by Christina Cioci
The idea of using grease for fuel is a concept that is new to many people. Fueling a vehicle with used oil from restaurants might seem unbelievable, but it is a technique that has been gaining momentum. Although not all vehicles are easily converted, many are including some vans, Mercedes, GMC and other known models. It is being done throughout the United States and even internationally.
McDonald’s corporation in the United Arab Emirates is planning to reuse the fryer grease from the food to fuel their trucks. Not many people would think of this fast food chain as sustainable but they are partnering with Dubai based company Neutral Fuels, which is the first Middle East commercial producer of biodiesel using used vegetable cooking oil. Cleantechnica reports that “All restaurants throw out a tremendous amount of used cooking oil, but ones like McDonald’s – that deep-fat-fry so much of what they sell – have to throw away even more.”
In a way this sounds quite disgusting but when it is being reused for fueling thousands of trucks in the UAE it makes it more palatable. Susan Kraemer at Cleantechnica says that “All of the more than 80 McDonald’s in the UAE plan to turn to 100 percent biodiesel to fuel their trucks in a waste-to-biodiesel initiative”. If the company holds its promise to switch from gas to used oil then that is something to be excited about!
Here in the United States, the growth of biodiesel and using grease has struck a chord in cities on both coasts. In Portland, Ore., the Spellman brothers and their fellow band mates make up an innovative, Americana band called Quiet Life. (Portland is known for its sensitivity and awareness of “green” lifestyles.) Along with Quiet Life’s cool music and laid-back vibe they have decided to add to their efforts and switch their van over to grease. Bye, bye high gas prices! Ryan Spellman, the band’s drummer first experienced gas substituted with grease about six years ago while touring with another band. Now his band, which was originally formed on the East Coast, has made the conversion from gas to grease and it’s been working well for them since 2010.
Of course, grease cannot just be taken without asking. Spellman and the other band members have to sometimes search restaurant to restaurant for grease. Each city they tour in they try to collect it and save it for their next “fuel” up. I wondered if grease takes a vehicle as far as gas. Spellman informed me that “you can go as far as you want on it...it all depends on the size of your tank and how frequently you change your filters. Our 75 gallon tank has gotten us from Chapel Hill, NC to Boston without having to fuel up or change out the filter.” Surprised by the distance? I’m sure many would be, but this is a great alternative and not to mention saves a lot of money!
With strides being made like substituting grease for gas the world may finally see there are alternatives to the standard way of getting around. Spellman and his band mates in Quiet Life are just one of many groups that are making a difference in reusing waste and helping the environment. To find out more about this initiative, click here.
Image courtesy of inhabitat.com.