Your Green Life: "Making Biodiesel"

By KBJR News 1

March 29, 2012 Updated Mar 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM CDT

Bayfield, WI
With the rising cost of fuel and a drive to be more sustainable, Steve Sandstrom decided to cut his fuel costs as well as his emissions by making his own biodiesel fuel.
The upfront cost can be expensive, but after an initial investment the savings are staggering.

"You need to invest in a biodiesel processor, and that can be anywhere from 1,200 to 10's of thousands of dollars." Said Steve, the owner and operator of the Pinehurst Inn.

Sandstroms initial cost was just over 1000 dollars, which he said he paid off with savings in just one year.
The reason its so cheap to produce biodiesel is because the base material is free.

"I collect used fryer grease from the local restaurants and use that to make biodiesel." Said Steve

Once he collects the grease, he filters it using an old pair of jeans.
The next step needs some chemistry. Steve then mixes methanol and lye with the grease, paying close attention to the proportions of chemicals.
He then lets the grease sit and separate.

Steve explains "And you end up with biodiesel and a bi–product of glycerin."

Glycerin is a non–toxic product that can be used to make soap.
There are some draw backs to using biodiesel, especially in our cold winter months.

"As it gets colder, it gets thicker and so below 20 degrees you have to mix your biodiesel with regular diesel to keep it liquid enough when its cold." Said Steve

If the biodiesel gets too cold, the engine won't start.
But the good news is that you can use biodiesel in any modern diesel engine.

Steve says"Biodiesel does not require any changes to the engine or to the fuel system with a car."

Steve says the process is tedious and a little messy, but with diesel fuel at 4 dollars a gallon, its well worth the effort.
So the big question is, how much does one gallon of biodiesel cost Sandstrom to make?

"It works out to be about 65 cents per gallon." Steve says

Saving green while going green, in Bayfield, Adam Lorch, The Northlands News Center.

Steve says that if you get the chemistry right, one gallon of old frying oil will make about 1 gallon of bio–diesel. And he gets about 50 miles per gallon.