What’s To Like About Oak Ridge North: It’s Mostly Green and Lights Up with Chicken Fat

Home in Oak Ridge North

Since February, about half the residents of Oak Ridge North, a small city just across I-45 from the Woodlands, have been getting their electricity from chicken fat. The nation’s first entirely biodiesel-generated electrical plant, run by Biofuels Power Corp., supplies power to the community. The fuel comes from a sister company, Safe Renewables, which runs a plant two miles away that can create biodiesel from vegetable oils too. But chicken fat is apparently plentiful around here, so Oak Ridge north gets powered by schmaltz.

The power facility has the capacity to produce approximately 5 MW of electricity using three used diesel Caterpillar generators that act as a single source of power. At full load, they use 72 gallons of biodiesel per MW hour. An interesting feature is that waste heat from the generators is used to keep the fuel tank warm and prevent . . . the biodiesel from gelling. The company is experimenting with various additives to decrease emissions and increase efficiency. “We hope to get down to 60 gallons per megawatt hour,” Crimmins says.

When’s poultry power coming to the rest of Houston? Well, there’s that pesky nitrogen-oxide-that-becomes-ozone emissions problem. We hope they’ll be able to keep that French fry smell out of the AC, too.

Photo: xgray‘s childhood home in Oak Ridge North