The Biofuels industry focuses on biofuels,fuels produced from renewable organic material, replacing fossil fuels and can reduce negative aspects of the production and use of fossil fuels, including conventional and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollutant emissions, exhaustible resource depletion, and dependence on unstable foreign suppliers. Biofuels can also increase agricultural revenue.

Water and wastewater treatment requirements within biofuels have their distinct challenges and as new biofulel production feedstocks and processes continue to be developed, it is important that the company you choose to help you overcome those challenges have both a proven reliability as well as a constant drive to innovate.  Aquatech has over 40 years of experience solving the world’s most challenging water and wastewater treatment challenges all over the globe. Treatment solutions are rarely standard but highly customized. An expert customized design allows identification of integrated treatment paths that increase cost-effectiveness and efficiency. With a long list of innovative processes, designs and technology, Aquatech is uniquely capable of addressing the needs of biofuel facilities.  In particular, Aquatech excels at providing solutions with:

  1. A reliable and flexible capital investment approach
  2. DBOOM Solutions that eliminate the majority of risks associated with wastewater treatment
  3. Reduced carbon intensity wherever possible
  4. A full scale labratory for testing capabilities
  5. Wide range of treatment techology options for customized and efficient design


  • Anaerobic treatment and Biogas Generation – EGSB and AnMBR
  • Biological treatment – MBR and MBBR
  • Fluidized Pellet Reactor
  • Ultrafiltration Membrane – CeraSoft
  • Wastewater recovery – HERO and ARRO
  • Zero Liquid Discharge – ZLD


A Biofuels Case Study

This project is the Sierra BioFuels Plant located in Storey County, Nevada, approximately 20 miles east of Reno. Sierra is expected to process approximately 175,000 tons of MSW feedstock annually, creating 11 million gallons per year of renewable synthetic crude oil, or “syncrude,” that will be processed by Marathon Petroleum into transportation fuel.  Aquatech was chosen to provide a Zero Liquid Discharge system (ZLD) on a Design, Build Operate, Maintain (DBOM) Model.

Carbon Recycling & Renewable Fuel Industry

Whatever the feed stock is, carbon recycling plays a integral role in reducing GHGs and improving energy sustainability. However, their water footprint should be also considered as a critical part of the environmental impact which they aim to minimize. Depending on the chemical process and the nature of the original feedstock, most of the carbon-recycling facilities generate wastewater that needs to be handled. Typically these wastewater streams pose technically challenges in a context that are diverse and complex. Aquatech has the capabilities to explore different treatment paths and to identify the most beneficial for its customers.



First generation biofuels are made from sugar crops (sugarcane, sugarbeet), starch crops (corn, sorghum), oilseed crops (soybean, canola), and animal fats. Sugar and starch crops are converted through a fermentation process to form bioalcohols, including ethanol, butanol, and propanol. Oils and animal fats can be processed into biodiesel. Ethanol is the most widely used bioalcohol fuel. Most vehicles can use gasoline-ethanol blends containing up to 10 percent ethanol (by volume). Flexible fuel vehicles can use E85, a gasoline-ethanol blend containing up to 85 percent ethanol. There were more than 2300 E85 fueling stations located throughout the US in 2013 (US Department of Energy).

Second generation biofuels, or cellulosic biofuels, are made from cellulose, which is available from non-food crops and waste biomass such as corn stover, corncobs, straw, wood, and wood byproducts. Third generation biofuels use algae as a feedstock. Commercial cellulosic biofuel production began in the US in 2013, while algae biofuels are not yet produced commercially.



Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is a renewable fuel that can be made from various plant materials, collectively known as “biomass.” Ethanol is an alcohol used as a blending agent with gasoline to increase octane and cut down carbon monoxide and other smog-causing emissions.

The most common blend of ethanol is E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline). Some vehicles, called flexible fuel vehicles, are designed to run on E85 (a gasoline-ethanol blend containing 51%–83% ethanol, depending on geography and season), an alternative fuel with much higher ethanol content than regular gasoline. Roughly 97% of gasoline in the United States contains some ethanol.

Most ethanol is made from plant starches and sugars, but scientists are continuing to develop technologies that would allow for the use of cellulose and hemicellulose, the non-edible fibrous material that constitutes the bulk of plant matter. In fact, several commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries are currently operational in the United States.

The common method for converting biomass into ethanol is called fermentation. During fermentation, microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and yeast) metabolize plant sugars and produce ethanol.



Biodiesel is a liquid fuel produced from renewable sources, such as new and used vegetable oils and animal fats and is a cleaner-burning replacement for petroleum-based diesel fuel. Biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable and is produced by combining alcohol with vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking grease.

Like petroleum-derived diesel, biodiesel is used to fuel compression-ignition (diesel) engines. Biodiesel can be blended with petroleum diesel in any percentage, including B100 (pure biodiesel) and, the most common blend, B20 (a blend containing 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel).



Petroleum fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, contain a complex mixture of hydrocarbons (molecules of hydrogen and carbon), which are burned to produce energy. Hydrocarbons can also be produced from biomass sources through a variety of biological and thermochemical processes. Biomass-based renewable hydrocarbon fuels are nearly identical to the petroleum-based fuels they are designed to replace—so they’re compatible with today’s engines, pumps, and other infrastructure.

Currently one commercial scale facility (World Energy in Paramount, California) is producing renewable diesel from waste fats, oils, and greases.  Several companies are interested in either retrofitting existing brown-field sites or building green-field facilities for renewable diesel and jet in the US.