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BlackGold opens recycling facility

BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte, North Carolina, has opened an innovative recycling facility for restaurant kitchens’ wastewater, cleaning up the water and recovering a biofuel. While it’s common to recycle deep fryer oil, recycling oils from kitchen wastewater has proven much more elusive. The facility is the first of its kind in the area.

BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte receives grease trap waste from wastewater haulers that is generated in commercial and institutional kitchens during dishwashing and food preparation. BlackGold Biofuels removes food particles and then extracts and purifies the recovered plant- and animal-based oils. The recovered oil is used for biofuels, offsetting fossil fuels while increasing energy independence.

By cleaning the wastewater, BlackGold Biofuels reduces the burden on the region’s wastewater treatment plants. The U.S. EPA names blockages from grease as a top culprit in sewer overflows nationwide. It is estimated that grease is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of Charlotte area sewer overflows. Currently, grease trap waste is landfilled or spread on fields. The material can be sent to anaerobic digestion to produce biogas for energy use, but 70 percent of the grease’s energy is lost and few facilities have infrastructure to convert it. Lacking compelling alternatives, much of this waste ends up in the sewer.

“Proper grease trap maintenance is critical to the efficient functioning of the wastewater treatment system,” explained Jackie Jarrell, Charlotte Mecklenburg utilities’ superintendent of the environmental management division. “Creating high-use beneficial reuses helps divert this waste out of our sewers and into compliant pathways, creating a financial and environmental win for the region.”

The facility developer, BlackGold Biofuels, is based in Philadelphia and is building recycling facilities throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Additional facilities are under development in Winston-Salem and Raleigh.