The 70,000-square-foot building, located in Everett, Mass., houses the kitchen facility that supplies prepared foods and other products to 62 Whole Foods Market stores located in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
The on-site generator, which is owned and operated by Massachusetts-based Lifecycle Renewables Inc., produces power using a fuel called LR100, which is 100 percent hyper-refined waste cooking oil collected from the commissary itself, from 28 Whole Foods locations in the North Atlantic region and from a number of other Boston-area restaurants and cooking facilities. The waste vegetable oil is refined using a chemical-free process, at Lifecycle Renewable’s refinery in Charlestown, the companies say.
Whole Foods Market’s commissary system requires up to 3,000 gallons of LR100 each week in order to generate enough power to operate the facility around the clock for seven days a week. Operating at a limit of 250 kW, the generator will meet the energy needs of the entire commissary during standard operation, producing over 2,000,000 kWh per year. The generator also has the capability to produce more power, up to 500 kW, in the case of an emergency. It is estimated that powering the renewable energy system will divert 156,000 gallons of waste oil annually, with more than 62,000 gallons of that oil coming directly from Whole Foods Market.
The use of LR100 reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent compared to traditional diesel, Whole Foods says, and says exhaust emissions produced by canola oil contain virtually no sulfur oxides or sulfates, both major contributors to acid rain.
The project to build the renewable energy system for the Whole Foods Market commissary was financed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. National Grid, Zapotec Energy and the Department of Environmental Protection were all instrumental in bringing the renewable energy system to fruition, Whole Foods says.
In December last year, the US Navy placed an order for 425,000 gallons of biofuel from Dynamic Fuels LLC – a joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation – and bioproducts company Solazyme Inc. Dynamic supplied fuel derived from used cooking oil, while Solazyme fuel comes from algae.