News and information about Biodiesel & alternative fuels.


NYTimes on SVO

The New York Times just posted an article about Brent Baker, a guy who drives an old school bus powered by SVO (straight veggie oil).

"Mr. Baker's interest in grease began in 1995, when he was traveling the country with an acting troupe and discovered that "the lion's share of the money we were raising went straight to Shell." The acting troupe was of the sort that staged environmentally conscious, anti-corporate political sketches. It seemed to contradict its mission to spend its money in support of Big Oil."

"As the story goes, they came across two women somewhere east of San Francisco who were cooking up a blend of grease and diesel with some cheesecloth and a Bunsen burner on the side of the road. "They said, 'Yeah, we're making biodiesel," he recalled. Mr. Baker was immediately hooked."

A Google search on Brent & biodiesel turns up a Salon article about him from March, 2003.


Welcome, BoingBoing readers! I wrote in to them after seeing this post about a biodiesel adventure in México:
"In Mexico City, a group of ecologists are wandering from taqueria to taqueria in search of waste cooking oil to fuel an old school bus for an environmental awareness tour from California to Costa Rica."
Turns out they have a site and blog of their own!
"In 2003 we made the firstever journey from California through Central America on buses runningon 100% vegetable oil. The two-bus tour ran through California, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and carried a 25-person team of sustainability experts, eco-technologists, farmers, performance and media artists."


Daryl Hannah: Biodiesel Fan
Hollywood actress DARYL HANNAH insists millions of people could follow her example of driving a car fuelled by vegetable oil - they just need a diesel engine.

The KILL BILL beauty, based primarily in Colorado, lives an environmentally-friendly existence with a solar-powered home. And when she leaves the confines of her house, she drives around in her 1983 EL CAMINO, which has had no special work done to it to get it running on bio-diesel.

She says, "Basically, in 1900 at the World Fair, RUDOLPH DIESEL invented the diesel engine to run on peanut oil so farmers could grow their own fuel. So any diesel engine can still run on vegetable oil. It doesn't cause greenhouse gases and has lower carbon dioxide and all the other emissions.
[via MattH]


Biodiesel at Universities

If you're interested in biodiesel use on University campuses, check out the University of Colorado at Boulder's CU Biodiesel site. From their About page:
"In the fall semester of 2002, 5 students from a CU engineering class designed and created a biodiesel processor. With this asset, CU Biodiesel was formed to implement biodiesel at the University. CU Biodiesel worked with campus officials to produce and test biodiesel made from waste cafeteria grease. In March 2003 one campus Buff Bus began running on 100% biodiesel. Later that spring the students of CU overwhelmingly voted on a referenda ballot to fund CU Biodiesel 49 cents per student per semester for four years in order to implement biodiesel on campus and in the surrounding community."

"CU Biodiesel has worked and continues to work with the City of Boulder and the University to switch their fuel of choice to biodiesel. All of the 13 diesel busses in CU's fleet now run on either 100% or 20% biodiesel. The City has made significant advances toward a similar change. In September the first public biodiesel pump in the Rocky Mountain region was opened with the help of CU Biodiesel."
[via a post to PaloAltoBiodiesel]

ChangeThis: "The Answer is Biodiesel"

Seth Godin's has a section on biodiesel, which includes a free, 24-page pdf article by Michael Briggs of the UNH Biodiesel Group. The article discusses research the Group has done on Algae Ponds as biodiesel-producers, as well as some hydrogen economy myth-busting and a bunch of raw facts & numbers.

It's an excellent read — download it here.

[via Suhit Andula of WorldIsGreen]

South Africa (followup)

I recently asked if anyone had info about biodiesel in South Africa. Simon Wilson (simon.wilson [at] replied with the following via email:
There's a good deal of interest in biodiesel in SA at the moment, but very few actual users it seems.

Here are a few useful URLS:
The City of Cape Town has published a state of the environment report that includes a section on renewable energy in the transport sector.

My interest is in seeing how to get hold of biodiesel here, and if its not available, why on earth is it not?!


Saab BioPower

Saab just announced a new 'BioPower-fuled' car, which runs on ethanol:
"In Sweden, Saab 9-5 BioPower customers will be able to use E85 fuel (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) which costs about 25 per cent less per liter at the pumps. They will also be exempt from projected city congestion and parking charges. In addition, company car drivers will qualify for a 20 per cent reduction in car benefit tax."
[via Treehugger]


Biodiesel in Barcelona

Biodiesel at the pump

Via my sister comes this photo advertising biodiesel at-the-pump, near the Salvador Dalí museum in Barcelona.



Last week I heard from Adam Stein of TerraPass via email:
"The idea behind TerraPass is simple. TerraPass allows individual consumers to tap into the growing market for carbon emission credits traded by large companies such as DuPont and IBM. These markets are structured in the same way as as the markets for sulfur emissions that were so successful in reducing acid rain."
I promptly read through their entire site — the concept is fascinating. Their FAQ sums it up nicely:
Isn't buying a TerraPass essentially just a donation to preserve the environment?

Let's put that question in another context. Is cleaning up after your dog essentially just a donation? Is picking up your trash in the woods essentially just a donation? Cars make a mess; even if not as visibly as your dog. Clean up after your car.

Does TerraPass physically modify my car?

No. TerraPass is a market mechanism that tips the economic balance in favor of efficiency and renewable energy. This mechanism results in exactly counterbalancing the carbon emissions of your driving, without modifying your car physically.


Trucking fleets?

I received email from a BiodieselBlog reader inquiring about trucking fleets that use biodiesel — the reader is a truck driver and is interested in driving for one of these fleets. Does anybody know of any, or know where we could locate more details about biodiesel fleets?

I posted about this back in April, but unfortunately the NBB's Fleet Report URL is broken.

Some quick Googling revealed a few sites:
If you have any more info, leave a comment.


Documenting a Biodiesel Business

If you're interested in finding out what goes on behind the scenes at a small-scale biodiesel business, check out Yokayo Biofuels' weblog at LiveJournal. (newsreader users can subscribe to their feed, too). They're based in Ukiah, California, just a bit north of San Francisco, and supply biodiesel products and services to the Northern California region. From their company site:
"Today's fledgling biofuel industry is a long way from being fully sustainable. It is the goal of Yokayo Biofuels to help this industry evolve and expand, ibncreasing general awareness about fuel alternatives and their production. By keeping our business small scale and local we will be able to focus on empowering individuals, farms, and businesses in our community with the information, equipment, products, and services necessary. We will strive to offer the most sustainable products at the best prices possible."
Recently they've posted a number of insightful entries, revealing some of the difficulties in getting a biodiesel business off the ground:
"Now, every load is delayed, or communication is lost and it's not in the right place, or something happens and I end up calling every supplier in the west. It's a broken record. I've gotten good, high quality fuel for a nice long period now, but I'm tired of running out. One answer is more storage, so we can stock up. We'll certainly work on that. It would be different if direct relationships with producers were easier. They used to be. Now they all want to deal with big petroleum companies."
They also discuss some of the finer details of the various vehicles and components they're using:
"This afternoon, we received shipment of 100 custom-made Viton gaskets that are the appropriate size and shape to replace those annoying rubber ones that keep our filter housings sealed at the top. This is only really meaningful to folks who use our National Spencer ("Zee-Line") filters on their fuel storage. But we have a lot of them out there, and sell more all the time. The rubber gaskets have been a pain in the neck because they swell and make it very difficult to unscrew the housing to change the filter."
On top of all this, they're a closely-knit, family-oriented business:
"Austin's going to show up in a little while to perform his first day of work here. 5 hours. It takes me back to when I started work at my dad's CPA firm when I was around Austin's age. I did data entry. Austin will do mostly cleanup and shop maintenance, as well as filling people up. We'll see how it goes. I work with my wife, my dad, and now my brother."
In blogging all they're going through, they're creating a wonderful biodiesel-related resource on the web. Check 'em out!