Alabama Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks and Montgomery’s Mayor Bobby Bright have announced they are forming a partnership to turn used cooking oils into biodiesel fuel for agriculture department and city vehicles.

“I can think of no better way to help clean our environment and fuel our trucks and heavy equipment at the same time,” said Sparks. “Our ability to make biodiesel right here in Montgomery is a significant step toward keeping our landfills and sewer systems free of used cooking oils and protecting our energy security.

Staff members from the Department of Agriculture & Industries’ Center for Alternative Fuels have been talking with Mayor Bright’s staff over the last few weeks to develop a plan for producing alternative fuels to be used in government vehicles.

Mayor Bright said several senior city officials had recently toured a similar facility in Hoover and saw the advantages Montgomery could gain from such an operation. Sparks toured the same facility recently and decided to put the plan into action immediately.

“Commissioner Sparks contacted me and offered this great opportunity that was just too good to turn down,” said Bright. “This process is working in several other cities across the state and we are extremely pleased we can put this into action for Montgomery’s citizens.”

The production facility will initially use cooking oils retrieved from area restaurants as the primary feedstock. Once fully operational, Commissioner Sparks hopes the city will establish recycling stations throughout Montgomery to collect used cooking oils from individuals.

Running at full capacity, the equipment can produce approximately 100 gallons of biodiesel per day. When mixed at the rate of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent regular diesel fuel, the city and department could have about 500 gallons a day of what is generally referred to as “B20.”

“Reducing the amount of cooking oils used by restaurants going into the landfill is good environmental policy,” Bright said. “Once we can expand our collection to include individual citizens it will further reduce the amount of cooking oils going into the landfill or being poured down the sink and clogging our sewer system.”

Commissioner Sparks says the facility will also be used for instructional purposes to encourage the state’s farmers to produce a variety of crops that can be turned into biodiesel, including soybeans and canola.

The Department is currently in the final stages of launching a mobile unit similar to the one that will be located in Montgomery. The Montgomery unit is expected to be based in one of the department’s facilities near the State Farmer’s Market.

For more information on biodiesel, please visit http://biodiesel.org/.