Source: DOE Success Story (
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SBIR helped Rachel Burton and North Carolina-based Piedmont gain national credibility as a small biodiesel producer.
Piedmont Biofuels produces biodiesel from locally sourced recycled cooking oil, fats, and greases. Biodiesel is a clean burning renewable fuel derived from fats, oils, and greases. Piedmont's enzyme-based process technology, named the FAeSTER process opens the door to a world of new feedstocks that have not typically been available for biodiesel fuel production.
Part of Piedmont's production is sold to oil companies, as 100% biodiesel, known as "B100." Oil companies then blend the product with petroleum which they deliver to the consumer in lower percentage blends. The remainder of Piedmont's fuel production is delivered to its co-op members who fill up individual vehicles on what is known as the "B100 Community Trail." Piedmont operates 7 "Trail" locations, largely concentrated in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina.
Piedmont completed optimization of two production processes on our pilot scale plant. This optimization helped the company design and build an up-scaled commercial facility co-located at our existing facility.
Piedmont is the only BQ9000 accredited producer in the state, and for that matter, in the region, which is a quality accreditation awarded by the National Biodiesel Board.
How the DOE SBIR Helped
The DOE SBIR Phase I grant provided Piedmont the staffing time and resources to fast-track an enzyme-based solution for the biodiesel industry, which is being implemented throughout the country today. The Phase II SBIR grant provided funding to build Piedmont's enzymatic biodiesel plant, the first in the nation.
"Our national credibility as a small biodiesel producer was greatly enhanced BY THE SBIR GRANTS."
"Our national credibility as a small biodiesel producer was greatly enhanced BY THE SBIR GRANTS, as you can see in this quote from the President of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, Steven Burke: ‘Piedmont Biofuels shows well the sort of technological, entrepreneurial, and responsible leadership increasing state capabilities and decreasing total reliance on fuels from other places.' "
"This has been a unique collaborative effort between small business, state and federal organ," said Rachel Burton, Founder and former Director of Piedmont's Research and Analytics Department. "We believe that this technology will shift the industry to cleaner, more efficient means of production for today's advanced diesel engines," Burton said.
North Carolina Senator Kay Hagen did the honors at the ribbon-cutting for Piedmont Biofuel's new facility, in June 2012.
In 2013, Piedmont received its certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. In doing so they became the first biodiesel plant to receive such a distinction.
In 2011, Piedmont Founder and Director of Research and Analytics, Rachel Burton, was named Biodiesel Researcher of the Year by the National Biodiesel Board for her team's groundbreaking work on enzymatic catalysis.
In 2012, Piedmont received the: i2i Innovation Award at the Tech Connect and SXSW ECO conference.
Founder: Rachel Burton