Hawaii Veggie Fuel

Hawaii Biodiesel

Few people associate clean transportation with the smell of french fries sizzling in hot grease, but used vegetable oil can be converted into an alternative fuel with many environmental advantages.

In 1995, the Hawaiian island of Maui became concerned about environmental and health problems resulting from restaurant grease clogging its landfill. Operators complained that static pile fires were becoming more frequent, and the oil could leak into groundwater. Robert King, owner of King Diesel on Maui, spearheaded the formation of Pacific Biodiesel (PacBio) in 1996.

PacBio receives used oil directly from pump trucks that service restaurants and hotels, and the company converts this into 150,000 gallons of premium biodiesel each year. This fuel, made totally from recycled cooking oil, is used in generators, commercial diesel equipment, boats and vehicles. More than 40 tons of used cooking oil is recycled each month. Customers range from private businesses to farmers who fill their five-gallon buckets with fuel for their tractors.

Biodiesel is safe for use in all conventional diesel engines, says King, and requires no engine modifications. Torgue, horsepower, and fuel economy characteristics are similar to regular diesel fuel. Engine durability may even be increased because lower sulfur content results in more lubrication. Consisting of almost 10 percent oxygen, biodiesel is a naturally “oxygenated” fuel, which results in cleaner burning and less pollution.

Biodiesel is also less harsh on marine environments, which is important since recreational boats consume about 95 million gallons of diesel annually. One tour boat business in Kauai, Hawaii is running a fleet of “veggie vessels.” Doug Phillips, co-owner of Na Pali Eco Adventures says, “To the best of our knowledge, our vessels are the most environmentally friendly powerboats in the world.”

Because biodiesel is more expensive to make than conventional fossil fuel, it is sometimes mixed with cheaper standard diesels. Tailpipe emissions are reduced even when used as a blend: total hydrocarbons are reduced by 47 percent, particulate matter by 31 percent and carbon monoxide by 21 percent. “Most users have good intentions with regard to the environment and would use this fuel exclusively if it didn’t cost more,” says Tom Harrowby, operations manager for PacBio. “We would like to see more stations dispensing it at a lower price.”

Na Pali Eco Adventures: www.napali.com
Tom Harrowby:
PacBio: www.biodiesel.com

FROM our Content Partner, E Magazine

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