View Full Version : At 15p a litre, home-brew biodiesel is fuel of the future

10th May, 2008, 12:02 PM
At 15p a litre, home-brew biodiesel is fuel of the future

Drivers spurn forecourt for the pub restaurant when they need to fill their tanks

Every few weeks Gordon Elliott drives 22 miles to the Hare and Hounds pub in Marple, Cheshire, collects a barrel of waste cooking oil from his stepdaughter and takes it back to his personal oil refinery in his garage in Leigh, near Bolton. The retired construction site manager then decants the liquid into a machine and adds a few chemicals.

Twenty-four hours later the waste oil has been purified, filtered and refined and is ready to be used in one of his family's two diesel cars. Instead of paying ?1.25p a litre at the local supermarket, he has paid 15p to make his own biodiesel. He says he is saving nearly ?100 a month - as well as 90% of the greenhouse gases he would normally emit from driving. The cars perform perfectly, the equipment will be paid for within a year and the pleasure of making his own fuel is intense. "It's the principle. I do it for the environment and to spite the exchequer," he said.

Elliott, 79, is part of a cottage industry of people who have turned to making their own recycled "biodiesel" in response to the doubling of fuel prices in just over a year. Companies making biodiesel "reactors" report booming sales and demand for cheaper diesel is outstripping anything they can produce.

"Our business has doubled in size in just the last six months," said David Taylor of Ecotec Resources, the Lancashire company which sold Elliott his machine and which also makes 100,000 litres a year of recycled fuel.

"If you can collect your own oil it works out at about 15p a litre. Otherwise you can buy in your waste oil for about 30p, so you are getting diesel for about 45p. That's a big saving on the forecourt price." He is selling 15-20 biodiesel machines a week and has sold 800 in under a year to taxi firms, hauliers, restaurants and others.

DIY diesel is seen by many as the revenge of the little man on the government, oil companies and the authorities. No one knows how many backroom refineries there are in Britain, but a government study suggested there were around 1,400 small scale plants producing a few thousand litres a year in 2005/6. Since then the price of diesel has more than doubled and the market for machines has risen. People in the industry suggest there are 35 companies refining recycled oil commercially and perhaps 20,000 individuals making private arrangements to collect and process oil from local restaurants, chip shops and food manufacturers.

Since the law was relaxed to allow people to make 2,500 litres a year for their own use, most are working legally, but as the price of fuel rises inexorably, so criminal elements are moving in.

"There are wars going on in London to get the oil," said Tom Lasica, who runs Pure Fuels, London's largest refiner of vegetable oil. "Spanish and German companies are moving in to buy up British used vegetable oil. People are stealing it from each other and selling it abroad. We heard that one fish and chip shop in Southend was broken into just to steal the waste oil."

"A lot of people are making the diesel for new cars. A year ago most people were putting it into old cars. Now the quality of the oil is critical," said Kym Leatt, a director of Envirogroup, which collects, refines and sells 7,500 litres a week in Kent.

"If we could produce five times as much biodiesel we could sell it just like that," said Leatt. "Demand has grown exponentially. Every day we have two or three new businesses asking us. Some companies are saving ?25,000 a year. Were selling it to hauliers, taxi firms, fleets of tipper trucks. In the past it would either go down the drain or go to landfill. This is true recycling." He is selling for 98p a litre compared with ?1.18-?1.25 at the pumps.

"Demand is going through the roof. We're selling biodiesel machines to the average Joe, universities, schools, restaurants, taxi drivers, absolutely anyone," said James Hygate, a director of GreenFuels. "We've noticed a surge of people driving company cars. They are making their own and then claiming 45p a mile from their firms.

"It's a true grassroots industry. The better quality oil is being taken at source by the small guys. Home scale production is definitely growing fast. Groups of farmers are beginning to grow the crops and make their own diesel."

Demand is growing from institutions and local authorities. The borough of Richmond is this week putting out a tender for a ?3.5m contract to run all its 300 council vehicles on recycled vegetable oil for the next three years. The council says it could save nearly ?100,000 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by several thousand tons.

Back in Marple, Elliott will this weekend be heading for the Hare and Hounds to pick up another barrel. "Everyone wants it. But if I have any left over I'll give it to the lad," he says.

John Vidal, environment editor
The Guardian, Saturday May 10 2008
? Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

10th May, 2008, 12:10 PM
l wonder how long before its taxed the same ??

10th May, 2008, 12:13 PM
It's definately a viable alternative to fossil based fuels which are killing the planet. The sad thing is that the goverment will just start hitting veg oil with massive tax increases once it becomes a big time issue.

10th May, 2008, 12:19 PM
l for one dont think where killing the planet .. well not in the way the greenies think .. had to laugh other day when they said on the news there was massive oil reserves under the north pole and the interviewer said where did it come from and guy said before the ice this place was full trees and forests ?????

10th May, 2008, 06:32 PM
You would say that, you MECHANIC you ;)

10th May, 2008, 09:01 PM
so can i just go get some cooking oil and put it in me diesel , ? hope so

10th May, 2008, 09:07 PM
wot car. year . cc m8

10th May, 2008, 09:18 PM
sorry smirnoff mate 1.9tdi passat

10th May, 2008, 09:20 PM
sorry smirnoff mate 1.9tdi passat

l woundnt m8 .. an old Peugeot diesel or fiat thats owes u nothing then yes

10th May, 2008, 09:21 PM
well there goes my plan out of the window , lol cheers smirnoff and there no flys on u

11th May, 2008, 02:37 AM
It's definately a viable alternative to fossil based fuels which are killing the planet.

Except that most people are using methanol in their transestification process. The methanol is produced by the petrochemical industry from crude oil. Very few people use bio ethanol to produce bio diesel.

So bio diesel is not quite as green as most people think.

14th May, 2008, 08:21 PM
personaly I couldent give a f%%k if it green or not

if its cheap that would do me.

24th May, 2008, 06:57 PM
Please let me know how and when i can get these fuels, with the bloody cost of diesel these days its enough to make me cry :bawling:

25th May, 2008, 01:52 PM
how do you reckon a peugot 806 1.9td engine would cope with new veg oil? can't afford to screw it up even though it's 12 years old. It's very handy to take all the seats out and use as a van.

Is there something that can be added to make it thinner other than diesel itself? (That I can get hold of easily)

Cheers for any information

25th May, 2008, 06:20 PM
Anyone got the web site details of where you can purchase the home refinery kit from.
Interested in setting up and making my own.
Anything to get back at the damn greedy TAX man.

All the best,


25th May, 2008, 06:44 PM

Is the site your looking for

25th May, 2008, 10:34 PM
Thanks for the link.


26th May, 2008, 01:44 PM
try here too for clean oil only tho