Archive for December, 2008

A Biodiesel Plant in Anchorage.

December 31, 2008

alaska-waste-logoProbably the biggest Alaska biodiesel news of 2008 was Alaska Waste announcing plans to build a 500,000 gallon per year biodiesel plant in Anchorage.  Alaska Waste has been adamant that they are not going to be selling biodiesel, but using it for their private fleet.

You may remember early last fall news of folks scrambling for fryer oil.  Well, it appears that Alaska Waste has offered 3-year contracts to nearly all the major fryer-oil producing restaurants and institutions in and around Anchorage.  In exchange for an exclusive right to waste vegetable oil, Alaska Waste is providing a refrigerator-sized heated oil collector that will be installed inside the kitchens.

Pacific Biodiesel, known for community-scale biodiesel plants and their connection with the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, has been helping Alaska Waste with the planning process.

Alaska Waste is the main trash hauler in Alaska and is mostly owned by JL Properties, a major real estate developer in the area.  JL Properties is infamous for some business dealings which benefited Uncle Ted.

Change can be painful and uncertain, but opens many opportunities.  We’re quite excited about the prospect of a biodiesel facility in Anchorage, but are also wondering what this major shift in the fryer-oil scene will mean to the established vegoil community.

By securing nearly all of the larger oil contracts in the area, Alaska Waste has taken over the profitable portion of recycling waste vegetable oil.  Previously, Alaska Mill and Feed was collecting not only from the larger producers but also from the little restaurants, and selling clean oil to local drivers.  Alaska Waste is planning to offer a drop-off point for the smaller restaurants and individuals to dispose of used vegetable oil, and we’re hoping they will offer cleaned oil to SVO enthusiasts.

We’re looking forward to working with Alaska Waste in their biodiesel adventure.

Veg On!

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Book Review: SVO – a Compendium of Current Practice and Theory

December 15, 2008

svo-bookForest Gregg’s book SVO: Powering Your Vehicle with Straight Vegetable Oil is a great contribution to the vegoil community.

He has coupled an extensive literature review with substantial personal experience to create a dense but accessible snapshot of this quickly evolving science.

Gregg has included lots of goodies for the SVO geeks: an introduction to the chemistry of oxidative polymerization, the basic physics and bulk modulus in vegetable oil fuel injection and a comprehensive annotated bibliography for further reading.

I agree with probably 90% of his assertions, and appreciate how Gregg acknowledges the gaps in our understanding of veg-fueling diesels.  The only section that really caught me off guard was his diagrams of alternative fuel routing.  The examples seemed to point out unsatisfactory designs, but left out other acceptable designs – at least he didn’t included the routing method we use here in Alaska.

This is not an introductory arm-chair read for those thinking about converting to SVO.  That honor goes to Ray Holan’s humorous Sliding Home, with its emphasis on which SVO system is right for you – and whether you really want to run SVO at all.

Gregg’s SVO book shines as a fabulous compendium of current cutting-edge vegoil practice and theory.  A great read for those interested in designing a robust vegoil system, and for current SVO drivers who want summary of the science behind their conversions.

Veg On!

Yes, Off-Road Biodiesel is Taxed in Alaska.

December 5, 2008
State Gas Tax Chart

State Gas Tax Chart

SVO and biodiesel are both considered diesel fuel for tax purposes, and although there are some tax-free uses of diesel, off-road driving is not one of them.

But hey, off-road vehicles, heavy equipment, portable generators, and the like get a 6 cent refund on the intial 8 cent Alaska state tax, so you’re only looking at paying two cents a gallon!

Now biodiesel or vegoil as heating fuel (bioheat) is tax free as far as the state is concerned. Heating fuel includes other “domestic purposes” like cooking, etc.

Basically, if fuel is used in an internal combustion engine, you pay Alaska tax on it.  A small-scale exception is a permanently installed generator that “adds to the value of the property.”

In other words, if you’re off the grid and have a generator shed with a big old lister bolted to a concrete pad, you can generate electricity for personal use with your homebrewed biodiesel/vegoil state-tax free.

The emergency generator you pull out of the garage is not a part of the property’s value, and fuel used in that is taxed at the off-road rate.

It’s ridiculous that the state even collects tax on personal use biodiesel and vegoil, but it’s written into law, so only the legislature can change it.  That means you all need to call your state representative and ask for a personal use exemption for biodiesel/vegoil!

Remember: You’ve still got the Federal Tax to deal with, and if you want to sell or distribute biodiesel you’ve got a whole lot of paperwork ahead of you.

Disclamer: Read the statutes or call Jamie Taylor 907-269-6948 at the Motor Fuels Tax Office if you need real tax advice.

Veg On!