North Carolina's first public soy biodiesel fuel pump opened in early June. The new pump at the Pit and Pump convenience store in Washington, N.C., makes soy biodiesel available to North Carolina consumers for the first time.

Potter Oil & Tire Co. of Aurora, N.C., is distributing soy biodiesel in partnership with Grain Growers Cooperative Inc. of Rocky Mount, N.C. The cooperative is working on building a soy biodiesel plant in eastern North Carolina. State government officials were on hand for the occasion.

The new pump dispenses a blend of 5 percent soy biodiesel and 95 percent petro-diesel. Any diesel engine can use B5 biodiesel without being modified.

Federal policies are encouraging a boom in alternative fuel sales. Soy biodiesel is made from soybean oil and burns cleaner than other forms of diesel fuel, experts say. It takes about three-fourths of a bushel of soybeans to make a gallon of pure biodiesel.