Fueling a New Idea

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A pilot program will test the feasibility for using biodiesel fuel to run Lauderdale County's school buses. The Mississippi Development Authority awarded a $4,700 grant to the district to fund the project.

Biodiesel fuel is produced from old restaurant cooking oil.

"The alternative fuel that's being made into biodiesel comes from waste grease of restaurants and also serves to help lessen our dependence on foreign oil," said Kenneth Calvin of the Mississippi Development Authority. "So this particular biodiesel that will be used in these buses will replace a lot of the diesel that's now being consumed in the buses."

The mix will be 10% biodiesel, 90% regular diesel. The product is made locally. Company officials said it is safe.

The oil is obtained from restaurants such as the McDonald's, which would normally discard it after it is used. There is a cost factor.

This biodiesel fuel is priced at about $2 per gallon. Regular diesel at the school board price is about $1. Company co-owner Bob Glenn says it would be worth it.

"The main thing we see in this product right here is keeping our environment clean," said Glenn. "Mississippi has clean air. I think one thing that everyone should pay attention to is the quality of our air and let's keep it clean."

The initial purchase of biodiesel, through the grant, will be tested in nine West Lauderdale school district buses.