ORLANDO, Florida. – Used cooking oil collected from restaurants near Orlando-area attractions is collected and converted into a fuel that can help keep tourists flying there.
“We say we’re saving the world one drop of used oil at a time,” said Dave Kimball.
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Kimball is the CEO of Mahoney Environmentwhich is a company collecting used cooking oil in the Orlando area.
He said restaurants used to pay companies to dispose of their used cooking oil. Now he said his company is paying restaurants for the opportunity.
News 6 accompanied one of Mahoney’s technicians, Alex Rivero, near the Orlando amusement area.
He said his work day usually starts before sunrise to ensure he is done by the lunch rush. He said he visited about 20 restaurants, where he vacuumed about 80 gallons of used cooking oil from a custom outlet installed outside the restaurants.
He does this five days a week.
“Miami will process the oil, which means we’ll remove all the solids, we’ll do the separation,” Kimball said. “We end up with a pure oil, and then that oil will be shipped to another place to turn into renewable diesel or sustainable jet fuel.”
The final step in this process is carried out by Mahoney’s parent company, Neste.
According to studies, sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, burns about 20-50% cleaner than jet fuel refined from petroleum – sometimes even cleaner than that.
Kimball said it could be used in any existing jet.
The downside of SAF is the cost needed to convert the oil into fuel – estimated to be six times higher than refining traditional jet fuel.
“I don’t think the long-term issue is cost,” Kimball said. “I think the problem is going to be how can we produce enough of it.”
Neste’s fuel is already used at major airports, such as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
A spokesperson for Orlando International Airport told News 6 that not only are workers not using it, but they also have no plans to.
“Our fueling system is not like many airports where trucks bring fuel to specific airlines and planes,” OIA spokesman Rod Johnson said. “We have a hydrant system, where all the airlines share the fuel supply, so it’s not as practical for one airline to use recycled fuel as all the others would also have to agree to use recycled fuel. use such a fuel supply.”
News 6 checked with Melbourne Orlando International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport and Orlando-Sanford International Airport.
None of them use SAF either.
“Wherever you have fries, you’ve used cooking oil,” said Dr Puneet Dwivedi.
Dwivedi is an associate professor at the University of Georgia, and he has published studies on the use of recycled cooking oil as jet fuel.
“Used cooking oil contains all the fatty acids that can be easily converted into biodiesel or sustainable aviation fuel these days,” he said. “It depends on the demand or who is giving what kind of money, but the technology is there, and it’s very proven technology.”
He said demand is increasing.
In the Atlanta area, for example, Dwivedi said it’s very difficult to source used cooking oil because most of it will be used to make diesel.
“The airlines are behind this,” he said. “That’s why there’s so much action on sustainable aviation fuel, not just with airlines in this country, but around the world.”
Kimball said his company is also feeling the increase in demand.
He said the company is currently looking for locations to build a new facility in the Orlando area.
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