2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC diesel sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes S350 is equipped with a 3.0 liter diesel V6 that generates 240 horsepower and an “incredible” 455 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the second-cheapest model of the S-Class and is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch — even better than the hybrid. The EPA rates the fuel economy to be 21 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. MSRP is $92,550. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup”

2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Diesel SUV: Review Roundup

2012 VW Touareg diesel reviews
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel vehicle and thinking about the 2012 VW Touareg TDI SUV? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Touareg TDI comes in three styles — the Sport, the Lux and the Executive. A 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine powers all three models. The engine generates 225 horsepower and a amazing 406 lbs-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. All styles feature 4-wheel drive and include automatic transmission, a navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod input, Satellite Radio, side/curtain airbags, and stability and traction controls. MSRP: From $46,875 for the Sport; $52,355 for the Lux; and $57,755 for the Executive. Continue reading “2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Diesel SUV: Review Roundup”

2012 Mercedes R350 BlueTEC Diesel People Mover: Review Roundup

2012 mercedes r350 diesel
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTEC crossover diesel? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

It is the diesel turbo engine of the Mercedes R350 that excites consumers. The 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6 engine generates 210 horsepower and the vehicle has a maximum towing capacity of 3500 lbs. It gets 18 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. MSRP is $53,840.

Kelly Blue Book — 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Review

Kelley Blue Book starts out with a comment on the design of the vehicle:  “It’s definitely not a minivan nor is it really a crossover (even though that’s what Mercedes-Benz calls it). Rather, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class has staked its territory as a no-nonsense rolling monument to practicality.” They like the diesel engine, noting: “the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTEC is quick enough to keep you from lamenting the diesel engine…. This great engine proves the viability of the right diesel in the right machine.” Continue reading “2012 Mercedes R350 BlueTEC Diesel People Mover: Review Roundup”

2011 diesel cars in the USA: here’s the lineup

Have you seen our new 2012 diesel car lineup post?

There have been a few exciting new developments in diesel automobiles available in the United States since we published our 2010 list, but for the most part the diesel vehicles available in the US remain the same.

A wide variety of car manufacturers have diesel available in Europe, but the stricter emissions standards in the States have prevented them from bringing those models over here. It’s evidently quite expensive to upgrade a standard diesel engine so that it meets US “clean diesel” standards. Therefore, while there are some diesel powered cars available in the United States, it’s currently a minority market.

Without further hesitation, here’s our list of diesel powered cars for 2011 in the US:

Acura – There has been speculation of an Acura diesel model in the US for 2011, but recent updates show that the manufacturer is currently shying away from one being offered in the US. Currently, there is no diesel model available.

Audi – Audi will continue to offer its TDI diesel line. Complete information can be found on the Audi TDI site. The two cars offered are the Audi A3 TDI and the Audi Q7 TDI.


In 2010, the A3 was listed as the Green Car Journal’s ‘Green Car of The Year.’ It gets 30 mpg hwy and 42 mpg city. You may also remember it from the Green Police Ad featured during the last Superbowl.


The Q7 TDI is Audi’s diesel powered SUV. This SUV gets 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Coincidentally, it’s also the same diesel engine that the Porsche Diesel engine is based off of (however, Porsche currently only has a diesel model available in Europe). More information about the Q7 can be found here.

BMW – Many will argue that Bavarian Motor Works make some of the finest cars out there. Not to be outdone, BMW also offers two different diesel models: The 335d and the X5 xDrive 35d.


The 335d sedan features a 3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6A engine, and gets 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway (for a combined total of 27).


The 2011 BMW X5 xDrive 35d features is a 265 horsepower, 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology that gets 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

Buick – There are no Buick diesel models available in the US for 2011.

Cadillac – Cadillac does not currently offer any of their models in Diesel.

Chevrolet – There are no Chevy cars that feature diesel, but the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Pickup Truck comes with a Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 that has an output of 397 max horsepower and 765 lb.-ft. of torque.

This truck is supposed to have a 11% increase in fuel saving technology over the 2010 model.

Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge – Chrysler and Jeep do not offer any cars with diesel capabilities for 2011. Dodge, however does. The 2011 Ram Chassis is available in diesel (if you plan to do a lot of heavy loading from now and then, or are really just a hoss).

In addition, the 2011 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models are also slated to be diesel trucks, with the 2500 typically getting 15 mpg city and 20 hwy.

Ford – Cars, not so much. Trucks, Yes. The Ford Super Duty models (F-250, F-350, and F-450) are all available with a 6.7L Power Stroke(R) V8 Turbo Diesel Engine.

These trucks are workhorses, but can also be the maximum in comfort. The King Ranch edition, for example comes fully loaded so you can utilize your truck in style as well as in an alternative fuel manner.

GMC – Much like Chevy, GMC will feature the Sierra 2500 HD and 3500 HD models with a diesel engine.

Honda – While there has been plenty of speculation and hope of Honda releasing a 2011 diesel model in the US, it doesn’t appear as if that will be happening.

Hyundai – The folks over at Hyundai currently have no diesel models slated for the US in 2011.

Kia – Kia currently does not have a diesel powered car in the US market.

Lexus – While there are plenty of fuel efficient hybrids that Lexus has to offer, they currently do not have a diesel model available in the United States.

Lincoln – There are no Lincoln diesel models listed for the 2011 year.

Mazda – No diesel models are listed for 2011.

Mercedes-Benz – Mercedes features three models with their diesel Bluetec system. These models are the ML350, the GL350, and the R350. The R350 model is a crossover, while the G and M models are sport utility vehicles.

As far as gas mileage is concerned the M class will get 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, the G class will get 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, and the R class will get 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. These models were also available in 2010.

Mercury – There are no Mercury diesel models listed for 2011.

Mitsubishi –2011 does not have any diesel models listed for Mercury.

Nissan – There are no diesel cars slated to come out for Nissan in 2011, despite some speculation.

Pontiac – There are no new Pontiacs for 2011, or ever for that matter. Hence, there will be no Pontiac models available as diesel powered cars either.

Porsche – While there is a Porsche Cayenne diesel powered SUV available in Europe, there is not currently one available in the USA.

However, a unique fact is that the engine technology used for the Porsche Cayenne Diesel features the same look and basic engine design of the Volkswagon Toureg TDI and the Audi Q7 TDI, both of which are available in the United States of America.

Saab – There are currently no Saab diesel models slated for 2011 in America.

Saturn – There are currently no Saturn diesel models available. Much like Pontiac, there will be no more Saturns made ever. So hope you weren’t holding out hope for a Saturn diesel model, because quite simply put: it’s not going to happen.

Subaru – Subaru unfortunately doesn’t have any diesel models available in the US, although they are available in Europe.

Toyota – There has also been some buzz and speculation of Toyota potentially releasing a diesel model in the US in 2011, but this will not be the case either.

Volkswagen – Ah yes, the “V-dub.” There are actually four Volkswagen diesel models available in the United States. They are the Touareg TDI (a sport utility vehicle), the Jetta TDI, The Jetta SportWagen TDI, and the Volkswagen Golf.

Gas Milage for the Touareg is 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. For the Jetta, it’s a whopping 30 mpg and 42 mpg highway. As far as the golf is concerned, you’re going to be looking at a very similar number: 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.

Volvo – There have been Volvo diesels before, and there are Volvo diesel cars overseas, but 2011 will not see any Volvo diesel cars in the United States.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

2010 diesel cars in the USA: here’s the lineup

Wait! Have you seen our guide to 2011 diesel cars yet?

There really hasn’t been any significant increase in the number of diesel cars available on the US market since our 2009 diesel car post from last year.  While common in Europe, stricter emissions requirements in some states and the recent temporary bout of high priced diesel fuel here has most car manufacturers hesitant to invest the money for what has only shown to be a small segment of the market so far in the United States.

Here is this year’s list of which 2010 diesel cars that automobile manufacturers will be offering:

ACURA:

Acura does not offer a diesel model.

AUDI:

Q7TDIandA3TDI__mid
AUDI Q7 and A3 TDI, courtesy Audi

A3 2.0 TDI clean diesel is available, details here, a small hatchback that gets 30 mpg hwy, 42 city.

Audi Q7 TDI will be Audi’s diesel engined SUV, getting 17 mpg city, 25 mpg hwy.  Details available here.

These vehicle will take a maximum of B5 biodiesel.

BMW:

From BMW USA:

335d“We offer two diesels, the BMW Advanced Diesel 335d and the X5xDrive35d.  They have been on sale since January of this year.”x5_xDrive_35d

.

BUICK:

No Buick diesels for 2010

CADILLAC:

No Cadillac Diesels

CHEVROLET:

No diesel engine cars for Chevy  this year.

CHRYSLER, JEEP, and DODGE:

No diesel cars this year for Chrysler brands.

FORD:

No diesel cars for Ford this year.

HONDA:

From Honda: “There are no current plans to bring a diesel-powered vehicle to the US in 2010.“

HYUNDAI:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

KIA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

LEXUS:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

LINCOLN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MAZDA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MERCEDES-BENZ:

Mercedes ML-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes ML-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz

This year Mercedes offers the ML350 sport utility, 18 mpg city 26 hwy, R350 crossover, 18 mpg city 24 hwy, and the GL350 sport utility, 17 mpg ciy 23 hwy.  According to a representitive in addition to the above  Mercedes USA  will be adding the E350 to the famous Blutec Diesel line later in the year.

Mercedes RL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes RL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes GL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes GL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz

MERCURY:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MITSUBISHI:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

NISSAN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

PONTIAC:

The Pontiac brand has been discontinued.  Although the EPA lists a few Pontiacs for 2010, GM does not.

SAAB:

Saab, a division of GM,  formerly sold a diesel model. But it does not have one this year in the US, or in other countries.

SATURN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

SUBARU:

In other countries, Subura offers the Legacy, Impreza, Outback, and Forrester all equipped with their impressive diesel boxer motor.  Sadly, none of those are available here so equipped.

TOYOTA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

VOLKSWAGEN:

Volkswagon Jetta courtesy Volkswagon
Volkswagen Jetta courtesy Volkswagen
golf2
Volkswagen Golf TDI courtesy Volkswagen

Volkswagen will have the Jetta, 30 city 42 hwy , The Golf, 30 city 42 hwy, and the  Touareg SUV 18 city, 26 hwy.  These vehicle will take a maximum of B5 biodiesel.  To learn more, visit Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel Site

Volkswagon Touareg courtesy Volkswagon
Volkswagen Touareg courtesy Volkswagen

VOLVO:

Although there was talk of a 2010 diesel SUV from Volvo, it has failed to materialize.

Overview of 2009 diesel cars


America's #1 Trusted Source to Gov't Car Auctions

Don’t miss our updated 2010 diesel cars overview or 2011 diesel cars post!

While the rest of the world is crazy about diesel technology for its fuel efficiency, the US’s stringent emission regulations introduced in 2008 are preventing several otherwise great diesel cars from being marketed in this country.

Diesel cars typically have higher exhaust levels of nitrogen oxide than gasoline cars. Automakers cite the high cost of developing an engine clean enough to meet the US standards. Understandably, this has made a lot of them lukewarm about diesel engines as a solution for boosting fuel economy. That, along with the fact that diesel cars have never really been a mainstream choice here in the United States.

The fact is that you have to be a brave automaker even to consider manufacturing a diesel passenger car for marketing in the US. Until technology rises to meet the challenge, or until the regulations are relaxed (an unlikely scenario) in the US diesel engines are destined to power mainly pickups, buses and trucks.

Automakers also perceive the US market as being unfriendly to diesel for passenger cars – but that is largely based on diesels from the 1970s. The brave few automakers who have been selling diesel SUVs in the US have good reason to argue to the contrary. But 2009 sees some genuine diesel pioneering. Read on.

The following is a line-up of the few diesel-powered passenger cars that will be available in the US in the 2009 model year, and a few that aren’t available.

VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Hands-down winner for courage and innovation is Volkswagen, set to be the only major automaker, and the first, to launch a genuine clean diesel passenger car in all 50 states in the US in 2009. This is the first diesel-powered passenger vehicle to meet the world’s most stringent emission control standards, California’s Tier II, Bin 5.

Clean diesel Jetta TDIs are powered by 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines that produce 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

If you are in any doubt that this is a regular passenger car, rest assured it is as far removed from the old-style diesel cars (stinky, slow and loud) as it is possible for a car to be. The Jetta TDI’s clean diesel engine is the strong, silent type . Clean diesel engines get better mileage than their gasoline equivalents.

The Jetta TDI comes as a sedan or a wagon, both with 4-cylinder, 2.0 L engines. Estimated miles per gallon for both are 29 to 30 in the city and 40 to 41 on the highway, although buyers are reporting much higher real world mileage with better highway mileage than a Prius in some cases. More details here at Edmunds., or at the Volkswagen site.

Watch a Wall Street Journal video review of the Jetta TDI, or read the article. Popular Mechanics also has a great review.

And guess what! You can also get a $1,300 Federal Alternative Motor Vehicle tax credit for this car.

MERCEDES-BENZ

2009 – ML320 (5 passenger), GL320 (7 passenger), R320 (7 passenger)

Small diesel cars are outside the Mercedes-Benz realm it seems, with diesels of this marque still aimed at the SUV market. After a late release in 2008 of three diesel-powered SUVs, Mercedes-Benz has not gone much further with its diesel offering for 2009. However, they have made sure all these models are now emission-compliant in all 50 states – unlike 2008 when some key states, including California, were excluded. A urea injection known as AdBlue has made the difference.

The 2009 model SUVs, powered by BlueTEC (developed in conjunction with VW and Audi) clean diesel V6 engines (among the world’s most environmentally friendly) look elegant and fulfill the promise of Mercedes-Benz class and reliability.

With 23 MPG and a 600 mile range on a single tank of diesel, and advanced Mercedes-Benz diesel technology (remember, Mercedes- Benz has been involved in diesels since time immemorial) the BlueTec range could gain some traction high fuel price times. Here is the Edmunds take on the range. Watch a video about Mercedes diesel technology at the Wall Street Journal site.

Prefer to drive a Mercedes diesel car? Consider the highly refined and quite expensive 2009 Diesel E Class sedan. The BlueTec clean diesel design gets a respectable 23 MPG in the city, and 32 MPG on the highway and has a quick 0 to 60 time of just 6.6 seconds. Pretty impressive for a large, luxury sedan.

Read more at Edmunds, or on the Mercedes USA site.

AUDI

2009 Audi 3.0 liter V6 Q7 (7 passenger)

Without much fanfare, Audi has announced it will place a less powerful version of the powerful V12 Q7 SUV on the US market in the first quarter of the 2009. The Q7 3.0 liter V6 Q7 is the only Audi TDI that meets the stringent US emission guidelines set in 2008.

Although this particular model is about half the V12 version it still packs quite a punch. The 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel engine pumps out an estimable 224 horsepower and a stout 406 pound-feet of torque, starting at 1,750 rpm.

Audi is claiming 30 percent fuel savings against comparable gasoline-powered models, and also 25 mpg, and over 600 miles per tank. The Audi V6 Q7 has a cozy, well-appointed cabin where the engine’s drone is barely audible. It’s a big car, but the V6 is adequate to make quite nimble. Go to Edmunds for further details, though when I looked only the gasoline version was featured there.

BMW

BMW 118d (winner 2008 World Green Car award – not available in US)

BMW is taking the all-or-nothing approach to marketing diesel-powered passenger cars in the US. Apparently if it can’t make all models optional for gasoline or diesel, and if it can’t make its diesel models emission-compliant in all 50 states then, well, it won’t market any diesel passenger cars here at all.

BMW made noises about launching 3 and 5 series diesel models here in 2008, but nothing came of it and nothing is officially on the cards for 2009 either. That’s a real pity, because the BMW 118d shows that the US motorist is missing out on some great value. In the 118d, the engine makes 141 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, sending the car to 60 mph in about 8.8 seconds, returning 59 mpg on the highway and spewing only 118 grams of CO2 per kilometer into the atmosphere. (All stats from Europe.) Not bad at all. And it goes 700 miles on a single tank of diesel!

CADILLAC

2008 Cadillac CTS – GM’s Diesel V6 (marketed in Europe only – not available in the US)

The 2008 CTS turbodiesel was Cadillac’s 406-lb-ft guinea pig, marketed in Europe only. Despite announcements about making a diesel-powered CTS available in the US in 2009, no further announcements have been forthcoming from GM.

CHEVROLET, PONTIAC, BUICK

GM has never gotten over its belief that diesel engines are for trucks. A new technology mindset is needed to take their brands forward in the diesel market. Their experience with Cadillac (see above – they teamed up with Italy’s VM Motori for that) seems not to have inspired their confidence in passenger diesel car technology. So nothing new in the US diesel passenger car pipeline for these brands either.

CHRYSLER

While they offer diesel options in several of their trucks and SUV’s (notably the Grand Cherokee) they have no diesel cars in the 2009 lineup. It appears that Chrysler jumped onto the electric bandwagon instead. Let’s see if they really deliver by 2010!

2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This Jeep diesel-powered SUV was first launched in 2008 in the US with a Mercedes 3-liter V6, which provides the best gas mileage of any current Grand Cherokee engine, complete with lots of torque. Expected in 2009 is a Cummins V6 turbodiesel, whose factory is still being built; this powerplant should be less expensive but just as durable as the Bosch/Mercedes version to be used until Cummins is ready. However, Jeep is saying very little about the 2009 model year diesel Grand Cherokee so don’t expect many advances from the 2008 version.

FORD


2009 Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

(sold in Europe only – not available in the US)

Yet another unattainable beauty!

As in 2008, not offering any diesel powered vehicles, other than trucks, in the US in 2009. Ironically, US auto giant Ford is marketing the super-efficient diesel Ford Fiesta ECOnetic — in Europe only.

It’s the 65 MPG Ford that Americans can’t buy.

HONDA / ACURA

There she goes — the new clean diesel Honda Accord that was never manufactured and never launched on the US market.

Honda is yet another automaker having trouble building a diesel engine that meets the high US emission regulations introduced in 2008. In 2006, at a press event held at its Tochigi technical center north of Tokyo, Honda announced plans to launch a diesel car in the US market by 2009. “The car, probably a Honda Accord, will be Tier 2 Bin 5 emission compliant, thus qualifying for sale in all 50 states,” said Honda. But it was not to be.

There were reports in 2007 of a diesel powered Honda being tested on US soil, and then nothing. Now there are rumors that Honda is planning to launch a diesel-powered Acura in the US in 2010.

Honda did show off its i-DTEC clean diesel engine technology at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, if you want to see what’s coming eventually.

Will they launch in 2010? And if so, will it be a Honda or an Acura model? Only Honda knows for sure.

TOYOTA

Toyota Avensis (not for sale in the US)

There has been speculation for at least three years that Toyota would launch a diesel passenger car in the US market — perhaps a version of the diesel powered Toyota Avensis that has delighted Europe.

No such luck.

There’s a rumor of a Toyota hybrid diesel subcompact car coming as soon as 2010, but it is doubtful that would make it to the US market the first year. The first Toyota diesel in the US will probably be a Tacoma or Tundra pickup.

NISSAN

Nissan Maxima Diesel V6 3.0 – not in 2009 but maybe in 2010?

Nissan is an automaker that is plainly uneasy about launching a diesel car on the US market. As early as 2007 it was making plans to launch the diesel Nissan Maxima in all 50 states in the US. Then it was going to be 2009, and now it’s planned for 2010. It has been touted around auto shows in the US to much oohing and aahing — but still no launch. Word has it that compliance issues have caused the delays. A familiar clean diesel refrain we hear from many automakers.


VOLVO

Volvo DRIVe diesels

Volvo has no plans to sell a diesel-powered passenger vehicle in the US anytime soon.

It’s the same old story: while Volvo expects to sell 20,000 units of the 2009 Volve DRIVe diesels in Europe in 2009, they are not compliant with our strict US emission regulations and so will not reach the United States.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it: a few pioneers, a few automakers stuck to diesel SUVs, a lot of promises and a lot of fence-sitting.

Maybe the 2009 VW Jetta TDI will finally persuade the US public and automakers that diesel-powered passenger vehicles can be an efficient, eco-friendly option that Americans will buy and drive.

Don’t forget that you can also find good background information with some of our previous posts like an Introduction to Biodiesel and our overview of 2008 diesel cars.

There’s also a great Diesel Center over at Edmunds.com.

Did we miss anything? What’s your favorite diesel?

Leave a comment and let us know.

Ethanol isn’t the only biofuel


Photo courtesy of
Mista Fitz at Flickr.com.
There’s currently a bit of a corn shortage, driven by rising food consumption, ethanol consumption, and changes in diet in developing countries. Luckily, corn isn’t the only alternative to oil.

While ethanol made from corn gets the most attention, there are all sorts of other biofuels under development. There are companies working on producing ethanol from straw and other farm byproducts such as coconut fiber and cotton seeds. There are factories working on producing diesel from landfills, turkey processing waste, algae, canola, old tires, and other low cost sources. In fact, the US government is actively promoting development of alternative fuels, especially alternative fuels made from non-corn sources (would that be alternative, alternative fuels?):

The government is pushing to get the industry off the ground. Legislation passed last year mandates the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year by 2022, less than half of it from corn ethanol. Almost all the rest is supposed to come from nonfood sources, though the requirement could be waived if the industry faltered.

The future of our fuel supply is going to be very different, and there are positive signs that we’ll be using more green biofuels sooner than anyone expected.

Photo courtesy of
jurvetson at Flickr.com.

Non-food biocrops for biodiesel. The next invasive super weeds?

As entrepreneurs turn their attention to second generation, non-food biocrops, a new potential issue arises. Many of these plants, like Jatropha, are basically weeds that can grow anywhere. Will these weeds escape from biofuel harvesting areas and become invasive species, like kudzu?

The New York Times examines the issue in today’s paper.

“Some of the most commonly recommended species for biofuels production are also major invasive alien species,” the paper says, adding that these crops should be studied more thoroughly before being cultivated in new areas.

Controlling the spread of such plants could prove difficult, the experts said, producing “greater financial losses than gains.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature encapsulated the message like this: “Don’t let invasive biofuel crops attack your country.”

To reach their conclusions, the scientists compared the list of the most popular second-generation biofuels with the list of invasive species and found an alarming degree of overlap. They said little evaluation of risk had occurred before planting.

“With biofuels, there’s always a hurry,” said Geoffrey Howard, an invasive species expert with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Plantations are started by investors, often from the U.S. or Europe, so they are eager to generate biofuels within a couple of years and also, as you might guess, they don’t want a negative assessment.”

The biofuels industry said the risk of those crops morphing into weed problems is overstated, noting that proposed biofuel crops, while they have some potential to become weeds, are not plants that inevitably turn invasive.

“There are very few plants that are ‘weeds,’ full stop,” said Willy De Greef, incoming secretary general of EuropaBio, an industry group. “You have to look at the biology of the plant and the environment where you’re introducing it and ask, are there worry points here?” He said that biofuel farmers would inevitably introduce new crops carefully because they would not want growth they could not control.

Virginia school district switches school buses to biodiesel

School Buses are nearly a perfect fit for biodiesel. They travel local, well planed short routes so they can always be refueled from a biodiesel facility so that the driver doesn’t have to settle for fossil fuels in a crunch.

A couple of years back Gloucester Co. started a trial in which 20 of its school buses would be run off of biodiesel. Now, according to this article at WVEC every single school bus is run off of bio fuels made locally.

Roger Kelly, head of transportation for the district says that even the drivers are noticing a difference, although the accountants are not. Fuel cost is nearly the same for both biodiesel and regular but money is not always the most important thing.

“It’s hard to put a price on cleanness,” he said. “We’re definitely saving on better health for kids growing up,” said Kelly. “Buses going up and down the road that are putting out less emissions. So, there’s a dollar amount there.”

The drivers are noticing that the buses run better on biodiesel (something I have noticed in my own car) and because biodiesel lubricates better and cleans out fuel lines and tanks that buses will last longer possibly providing a financial benefit in that area.

Other area school districts are consulting with Gloucester about making the switch to biodiesel as well.

Jatropha taking root in Florida as new biodiesel source plant

Previously we talked about Jatropha as a new biodiesel source here, here, and here. Now The Naples Daily News reports that My Dream Fuel LLC is has been cultivating a Jatropha SW Florida. Jatropha produces four times the fuel per acre than soy and ten times more than corn. Paul Dalton, a former attorney owns the company and says demand is great:

“There are about 100 buyers for every gallon you produce,” he said.

Dalton already has close to a million plants in the ground and hopes to plant another million before June and is in the process of opening a 15,000 square foot seed crushing and plant cloning center in Ft Myers. The seeds of the of the plant are crushed in order to make biodiesel.

My Dream Fuel is one of the first companies to bring large scale planting to the US of Jatropha, a plant native to Mexico and South America. The company expects to be able to turn out plants at the rate of one million per month

“We studied our mother trees that we use to clone for over six years, and we have over 500 of them. So we have the largest bank of mother trees in the world, of any company,”

“We know of a couple of groups from New York and from Spain that want to plant in Texas and Brazil. So in the next couple of weeks, we may exhaust our current supply,” Dalton said.

Dave Wolfley, the owner of Sunshine Biofuels is working towards establishing a fuel plant. He has been campaigning to convince local farmers to take a chance on the new fuel crop and has a few ready to try it.

Jatropha evangelist are targeting citrus groves in Florida with diseased trees and cattle ranchers looking to branch out. With the reported ability of this plant to grow in nearly any environment that is a lot of land in a lot of the country that these plants could be grown on.

Be sure to ask before you “recycle” (aka steal) waste vegetable oil from a restaurant

I’m not detail minded enough to make my own Biodiesel for my old Mercedes Diesel. I occasionally have dreams about driving for free and going around siphoning WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil) from the waste tanks at the local fast food restaurants. But then I remember how I had to buy three little screws for the oil pan on my Benz and how those three little screws costs over 10 dollars and I extrapolate that out to how much a new injection pump would cost when I make a mistake and I head on over to DFW Biodiesel and feel confident that my 300D will live another day.

But if you are more competent than me and are planning on gathering up used fryer grease to run your diesel off of make sure that you get permission before you harvest the sludge.

The Mercury News writes about a man in Morgan Hill California who is was arrested for stealing 300 gallons of grease from a Burger King. My first reaction to this is that we had another case of a big corporation bullying some poor environmentally friendly citizen who was just trying to get some WVO for personal use…I mean, sure they should have asked but arrest is a bit harsh. But as it turns out the man worked for a Las Vegas company, Restaurant Oils of America, and was not even licensed to operate in the state. The driver was harvesting the WVO to resell to a company in Atascadero for $1.35 a gallon.

It’s interesting to note that most restaurants, including the “victim” here pay someone to haul off their waste grease; so if you are just polite enough to ask most establishments will allow you to take all you want without being arrested or taking away restaurant jobs.

How green is your cell phone tower?


Photo courtesy of mtoreceptive at Flickr.com.

In the developing world, where electric grids are less reliable, many cell phone towers have to generate their own electricity. With diesel generators, that means that energy costs can add up to 2/3 of the total maintenance costs. Theft and vandalism are also a big problem with these systems.

As a result of these high energy costs, many cellular providers in the Third World have adopted green power supplies. In addition to wind and solar power, some of these cell phone systems incorporate biodiesel.



Photo courtesy of Tirau Dan at Flickr.com.

Designers are also rethinking the traditional cell phone tower. In 2007, Ericsson introduced the Tower Tube – a self contained concrete tower that has less visual impact and a smaller carbon footprint. Since they use concrete instead of a steel structure, and have no need for a perimeter fence, these towers release approximately 20% less CO2 than conventional towers. Other companies are getting rid of cell towers entirely by using trees!

If you look closely, the cell towers near your house may already be using solar or wind backup power supplies. Here’s an example of a solar panel that powers weather monitoring equipment on a cell tower.

Virgin flies the bio-diesel skies


Photo courtesy of Uxbridging at Flickr.com.

Virgin Atlantic has made a first step in replacing aviation gas with renewable fuel. On February 24th, 2008, the first commercial flight took to the air using a partial mix of plant oils for fuel. This could be a milestone in the use of renewable aviation fuels. The blend they burned was far from pure biodiesel – in fact, it only contained 20% of what Virgin is calling “first generation biofuel” – it’s…

derived from coconuts grown in the Philippines and babassu palm oil. Babassu palms grow wild in Brazil, so this type of palm oil is seen as eco-friendlier than most.

Hopefully, future flights will use greater concentrations of biofuel and create a viable alternative to kerosene. In the long run, Richard Branson (Virgin’s CEO) hopes to develop “second generation” biofuel sources. These may include cellulosic ethanol and even diesel made from pond scum.


Photo courtesy of keithng at Flickr.com.

Can biodiesel become the new petroleum? And should it?

Flickr photo courtesy of Robbi Baba.

In just a few years, biodiesel in the U.S. has gone from an incognito fringe fuel to a mainstream media darling, and has recently been under fire as just another excuse for people to clear cut rainforest.

If this first biodiesel wave has somehow missed you, and you have no idea what it is, there are many great resources to catch up, including articles on this site, which also address the commonly confused difference between straight vegetable oil and biodiesel.

The purpose of this article is to push beyond the basics and evaluate the current state of biodiesel and take a look at the road ahead. Will it be filled with efficient diesel vehicles and smell like the local Wok Town restaurant? Will it be any cleaner or more peaceful?

The Promises

A cleaner, greener and more peaceful world — these are the reasons most biodiesel advocates began using and producing this fuel, because it promised to solve some of the problems created by the petroleum industry. These are certainly the reasons I chose to embrace biodiesel by creating an organization called bioTrekker, traveling the country in a biodiesel-powered motorhome to investigate and advocate this alternative fuel. I know I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm and I know I’m not alone in saying that, if biodiesel can’t live up to these promises, I will no longer embrace it.

Not many individuals seem to be happy about our extremely heavy dependence on Middle Eastern petroleum, and if Americans can once again produce the majority of their vehicle fuel domestically, the biodiesel theory goes, they would no longer need to entangle themselves in places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.

In addition, as a cleaner burning fuel, biodiesel could have a global warming benefit. Pure biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, and when combusted, it emits as much as 78% less carbon dioxide than petroleum, 100% less sulfur dioxide, 55% less particulates (soot), 45% less carbon monoxide and a reduction in all cancer causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Depending on engine type and age, it can increase or decrease nitrogen oxide emissions by five to 10%. Supporters also point to the fact that biodiesel closes the carbon loop. When petroleum is burned, it releases carbon dioxide that was removed from the atmosphere by now fossilized plant matter. When biodiesel is burned, it releases carbon dioxide that was harnessed from the atmosphere we’re breathing now, thus closing the loop.

THE BIODIESEL REPORT CARD

These are the biodiesel promises, and after a few years of growth in the American biodiesel industry, we now have a record of reality that we can evaluate. In 2008, the biodiesel industry report card looks something like this:

Energy Independence? F +

To be honest, when it comes to using biodiesel to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the handful of companies that control the production of that oil, we’re not doing so hot. In 2006, the U.S. produced roughly 250 million gallons of biodiesel, and the total estimated tally for 2007 could reach as high as 400 million gallons.* Still, we consumed more than 60 billion gallons of petroleum diesel and 150 billion gallons of gasoline.* What’s more, roughly 75 percent of the biodiesel produced in the United States was exported to Europe and used there.* Europeans pay higher prices for fuel, and no good capitalist is going to ignore that. In addition, a loophole in the fuel tax laws of Europe and the U.S. allow U.S. biodiesel producers to “splash and dash” and claim a tax credit in both the U.S. and Europe, letting them subsidize their production with tax payer dollars on two different continents. Even with this miserable performance, there is still hope, which is why I’ll go with an F+.

*Information comes from the National Biodiesel Board

Community-based Energy Production? C+

The biodiesel industry has been driven by a combination of consumer demand and a strong Midwestern farm lobby, however, most insiders know that it wouldn’t exist without the consent of the petroleum industry, especially on the distribution side. But most production at this time does seem to be outside of the hands of the oil company majors. As of January 2008, there were 170 U.S. biodiesel plants in existence.* Most use soybean oil as a feedstock.

While some of the larger facilities have ties to big petroleum, such as Chevron-backed BioSelect Fuels in Galveston, Texas, many of these plants are financed by groups with farm ties and most have a capacity smaller than 30 million gallons a year. Even most of the largest in the country — such as Washington state’s Imperium (100 million gallons a year), Texas-based GreenEarth Fuels (90 million), and Indiana’s Loius Dreyfus Agricultural Industries (80 million) — still seem to be independent of big petroleum ties. The production and distribution system may not be ideal, but it’s still decentralized.

Reduced Greenhouse Gases? D+

It’s true that the actual combustion of biodiesel produces fewer GHGs (greenhouse gasses) and toxic gases than petroleum, and general lifecycle studies showed that biodiesel could lower GHG levels worldwide. However, these studies didn’t foresee that a biofuels boom could create tremendous land-use changes in developing countries.

For example, the huge corn-based ethanol push in the U.S. has created a soybean vacuum, which has Brazilian farmers slash and burning their Amazon rainforest to plant more soy. Malaysian palm growers are also slash and burning their rainforest to meet European and U.S. demand for palm oil based biodiesel. Needless to say, if you want to lower greenhouse gases, slash and burning the rainforest trees is the exact opposite of what you should do. Recent studies have demonstrated that biofuel-production could actually contribute to global warming if these land use changes are factored in.

So why the plus on that D? Well, it’s not exactly fair to blame a non-toxic, less polluting substance for the stupidity of those producing it. Chocolate is a wondrous, plant-based product that brings people pleasure, but I wouldn’t blame chocolate if people got rid of all the other trees and plants in the world to mono-crop cocoa beans.

A balanced, GHG lowering approach to biodiesel is possible, and it is happening, although on a smaller scale. For example, there are several biodiesel producers around the country who have made a commitment to produce biodiesel in a sustainable way. Most of them are using waste grease recycled from restaurants and/or source their biodiesel from locally grown feedstock oil such as canola, mustard or soybeans, grown on pre-existing farmland. The U.S. has an advantage here, because we’ve already clear-cut most of our forests.

The Solutions, or Why I Still Carry the Bio-Flag

It’s easy to project two very different futures for biodiesel, and reality will likely fall somewhere in between. On one side of the spectrum, a biodiesel gold rush could very well cause more problems than it solves. Most have already been mentioned, but biodiesel-caused problems include food shortages in developing countries, increased food prices in developed countries, the clear cutting of virgin forest to plant biodiesel feedstock crops, and I’m pretty sure they’re responsible for the recent writer’s strike in Hollywood.

In addition, if the biodiesel industry becomes controlled by mega corporations that profit by centralizing the production of energy and exploiting resources and cheap labor in other countries, then it will probably create or aggravate the same political, military and economic problems that petroleum has.

So what’s the point in supporting biodiesel if it’s already getting D’s and F’s and if this is the future? Well, it doesn’t have to be the future. There are solutions to the current challenges, and if we embrace these solutions, the future will look much different. Here are just a few examples:

1.Help create communities that embrace mass-transit and make it easy to walk and ride a bike, developing in ways that will reduce the need for long commutes. Rather than simply ramping up supply to meet an astronomical demand, we can bring the demand down by using our energy wisely. A specific example would be getting involved with an office of sustainability like we have here in Portland, OR. If your town doesn’t have one, why not start it yourself?

2. Clamor for better energy efficiency, such as diesel-electric hybrid engines. This is another way to bring down astronomical demand. People are good at clamoring and seem to enjoy it, so here’s something to clamor for. Support manufacturers that sell high efficiency products and perhaps suggest the idea to those who aren’t.

In this way you can help create a bigger market in the U.S. for biodiesel, which will help curb foreign exports of the fuel. They’re already getting the hint, but here’s one place to start clamoring: www.autoalliance.org.

3. Support sustainable biodiesel production. It’s clear that not all biodiesel is created with the same intentions and priorities. As a consumer, ask questions of your local fuel distributors and try to get to know your local producers. Is the fuel coming from local fryer grease or local farmer coops? Is it being shipped in from overseas? Are they committed to sustainable practices? If you’re producing biodiesel, do the best you can to minimize waste and pollution in the process by researching best practices. Consumers and producers can also join the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, (www.fuelresponsibly.org) a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable biodiesel practices.

4. Incentivize biodiesel produced from waste products and crops on existing agricultural land or fallow land. Currently, biodiesel producers who use waste grease as a feedstock don’t receive as much of a tax credit as those who use virgin oil: this should be changed. And in addition to asking legislators to close the tax loophole that allows “splash and dash” producers to exploit domestic and foreign subsidies, we can ask them to reward producers that source their feedstocks from waste grease, existing agricultural land or land that was previously fallow. And, of course, we can incentivize it ourselves by patronizing companies that engage in these practices.

5. Rapidly develop non-food biodiesel feedstocks by investing in research and development. Of course, even if we drastically reduce our consumption, we still can’t make enough biodiesel from cropland or waste oil to reach fuel self-sufficiency. Fortunately, there is promise in one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet: algae. Algae can have extremely high oil content — oil that can be turned into biodiesel once extracted. What’s more, algae can grow in wastewater and brackish water so it’s feasible that algae production would not create the same land use issues as soybean, canola or other cropland biodiesel.

There are several companies currently working to commercialize algae production worldwide, including LiveFuels Inc., Solazyme, Solix Biofuels, GreenFuels Technologies, GreenShift CleanTech, and AquaFlow Bionomic.

Initial studies of algal oil yields indicate that it may be possible to produce enough algal oil biodiesel to offset upwards of 50 to 100 percent of the petrodiesel that Americans consume, however, there are significant obstacles. The big one is how to produce algal oil as cheaply as petroleum. The other obstacles revolve around this, but a few include the challenge of extracting algae from vast amounts of water, the challenge of extracting oil from algae, and the challenge of creating a system that is energy efficient and resistant to other contaminant strains of algae.

Still, biodiesel produced from algae is happening now, and could become available on a small commercial scale in the next two to five years. Algae experts, such as John Sheehan VP of Strategy and Sustainable Development for LiveFuels, say that large-scale commercial algae production probably won’t happen until sometime between 2012 and 2018.

As individuals, we can speed this process by spreading awareness of this technology, investing in it ourselves if we are able, and by urging our local, state and national lawmakers to guide public investments in this direction.

How We’ll Use Our Tools

If the future of biodiesel is to be one that creates a cleaner, greener and more peaceful world, the solutions above will likely play a huge role. If they do, biodiesel will truly move beyond a fringe fuel and become one of the most important fuels in the next 20 to 50 years as we begin to transition to renewable energy, especially if coupled with the jump in fuel efficiency that would come with a major influx of diesel, diesel hybrids and electric passenger vehicles.

The cleanest future is probably one where we run all vehicles on electricity produced from a renewable energy powered grid, but it looks like that transition could take at least a few decades. In the meantime, if we do it right, biodiesel could be a very beneficial in that transition.

The beauty is, we can choose to have a say over how it’s done, especially in our own communities.

And this is the reason that I have not lost my enthusiasm for biodiesel as a very useful tool – one of many tools that we can use to shape a better world for our children and grandchildren. But like any other tools, from ropes to knives to gunpowder, I have learned that biodiesel can only be as beneficial or destructive as the people who use it.

Seen in this light, the important thing becomes the philosophy behind the tools. We can live in a society that achieves self-sufficiency by making it a priority to lower its energy needs and producing most of its energy on a community, state and regional level. We can live in a society where we mimic nature by creating systems where everything is used and “waste” becomes a forgotten concept. This is the society I choose to embrace and this is the peaceful, affordable and comfortable future that sustainable biodiesel can help create. We’ve just got to get our grades up.

Ty Adams is a freelance writer and editor who takes on way too many pet projects in Portland, Oregon. In 2006, he left his desk job, sold his house and traveled the country for a year in a biodiesel-powered motorhome as part of a project called bioTrekker. The project continues to evolve and now has Ty living and breathing all things renewable and sustainable. It is available online at www.biotrekker.com.

Ethanol: More harm than good?

It’s a complicated issue to be sure and there and the one thing that you can be certain about here in the 21st century is that anyone who shows up on your doorstep with a simple solution to any of the complex problems we face today need the door slammed in their face.

Take this article on NPR about Ethanol and Global Warming; If you look at biofuels in the light of the study done by Tim searchinger at Princton we need to go back and rethink our biofuels strategy.

“The simplest explanation is that when we divert our corn or soybeans to fuel, if people around the world are going to continue to eat the same amount that they’re already eating, you have to replace that food somewhere else,” Searchinger says.

What the study actually shows, rather than a clean cut this is bad, that is worse; if we keep going at the rate we are going, using the same technologies we are using for the next 30 years we are going to wind up with the net effect of doubling the overall CO2.

But it’s not that simple. We aren’t at full capacity yet; not all the farmland we have available is being used to plant anything. Since the fall of the USSR we haven’t been planting as much land as we could. Tobacco lands are being used for growing Canola oil (Rapeseed oil, in other words) for use as fuel and few would argue that that’s a bad thing; certainly it isn’t producing more C02. The shortage we have been experiencing and the reactions to it are more growing pains than long term effects.

What is vital to keep in mind is that ethanol and biodiesel are stopgap measures at best. If we are still using huge amounts of ethanol or biodiesel in 30 years, or even in 15 years something is terribly wrong. Biofuels are a way for us to wean ourselves off of the internal combustion engine while finalize solar and wind and perhaps safer nuclear plants and cars that can be effectively powered by them. The much smaller number of remaining internal combustion powered cars will not put a huge dent in the farmland production especially when you factor in garbage to biodiesel, air to biodiesel, and plants that will grow in places crops won’t.

While I agree with some of their conclusions, such as how we should be looking towards other than crop sources sooner than later, I can’t agree with the level of urgency that they deliver that message with.

Safeway, Biodiesel, Recycling and Wind Power

A couple of years back a bunch of us stood in the street and watched the book store of the local university burn to the ground in the middle of the night. The next day the only things left were the once familiar walls of a former Safeway grocery store filled to the brim with charred rubble. Try as they might the distinctive look of the exterior walls that every Safeway in the area always had could not be hidden.

I grew up thinking that Safeway was a synonym for grocery store; I can’t honestly remember going to any other until Safeway pulled up stakes and left Texas. The familiar buildings still stand all across my home town. So I was glad to hear that the company I grew up with is one of the most environmentally conscious out there; even though they abandoned us.

Recently Safeway switched to using B20 Biodiesel for all of the 600+ trucks in its California and Arizona Fleet. The fuel is produced from domestically grown Virgin soybean oil. By switching in these two states alone almost 70 percent of their diesel consumption is biodiesel; Co2 output is reduced by 23 metric tons per year.

In addition, Safeway opened their first solar powered grocery store in September; the first of 23 such stores. The companies 295 fuel stations have been powered by wind energy since 2005; making Safeway the largest purchaser of green energy in California.

And if that wasn’t enough, Safeway stores recycle much of their waste diverting over 85 percent of their solid waste away from landfills. That’s over half a million tons of recyclables in 2006 alone. It would be interesting to see how other grocery stores stack up.

From tobacco to biodiesel. Converting former tobacco fields to canola to make biodiesel.

1-a-biodiesel2.jpgAccording to this article in the Martinsville Bulletin, a local convenience store chain owner has taken on some rather serious problems head on. He is contracting with local farmers who formerly grew tobacco to instead plant canola that he will then process himself into biodiesel to sell at the diesel pumps at his stores. By doing so he is providing a profitable use for empty fields, improving the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign fuels.

Price and his partners started Red Birch Energy to produce biodiesel about a year ago. He said several factors got him interested in the project, not the least of which is America’s dependence on foreign oil.

With foreign oil, 70 cents of every dollar goes to countries the United States is in conflict with, Price said. In fact, the American consumer pays for such conflicts twice, both in military spending and in the higher fuel prices they cause.

But for every dollar spent on local biodiesel, he said, 90 cents will stay in the area, and the rest will go to taxes.

Price also said biodiesel is better for the environment, which is attractive to him because he has children, and “we want to leave this place better than we found it.”

Price will also get a federal tax credit of $1.00 a gallon on the B20 (20% bio) he will produce off of the locally grown canola plants. Production is expected to be 1,000 gallons a day to start with. In the early stages, until the canola crop comes in, the biodiesel will be produced from waste oil from local restaurants.

Canola is a plant created through plant breeding from rapeseed, which had been used as a fuel source in lamps and as a cooking oil for hundreds of years. During World War II it was used as a lubricant on ships causing Canada to expand its production. After the war Canadian’s worked toward making the plant healthier and more useful. The result of selective breeding was called Canola, from CANadian Low Acid.

In an age where every company seems to be in a rush to subcontract, import and offshore everything until nobody knows where anything was made or who by, it is refreshing to see someone take the initiative and not wait around for someone else to do it.

Harmarville PA company developing new biodiesel from feedstock technology

According to this article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The National Institute of Science and Technology has awarded  Thar Technologies Inc, a Harmarville PA company $1.9 million to develop a new single stage process to extract bio-diesel from feedstock. 

Thar President and Chief Executive Officer Lalit Chorida said that to date, bio-diesel production has been a two-stage process — first, hexane is used to extract vegetable oil from oilseed, then the vegetable oil is converted to bio-diesel.

In Thar’s proposed single-stage process, carbon dioxide replaces hexane, a toxic solvent,

 The new process reduces the energy required to produce the fuel by 25% while reducing the cost of production by 14%.  With improvements such as this and with rising fossil fuel prices this will make subsidy-free biofuels even closer to reality.

In addition to biodiesel production, the process can also improve ethanol production, and can even be used for non-biofuels such as shale oils.

Jatropha, a non-food biodiesel source

250px-jatropha4.jpgWith growing concern about the use of food crops as a fuel source; the Central American Jatropha tree is looking pretty attractive.  The tree produces seeds that are as much as 40% oil that can used as biodiesel.  In addition, the remainder of the seeds can be used for biomass.

According this article published by Reuters,  U.K.-based D1 Oils Plc has teamed up with BP to plant jatropha trees with an increased yield of 60% when the trees are fully grown in 6 years.  By all estimates they will be making money on the resulting oil if crude oil stays at least $60 a barrel.  Given that it is currently at $95 dollars a barrel, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

The plant grows in barren land and needs little water.  The company will be planting in southern Africa, India, and Southeast Asia; covering 50,000 hectares. 

Check out this previous post about Jatropha in Mali, and this post about how Jatropha can grow even in the desert with almost no watering or care at all.

From Wonka To Timbuktu – Running on Chocolate Biodiesel

ecotec.jpg

While this may sound like something out of a Homer Simpson fantasy sequence a group in the UK just made a journey from the UK to Timbuktu in a truck powered entirely by biodiesel made from chocolate;  or rather the waste chocolate from a manufacturer. 

The expedition will be delivering a biodiesel processing unit to MFC, a Malian charity, which will allow biodiesel to be produced locally form sustainable sources, and the carbon savings from the Malian fuel will help to make this expedition Carbon-Negative, a world first! saving 15 tonnes of carbon emissions in the first year alone.

 

The expedition left the UK on November 26th and arrived in Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa one month later. 

In addition to raising awareness to the benefits of bio-fuels to people in the UK (and elsewhere) Ecotec donated one of their biodiesel production units so that the local women in Mali can use it to re-cycle their used cooking oil into biofuel. 

In addition, all the equipment used for this journey was salvaged from scrap yards and will remain in Mali where it will be put to good use.  This even includes the chocolate powered truck itself.