The Institute, since 2006, began an aggressive project targeted at the production of biodiesel on a commercial basis in Guyana. The institute developed a unique pilot and industrial process to produce biodiesel from a variety of feedstock – coconut, palm, soy, canola, corn and fish oils, as well as used frying oils. Since then, the institute has maintained and utilized one of these pilot scale units to produce over 90% of its fuel needs from used frying oils from the restaurants in Georgetown and further afield. This allows the institute to utilize this fuel in all of its energy-intensive pilot scale activities and also to power 95% of its vehicles.
The project began with the acquisition of lab-scale apparatus to produce biodiesel; this was donated by IAST’s Director, Professor Narine, and by Rose Scientific Inc. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). Various feedstock available in Guyana (used vegetable oil from a variety of sources, and both crude and refined vegetable oils (palm, coconut, canola, soy, jatropha, etc.) was then utilized to produce B100 Biodiesel.
The feedstock was first analyzed in our laboratory to determine the various parameters such as fatty acid content, fatty acid profile, viscosity, etc. Depending on the nature of the feedstock, batch conversion processes with varying parameters such as the amount of Sodium Hydroxide, Methanol, Temperature, Reaction Time and Agitation Rate were optimized to produce B100 Biodiesel with a minimum of fatty acid content, full conversion of triglyceride content, minimum of mono- and di-acylglycerides, and optimized viscosity profiles. Staff were then trained in the production of quality biodiesel, and in analytical procedures to test both the feedstock and finished fuel for quality control parameters. Different parameters for the production of quality biodiesel were developed and documented for each type of feedstock available.
The IAST, as is known, have developed and operate a pilot plant to convert fresh and used vegetable and animal-derived oils into biodiesel. We operate the plant with oils supplied by the fast food companies in Guyana. This activity will continue as a means of revenue generation and for the provision of demonstration facilities in our activities to promote the commercialization of this technology in Guyana.
The used frying oil that would have ended up in the city’s drains is also utilized in an environmentally beneficial manner, as an additional benefit. The institute was able to secure a commercial investor to invest in this technology, and in 2006, the commercial investor acquired the National Oil Palm Company in Wauna, Region 1. The institute constructed a plant for the company, Agri-Solutions Technologies, Inc, and this company produced commercial biodiesel from palm oil produced on the estate in Wauna, and supplied the regional administration with B100 Biodiesel which was used to power the region’s electricity generators. The facility employed some 120 people. The biodiesel produced, both by the company and by AST met and exceeded all ASTM standards for B100 biodiesel. It is our understanding that in 2013 the company AST has now resorted to producing only palm oil and has halted biodiesel production due to a variety of issues with their logistics – of note however is that this is not due to technological issues with the production of biodiesel. Production of biodiesel from used frying oils will continue at the institute in 2017. Importantly, the institute’s efforts marked the first time that Biodiesel has been produced, tested, and implemented at commercial levels in Guyana – a seminal achievement.
To produce, test, and advertise the benefits of the new technology, the IAST partnerships with a number of private companies and government institutions:
The IAST and MACORP entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to test the biodiesel produced on heavy duty machinery distributed by the company. Furthermore, MACORP donated at the beginning of this project, some 10 barrels of methanol towards it, at an approximate cost of GUY$300, 000.
- Banks DIH Ltd.
Banks DIH Ltd and IAST entered into a partnership to utilize the used vegetable oil from Banks food service and food retail operations. This partnership has existed since 2006 and the IAST continues to process used oil from Banks DIH, which would have normally have to be composted into waste, into useful, high quality biodiesel.
- National Agricultural Research Institute
IAST and NARI enjoy a partnership aimed at a collaborative development of biodiesel and bioethanol feedstock. In particular, the two sister agencies have an active collaboration in the cultivation of improved strains of Jatropha Curcas (Physic Nut) and soyabean oil, both for the production of biodiesel. Additionally, the two agencies collaborate on the technical due diligence of new feedstock for the production of biofuels which are proposed by investors wanting to invest in this sector in Guyana.
- Guyana Energy Agency
IAST and the GEA collaborate on biofuel matters, and on energy conservation and solar energy projects, both from regulatory and good practices perspectives, as well as on actual pilot projects.