Valerina Changarathil, 20 October 2015

SOUTH Australian soil and garden supplier Peats Soil is venturing into another “value-add bolt-on” business, making biodiesel from grease fat to fuel its brand new fleet of trucks and tractors.

The 40-year-old company says it has invested $700,000 in a new biodiesel making plant to turn grease fat waste, or “dirty water” from restaurants and establishments around the state and interstate into fuel.

The plant is installed at its Brinkley site, south of Murray Bridge, where fat is separated from water using Peats’ proprietary technology and then turned into biodiesel using a standard process and mixed with 20 per cent ethanol for use in the vehicles.

The University of Adelaide approached Peats Soil to test related research, which works perfectly in the lab, said Peter Wadewitz, managing director of Peats Soil.

“Now we have to prove it in reality, which is why we have our first Euro 5 Scania truck ready to try it.

“We use 1.3-1.5 million litres of diesel in our trucks and tractors annually. We want to replace all of that in the next 12 months.

“The first batch of 1,000-litres will soon be in production.”

The project attracted $622,997 in funding from the Australian Research Council in 2011.

Mr Wadewitz said there is only one other plant like this in the world, in the US.

The company has bought 14 new Scania trucks and three tractors that can run on 100 per cent biodiesel, which will cut annual carbon emissions by 3000 tonnes, he said.

“This project is both a commercial and environmental one for us. It will eventually be technology that we will sell to Asia and other overseas markets.

“We anticipate there will be significant export demand for such technology once it has been proved commercially,” Mr Wadewitz said.

The University of Adelaide’s associate professor E J (Ted) McMurchie is leading the operations at Peats’ plant.

Mr Wadewitz said the biodiesel project is another of the company’s value-additions to its traditional garden supplies business.

“They are our value-add bolt-ons if you like.”

These include BiobiN, an on-site organic waste management system developed by Peats Soil that is in use at various locations, including the Adelaide Oval.

The company, which operates out of its Willunga headquarters and associated sites at Brinkley and Dublin, has also received state and federal grants for a $1.5 million anaerobic digester project, which is underway at Brinkley.

The family business includes Mr Wadewitz’s wife, three sons and daughter-in-law with discussions around succession planning on the table.

Extracted in full from The Advertiser.