Springboard Biodiesel LLC is a family-owned manufacturing company located in Chico California. The company got its start in the early aughts when Chico State Engineering Students researched what was available on the market for producing biodiesel fuel from waste cooking oil and discovered an opportunity to make a better, more robust and fully automated appliance. They designed what is now known as the BioPro™, and in 2008 Springboard Biodiesel was formed to commercialize the new processors.
Led by Matt Roberts, President, Springboard’s team is unique in following a diverse path. Roberts, who founded the company with his brother, did not start his career as an engineer but became an advocate for change when he saw the potential for producing cheaper, environmentally friendly diesel. After a steep learning curve and lots of overtime, the team at Springboard started shipping their processor world wide. Their processors are currently being used in all 50 states and in 35 different countries and they estimate that, collectively, 9 million gallons of fuel are made in them per year at significant cost and carbon savings.
Their primary line of processors, the BioPro™, is a small-scale biodiesel production appliance, roughly the size of a refrigerator, that converts waste cooking oil into biodiesel fuel. This conversion can be done in a few simple steps by taking the used cooking oil, adding methanol, sodium hydroxide, and sulphuric acid. In 24 to 48 hours, depending on the model, an operator will produce 50 to 100 gallons of finished biodiesel which is ready to pump into their vehicle using an onboard pump, similar to the one found at gas stations. Remarkably, biodiesel is ready to be fed into any diesel engine without any modifications needed. And it can be blended with diesel at any ratio. (Many states currently mandate that a percentage of all diesel sold must be biodiesel.)
Biodiesel can be used to reduce operating expenses in-house and a lot of companies can testify to the huge savings it has brought them. The US army in Afghanistan has made more than 400,000 gallons of biodiesel using their BioPro system, at a cost savings of $3.5 million; Brookfield Restaurants, a Sacramento restaurant chain, has been able to convert 90 gallons of used cooking oil, weekly, into biodiesel that they run in their Sprinter delivery van. 99 different schools and several municipalities also operate the equipment. Even with diesel pump prices at historic lows, if a BioPro operator can gather used cooking oil at zero cost, they will produce biodiesel for roughly $1.06 per gallon in California today.
Matt Roberts was a guest at our 2020 April Greentech Meetup with AgStart. Check out the recorded live stream below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Osato Evbuomwan is a CSU Sacramento Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student who is the newest associate at CleanStart. Growing up in Nigeria with smog from backup diesel/ gasoline generators inspired Osato to work towards building a sustainable future for the world.