The future of renewable energy may be just around the corner - in Minden.
Bently Biofuels Co. has already completed its first batch of biodiesel fuel made from the oil of canola seeds grown last summer by Bently Agrowdynamics.
"We can grow it all here," said Don Bently, owner and chief executive officer of Bently Agrowdynamics.
"All it takes is seeds to manufacture biodiesel," Bently said. "You don't have to import oil. All you need is sunshine and the plants produce oil."
Bently broke ground for its production plant in March and ran its first batch of biodiesel fuel eight months later.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that reduces toxic emissions and greenhouse gases. It burns clean because it doesn't contain sulfur. Pollutants such as carbon monoxide, uncombusted hydrocarbons, particulate matter and carcinogens normally associated with petroleum diesel are all reduced when biodiesel is used either at 100 percent or with blends with petroleum diesel.
"Eventually we'd like to offer biodiesel to the public but we're not ready to put a service station at the end of the block," said Carlo Luri, general manager of Bently Biofuels Co.
The public will be able to attend an open house Jan. 7 to tour the Bently biodiesel plant. The uses of biodiesel fuel, its future availability and price range will be explained. Exact times for the open house will be announced soon.
"This will be social gathering to educate people about biodiesel," Luri said. "Mr. Bently is big on education."
Methyl ester, the chemical name for biodiesel, is manufactured from the reaction that occurs when animal or vegetable oils and methyl alcohol are combined in the presence of a catalyst. The process of converting vegetable oil to biodiesel fuel takes about a week.
Glycerin is the by-product of the production of biodiesel and is used in cosmetics, dust suppression or compost. Bently Agrowdynamics already uses glycerin in its composting program.
The resulting biodiesel can replace petroleum fuel in diesel vehicles or as a heating fuel.
While most new diesel engines will need no modifications to use biodiesel, some older engines will need to have rubber hoses and gaskets replaced with the synthetic types used in newer vehicles.
Bently Biofuels pays local restaurants up to 40 cents per gallon for the used cooking oil utilized in making biodiesel.
The service provides empty drums and removes the used oil. This is an improvement over the restaurant owners having to pay to get rid of their old cooking oil.
Similar to petroleum diesel, biodiesel "gels" at lower temperatures making engines hard to start in the winter. The problem is reduced when biodiesel is blended with additives.
Bently Biofuels Co. is a member of the National Biodiesel Board. For more information about biodiesel, go to www.biodiesel.org.
For information about becoming part of the restaurant oil recycling program, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 783-0123.