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Uncorking the Power of Biodiesel


A boutique vineyard in Tasmania’s Huon Valley is using a small-scale, mobile biodiesel refiner to help power the machinery needed to harvest the grapes.

The biodiesel refiner is operated by James Fox of Fox Design P/L and is situated at the Nandroya vineyard. The refiner produces biodiesel in a way that is commercially viable in rural and regional areas and utilises valuable resources, such as spent vegetable oils and tallow, which might otherwise be wasted.

The automated biodiesel refiner is about the size of a shipping container and produces the biofuel needed to operate the 1.5 hectare vineyard’s tractor and diesel generator.

Local food and hospitality businesses deliver and transfer the spent vegetable oils to storage vessels at the vineyard. Currently about 200 litres of spent cooking oil is delivered each week, with an average biodiesel output of 200 litres. The first volume of biodiesel can be tapped within 30 minutes of pressing the ‘start’ button.

James Fox said that when running continuously at full capacity, the mobile refiner can produce 100 litres per hour or up to one million litres each year.

"When used as a substitute for petroleum based fuels, this amount of biodiesel can reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 1,200 tonnes,” Mr Fox said.

The refiner is capable of producing commercial grade biofuel for heating and transport. The biodiesel displaces petroleum based fuels from local transport and power generating activities and therefore helps reduce climate change impacts.

Mr Fox is continuing to fine tune the facility for quality, safety and robust operation. He is confident that the market for biodiesel will continue to grow as the price of petroleum-based fuels escalates.

The CleanBiz program, hosted by the Environment Division in the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, provided Fox Design P/L with matched funding of ,000 to develop the refiner during the state government’s 2005-2008 Living Environment Program.

CleanBiz Industry Liasion Officer Damien Blackwell said the CleanBiz program provides a facilitation service to Tasmanian enterprises keen to achieve cost savings and improve environmental performance through a resource efficiency approach to business.

"CleanBiz recently launched a fresh campaign to recruit new businesses for its facilitation services," Damien said.

For more information about CleanBiz, visit www.environment.tas.gov.au/cleanbiz.