon's director of operational services.

The city hopes to sell the equipment and recoup its $50,000 investment.

"It was built in Rapid City by Celtic Power and Machining and they commissioned it out there and everything was running good," Sage said. "We brought it in here (to the Eastview landfill) and in order for us, the city, to hook everything up, we're now faced with a few obstacles that we weren't aware of."

At least another $50,000 would be needed just to secure designs and then seek the proper licensing.

Sage said it's hard to justify spending that much when the city doesn't even know if it will get provincial approval to run the processor.

"There may be additional changes in the design, there may be additional drawings required... To go back and spend $50,000 on something that may or may not pan out, I'm not prepared to keep putting money into a project that may not work," Sage said.

Another problem the city has run into is that there is no immediate use for the refined fuel.

With the Brandon's only "french fry" bus written off in an electrical fire last summer and most of the other suitable pieces of landfill machinery and the city's new fleet of transit buses still on warranty, the city was left scratching its head on what to do with the end product.

"We're not about to use a biofuel product in a brand-new engine that may compromise the warranty," Sage said.

Ryan Kiesman, owner of Winnipeg-based Grease Man Jack, has been working with Brandon for the past several months to get rid of the stockpile of oil the city has not been able to process.

He has committed to taking on the free pickup of used cooking oil for those restaurants that were part of the program.

"I refine it and process it and it's going into animal feed," Kiesman explained. "I sell my product back to farmers."

A similar Winnipeg business, Recycoil, also provides the same service.

Sage doesn't look at Brandon's aborted attempt to produce its own biofuel as a failure. He said the city still hopes to use biodiesel somewhere.

"For example, the City of Calgary uses a blended biofuel in some of their vehicles out there... Those are some things we could look at. We might not necessarily now be in the business of producing the fuel, but we would definitely be looking at options."

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 26, 2010 A8

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