Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great use of a BioPro

One of my BioPro customers, Kris, makes good use of his machine filling up the 200 gal tank of his diesel motor home.  Kris recently added the Incosep accelerator to his BioPro190, which speeds production to one day per 50 gal batch instead of two.  Kris also rigged up a small water heater to provide his machine with hot wash water, which he says works great.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

BioPro prices going up Jan 1, 2011 (and tax credit now 30%)

Prices will be going up dramatically, and the alternative infrastructure tax credit that you can get for buying a biopro has been reduced from 50% to 30%.  The credit is 30% if the machine is used to fuel vehicles used for a business, or $1K for individuals. BioPro's produce fuel for less than a buck per gallon and pay for themselves fast- see ROI calculator and more info at

Monday, March 29, 2010

Springboard Workshop - March 2010

Had a great time at the workshop, which had attendees from all over the US and even one fellow from Argentina! It was good to meet all the people at Springboard and hear about their new ideas to make small-scale biodiesel production a reality for businesses, municipalities, colleges, farmers, and just folks who want to enjoy fuel independence.
I still really like the model of decentralized fuel production, where people or organizations produce more of their own energy. Speaking of energy, we also got to visit the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, where we saw their BioPro and their gigantic solar array (1.9 MegaWatt!) which supplies most of their power needs, and electric vehicle charging stations.
And of course sampled some of their great beer. They are truly a leader in sustainable and green energy.

Monday, February 08, 2010

New B100 map for 2010

biodieselSMARTER magazine has put together a colorful big map showing all US stations selling B100 (includes B99).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Vote for Springboard Biodiesel for Pepsi grant

Springboard Biodiesel has applied for a grant to build demo small-scale facility using their BioPro machines in CA.. Grants are determined by the voting public. If you think this is a cool idea, you can vote every day this month at:
I really like the idea of small-scale production facilities which make for decentralized fuel production rather than dependence on big oil.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Free webinar for small producers Jan 28 at 11 am

Montana State University (MSU) will be putting on "DIY: Keeping it safe, keeping it legal" targeted toward home brewers and small producers. The presentation will be put on by experienced home brewers, one of whom I know from other meetings, Steve Fugate of Yoderville Biofuels Coop.. he's great and very knowledgeable. You'll need to register by going to a site 10 min before the webinar starts- see the DIY link for info.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Community Energy Meetings- Jan 29 and June 2,3

A couple of great chances coming up to be involved in discussion of community energy projects:

January 29, 2010
1 - 1:45 pm Tour site to preview 21 Acres Center under construction
2 - 4:30 pm Meeting at Sammamish Valley Grange

21 Acres will host a meeting on Friday January 29 to explore opportunities to partner on energy-related projects. You can download the invitation at the upper left corner of the 21 Acres homepage, which includes links for additional information about the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living.

This is a meeting targeted to key people in business, academic, and civic communities. Join the meeting or share with others you think may be interested in partnering with 21 Acres.
RSVP to Brenda at: generalinfo at

And June 2, 3 2010:
Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WA
Register by Jan 22 to get $100 off

Friday, January 08, 2010

Earthrace Biodiesel ship rammed and sunk by illegal Japanese whaling ship!

Just heard the following from my friend Ravi who has helped the Earthrace project:

"Earthrace, the futuristic biodiesel boat that claimed the world record for circumnavigating the globe has sunk in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.

It had been purchased by the Sea Shepherd organization to harass the
Japanese whalers in those waters and it was run over by one of them on
Monday. One person suffered some broken ribs, but the Skipper Pete
and the others are fine and there was no loss of life.

Here are some videos of the incident.

views from Sea Shepherd

view from Shonan Maru Whaler

I wrote to and received a short reply from Pete today and he said that
he is shaken, but that they are all safe.

I wanted to let the biodiesel community here know since many people
helped Earthrace while it was here." Ravi

Be sure to watch the last video on that Sea Shepherd page above to get a sense of their mission to stop such illegal whaling operations. Also, see this video on the role the Earthrace boat was playing..

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New additive to counter effects of crankcase oil dilution

I was re-reading the postings by "Neurot" about his trials and tribulations using B100 in his '09 Jetta, which doesn't work well with VW's new emissions control technology. ("Neurot" is Jason Burroughs of Diesel Green Fuels who also wrote about this for BiodieselSMARTER Magazine). One aspect of the problem is that the biodiesel ends up in the crankcase oil where it dilutes the oil but also forms organic acids which can polymerize and coat the pistons. I noticed that his last post mentioned a new additive that Chevron has come out with which supposedly counteracts these negative effects. Check out the article in Biodiesel Magazine that he mentions. Anyone tried this stuff (Oronite Lubricating Oil Additive)?

Not sure how I got associated with this article

On New Year's day, an AP article came out about the problems that the commercial biodiesel industry has been having, and they used a picture of me holding a cup of biodiesel in my garage that they had in their stock photo collection. The article makes no mention of me, which makes sense because I have very little to do with commercial biodiesel. My business is focused on helping people learn how to make their own fuel (although I have had some students go on to start their own biodiesel companies). I do support commercial production of biodiesel as long as it's done in a sustainable manner, which to me means using waste grease, or oil from rotation crops, farm coops, etc. If you support biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum sources, you might want to contact your rep's in congress, because they didn't get around to renewing the $1 / gal tax credit, and if that doesn't get renewed, it'll be the death knell of the biodiesel industry. The House passed it, and word has it that the Senate probably will too (and make it retroactive to Jan 1), but a little pressure will help.

Friday, January 01, 2010

7th Annual Sustainable Biodiesel Conferece: Feb 6 & 7, 2010

The seventh annual Sustainable Biodiesel Summit (SBS) will be held in Grapevine, Texas on February 6th and 7th, 2010. Join community activists, backyard brewers, farmers, and other passionate individuals to discuss the future of sustainable, community-based Biodiesel. As always, the National Biodiesel Board’s Annual Conference and Exhibition will follow the Summit.

This year's keynote speaker will be Bill Holmberg, long time champion of biofuels and sustainable new wealth industry. The schedule this year will feature a series of action-oriented roundtable discussions at a small, local winery and a trip to Willie’s Place at Carl's Corner to visit the truck stop andbiodiesel production facility.

Register before January 22 and pay only $100, saving up to $100 off the price of on-site tickets. For more information or to register online, go to

The SBS is a golden opportunity to address today's issues regarding biodiesel and sustainability. This unique Summit is organized through the joint efforts of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels, and The National Biodiesel Board.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Biodiesel tutorial DVD trailer - selling worldwide!

Just wanted to add the trailer here. I've been heartened to see the interest in the DVDs from all over the world, including very cold places such as Iceland and Sweden, plus Australia, Jamaica, England, and even Bahrain (hey right in the heart of oil country!).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Global Warming & Biodiesel

Enjoy this short animation that my son Matiah made illustrating the difference between biodiesel and fossil fuels in terms of global warming impact. What it boils down to is that fossil fuels are a one-way street in terms of carbon going from underground into the atmosphere, whereas biofuels are recycling carbon that's already in the atmosphere. Of course, this is simplistic, and doesn't take into account land use issues. If we're cutting down rainforest to produce biodiesel it's much worse for the environment and global warming. But if we're already using land to grow crops primarily for food and the oil is a byproduct (as it is with soy), then it makes more sense. Another good option is to grow plants such as mustard or camelina that can grow in poor soils where not much else will grow. The key thing in terms of getting fuel via the ag route is that we're not using land just to grow the fuel crop unless it's land where we can't grow food. Also, that we're not destroying what was there to do grow our fuel crop. Even better is to use a no-till method, because tilling the soil releases carbon into the atmosphere. (See this article showing that the managing of the cropland has a lot to do with sustainability of biofuels). Seeds of camelina can simply be sowed on top of the snow in the winter and will germinate beautifully in the spring (according to farmer's who spoke at the U Montana Oilseed & Biodiesel Conference in '08).
And of course even better is using waste vegetable oil that's already been used to cook our french fries! Unfortunately there's not enough waste oil to supply very much of our fuel needs.. (Estimates I've seen say we could supply only 3 - 4% of our diesel fuel needs if we used all available waste vegie oil for biodiesel).
See my previous post from May of '08 discussing the unfair maligning of biodiesel due to confusion with ethanol.

Friday, June 19, 2009

City of Seattle stopping use of virgin soy biodiesel

Not sure the City realizes that the soybeans are mostly being grown as cattle feed, and the oil is a byproduct. (See next post containing more info and a sample letter to the EPA). But I am encouraged that they are looking into using waste oil based biodiesel. Maybe they could scale up the Dirty Hands Coop's bring-your-own-oil style structure. We just celebrated our 2nd anniversary of continuous operation. I think we're the most consistent producer of sustainable biodiesel in the area!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Making biodiesel with 7th graders

I had fun presenting about biodiesel to 7th graders at Hamilton Middle School in Seattle.  Kids really get the need to do something about global warming.  They love the peanut burning demo, which shows the potential of biofuels.  The kids worked in groups to make pop bottle batches of bio from a variety of waste oils.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

EPA rally

It's been a while since I've posted.. Last week, I went to the EPA rally for global warming.  It was good to see all the support for progress on this issue- nothing earthshaking in the speeches, but left me feeling hopeful- finally things are moving in the right direction.  The rally coincided with an EPA meeting in Seattle to discuss these issues, at which Gov Gregoire spoke amongst many others.  The meeting was one of only two held nationally. I especially enjoyed the polar bear with the nice eyelashes! .. see video:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

How to change your TDI's fuel filter- great short video

Here's an excellent video to help you change your own filter... those special curved pliers really help!  You don't need the "mighty vac"... just fill the new filter with some clean fuel, and re-attach the lines, and it should start right up.   
I always carry a spare filter in my car just in case..  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tax Credit for Biodiesel Equipment Increased to 50%!

The new stimulus bill passed in Feb '09 has increased the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit to 50% of the cost of equipment (such as BioPro processors!) used to refuel vehicles for a business and $2000 for individuals.  More detailed info in this pdf document; also see IRS Form 8911 for details- this is the form you'd need to file to get the credit.  Read about other new incentives for Biodiesel in this article from Biodiesel Magazine.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

VW, others drop the ball on bio- Write them a letter!

You've probably already heard the stories, but it's looking like VW isn't making a biodiesel-compatible car anymore (only B5- they're not even supporting B20 !).  It has to do with the pollution control devices they're using, which is supposed to burn soot off the diesel particulate filter, but with the higher flash point of biodiesel is causing a lot of bio to get into the crankcase oil and stay there.  Read the detailed explanation here by Neurot.   This was reported also in the NY Times blog recently.

Neurot is Jason Burroughs, owner of a biodiesel company in Austin, Texas, has been testing his 2009 Jetta TDI, and experiencing problems significant enough that's he's going to "unload this petroleum-sucking turd and buy something that I can safely fuel with domestically-produced biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil," as he so eloquently puts it.  You can read his posting about his experience here.  

Write a letter to VW and other car manufacturers to let them know you want cars that can run high amounts of biodiesel!!  BiodieselSMARTER magazine is promoting this "Save-a-Diesel" letter writing campaign, and you can get talking points and who to write to here

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Biodiesel that can go to 60 below zero!!!

Check out this article showing how researchers at Purdue have figured out how to make biodiesel that can withstand extreme cold... This could open up the possibility of using it as jet fuel.  Hear the Alternative Fuel podcast story here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sustainable Biodiesel Summit 2009

This conference (which precedes the industry's national conference in the same place) is kind of like the conscience of the biodiesel industry, bringing folks together to talk about how biodiesel can be produced in the most sustainable way possible. The title of this years conference is "Localize It: Celebrating Community Scale Biodiesel." The conference is Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2009. For more info, go to:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Research- Biofuels C footprint not so bad!

Biofuel carbon footprint not as big as feared, Michigan State University research says

Published Jan. 19, 2009

"Publications ranging from the journal Science to Time magazine have blasted biofuels for significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, calling into question the environmental benefits of making fuel from plant material. But a new analysis by Michigan State University scientists says these dire predictions are based on a set of assumptions that may not be correct..."

Read entire article on the Michigan State U study from Science Daily.

Meeting for Biofuel Growers & Potential Growers

Biofuels farmers networking opportunity:
Meeting is Tues Jan 27, 2009 at 7 pm at 800 Second St in Snohomish, WA
Info: Ryan Hembree 425-388-7112 or
Sponsored by Washington State University and Snohomish County

'09 Jetta - TDI Indigestion

A story in the latest BiodieselSMARTER magazine, indicates that the latest VW TDI's may not be so bio-friendly- read the account by Jason Burroughs (of Diesel Green Fuels in Austin TX) :
I found the story incomplete, since it didn't tell what eventually happened. You might ask him by posting a comment at (you'll need to join the group first here).

Monday, December 01, 2008

One Man's Reasons - Why Biodiesel instead of Petrodiesel

Here's a post that has been resurfacing from JohnO- pretty compelling, especially when you consider all the deaths there've been since this was written a couple years ago:

"Based on December '04 to May '05 casualty figures (437 US deaths, 2431 Iraqi deaths, using the lowest published numbers), and Iraq's oil production that the US bought for the same period (3,304,000 barrels), and production efficiency of 50% converting raw oil into gas and diesel:

For those who only care about US deaths, that's 158,774 gallons of fuel per US citizen casualty in Iraq.

For those who care about Iraqi deaths, that's 28,542 gallons of fuel per Iraqi citizen killed in fighting in Iraq.

My wife and I use about 600 gallons of fuel each year. If we used fuel from Iraqi sources, we could drive 48 years before we're responsible for one Iraqi death, or 264 years before we're responsible for one US death in Iraq. Those prices are too high for me.

OK, "my" petroleum supply is from Canada or Montana, so why should I worry about Iraqi fuel? Because SOMEONE is using that fuel in the US. If I can use locally grown fuel sources (Canola grows very nicely here, and there's still abundant used cooking oil), that someone could be using the Canadian fuel, instead of Iraqi fuel.

I'd rather have a farmer's sweat on my hands than someone's blood.

That's my fuel philosophy in a nutshell.



Harvesting Clean Energy and Montana Oilseed & Biodiesel Workshop

These are two separate but great conferences back to back at MSU in Billings Montana. I went to the oilseed & bio conference last year and learned a ton about how to go from seed to bio, including a visit to a local farm oilseed crushing operation. See my blog entry from Jan 14, '08.. The Harvesting Clean Energy conference includes wind and solar..

Monday, November 17, 2008

Biodiesel in School Buses

Even in these hard times, some forward-thinking school districts like this one in S. Carolina are realizing that it's a great investment to recycle their cafeteria oil into clean-burning biodiesel. A few years ago, I helped start the Breathable Bus Coalition, which aimed to do that very thing. We no longer meet, but our website is still up and has info that may be helpful to anyone interested in this effort. Diesel exhaust contains at least 15 known carcinogens, and it's been shown that some of that exhaust gets into the cabin of the bus where the kids breathe it in. Every drop of diesel that is replaced with biodiesel is going to be an improvement for kids' health.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Additional Fall '08 Homebrew Biodiesel Class- Nov 23

I've added the following class, which will include tour of my homebrewing setup afterwards- please forward to anyone you think might be interested... Thanks, Lyle

Brew Your Own Biodiesel!
Sunday November 23, 2008 from 1 PM - 5 PM
Learn all the tricks to making high quality biodiesel- See class description below.
Includes visit to BioLyle's workshop after class
Fee: $50
Location: Lakewood Seward Park Community Club, 4916 S. Angeline, Seattle 98118
Class size limited! Please register in advance if possible.
Register at:
or by calling: 206-354-6802
More info: or

A hands-on workshop to learn all the basics to make your own high quality fuel for about $1 per gallon. In this workshop you will do titrations, make small batches of biodiesel with different oils, and learn the tricks to make quality biodiesel every time. We will also operate a small-scale "Appleseed" reactor during class. This system will be compared with the automated BioPro system which the instructor uses to facilitate fuel-making for a Bring-Your-Own-Oil type coop. The class will also cover topics, such as chemistry of the reaction, quality control, vehicle compatibility, cold weather issues, methanol recovery, disposal of wastes, and how to run a successful coop. Whether you just want to learn more so you can decide whether or not to use biodiesel, or you want to make your own brew, this class will help you get underway.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Natural diesel from fungus!

Check out this article about a fungus that produces compounds very similar to diesel..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kuma Shasta Biodiesel Stove

Close up view of the Shasta model, which heats our 1700 sq ft house quite nicely. For more info, go to:

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Eastside Biodiesel group meeting Oct 6

Regular educational and discussion meetings starting in North Bend

Open to the general public…free!

Kick-Off Meeting will be held Monday, 6 October 2008, 7:00pm – 9:00pm at the North Bend Railroad Depot, located in downtown North Bend at 205 McClellan Street.

Then after, free regular meetings will be held 7:00pm-9:00pm on the second Wednesday of every month at the same location.

For more information including driving directions- contact Stephen Kangas at 425-503-9876 or

Next Tues 9/23/08 NW Bio mtng - Renewable Diesel

NW Biodiesel Network Monthly Meeting: Tues, September 23, 2008, 7 - 9 pm, Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave N. Seattle 98103

Other Diesel Alternatives: Hype or Hope?
Are you curious about those other biofuels you've been hearing about? What is renewable diesel, green diesel, bio-crude, and sunfuel? How will these other diesel alternatives impact biodiesel and who is championing them? Get the low-down at Other Diesel Alternatives: Hype or Hope? Hear from a variety of speakers on this controversial topic. Get your questions answered! 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Seattle Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle WA 98103. Cost is Free. Information at

Bill Gates invests in algae fuel

Looks like Bill is getting into the renewable energy biz, with investment in a company that claims to be able to make several fuels from algae, including gasoline. Check it out here..

Friday, August 29, 2008

Testing for water in oil

If your oil looks cloudy, that's a sign that it has water in it. Water really inhibits the biodiesel reaction, so if it's there, you'll want to dry the oil well. You can tell if there's water simply by putting some of the oil on a hot frying pan- if it bubbles, there's water..