Monday, November 05, 2007From a story in the Oshkosh Northwestern:
STRATFORD — What will the fuel of the future look like and where will it come from?
Prepare for a variety of fuels from many sources, says Wisconsin entrepreneur Joe Van Groll whose start-up renewable energy company produces both ethanol and bio-diesel without a single corn kernel or soybean in sight.
The Grand Meadow Energy LLC near Stratford trucks in waste from surrounding cheese plants and raw canola oil from a nearby farm.
"There is no one silver bullet," Van Groll said in a press release. "The silver bullets are already out there — taking waste streams and turning them into profit centers."
Van Groll bought the Grand Meadow Coop cheese plant when it closed more than three years ago, converted it and with $29,000 from the state's Agricultural Development and Diversification grant program, began testing what is now a trade secret. Today, customers buy a license to use the yeast-based technology he developed with help from the grant.
As concerns about the environmental and societal impact of corn-based ethanol rise, he lists the advantages of his method.
"I don't use energy; I put it back on the grid. I don't slurp up water; I purify and recycle it. I don't push up food costs; I dispose of waste," he said.
Van Groll is a 13-year veteran of the state's cheese industry, and his process focuses on permeate, a by-product of cheese making. But Van Groll says the technology can be used on a variety of waste streams and he sees no end in sight to its application.