By: Kimberly Miller
Three hundred gallons of biodiesel were delivered to the Warren Wilson
College auto shop Sept. 8, the largest shipment the College has ever
received according to auto shop supervisor Ray Cockrell. The College is
also the first commercial customer of Blue Ridge Biofuels Cooperative, a
new biodiesel manufacturer in Asheville. The auto shop will mix
biodiesel with existing diesel for use in tractors, natural resources
crew equipment, and other off-road machines.
Although it costs slightly more than regular diesel, the benefits of
using biodiesel are enormous. Biodiesel is the name of a clean-burning
alternative fuel produced from plant oils or animal fats. The scientific
name is fatty acid methyl ester (FAME). Biodiesel contains no petroleum,
but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a
biodiesel blend. It can be used in any compression-ignition (diesel)
engine without the need for modifications. Biodiesel is not only simple
to use, but also biodegradable and nontoxic.
The Warren Wilson Autoshop is heading up other projects aimed at helping
the environment. One project is a new parts washer. The Smart Washer,
from Chem Free, utilizes a detergent-microbe water based mixture to
clean parts. The microbes are capable of "eating" the oil washed into
the sink. The mixture, called Ozzy Juice, is non-toxic. It requires no
special disposal, is safe for skin contact, and is not a fire hazard.
The microbes in the smart washer are capable of remediating crude oil,
solvents, greases, and more. Previously, the Autoshop has used a
solvent based parts washer. The solvent was used to remove oil and
grease from automotive parts. Solvent is a hazard to the environment,
the workers, and is a serious fire hazard.
Recently, the Autoshop bought two new minivans and two 25 passenger
buses. The new vehicles will enable mass transit for activities like
away sport games. “The Motor Pool is a conservation effort in itself,”
says Ray Cockrell. So far, each of the vehicles has a list of groups
waiting to use them when they arrive in mid-September.
Cockrell says that all of these initiatives are part of larger goal :
designating Asheville as a Clean City. The Land of the Sky Regional
Council is working closely with WWC’s Autoshop to obtain this
designation which would allot funding for incentives to use biofuels in
If you’re looking to fill up your diesel engine, Blue Ridge Biofuels
Cooperative fueling station is located at the Gas-Up on 405 Haywood Road
in West Asheville.