Micro-business: Making Biodiesel

Making biodiesel has lots of advantages. First of all, you’re turning other people’s garbage into your own gold. Biodiesel is primarily made from vegetable oils discarded by restaurants after they use it to fry their food. Biodiesel serves not just as a source of fuel for vehicles but also as a source of electric power and of income if you’re selling it.

I spoke to an environmental chemist and asked about the ways making biodiesel reduces net carbon. It didn’t make sense to me that it would actually reduce carbon, though it seemed obvious that it would offset fossil fuel consumption. I had not considered that it also reduces the waste stream for oil that would otherwise be discarded. This means you’re recycling discarded oil as fuel, so you’re using the same carbon which has already been discarded by the restaurants, rather than digging up new carbon in the form of fossil fuels.

The process of making biodiesel also produces valuable byproducts like glycerin which can be used to make castile soap.

Aside from selling the biodiesel, you can also use it to run a diesel generator to power your community. This reduces net carbon because you’re still using that same carbon which vegetable oil producers would have discarded. Burning your biodiesel in a generator to power your community also means you’re not using fossil fuel energy from municipal power grids which currently run primarily on fossil fuels like natural gas and coal.

There are many advantages to using biodiesel, and many more to making it yourself.

Check out this documentary to learn more about the process of making biodiesel.