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LSU AgCenter biodiesel workshop shows how it’s done

LSU AgCenter biodiesel workshops continue to draw crowd. Biodiesel process explained, participants educated.

Interest in biodiesel is growing, and people are flocking to classes to learn how to make used vegetable oil into fuel.

The LSU AgCenter has been conducting one-day sessions on making biodiesel for several years, and interest continues to grow, according to Bill Carney, LSU AgCenter environmental educator and director of the AgCenter’s W.A. Callegari Environmental Center in Baton Rouge.

Carney’s classes show people how to convert used vegetable oils into biodiesel using equipment that costs in the neighborhood of $1,000.

“We’re taking the mystery away from producing biodiesel,” Carney said during a recent session. “We can help people make a quality product that meets commercial standards.”

Carney warned, however, that producing biodiesel isn’t for everyone. “You have to have a reliable source of feedstock,” he said. “Otherwise, the investment won’t pay off.”

“We got to see everything,” said Mike Yazbeck, with Pinnacle Creek Productions in New Orleans who attended for the third time. “The workshop is beautiful. It’s an easy-to-use, elegant system that’s safe.”

Rising fuel costs make the system even more viable, he added. “It’s recycling at its best.”

Traci Green, with the waste permitting section of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, attended a recent class to learn about the process so she could give better answers to questions about biodiesel and its products.

“It’s always great to see beneficial waste being recycled rather than put in a landfill,” Green said.

Larry House from Picayune, Miss., said he wanted to learn how to make biodiesel. He said the process looks easy, but he wanted to get better grasp of the chemistry.

A blacksmith, House said he wants to use biodiesel for his truck, forge and furnace. He also could burn the glycerin byproduct in the forge, too.

“We’re making a better-quality product than we used to. It meets ASTM standards,” Carney said of the process he teaches. “We’re taking the mystery away from producing biodiesel.”

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