The Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility (NRRRF) is the wastewater treating facility for the City of Raleigh. The City typically treats in excess of 45,000,000 gallons of wastewater per day. A part of the treatment process is the active Land Application program that includes agricultural practices on over 1200 acres of land associated with the NRRRF in addition to a vast amount of private farmland within central and eastern North Carolina owned and operated by farmers. By-products of the treatment process; bio-solids and treated effluent, are utilized on the agricultural lands growing crops for non-human consumption (animal feed) that also reduce nutrient levels.
One of those crops is sunflower and the biofuel produced from the seed oil is mixed directly at the NRRRF for a B-20 fuel source for all of the off-road diesel fueled equipment including bio-solids land application equipment, tractors, self-propelled hay mower, skid steer, combine, and generators, all of which are powered by diesel engines.
This project was conceptualized in 2010 with the City experimenting with the growing of sunflower and finalized in 2016 with many steps along the way. In 2012 the City of Raleigh received a $1000,000 grant through the N.C. Department of Agriculture Biofuels Research Initiative to build a mobile biofuel processor with the intent to better understand costs for biofuel production on municipal lands for its own benefit and to serve as a model for other N.C. municipalities. Over 100 other wastewater treatment plants in N.C. have similar operations. Upon finalizing design and equipment needs the City allocated an additional $65,000 from its Sustainability Fund to complete the project in December of 2015. The operations staff has increased year over year production levels of sunflower with its planting, growing and harvesting experience. Production levels for its first full year of operation in 2016 produced 418 gallons of B-100 totaling 2,090 gallons of B-20.