In California, the U.S. Navy, Biodiesel Industries and Aerojet announced that they have successfully demonstrated their ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System) project — a highly automated, portable biodiesel production unit that can be controlled from a remote location.

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 US Navy is the world’s largest single customer for diesel fuel.

The ARIES vision is to access low-cost, remote feedstocks with up to hundreds of portable biodiesel production units controlled by one data and process control center.

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.  There, the ARIES system will undergo further demonstration and validation leading to integration with more complex systems.

Biodiesel Industries first partnered with the US Navy in 2003, when Naval Base Ventura County announced plans to recycle used cooking oil and use a modular biodiesel processing unit to convert the oil to biodiesel.

In 2006, Biodiesel Industries received a patent for its biodiesel modular production unit. At the time of the patent grant, Biodiesel Industries said that conventional biodiesel production systems were based upon large, fixed base plants dedicated to a single feedstock such as soy, which required expensive capitalization and extensive on site fabrication and construction. These large plants could only be sited in specific locations, were difficult to expand or relocate, and presented permitting hurdles.

By contrast, an MPU plant could be located near a source of raw materials, such as a government fleet, with units produced at a central location and then deployed to the area of operation, compared to the higher costs associated with on-site construction in remote locations. Biodiesel Industries mobile units can produce from 3 Mgy to 20 Mgy.