In a region that has lost a lot of industry to foreign manufacturers, OnSite Energy and Michigan State University Extension are working to bring the fuel industry local and make it green. Based in Flint, Mich., OnSite Energy partnered with Michigan State University Extension on their Freeway to Fuels project, which seeks to use land around Michigan’s freeways and airports as well as vacant urban lots to grow and harvest bioenergy crops, generating economic activity and jobs for the region.
Using three years of collaborative research on the Michigan agricultural market, OnSite Energy developed a fully automated biodiesel fuel processor, which Michigan State University Extension purchased to demonstrate and teach farmers how to make their own biodiesel fuel. The portable unit squeezes oil from soybean, canola and other oil crops seed, pumps the oil into the biodiesel unit and adds conversion chemicals that process the oil into biodiesel.
These portable processors range in price from $10,000 to $42,000 and produce 40- to 400-gallon batches of biodiesel fuel in eight hours. With glycerin the only by-product, biodiesel stands to be an affordable alternative to petro diesel, especially since diesel engines can run on biodiesel without any alterations.
“Making fuel on site allows for long-term fuel price stabilization, up to $1.00 per gallon in savings as well as supports local industry,” OnSite Energy CEO Michael Witt said in a statement. “We are all about local economies and getting the most out of Michigan’s resources. Michigan is primed for success with biodiesel fuel on a local scalable level. By switching to biodiesel fuel Michigan can reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, stop the massive importing of foreign fuel and keep the money local.”