• Pacific Biodiesel

Pacific Biodiesel’s Hawaii Island biodiesel refinery celebrates 10 years

Employees at Pacific Biodiesel’s Hawaii Island refinery gather for National Manufacturing Day Oct. 7. Founded on Maui in 1995, Pacific Biodiesel is Hawaii’s only commercial producer of liquid biofuels. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the company’s Hawaii Island biodiesel refinery, which began producing premium distilled biodiesel for Hawaii in 2012. (Photo: Pacific Biodiesel)

This year marks a manufacturing milestone for Pacific Biodiesel, Hawaii’s only commercial producer of liquid biofuels—it’s the 10th anniversary of the company’s Hawaii Island biodiesel refinery.

The facility began producing premium distilled biodiesel in 2012 and today makes more than 5.5 million gallons of biodiesel a year, sold entirely in Hawaii.

“When we look back at the past 10 years, we realize that our team has really moved the needle on local biofuel production in Hawaii,” said Bob King, founder and president of Pacific Biodiesel. “We have been able to boost local fuel production by over 500 percent in those years, and also improved the quality of our product tremendously. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the next 10 years.”

Founded on Maui in 1995, Pacific Biodiesel created the first retail-biodiesel pump in America at its first biodiesel plant on Maui, which annually produced 200,000 gallons of biodiesel from recycled used cooking oil.

The company went on to build 13 biodiesel refineries across the country and in Japan. Today Pacific Biodiesel’s operations are entirely focused in Hawaii, where the company employs nearly 100 people statewide at its locations on Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu.

Jenna Long, director of operations for Pacific Biodiesel, looks on as plant operators review production status. (Photo: Pacific Biodiesel)

“We are very proud of all that our team has accomplished in the past 10 years since the groundbreaking of this facility,” said Jenna Long, Pacific Biodiesel’s director of operations. “We have learned much about operating this new technology and have been creative in adjusting to the constantly changing recycled-feedstock material. We greatly appreciate the hard work of everyone who has worked in and supported this plant over the past decade. Though we’re still always learning, our team now has gained the experience necessary to adapt to constantly changing conditions as we keep making the best quality biodiesel fuel around.”

Doug Olds, R&D manager for Pacific Biodiesel, works on the tanks at the Hawaii Island refinery, which opened in 2012. (Photo: Pacific Biodiesel)

Pacific Biodiesel continues to advance its production of biodiesel through innovative improvements in its operations.

Long noted several recent improvements that have resulted in significant gains in waste oil available for biodiesel production.

Staff members from Oahu's Sand Island facility gather for National Manufacturing Day. (Photo: Pacific Biodiesel)

“In August, our Oahu operation more than doubled its monthly oil production from grease-trap waste,” Long said.

Used cooking oil captured from grease-trap waste is recycled by the company for use in the production of biodiesel.

“So far this year, we are operating that equipment at about 50 percent greater production per month compared to last year,” Long added. “The team has been working hard to run the system more consistently. We have seen less downtime and better performance. Also, the more grease-trap waste we can process, the more effectively we can prevent restaurant grease from entering the island’s sewer system and causing clogs.”

Long said the Pacific Biodiesel team has started on a project to install the same equipment that Oahu has been using at the company’s Hawaii Island refinery.

“This will allow us to take in more grease-trap waste on the Big Island and extract more usable oil from that material,” she said. “It will also give us much greater resiliency for the Oahu system, as we will have a full working backup for that facility.”

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