Friday, May 26, 2006

Nearly Shut Out in Eureka

In two days here I've only been able to procur 8 gallons of waste vegetable oil, all of which came from a restaurant that must remain nameless. It's reminiscent of that fine oil from the swanky Chez TJ in Mountain View: clean, clear, and golden. Mostly, though, I've been stymied by an Arcata Outfit called Footprint Recycling. They have provided the restaurants in the area with fancy, locked barrels to dump their oil and are using the waste to make about 7, 500 gallons of Biodiesel/month, which they sell locally at $3.99/gallon. They offered to sell me oil for $2.40/gallon, but I've never paid anything for it, so I passed. I still have plenty of Bay-area oil to make it to Bend, and folks in Portand and Washington have offered filtered oil. I drove to Arcata today and toured the Biodiesel facility with Andrew, the founder. The production of Biodiesel is (to me) a very technical process in which waste vegetable oil is scrubbed and filtered, then reacted chemically to separate the glycerides(soap) from the methyl esters (Biodiesel). The fuel is then further refined until it resembles petroleum diesel. The only by-product of the process is glycerin, which gets sold as industrial-type soap. The benefit of Biodiesel over my system is that no engine modification is needed, and it has a broader viability as a fuel. It's great to see people doing this, even though it means not much oil in Humboldt for me.
Today I was a beauty school guinea pig and then went for a beautiful paddle in Trinity Bay. Tomorrow.... on to snowy Oregon.

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