Things to Consider in Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
If you’ve read the recent Science article about biofuels co-authored by Nature Conservancy scientist Joe Fargione, you may know that biofuels made from corn and other food by-products have serious drawbacks — namely, land conversion from forest to agriculture creates a huge carbon debt.
While WVO is by no means the answer to all our transportation problems, it does have some redeeming qualities:
- Emissions testing of WVO shows that it produces lower levels of CO and PM (particulate matter) than diesel when tested in the same vehicle (tested by the conversion company Greasecar).
- WVO is a recycled waste product that releases carbon drawn down by the plants grown to make the oil. On the other hand, burning petroleum releases carbon drawn down millions of years ago.
- And the plants that WVO is made from come from existing agricultural lands, so there’s no additional conversion of habitat.
Of course, there’s not enough used vegetable oil around to the fuel the whole United States. But something to consider, as of the year 2000, the United States produces in excess of 11 billion liters of WVO each year.