Saturday, April 28, 2007

biodiesel redux

The AP has a story on Braddock mayor John Fetterman personally working to attract some energy entrepreneurs to the region. I am reminded of one of first posts musing on the state of the biodiesel industry in town and a little later on Pitt's own veggiemobile. (which makes me wonder, the entrepreneurs in the article came here from Allentown, what happened to the students who put together this vehicle?). The AP story kind of skips between the vegetable oil story and the broader biodiesel story which are pretty different things in the end. The New York Times has a good article on vegetable oil auto conversions last year. When it comes to using vegetable oil as a fuel, the biggest issues for a region like Pittsburgh included colder temperature and relatively short commutes. Vegetable oil needs to be heated up before being used. You also have to switch back to diesel before the end of your trip, you can't let the oil congeal in the fuel line. Thus you have to start up on diesel and switch back before you turn off the motor. So good for longer commutes, but a little impractical for shorter trips and I presume a bigger issue in cold climates. Biodiesel is another story altogether:Pennsylvania is a hotbed of investment in biodiesel refineries and the city's vehicle fleet is building a biodiesel infrastructure. As an astute commenter pointed out in my earlier post, the biodiesel market is likely to start with fleet usage just like the city is planning. Given it's getting ever harder to buy a diesel auto, the retail market may be challenged for some time.
Which makes me wonder...Do those FuelPerks discounts work for diesel at all? (to the Iggle marketers: how about double fuelperks for biodiesel... don't know if that will make you any money but I bet it buys you some good press. And how much could it cost you with only one biodiesel pump in the city).
How about this.... I foresee an ad campaign for the O in Oakland. Once they start selling their waste oil for fuel they can try and convince people that buying a large order of fries is good for the environment.


3 Comments:

Blogger EdHeath said...

“Bio-diesel is another story altogether” … because it doesn’t need to be heated or cooled, is practical for shorter trips and less of an issue in cold climates? Or are we just supposed to repeat “Bio-diesel is another story” in chorus?
Hey, what ever happened to that Neville Island bio-diesel plant?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

huh. I thought that is what I said?

Don't know much myself about the Neville island plant but a PG article from March said it was still being planned for this year.

PG also picked up the story on these two entrepreneurs today. I still think the Pitt veggiemobile people need some better PR, they ought to be part of that story at the very least.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

oh wait. that story was from March of last year. Good question as to what became of the plant.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:22:00 PM  

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