From Fryer To Fuel: Making Biodiesel from Vegetable Oil

In search of energy alternatives, we went to Maryland to check out a new plant where they've been turning used vegetable oil into a biofuel. From the fryer we use to make our french fries, to the fuel we use in our cars, this green alternative is interesting and can really work.

You drive to a restaurant, you wait for a table, you sit down at the table, you look at the menu, you order, your food arrive and you eat. Little did you know but the activity of dining requires a lot of energy and excess amounts of oil. Yes, oil. It’s an obvious fact that you are using up energy when driving to the restaurant, but it is not so obvious when you’re indulging in a sirloin steak. Many restaurants are becoming more energy conscious and are taking initiative, by the simple act of giving up their vegetable oil waste! Now you may ask, what good is left over vegetable oil? Well for starters, chefs use a ton of oil to cook with and they need to dispose of the waste. The problem is you simply cannot throw that amount of excess oil away and you can’t wash it down the drain either.

This is where the GreenLight BioFuels Company comes in. Employees of GreenLight schedule a routine pick-up with restaurants. The employee physically comes and extracts the container of oil (which range from 100 to 400 gallons). The oil is then transported to their facility in Prince Ann, Maryland. This is where their machines convert the oil into biofuel. Biodiesel is a renewable substitute fuel for diesel engines. Many states have issued a mandate to make use of biodiesel. Cars and buses can run on this alternative energy source. So the next time you are eating a sirloin steak, remember that the oil the chef used to prepare your meat with, is actually the fuel that is powering your car!

Video produced by - Jordan Petitt and Samantha Lafer of Team #THINKFWD

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.