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Turning plant waste and used restaurant grease into biofuels

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A plant-based gasoline replacement would open up a much bigger market for renewable fuels. Biodiesel, refined from plant-based oils, is already commercially available to run modified diesel engines. Gasoline-like fuels can be made from cellulosic materials such as farm and forestry waste using a new process invented by Sacramento and Davis chemists at the University of California - Davis.

The process could open up new markets for plant-based fuels, beyond existing diesel substitutes, says a new study, according to a February 3, 2014 news release from the University of California - Davis. "New technique makes 'biogasoline' from plant waste."

Gasoline-like fuels can be made from cellulosic materials such as farm and forestry waste using a new process invented by chemists at the University of California, Davis

The process could open up new markets for plant-based fuels, beyond existing diesel substitutes. "What's exciting is that there are lots of processes to make linear hydrocarbons, but until now nobody has been able to make branched hydrocarbons with volatility in the gasoline range," said Mark Mascal, professor of chemistry, according to the news release. Mascal is at UC Davis and the lead author on the paper published Jan. 29, 2014 in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Traditional diesel fuel is made up of long, straight chains of carbon atoms, while the molecules that make up gasoline are shorter and branched. That means gasoline and diesel evaporate at different temperatures and pressures, reflected in the different design of diesel and gasoline engines.

Biodiesel, refined from plant-based oils, is already commercially available to run modified diesel engines

The feedstock for the new process is levulinic acid, which can be produced by chemical processing of materials such as straw, corn stalks or even municipal green waste. It's a cheap and practical starting point that can be produced from raw biomass with high yield, Mascal said, according to the news release.

"Essentially it could be any cellulosic material," Mascal said in the news release. Because the process does not rely on fermentation, the cellulose does not have to be converted to sugars first. UC Davis has filed provisional patents on the process. Coauthors on the paper are postdoctoral researchers Saikat Dutta and Inaki Gandarias. For further information, you also may wish to take a look at the site, UC Davis InnovationAccess.

Fuel as well as electricity also can be made from human excrement in toilet waste. Check out the articles, "New toilet turns human waste into electricity and fertilizer." and "Solar Toilet Disinfects Waste, Makes Hydrogen Fuel: NPR." Another use of recycling is turning restaurant grease as waste into fuel. In fact, in the area, fast-food restaurant oil waste brings in a lot of money and even has a problem with theft of used restaurant oils that are destined to be recycled into fuel.

See, "Restaurants' used grease a hot item for thieves - USATODAY." There's a problem to solve in mostly urban areas: Competition between companies seeking to pick up and resell used cooking oil for use in biofuels. Various companies pay restaurants for the oil and then recycle the fatty waste to other companies that turn cooking oil into biofuel.

Sacramento has a growing industry: Recycling used cooking oils from restaurants and airport eateries into biofuel

In the rest of California, the income from selling used cooking grease is so profitable, that criminals are even stealing thousands of dollars worth of used cooking oil, which sometimes hardens to grease from restaurants.

One example is the Hemet, California McDonald's restaurant where in past years two men were accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of cooking grease, according to reports in the newspaper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The used cooking oils found in deep fryers is the usual source of cooking oils that get turned into diesel biofuels.

The news there which has been picked up in the December 29, 2012 Sacramento Bee article, "Pair accused of stealing used cooking grease," notes that thieves had been targeting restaurants to steal grease for selling it to recyclers. Also see the December 29, 2012 news article, Cooking Grease Theft Suspects Arrested In California | Regator. Cooking grease thefts have been reported in the news for at least the past two years. See a CBS news March 2012 article, Man Accused of Stealing Used Cooking Grease - WIAT-CBS 42. And check out an even older 2009 news article, "Pair accused of stealing kitchen grease - UPI.com."

Cooking grease recycling brings in up to 40 cents per pound

Cooking grease brings in good money from recyclers that turn the used cooking oils into biofuels. Thieves and others who sell legitimately to recyclers receive 30 to 40 center per pound of used cooking grease. The oils are then recycled into biofuels. And the result is biodiesel fuel. In one instance mentioned in the news report, the McDonald's owner in Hemet staked out the place to watch for thieves. And sure enough on December 28, 2012, about 1:50 a.m. the owner called the police when he saw two men who allegedly were stealing grease. The two suspects were arrested.

Meanwhile for cooking grease sold legitimately to recyclers, it's easier to find used cooking oils because so many restaurants use them. The other item stolen frequently is copper wiring from public places. As for cooking grease, there is so much of it available at restaurants and airport eateries, that the recycling business is thriving in Sacramento. Computer recycling is big also since gold and other expensive metals are found in old computers. As for the cooking oil recycling businesses, see the articles, How Do I Recycle or Dispose of Cooking Oil? and Sacramento Biofuels Network: Recycle Your Used Fryer Oil for Biofuels. Individuals also can save and recycle used cooking oils locally, for example, oils used in a deep fryer.

Where to recycle your used cooking oil in Sacramento after you fry those deep fried foods

You can recycle your used fryer oil for local renewable biofuel production through our community recycling network called the Sacramento Cooking Oil Recycling Campaign (CORC). Restaurants and commercial food services can receive free on going collection services and anyone with quantities of 20 gallons or more can receive a free oil pick up.

To participate in the Sacramento Cooking Oil Recycling Campaign check out the phone number and/or email address listed on the website Sacramento Biofuels Network: Recycle Your Used Fryer Oil for Biofuels. You don't have to be a business. An individual can recycle used cooking oils.

Let the oil cool back down to room temp after frying, then drain it back into the container you purchased the oil in or a similar clean, leak proof container and call the Sacramento Biofuels Network for the nearest drop location in the Sacramento and outlying areas. There's also an email address listed on the website.

Do you want to become a mobile or other seasonal or on-going drop off location for used cooking oils? For further information, check out the email address on the website, Sacramento Cooking Oil Recycling Campaign (CORC). Or see, Sacramento Biofuels Network: Recycle Your Used Fryer Oil for Biofuels. For more information on seasonal cooking oil recycling of your used home cooking oils or even inspiration to open your own part-time business, check out the article, Holiday Cooking Oil Recycling Program Returns.

Where to take your used home cooking oil for biofuels recycling

The Sacramento Biofuels Network helps to turn waste vegetable oil into a clean fuel for any diesel engine. That's one way to practice eco-awareness and the recycling of seasons, see the website of the Sacramento Biofuels Network. It's about turning waste vegetable oil into a clean fuel for any diesel engine. Always call first to make an appointment when and where you can recycle your used vegetable oil. Also check out the site for the Information Exchange in Fair Oaks, in the Sacramento area, a producer of leading recreation and safety training videos. See the book, From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil As an Alternative Fuel.

For example, what do you do with vegetable cooking oil after you fry your holiday deep fried foods? You can now recycle your used vegetable fryer oil for local renewable biofuels production through Sacramento's community recycling network called Cooking Oil Recycling Campaign or CORC. See the website, Sacramento Biofuels Network: Recycle Your Used Fryer Oil for Biofuels.

Any diesel engine can run on vegetable oil. and this great book tells you how. In From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, expert Joshua Tickell unveils the problems with fossil fuel dependency and offers a simple solution--use cheap, clean-burning vegetable oil. The book provides easy-to-understand instructions for running a diesel engine on vegetable oil. The methods are described in detail, including how to make biodiesel from used cooking oil and how to run a diesel engine on straight vegetable oil.

The book also includes instructions for building a biodiesel processor and growing and processing oilseed crops. There are more than 130 photos, graphs, and diagrams in this definitive guide to using vegetable oil as an alternative fuel.

Where Used Vegetable Oil is Collected in Sacramento

After you let the vegetable oil cool to room temperature after frying, drain it back into the container you purchased the oil in or a similar clean, leak proof container and drop it off at one of the following locations, and one of the locations happens to be a church parking lot. But again, always call first to make sure someone is there to help you. Call the Arcade Baptist Church at 3927 Marconi Ave, Sacramento.

You'll need an appointment to make sure someone will be in the parking lot to take your oil and recycle it. The church's phone number is 916-966-2375. You have to call first to make an appointment when someone can be there. If you live in other areas of Sacramento, there also are other locations you can take your vegetable oil to for recycling. But always call first to make an appointment and to see whether the recycling is still being done at the various locations. The other locations are listed at the Sacramento Biofuels Network website.

So think of the various Sacramento houses of worship as either planting food or recycling vegetable oil. And spread the word about going greener. It's a liberating experience. Here are more examples of sustainability progress in Sacramento such as urban gardening and aquaponics.

Sacramento Houses of Worship May Grow Vegetables on Backyard Premises

There's a green revolution in traditional holiday festive meals served by a wide diversity of houses of worship in Sacramento and Davis. "Green" meals will be served with produce grown in the gardens on the grounds of the various houses of worship. The practice is spreading and is called the greening of the traditions along with other titles.

On one side, local ingredients are sought. On the other side, Sacramento has very successful diverse ethnic markets specializing in imported foods from a wide variety of countries.

For example, Sacramento's Congregation B'nai Israel, a synagogue, served parsley grown in the synagogue's own recently planted garden. See the March 29, 2010 Sacramento Bee article by Carla Meyer, "Food for Passover goes eco-aware."

And on the White House lawn, Michelle Obama last year grew edible plants in the White House organic victory garden. See the March 19, 2009 Sacramento Bee article, "Michelle Obama to grow White House organic victory garden." Nearly all family members as well as the grounds crew and kitchen staff cares for the garden.

The 1,100 square foot White House garden plot features a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits to include 55 varieties of vegetables, a patch of berries and two bee hives for honey, according to that article. The organic seedlings were started at the executive mansion’s greenhouses. “Total cost for the seeds, mulch, etc., is $200.”

You, too can start a garden at your house of worship backyard, if the soil is clean enough to grow food. To learn how, see the USDA's article, Filling the Hunger Gap: All Kinds of Projects for All Kinds of People [PDF].

There's a trend starting in Sacramento for various houses of worship to be more eco-aware, to start vegetable and/or fruit gardens on backyard property surrounding various houses of worship. In fact, the greening of houses of worship by serving eco-aware food also reflects the evolution of food associated with various holidays.

Planting edible plants in gardens surrounding houses of worship, such as the backyards of churches, synagogues, mosques, pagodas, or other places of worship where the food is served to guests and congregants encourages renewal, recycling, and eco-awareness, such as the greening of the food. Check out the food blog by Ron Eshman called Foodaism. And also see another site, Foodism.

The symbol of the spring, the holiday, the greening of the food garden in the various houses of worship as a motivator also is about liberating consumers from the bondage of eating only from the industrial food system when there are so many other choices in how you 'green' your food. So why be a slave to a diet that's not making you well?

As tradition meets eco-awareness, the movement is about substituting healthier foods for traditional foods that may not be that healthy. The idea is to take all holidays and/or feasts for all religions in Sacramento, and see how you can make food eco-aware, taking in the idea of social responsibility as your garden grows 'greener,' in the symbolic sense. Celebrate bringing fresh food to neighborhoods that don't often get to eat fruit or a variety of vegetables other than potatoes. That's where urban community gardens figure in.

Community urban gardens in Sacramento have caught on so well with the idea and the evolution of dietary traditions that even houses of worship are planting their own gardens with food served to the congregants. Might this idea spread globally? Even the White House now has its own organic vegetable garden on its grounds. The goal is to use local ingredients. It's also about sustainability.

Sacramento's growing aquaponics industry

With all the new hydroponics stores opening in Sacramento, the green health trend that's emerging in Sacramento emphasizes indoor farms in urban areas, sometimes in basements. Check out the Sustainable Urban Gardens website. Also watch this video — Capture carbon in soil with organic farming. The popular trend goes beyond hydroponics or aquaculture. It's about aquaponics--growing indoors fish and vegetables together so that fish and plants coexist under the same roof.

An April 18, 2011 article by Chicago Tribune writer, Melissa Harris, reprinted today in the Sacramento Bee, "Sustainable urban farms are cropping up indoors: fish, plants coexist at aquaponic sites," explains how people are turning former factories and even meatpacking plants itno urban indoor farms in various cities. Let's say you want to start on a tiny scale in Sacramento and you can't afford to buy or lease large abandoned industrial buildings or lease stockyard space. Instead, on a smaller scale, you grow vegetables and fish indoors, creating sustainable urban farms.

Then you collect neighboring business's waste and turn it into gas to run generators so you don't have to pay for electricity. That runs your indoor farm where you recycle the waste from the fish you breed and the vegetables you grow. You can even run a business collecting waste from businesses and selling the waste to other indoor aquaponics farms that use the waste to run their own generators.

It's similar to collecting and recycling restaurant grease. But the point is that sustainable urban farms that grow fish and vegetables together indoors instead of outdoors is what's important. The fish and plants coexist at aquaponic businesses.

In Sacramento, aquaponic farming is catching on as one way to improve sustainability and green health. Aquaponic farming minimizes water use. In other cities, such as urban Chicago, aquaponic farming allows year-round harvests, and micro-organisms eat tilapia waste, converting it into fertilizer for lettuce, according to the Sacramento Bee article.

Hydroponic supplies stores in Sacramento include Hydroponics Sacramento - Sacramento Hydroponics Experts, Greenfire Organics & Hydroponics Gardening Supplies, located at 3230 Auburn Boulevard, Sacramento, Green Thumb Hydroponics - Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, J street HydroGarden: Midtown Sacramento Hydroponics Store, and Constantly Growing, located at 1918 16th Street, Sacramento. For more listings of hydroponics stores in Sacramento, check out the Internet's Sacramento listings for hydroponics.

When it comes to aquaponics in Sacramento, the trend is growing in this arena of green health. Check out the following locations for information, training, stores, and supplies on how to get started in Sacramento with indoor aquaponics.

Read the latest Sacramento aquaponics news at the website, Sacramento aquaponics Articles, Sacramento aquaponics News. Also see the do-it-yourself forum posting site, DIY Aquaponics. Check out Sacramento's downtown grid on Aquaponics and the Urban Garden - Sacramento - downtowngrid.com.

See the blog on aquaponics and the urban garden, on the topic of growing fish and vegetables together. For centuries in various parts of the world the custom of growing fish and vegetables together has been practiced, especially in various Asian countries.

For more aquaponic and aquaculture resources in Sacramento, check out, Aquaponic Aquaculture Resource in Midtown Sacramento California. Sacramento is a great place to find resources for those looking to grow fresh fish and vegetables. Tilapia gardening is about growing fresh fish and vegetables indoors, for example for the purpose of sustainability. See the Innovative Farm site. You may want various easy-to install kits, structures and equipment for opening a small, self-sustaining acquaponic farm in Sacramento.

For more information on where to get the training to do so and the supplies, check out the site, EZ Farms & Fish -- Organic Aquaponic Gardening in the SF Bay Area. See EZ Farms&Fish. Check out how aquaponics businesses grow in Sacramento. See, Aquaponics businesses grow, but profits prove hard to reap. There's also another Examiner.com article from June 15, 2009 on Sacramento aquaponics. See, Sacramento aquaponics Articles, Sacramento aquaponics News.

Then see the blog, Affnan's Aquaponics: Aquaponics - Tilapia Breeding.This blog is about day-to-day progress on aquaponics emphasizing tilapia breeding. Back in June 20, 2003, in Sacramento, an invited speaker on aquaponics discussed how to set up an aquaponic system. See, UVI'S Rakocy Invited to Speak on Aquaponics | St. Thomas Source. What's becoming popular in Sacramento as part of an improvement in local farming is backyard aquaponics, which is aquaculture plus hydroponics. Since the number of salmon spawing in California's Sacramento River system dropped by 94% at the time of this article, check it out. That blog is about day-to-day progress on aquaponics emphasizing tilapia breeding. Back in June 20, 2003, in Sacramento, an invited speaker on aquaponics discussed how to set up an aquaponic system. See, UVI'S Rakocy Invited to Speak on Aquaponics | St. Thomas Source.

What's becoming popular in Sacramento as part of an improvement in local farming is backyard aquaponics, which is aquaculture plus hydroponics

Since the number of salmon spawning in California's Sacramento River system dropped by 94% at the time of this article, check it out. The article emphasizes the concept of "no to farmed salmon" but "yes to backyard aquaponics-small fish." See, No to farmed salmon; yes to backyard aquaponics & small fish. Also you may want to take a look at the site, "Aquaponics nut cracker sites of the web."

What the future looks like for sustainable urban farms in Sacramento that are cropping up indoors is a future looking towards a complex food production system. Indoor urban farmers also are looking towards a future with anaerobic digesters.

That means everything will be fed into an anaerobic digester, for example rotting tomatoes and meat along with brown and yellow grease. Then the digester will convert the organic waste into gas that will be used to power a generator. That generator will power the facility. Local utility companies will not have to supply electricity.

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