The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

PlantDrive

PlantDrive

Sustainability

October 28, 2012


U.S.-based PlantDrive.com, associated with the Canadian-based PlantDrive.ca, is a company that provides kits and components for the conversion of diesel engines to use 100% vegetable oil as fuel. Since plant oil fuels used to replace diesel fuel use very little energy in their production as fuel, using vegetable oil as an alternative fuel has become a cost effective and smart way to produce renewable energy. We spoke to owner Craig Reece about the growing importance of alternative fuels.

How does PlantDrive work and what was the inspiration behind its creation?

Plantdrive sells kits and components, and offers installation of the kits and components, that make it possible for a diesel vehicle to operate on used cooking oil as fuel. Vegetable oil is carbon-neutral, renewable, and sustainable, and petroleum-based diesel is none of these things. We were inspired to perfect this technology – first developed by Rudolph Diesel at the turn of the last century – to do what we could to stop the frightening pace of climate change while offering our customers the chance to save a lot of money on fuel bills while doing their part to help the environment and the world geopolitical situation.

How have you been able to merge commerce with sustainable business practices?

We sell and install products that promote sustainability and do a lot to fight climate change, and run our business in the most sustainable and energy-saving ways than we can think of – because it's good for the bottom line and for the planet. We send instructions as PDF's to save trees, drop-ship directily from our suppliers whenever possible, and use Amazon Fullfillment for other shipping, and we also work from our home-offices. And drive on carbon-neutral and renewable fuel, when we do drive.

How is your business unique from others that are developing alternative fuel technologies?

The main alternatives to what we're doing are other renewable fuels and electric vehicles, as follows:

The most common so-called renewable fuel in the U.S. is corn ethanol, which is actually not carbon-neutral, since its production requires a lot of heating (fossil-fuel generated, at least in the U.S.) while causing rising prices for corn, which results in higher world-wide food prices.

Biodiesel is – like the used cooking oil that PlantDrive customers fuel their vehicles with – plant-oil based, but most of it is produced from virgin soy or corn, and thus has large fossil-fuel inputs required for it's farming and transportation, as well as the use of methanol, which is derived from coal and is a potent neurotoxin and highly flammable in it's production. So it's not nearly as carbon-neutral, and generally is sold as blends with petro diesel, again losing points, climate-change wise, relative to used cooking oil.

Electric vehicles can help with climate change, but only if the electricity that charges the batteries isn't produced by the gasoline engine, as in the case of hybrids like the Prius and Volt, or is produced with renewable energy, as in the case of EVs (pure electric vehicles) or plug-in hybrids. And most of the electricity in the U.S. is produced via fossil fuel – coal or natural gas.

What's the future of the company? Where do you think you'll have the biggest impact?

We think we’ll see growth in all markets where diesels are used. Particularly if (not when) fuel prices rise – and continue to rise.

What can the energy industry – and the food industry – learn from your success?

Be innovative. Look for uses for waste products that can replace manufactured products, and look for ways to reward your customers for their concern for the planet with huge monetary savings.

In upcoming issues, we will continue to feature interviews with companies that are taking innovative steps toward the creation of sustainable products and services. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing please contact Allison Bloom at Allison@supermarketguru.com.