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New business expected to fuel Watsonville’s economy

Modified: Thursday, Dec 6th, 2012

Steel workers assemble several large storage tanks at the new North Star Biofuels on West Beach Street Tuesday. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).

WATSONVILLE — A fleet of technicians and workers are putting the final touches on a business at 860 West Beach Street that will use a revolutionary process to produce 300,000 gallons per week of “ultra-pure” biodiesel fuel.

Several giant, 100,000-gallon tanks have been built on the property, and the warehouse at 860 W. Beach St. that once held Graniterock’s truck shop has undergone a massive renovation.

Michael Doyle, chief technology director for North Star Biofuels, LLC., said that the final pieces of equipment will begin shipping next week, and expects work to begin within a few months.

“We should be making fuel in the first week of February,” he said.

Approved in April by the Watsonville Planning Commission, the company will use animal fat and other feedstock to produce the biofuel using a refining process that occurs within a vacuum-sealed system that uses no water and produces no odor or emissions and little noise.

“There’s nobody else on Earth that uses this process,” he said.

Invented two years ago, the refining process has been tested and proved at the company’s pilot plant in Redwood City.

Doyle said the company plans on building four other plants throughout the state once the Watsonville plant has been launched.

The company will employ approximately 15 people. Doyle said he is considering starting an internship program with local colleges for students pursuing careers in science.

For the complete article see the 12-06-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-06-2012 paper.

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