Finally, Argent Energy are ready to roll with cleaned-up chip fat (and other cooking oils) as biodiesel. While biodiesel by no means solves the problem of increasing carbon dioxide levels, it will help alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels, which must run out at some point. [It cannot be stressed enough at this point that biodiesels will NOT help reduce the damage we do to our atmosphere. It’s merely a stop-gap, and cars using it will still release carbon dioxide. Fewer of the other pollutants, and less dependence on fossil fuels and the damage we do to the environment to get at it!]
But this will not the perfect biodiesel solution I would have liked. Argent are planning to blend their biodiesel with mineral diesel, and call it “Bio-plus”. Now, that seems like quite a cop-out to me, and I know quite a few other people who will be disappointed to hear that this won’t be marketed as a purely recycled fuel. Sundance Renewables in Wales are a co-operative that produce and supply 100% recycled biodiesel to Welsh businesses. To be fair to Argent, they’re planning to refine 25k tonnes a year, have probably put quite a lot of investment in complex machinery (it doesn’t have to be that complex on a small scale), and must answer to shareholders etc.
Prior to recent commercial developments, there were stories in the news about some Welsh folk using Asda’s cooking oil in their cars, with one of them (John Nicholson, an environmentalist) having gone out of his way to recycle chip fat and contacting Customs to pay duty on what he put in his car. Following the media hoo-hah, Asda also announced that some of their fleet would use fat used to roast chickens. 🙂
And let’s not forget that diesel engines were first invented by Rudolf Diesel expressly to use vegetable oil. He mysteriously disappeared on a ferry crossing the Channel… To end on a sober note, George Monbiot had a wee rant last year in the Guardian about the endemic blindness to the downsides of switching to biodiesel on a massive scale, namely the commercial growth of oil-rich crops over that of food crops. Naturally, I hope his worst-case scenario does not come to pass, where political idiocy prevales over common sense, and the nutritional needs of the poor are neglected in the pursuit of alternative fuels. But you never know with our money-hungry society.