Thursday, July 17, 2008

NYC cooking oil fueling vehicles and buildings

Several years ago Brent Baker heard that a group of women who called themselves the "Veggie Babes" had driven cross country in a van powered by used cooking oil. That got Baker thinking and the product of that cogitation is today's Tri-State Biodiesel.

The Manhattan-based company provides city restaurants with free collection of used cooking oil and trap grease. It has that material processed and then offers it for sale as biodiesel that can be burned in most diesel-powered vehicles without modification and as a boiler fuel to heat office buildings and apartments.

The company offers what sounds like a pretty attractive consumer package--free removal of a material that a restaurant owner otherwise would have to pay a waste hauler to remove and the sale of a environmental friendly fuel at a cost generally less than you'd pay for standard diesel at the pump or from your heating oil supplier.

But no business is without its challenges. Baker details some of them, including the high-cost of operating in America's largest city, in an interesting interview appearing in the Brooklyn-based blog, Gowanus Lounge.

And, despite its 'green' credentials, his company has been hurt by recent press accounts linking the biofuel industry to a multitude of evils, including, believe it or not, world hunger.

Baker says these media reports stem from a "corporate smear campaign conducted by a Washington DC public relations firm." He says that the campaign employs "fuzzy math and anonymous studies to slow the US transition to biofuels, in much the same way that similar campaigns slowed action on global warming for several years. "

To do his part to set the record straight, Baker has set up a Myths and Facts About Biodiesel page on his website.

Baker's is not the only biofuel venture in the news. Newark Liberty International Airport has announced it has signed an agreement with Gaz Realty which will provide biodiesel at a soon-to-be-built Super Station that also will include a convenience story, car wash, light auto repair and towing service.

Setting the Record Straight When It Comes to Biofuels - Queens Ledger 5/22/08
The Changing Face of Biodiesel Production - Biodiesel Magazine

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