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Thread: Fill ’er up with biodiesel cooked up in Asheville

  1. #1
    beltman713 Guest

    Fill ’er up with biodiesel cooked up in Asheville

    Fill ’er up with biodiesel cooked up in Asheville
    Veggie oil fuel flows from new pump

    By Dale Neal
    published: July 16, 2005 6:00 am

    WEST ASHEVILLE — Drivers who worry about the haze settling over the mountains or the nation’s dependence on foreign oil now have a choice for a fuel that doesn’t come from the deserts of the Middle East, and may be as close as the restaurant where they ate last night.

    Starting today, owners of diesel engine automobiles and trucks can pump biodiesel, an alternative fuel made locally in Asheville, at the Gas-Up in West Asheville.

    “The future looks bright for biodiesel,” said Brian Winslett, a director of the member-owned cooperative Blue Ridge Biofuels. Winslett and other members believe biodiesel is the cheapest and most promising alternative to the world’s shrinking supply of petroleum fuel.

    Blue Ridge began more than two years ago as the Asheville Biodiesel Cooperative. The members learned how to create fuel from leftover vegetable oils collected from the deep fryers of area eateries. In December, the co-op got an $8,400 grant through the North Carolina State Energy Office to subsidize biodiesel for the public.

    After he first learned about biodiesel last year, John Burdett joined the 100-member cooperative and bought his own diesel-engine truck.

    The UNC Asheville student thinks many in the area will soon catch on to the alternative fuel.

    “A lot of people will pay more for the peace of mind. You’re reducing your emissions. You’re not relying on foreign imported oil. You’re not lining the pockets of large oil companies,” Burdett said. “Biodiesel makes sense on so many levels. There’s not just one good reason.”

    Paying for that peace of mind does cost more than conventional fuel. Winslett estimated a gallon of biodiesel will sell for around $3, or about 50 cents higher than regular diesel. Since it is produced locally, biodiesel won’t be subject to the same ups-and-downs as the world oil market, but the price per gallon could fluctuate because of supply and demand, Winslett said.

    The upside for biodiesel users is a 70 percent reduction in emissions. Biodiesel also acts as a lubricant, cleaning out the sulfur and other deposits left by regular diesel, greatly extending the life of an engine.

    Diesel-engine vehicles already get better mileage than those with gas engines, making the higher priced biodiesel more practical over the long haul.

    “My truck gets about 40 to 45 miles per gallon, and I fill up with about 10 gallons every couple of weeks,” Burdett said.

    Mitch and Jolene Mechanic, owners of the Roberts Street warehouse where Blue Ridge Biofuels is based, want to support their tenant’s work. They traded in a Mercedes-Benz and bought a new 2005 Jeep Liberty with a diesel engine, which they plan to fuel with biodiesel.

    “I saw how much these guys believe in biodiesel, so I felt compelled,” said Jolene Mechanic. “I’m hoping other people will buy biodiesel as well,”

    Julian Agbala, owner of Gas-Up, saw a business opportunity when the Biofuels co-op approached him. “It sounds like a good idea, since I’ll have the only (biodiesel) pump in town,” he said.

    UNCA plans to fuel up several of its diesel-engine vehicles and tractors at the new biodiesel pump, according to Steve Baxley, who oversees the campus operations. The university will have to weigh the cost of the fuel against the increased longevity of the engines.

    “The economics are important, but we want to support this,” Baxley said. “We’re excited that this is happening, that entrepreneurs are taking this big step. We want to partner with the community to grow this industry.”

    Isaac Savage of Home Energy Partners wants to fuel his large installation rig with biodiesel.

    “Of course it costs more, but it could be a smart investment for the future,” he said.

    With one pump open near Interstate 240, the cooperative would like to have a second biodiesel pump near Interstate 40, said Paul Beaton, another Biofuels director.

    “Right now, you have to go from Tennessee all the way to Raleigh before you can find any biodiesel,” Beaton said.

    But as more consumers become aware of alternative fuels, Winslett and Beaton expect the demand to grow. Biofuels can now make up to 1,500 gallons of biodiesel a week, and its owners expect to expand to half a million gallons a year at its warehouse space in the Mechanic Building on Roberts Street. The cooperative is also exploring how to market biodiesel as a substitute for home heating oil with modifications to residential furnaces.

    Contact Neal at 232-5970 or

  2. #2
    somebigguy Guest
    Woohoo!!! I wish I lived near this gas pump, I'd get my diesel in no time.

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