Vegawatt plugs in grease-fired restaurant generator

For discussing the modifications needed for diesel vehicles to run with 2 tank veggie oil conversions.

Moderators: SunWizard, coachgeo

Vegawatt plugs in grease-fired restaurant generator

Postby John Galt » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:24 pm

Out of the Fryer and into the Vegawatt: Used Vegetable Oil Helps Power Restaurant
By Leslie Guevarra, GreenerBuildings
Published January 6, 2009

BOYLSTON, Mass. -- A Massachusetts firm says its new device called the Vegawatt can help restaurants save money by converting used vegetable oil from fryers into fuel to produce electricity and hot water.

The Owl Power Company of Boylston, Mass., hopes its Vegawatt (pronounced with a soft "g," like word vegetable) will become the next big thing among restaurants and other businesses with commercial or industrial kitchens that use fryers.

President and CEO James Peret, the founder of Owl Power Company, engineered and developed the Vegawatt after batting around the idea of using waste oil at its source and devising a way to make that possible, according to Ben Prentice, the firm's vice president of sales.

"He figured out a way to create a direct benefit for restaurants," said Prentice, a veteran of the hospitality industry who had operated the first green fast food restaurant in the country. "Restaurants operate on a very low margin and the Vegawatt presents an exciting opportunity to save huge money."

The Vegawatt. Courtesy of Owl Power Company
The Vegawatt waste oil cogeneration system is six feet high, six feet wide and about two feet deep.

It's designed to be installed outside a building and hooks up to the building's electric system through an electrical cable. The Vegawatt also has a hot water feed and return system.

Details on the workings of the Vegawatt can be found here.

Instead of having used fryer oil hauled away, it's placed in the Vegawatt, which cleans it through an automated four-step process, then converts the waste oil into fuel that's used to produce electricity and hot water.

The system provides about 10 to 25 percent of the power used by a restaurant, creating a savings in energy costs while recycling waste oil in a process that is nontoxic and nonflammable and produces no liquid byproducts, the company says.
The workings of the Vegawatt. Courtesy of Owl Power Company

The first Vegawatt is in operation at Finz Seafood & Grill in Dedham, Mass., where owner George Carey says utility costs make up the greatest line-item expense for his business. Carey told GreenBiz he happened to hear of the Vegawatt last spring at a green restaurant conference, where he sat a table with a principal from the Owl Power Company.

"It's working great," an enthusiastic Carey said of the Vegawatt that was installed early December.

Previously, Finz had its waste oil hauled away to be recycled into biofuel.

"This is a better, more green option — the oil never leaves the building," Carey said. "We're very pleased with the impact, or lack of impact (on the environment)."
Finz Seafood & Grill restaurant in Dedham, Mass., uses the first Vegawatt Image from Finz Seafood & Grill

The restaurant in Dedham and its sister location in Salem emphasize locally grown produce and locally caught seafood, and are always looking for ways to reduce waste, recycle and use energy more efficiently, according to Carey. And while much of its menu is grilled seafood, chips or fries are popular items, he said.

"So this was just a layup for us," Carey said of putting the Vegawatt to work at the Dedham restaurant, which opened in 2007 and is the newer of the two. "It's not hard for a restaurant operator to use whatsoever."

According to Prentice, the basic Vegawatt, a 5 kilowatt unit, costs $22,000, is eligible for a 10 percent tax credit and has an estimated return on investment of two to three years for a business processing 50 to 80 gallons of waste cooking oil a week. For example, if a restaurant used the system to process at least 50 gallons of oil a week the payback period would be about three years; at 80 gallons per week the projected payback would be in two years.

The firm is developing 12 to 15 kilowatt units capable of processing 140 to 180 gallons a week, Prentice said.
John Galt
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:17 pm
Location: Coldest North America

Postby coachgeo » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:29 pm

thanks for this
Life; It's all in the Balance

Posts: 570
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:46 am
Location: Southern OH

Postby David » Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:02 pm

What happened to the first edition of this post?
The info shown now is totally different to what it was before?

"January 5, 2009 7:56 AM PST
Vegawatt plugs in grease-fired restaurant generator
Posted by Martin LaMonica

In a sign that waste may be a favored energy source this year, a small company on Monday said it has successfully plugged a vegetable oil generator into the electricity grid at a Boston-area restaurant.

The Vegawatt system, developed by Owl Power Systems, burns used-up vegetable oil from restaurant fryers to make electricity.

The Vegwatt generator burns vegetable oil from restaurant fryers to make electricity on-site.
(Credit: Owl Power Systems)

The company, which has been self-funded until now, expects to close a series A venture funding round later this week, according to Owl Power Systems CEO James Peret.

A 6-kilowatt machine has been online for about a month at Finz Seafood & Grill in Dedham, Mass. It's about half the size of the normal vegetable oil dumpster, at 6 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 2 feet deep.

The Vegawatt doesn't produce nearly as much electricity as the restaurant consumes, but that's by design. Built with a relatively small diesel engine, it's sized to consume all the vegetable oil that a typical restaurant produces.

"Our philosophy is to make the maximum use of the oil available. We could go to a bigger system, but once you start talking about trucking oil to fuel this generator, the economics go out the window," Peret said on Monday. "Why burn more dinosaurs to move oil when you can install one machine outside your back door, and burn it there?"

The test at the seafood restaurant found that the Vegawatt burned all the fryer oil it produced and cut the electricity cost by about $800 a month, or about 15 percent of its total electricity bill. The machine can also be used to make hot water.

Customers lease the product through a third-party leasing company for $435 a month, which includes two years of maintenance. That means that the unit generates thousands of dollars a year for restaurants, said Peret.

Rather than dump oil into a waste bin, restaurant workers put it into the Vegawatt machine. Normally, a restaurant needs to pay to have the oil hauled.

Since it's burning oil, the generator creates carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants. But because of the smaller engine, and because it's burning vegetable oil rather that petroleum-based oil, it pollutes less than traditional diesel generators do.

Noise has not been a big concern, Peret said. "I've seen people take cell phone calls next to this machine when it was running at full power," he said.

After securing financing, the company plans to set up a manufacturing facility in Massachusetts and have about 150 units installed by next year."

Doing the maths in my head, either electricity in the states is hugely more expensive than it is here or I have a lot of trouble getting the numbers to add up.
Maybe that's why the press release has changed?

I am working towards building my own induction motor/veg powered Generator setup and having done the numbers, there is no way you would bother from an economic POV!

Here, Domestic electricity is under .15C Kw/H. Commercial power is much cheaper. Taking the domestic rate of .15C, $800 worth of power is 5333 Kw/H. A 6 Kw/H generator would take 888 hours to generate this power. There is only about 720 hours in a month so electricity in the states at the commercial rate must be a heck of a lot more expensive than here to be able to make these things return the profits that are being touted here.

It would also be doubtful if the thing were going to be run 24/7. I imagine large place's may, possibly be pulling 6KW when they are closed with refrigeration and perhaps lighting etc but I don't think most places would. Unless the gennys have a grid feed system built in and can be run in the early hours of the morning etc, I cant see how they are going to give the returns reported unless as I say, electricity is a whole load more expensive there than it is here or I have miscalculated somewhere.

As there is also a small diesel engine being used, I'd have to wonder about its longevity being run for so many hours month after month. I know diesels last a lot better than petrol engines but the small ones that run at higher speed and not like listers that run forever with an occasional oil change.

I also notice the figure of 50-80 gallons a week of oil used. The only places that would go through that much waste oil here may be large clubs. Is it common or even normal for restaurants there to go through 200-300L of oil per week in the US? I know the population is incomparable to here but that seems like an amazing amount of oil to be throwing out each week.

I also wonder what the oil requirements are. I'll bet there is some sort of pre-filtering to be done before the oil can be put in the Genny tank and it wouldn't be near as easy as made out here or just pouring the old oil in. With the qty of oil used, there could be some significant staff time used in just doing that as well as some expensive rented space to be set aside.

I have my doubts as to the viability of these things though and if I were motivated to go down that road, I'd sure as heck be leasing one with them doing the maintenance for the first 2 years before I laid down the cash to buy one.

Of course if these things somehow are profitable and will go the distance, they could put a huge dent in the oil supply for veggers and collectors alike.
Luckily they would not be viable here.

I don't give a damn about what might or could happen until a significant group of people can tell me it HAS happened to them.
Until then, it's just more endless gloom and doom Veg folk law.
Posts: 333
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:12 am
Location: Sydney Australia

Postby John Galt » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:26 pm

What happened to the first edition of this post?

Nothing, it's still where I posted it

The info shown now is totally different to what it was before?

No it's not totally different.
John Galt
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:17 pm
Location: Coldest North America

Postby John Galt » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:28 pm

Owl Power Announces Installation and Operation of World's First Clean Energy System for Restaurants

Posted 05 January 2009 @ 08:30 am EST ... system.htm

BOYLSTON, Mass., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Owl Power Company, developer andmanufacturer of clean energy cogeneration systems, has announced Vegawatt(TM),an innovative new cogeneration system for restaurants and food servicefacilities. Vegawatt(TM) uses waste vegetable oil from any food serviceoperation as a fuel to generate on-site electricity and hot water, saving therestaurant thousands of dollars as well as providing a clean, renewable sourceof energy. Vegawatt is installed and has been running since early December atFinz Seafood and Grill (
"As a restaurant operator I am constantly looking for more efficientmethods, and especially for costs-saving measures," said George Carey, ownerof Finz Seafood & Grill in Dedham, Massachusetts, the first establishment toinstall the Vegawatt(TM) system. "My largest line-item expense is runawayutility costs. The Vegawatt(TM) system enables me to significantly reduce myenergy costs, generate clean energy on-site, and very importantly, reduce theheavy energy footprint of my restaurant."

The Vegawatt(TM) utilizes waste vegetable oil (WVO) from a restaurant deepfryer to prepare a non-toxic fuel. This fuel is used to produce electricityand hot water, which reduces electricity and natural gas purchases. Any foodservice location with fryers can use the Vegawatt(TM) system to save $800monthly. It is a fully automated system that requires no intervention ormaintenance by restaurant staff, no additional chemicals, and produces noliquid byproducts.

"The Vegawatt(TM) is quite impressive," stated Peter Christie, Presidentof the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. "It is a breakthrough intechnology that will allow for a better environment while making use of oilthat would normally be thrown out."

Most restaurants pay to dispose of their used cooking oil. Some ownershave begun to receive compensation for this oil, typically $0.10 to $0.25 pergallon. Vegawatt(TM) owners will achieve a value of $2.55 per gallon. Newgreen energy incentives and Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's) willincrease the payback to the restaurant.

"As businesses everywhere are taking a hard look at their energy costs andtheir environmental impact, Vegawatt(TM) enables restaurant owners to helpthemselves and the planet at the same time," stated James Peret, President andCEO of Owl Power Company.

About Owl Power Company

Owl Power Company is a Massachusetts-based company that manufactures,installs, and operates clean energy cogeneration systems. The company'sflagship product, Vegawatt(TM), is an automated, combined heat and power (CHP)system that utilizes waste vegetable oil as its feedstock. For moreinformation, visit

SOURCE Owl Power Company
John Galt
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:17 pm
Location: Coldest North America

Postby David » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:19 pm

John Galt wrote:
The info shown now is totally different to what it was before?

No it's not totally different.

Ok, perhaps bad choice of words.
Lets just say there are a number of significant differences. :D
I'm not inferring that is your fault in any way, I just noticed a difference in some points I thought were significant like one story says the thing is 5 Kw and the other says it's 6.

It seems the different releases of the story are changing or being changed depending on who is running the story, the time it came out and what fact they choose to include or not.

I see now it is being touted as a co-gen system which would add to the value of the unit especially if the hot water could be used for space heating in cold climates but somehow. I still have my reservations about the thing.

It could present a problem right out of left field for the veg oil crowd if these things are taken up by restaurants in any number as the target market for the units is the places with the biggest output 's and most likely, some of the best oil.
With the ROI times being quoted, I'd certainly be holding back for some time to see how the things held up and then talking to some people that had them installed rather than rushing in before a good number had been tested in practical use for at least 12 months.

I saw someone on another forum where this was also posted commented on the fact it passed emissions standards on WVO and they were not aware that anyone had been able to achieve that yet.
I think something that is also very interesting is the fact they would have seemed to also have worked out a way to run a stationary engine of this type logging big hours on WVO without the other problems normally associated with this.

If they have been able to achieve these things then the way they have done it would be valuable technology to veggers. If they haven't, then the things are a foregone conclusion from the start.

It would also be interesting to know if these things are set up purely for SVO perhaps with some electric grid powered heaters for start up or if they use diesel in some sort of cleaning cycle as well as starting?

I don't give a damn about what might or could happen until a significant group of people can tell me it HAS happened to them.
Until then, it's just more endless gloom and doom Veg folk law.
Posts: 333
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:12 am
Location: Sydney Australia

Postby John Galt » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:52 am

To possibly help clear any confusion, I posted an article from the company that makes the unit. It's message number 5 from the top. The link to the company website will provide a direct source for technical answers.
John Galt
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:17 pm
Location: Coldest North America

Return to 2 Tank veggie oil conversion and General discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests