A collaborative effort by the U.S. Navy, Biodiesel Industries, Inc. and Aerojet successfully demonstrated methods to produce cleaner and more reliable sources of renewable fuels for military use. The system, named ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System), is a highly automated, portable biodiesel production unit that can be controlled from a remote location. These features ensure reliable process control and optimal production yields in a system that can be readily and widely deployed.
ARIES is the culmination of more than six years of research, development, demonstration and validation by the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC) and Biodiesel Industries. The addition of Aerojet’s expertise in integrated system design, fluidic management and control systems development, coupled with decades of experience in chemical formulation processes has allowed the partnership to make extraordinary strides in the last 12 months.
“Aerojet and the Navy are the perfect partners for this endeavor,” explained Russell Teall, president and founder of Biodiesel Industries. “For the past 15 years we have been developing proprietary technology for modular multi-feedstock biodiesel production. Combining NFESC’s specialization in energy and environmental systems with Aerojet’s history of advanced systems controls, enabled the implementation and first public demonstration of Biodiesel Industries’ ARIES platform. We are excited to see this technology emerge as the result of the Navy’s long-term commitment to utilize renewable fuels. As the world’s largest consumer of diesel fuel, the implications for the Navy and the DoD are clear: energy self-sufficiency is not only a matter of national security, but also provides tremendous environmental and economic benefits.”
A key issue with biofuel production has been the ability to access inexpensive feedstocks that do not compete with agricultural land use or the production of food. The ability to use locally available non-food feedstocks for biodiesel requires a flexible production process and technical expertise and control not easily associated with small- scale facilities. However, with ARIES, one data and process control center has the potential to remotely operate hundreds of scalable facilities integrated with next-generation feedstock cultivation, producing millions of gallons of biofuel per year.
“Biodiesel Industries’ years of advanced work with jatropha, algae and other biofuel feedstocks are critically important to the ARIES platform. In the coming months, we expect to announce several new developments with our proprietary methods of feedstock cultivation that make the ARIES system an ideal solution for the Navy with significant implications in the commercial sector as well,” according to JJ Rothgery, Chairman of the Board of Biodiesel Industries.
“Aerojet is excited to be a part of this visionary team and looks forward to contributing to our nation’s goal of energy independence,” said Scott Neish, president of Aerojet. “As Aerojet expands the energy management capabilities we developed from decades of work in aerospace and defense into new markets, collaborating with Biodiesel Industries is a perfect fit. This collaboration has allowed us to leverage our experience with the pioneers of this field, significantly enhancing the production of biofuels as we know it today.”
ARIES incorporates Aerojet’s systems control technologies to provide real-time sensing and management of key chemistry and processing parameters. These technologies, coupled with Biodiesel Industries’ 10-year production database, allow automation of the entire process, resulting in enhanced yields, reliable quality control and personnel safety assurance. Remote sensing also enables monitoring and operation from a single data and process control center for biodiesel production facilities in numerous locations around the world.
Following the recent successful demonstration of ARIES for the U.S. Navy, additional capabilities are now being installed and the unit will be moved to the National Environmental Test Site at Naval Base Ventura County, in Port Hueneme, Calif. There, the ARIES system will undergo further demonstration and validation leading to integration with more complex systems.