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Bioheat: Use Biodiesel at Home, Ride a Bike or Skate for Transportation

timv's picture

Nice piece in today's News and Observer about bioheat, using a mix of modified vegetable oil and conventional heating oil:

Heating homes with used french-fry oil may get a much-needed boost in North Carolina from spiking crude oil prices.

Bioheat, a blend of traditional home heating oil with vegetable or animal oil additives, has gained acceptance in recent years in New England, where most residents use oil to heat their homes. But the biofuel blend is still an obscure alternative home heating source in this state, where only 8 percent of households use heating oil in the winter.

The N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University is promoting bioheat to heating oil distributors as a clean alternative to pure heating oil. It hopes to soon start a campaign to educate the public on the advantages of the biofuel.

Bioheat -- which blends heating oil with waste fryer oil, soybean oil or animal fats -- has been the preferred fuel of those motivated by environmental concerns because it burns cleaner than pure oil. It has had trouble gaining wider acceptance as it typically costs at least several cents a gallon more because of processing and distribution costs.

But with heating oil prices up 35 percent in the past year, bioheat is finally becoming cost-competitive, local distributors say. This week's $100 per barrel oil spike may mark the economic tipping point at which the environmentally preferable energy resource can compete with the established fossil fuel.

I think it's interesting that some of the biggest backers of this fuel are the home heating oil companies, who have taken quite a beating in recent years:

"From a heating oil perspective, this [bioheat] is the best thing since sliced bread, because they've had nothing new to sell for decades," said Paul Nazzaro, petroleum liaison at the National Biodiesel Board, a Missouri-based trade organization that promotes biofuels. "This is a great opportunity for the heating oil industry to reinvent itself."

It should be noted that "Bioheat" is in fact a registered trademark of the National Biodiesel Board (a cooperative that primarily represents soybean growers) and the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

(I thought about emailing a link to this story to just a couple of folks, but I know that there are some RSN readers interested in biodiesel and some involved in the HVAC business, and others might be interested for one reason or another than I'm not aware of.)


roadskater's picture

By All Means Share Your Knowledge Here

Thanks for posting this, and thanks to all who share their knowledge or experience. It's your skater's/biker's blog and doesn't have to be about skating or biking, as far as I'm concerned. It just should be what the people who come here want to share with each other, although so far we've done well to stay away from some of the more controversial areas of life that we won't solve here anyway. The important thing is the tone of respect for others even if we disagree. 

Among our group of Roadskater.net skaters and cyclists who exercise for charity, there are some common interests and abilities outside of that realm, and we have some true experts in various areas...all of us are experts about something or another, whether we are aware of it or not. I think a useful or interesting article about CTG lightning, WX safety, MySQL, InnoDB, Linux, GPS, EXIF, FOSS, TTWS (Toad the Wet Sprocket), HRM, Martin HD-28 guitars, alternative tunings, tube amplifiers, biodiesel, AJAX, Yahoo! User Interface, jQuery, Drupal, PHP, Python, Perl, Apache, Abyss, Forerunner 305, Commodore 64, digital music recording, fixing a glitch with the Win-TV HVR-950 USB TV Stick, and lots more can be interesting to skaters who come here...and more importantly, can bring people here to by-the-way see our skating and cycling and charity exercise content.

When you have a problem with some gear and work it out, please share. When you learn something new, please share. If we get too much non-skating content we'll figure a way to manage it so people can filter it out. For now, just blog it (to be sure the RSS feeds will pick it up) and under the tags called "forum," use InlineCafe to specify it's not exactly skating or cycling for charity. People will come to the well if there's water, and they'll definitely come to an abundant and free buffet of information and experience.

Take a look at the top all-time articles as of this writing and two are about tech topics (free tv streaming for Tour de France and Mark's Earthlink VPN fix). It doesn't matter how people find out about Tour to Tanglewood's efforts to help people with Multiple Sclerosis or learn our love for outdoor open road inline skating. Hopefully we'll offer something valuable to the world, and maybe some will join us along the way on wheels for a cause, or at least support our rights and privilege to do so.

eebee's picture

Alternative Energy

Thanks for posting that, Timv. It's good to see how the conscientious-half lives. The cycling and skating for transportation part leaves a lot to be desired where I live, though.
roadskater's picture

If Bike Run Skate Trails Were Part of Highway Design

I know most of us already believe this and most agree, but I would just like to say I see a lot of new construction and a lot of money put into making it so MORE traffic can build up, but there is virtually no effort put toward designs that would include greenways as part of roads from the start. Later, I'm sure they'd be gobbled up for more traffic lanes, ha, but for the time being wouldn't it be nice? I think the Suncoast Parkway in Florida is such a road/trial, but I haven't been there. The saddest thing, though, is to know how many railway line rights-of-way were let go (including the one through the Guilford Battleground National Military Park) without ensuring they'd be paved greenway for all. Railtrails are a huge economic boost to any community over even the short term, it seems to me. Certainly I always say take a look at the Silver Comet Trail at this point. In Greensboro, I wish rather than spending money on a ring around the town to suck the money out of the center and damage fresh woodlands all the way around, that we were instead fixing the tangled knot of Westover, Battleground and Lawndale by bridging them over or under the decades old dream of a trail on those rusty rails by the huge old Sears warehouse, all the way to Walnut Cove or so. Did I digress?
timv's picture

Worthwhile digression on roads and trails

You make some good points there, Blake. There are folks in local governments here who are sincerely trying to improve trails, on-road bike lanes, and other facilities for recreation and human-powered transportation. And yet they'll say, "I wish we had the money to spend to [acquire this missing strip of land/build a bridge or tunnel around this spot/widen this road for an extra lane]." Meanwhile, other folks in the same governments spend many thousands of times as much on new commerical and retail areas and multilane roads that prohibit cyclists (by law or de facto) obviously designed for cars and nothing else.

A lot of the really challenging problems (eg,"the tangled knot of Westover, Battleground and Lawndale") came from ambitious construction/renewal projects in the late 60s and early 70s, where surface streets were cut off to make way for multi-lane roads, leaving a wide busy road as the only way through. Aycock and Holden are other examples of the same thing.

Trying to retrofit bike and pedestrian access to places where no one thought about it when they were being built makes the job harder and a lot more expensive. I'm wondering if any more thought has been given to these things in the current building projects.

When we had the bike-ped planning meetings about two years ago, one of the citizens who attended wished out loud that there were the kinds of laws about bicycle and pedestrian access that there are about access for the disabled. When it comes to putting in ramps and elevators, "We really wish we could but we just don't have the cash" just isn't an acceptable answer, and it's a fine thing that this is so. I wish it wasn't so easy to play the same card when it comes to alternatives to driving everywhere.


timv's picture

Well I was being a little

Well I was being a little flip there with the "ride a bike or skate for transportation" part. I know that it's a challenge doing that in most places. Here we have significant hills, and violent storms that pop up sometimes with hardly any warning, and it can get hot enough to be dangerous in the summer and cold enough to be dangerous in the winter.

But we also get days were it's absolutely delightful to be outside riding a bike, as it's been so far this week. It's just a little tricky planning around them. I have yet to cycle my cross-town commute five times in a week, but it really is easier to get my stuff together and get myself on the bike if I do it somewhat consistently and don't skip too many days in a row.

I've seen the recommendation a couple of times to get a map and draw a one-mile radius around your home, and try to use a bike for trips inside that distance. Hah! There's nothing inside that distance for me except other houses and apartments. That shopping center where we met for Indian food last month is about 1.5 miles away from me, and that's literally the shortest trip I can make and actually go somewhere.

But I think the thing is to try to do whatever we can, not to look for silver-bullet answers and then give up on it because cycling can't totally replace car driving in one's life. For cutting fossil fuel use, for improving air quality, for individual health, and maybe for reducing road congestion to preserve plant and animal life, I think every little bit really does help--whatever you can find a way to do.


eebee's picture

Keeping an eye on the sidewalks

Thanks for the encouragement not to give up on skating somewhere rather than driving. Being originally from England, not driving everywhere comes naturally to me and I feel very caged-in having to be in my car every day. For at least a year now I have been scouring my route to work for new sidewalks that I've noticed being put in whenever there is a new housing or commercial development - even if that sidewalk leads to nowhere. I might actually one day be able to skate relatively safely the 18 miles or so to work, but that probably won't be possible until after I'm no longer at my present job!

One exciting thing about the development-flooded little town where I live is that along with the massive road-widening project I am noticing brand spanking new, white little sidewalks going in. This hopefully means in the near future I will at least be able to skate to the grocery store, bank, pizza & chinese restaurants, and home again. I have decided I'll only skate on the puny sidewalk and not on the busy road, so instead of a wide, half-lane width stroke, it'll be piddly hockey-like strokes. The way I see it, if people see me doing that maybe I'll inspire others to do the same. I'm ok to totter on the sidewalk in my skates, and any skating is better than no skating so maybe I'll even pick up a bit of agility into the bargain.  

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