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Old 10-15-2012, 10:17 AM
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Is now really the time to invest in making Bio-D?

I read this article in the Knoxnews Sentinel yesterday and it's making me question the long term viability of building a bio-diesel system or even a cheaper in-vehicle system for that matter.

The article is long but an interesting read. At one point they imply that the value of used oil has recently gone from $.06/lb to $.43/lb (.45 to $3.20/gal). Really?

I read elsewhere that the military is committed to significantly increasing their use of bio-fuels and they use a crazy amount of fuel.

Could the military and commercial bio-fuel vendors be driving up prices of used oil to the point where I should really be thinking twice about getting into it? Am I to late to the game?

The article gives me the impression that the commercial vendors have really locking up the "grease" supply and are working at state legislative levels to really mess up the future of private supply.

I'd love to hear from those that have been gathering used veggie oil for some time and their opinions on the trending of availability and pricing.

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:49 AM
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Yes, its 100% true that the yellow grease commodity market has gone through the roof. In some areas, the restaurants are being paid in well in excess of $1.00/gal for WVO. I do believe this is a direct result of competition to use this product as a fuel source. The truth is, ALL of the WVO produced is a drop in the pond compared to the amount of diesel consumed in this country - so the 'competition' is steep. Although I admit I don't follow it closely, it appears the commodity price follows the price of diesel - since nobody wants to pay MORE for fuel than they have to. $6/gal B100 goes over like a fart in church when diesel is under $4/gal...

I still get all of my WVO for free. My sources are small, locally owned places and I offer them benefits that exceed the out-of-town renderers' offerings. We have a rental cabin business and 'advertise' for them - directing a lot of traffic through their doors. We also try to eat there regularly, especially when we have friends visiting.

If you are in a small town, I'd recommend using that approach - even if you have to pay for it. Consider offering to buy a banner/space at the little league field or to distribute flyers/menus to local businesses. Just ASK what you can do to promote their restaurant!

Also, don't forget to hit up places like hospitals, schools, nursing homes, churches, etc that aren't likely to be as concerned with the $$$ the renderer may be offering. The places that don't produce as much as less impressed by those little checks.

My advice is to ask 'for a little' of the oil (after leaving a big tip and complimenting the owner/manager about the food, cleanliness and how hot the waitress was ). Then, ask if you can leave a drum if they are agreeable.

I haven't made bio-d for awhile, but our costs were from $1-1.50/gal for chems when we were making it. I finally found a guy to take all of the glycerol, but that was becoming a PITA to store and disposal of the washwater was always a concern as well. I chose to convert my truck(s) instead of bio-d at first for these very reasons. The cost was up-front for the conversion vs every gallon I used. Then a friend bought a BioPro 190 and we made B100 for a few years...

Hope that helps!! Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:39 AM
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Yup. It's a very hard time to be a small-scale producer. This is one of the big reasons I got out of it.

Where I live, you practically cannot get yellow grease for any price. The big waste companies have it locked up.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:59 PM
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Getting used cooking oil these days has more to do with establishing and building a relationship with the business/vendor. Even better is knowing someone there who has influence over that sort of decision making. So if that means eating at a particular restaurant on somewhat of a regular basis and getting to know the staff and management, then so be it. Once you have that 'in', then all you need to do is show them you can provide the service as well or better than the big companies. If you can do that, you might be surprised how many independent restaurants would rather deal with you, an individual, than a large company.

I've never had to pay for used cooking oil, but I produce a relatively small amount of biodiesel, for my own use between two vehicles. Any time I wanted to ramp up production and increase my 'stash', there has always been someone on craigslist giving use cooking oil away.

As far as return on investment, that isn't even a long term thing. The few hundred you spend on equipment will be at break even when you make a 100-200 gallons of fuel. If you can get free wvo, have the space to do it, the ability to build your own set up, and are willing to make the commitment on all levels, within a few months or so, (or maybe even less), your investment into building your processor and wash system will be paid for.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flainn View Post
Yup. It's a very hard time to be a small-scale producer. This is one of the big reasons I got out of it.

Where I live, you practically cannot get yellow grease for any price. The big waste companies have it locked up.
He's only about 4hrs from me, although it is a larger town. The same big companies 'have it all locked up' here too - but I can get as much as I want. Those companies have their flaws and the fact remains, the checks the restaurants get pale in comparison to things like the electric bill.

I've been all over the country and where Alvin is was among the hardest places to get oil. The big problem when I was out there was all of the commercial biodiesel places competing for oil. They literally watched the permits being pulled for new restaurants and often contacted them about WVO THE SAME DAY. I was still able to find 200gals/month and set up a friend who makes biodiesel. He's been collecting that for 4yrs now in spite of the pressure from the other places. I agree, give them what they NEED and make them happy about it and they won't wanna change.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:38 AM
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Thanks Jason and Alvin. It's good to know someones recipe for success. I'll work on the contacts/relationship. There are plenty of mom & pop establishments around here that I'll try my hand at.

I don't think it would take me very long to put a bio setup together so I'll just leave that be for now and see what I can get going for oil first.

Thanks again. Very informative answers.
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Old 10-29-2012, 04:15 PM
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Just started my 40th batch of fuel today. Sorry to here some of you are having trouble finding oil. My problem has been the places that I get oil from going out of business...
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:08 PM
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I have sort of the opposite experience...most of the mom and pop places are locked up, but the fast food chains aren't. I was even able to get Mickey D's and Sonic to let me collect the WVO. Weird!
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:45 AM
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I hope their oil is good. Here those places oil was a lot more acidic...
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
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I hope their oil is good. Here those places oil was a lot more acidic...
Yes, I do acid base base often and frequently.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:34 AM
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