News / USA

Company Takes Biodiesel From Field to Fryer to Fuel

Multimedia

In the worldwide search for alternative energy sources, vegetable oil is becoming an increasingly popular substitute for crude oil.  

Just a 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C., one company is working to take oil from the canola plant from the field to the fryer to the fuel tank, and do it all locally.

Company executives say it's a system that could work anywhere in the world.

At Cork Street Tavern in Winchester, Virginia, kitchen manager Chris Bennett cooks his freshly-fried potato chips in canola oil from Shenandoah Agricultural Products, a small company just a few kilometers away.

"It's nice to help out hardworking local people," he says.

After the restaurant has fried all it can with the oil, Shenandoah has plans for it.

"They're going to turn it into biodiesel," says Bennett.

Plant power

Biodiesel is diesel fuel made from plants, not petroleum. Shenandoah runs its farm equipment with it.  

"Humans and everything that goes on are just part of a bigger picture," says Diane Kearns, who runs the company. "And so, if we can do things sustainably, environmentally, that's really a huge help. Everything has to work economically, too."

Farming is on the decline in this area as the suburbs gradually encroach. Kearns wants to find a way to keep local agriculture in business while helping the environment. She thinks biofuel crops might help, but is not in it for the money.

"The reason for doing this is not to make a million dollars," says Kearns. "The reason to do this is to empower local ag and prove you can be sustainable with this kind of stuff."

Full circle

Biodiesel is a growing worldwide industry but Kearns and her partners are different in that they do it all. Kearns grows canola and then her partner, Josh Leidhecker, makes it into the fryer oil they sell to local restaurants.

Then they take the used oil back and turn it into biodiesel fuel in a system Leidhecker designed and built himself.

"I am a backwoods engineer," Leidhecker says. "I don't have any formal training in engineering. I've always just been intuitive in figuring things out."

Mobile refinery

He even figured out a way to put it all inside the back of a tractor-trailer.

"We wanted to design a system that was truly mobile, that we could take to the consumer and produce the fuel for them on site," Leidhecker adds.

Since it is mobile, and the chemical process is simple, he says it could work anywhere in the world where farmers have an oilseed crop.

According to Kearns, the system is economical, too. Their biodiesel costs about the same to make as the regular diesel fuel they buy.

"With a little bit of profit margin in there, the cost is coming out pretty darn close," Kearns says, "which I'm really psyched about."

They can even sell their vegetable oil for less than their competitors, which means kitchen manager Bennett is pretty excited, too.

"I think it's a great idea, especially with gas costing more than milk now," Bennett says.  "It's going to save us money, save them money, and help the environment as well."

All that, and help local farmers, too.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs