Oh man, that makes me think of my 6th grade jazz dance recital where I wore a red plastic jacket with a lightening bolt and danced to “Greased Lightening.” Not exactly the highlight of my performance career. LOL.
But this is not about middle school performances. This is about some serious business people- I’m talking grease! Well more accurately I’m talking biofuel and how each and every one of us can take part in the cleaner fuel revolution. No, you don’t have to drive a biodiesel car, in fact you don’t have to look any further than your kitchen for this positive action!
The CFO of our nearby biofuel producer, General Biodiesel, lives in my area and recently our waste transfer station set up one of his company’s waste food oil collection bins. Now my neighbors and I can bring our used oil and grease and have it turned into biofuel! We are one of about a dozen public collection stations in the Puget Sound area, in addition to thousands of restaurants and businesses from which General Biodiesel collects used oils.
Why is turning used cooking oil into biodiesel a good thing for our climate? According to an EPA study cited by General Biodiesel, biodiesel refined from used cooking oil is one of the lowest carbon fuels available, with an 85% reduction in lifecycle CO2 emissions compared to conventional petroleum diesel. Even compared to many other plant-based biofuels, cooking waste oil is a better alternative compared to creating biofuel from crop plants. Corn-based ethanols by comparison have a higher price tag for production (well, before the massive ethanol subsidies, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of cornworms) and a higher carbon footprint. Biofuels are biodegradable, relatively non-toxic, and can be blended with conventional oils or used alone as biodiesel for nearly any type of diesel engine.
Also, biofuel from waste oil is reusing a waste product that would otherwise likely be trashed. You shouldn’t pour waste oil down your drain, and you have to be careful about composting it, especially in backyard compost, as high amounts of the stuff can attract pests. It’s often recommended by local governments that you put your used grease into a jar and then into your garbage to be sent to the landfill, where it takes up space in our quickly filling landfills and sits around contributing to landfill greenhouse gas emissions. So how about at least giving it a second life by turning it back into a new energy source?
Biofuels are not without some disadvantages: biodiesel can have relatively high NOx emissions and therefore are contributors to smog. They do tend to be more expensive than conventional petroleum products, and biodiesel has somewhat lower energy content (~10% less) than standard diesel, which means you burn a bit more of it to get the same output. However, as I have discussed above, biofuels represent a better alternative to conventional petroleum products, and reusing waste vegetable oils is one of the best options out there for waste stream reuse and carbon emission reduction among the fuel sources out on the market.
Next time you fry up some chicken or wonder what to do with the remains of that bacon and egg breakfast, see if there’s a waste oil collection station near you that can give that grease a second life! Word.