Biodiesel Co-op for Missoula & Bitterroot Valleys?

Although our focus here at SBS is Solar Photovoltaic’s, we cannot easily utilize this energy source with our vehicles when we drive long distances, not yet anyway. Enter Biofuels and within this biodiesel. This renewable resource is easy to produce and has many advantages, some of which are listed here.2tankprocessor02

  • The cost per gallon is substantially less than conventional diesel even after depreciating the costs of processing equipment
  • Substantially less polluting emissions
  • The carbon consumed by a biodiesel fueled vehicle is already in the carbon cycle.  Biodiesel avoids adding sequestered carbon to the atmosphere
  • Engine life is increased because of the fuels increased lubricity
  • Mileage and performance are comparable to slightly less the petroleum based diesel
  • Biodiesel compatible vehicles (2006 diesel vehicles and earlier) can run on concentrations from 100% to 0 % and can be switched between fuels with no preparation.
  • Home brewing biodiesel is relatively common with much information and equipment available on the internet
  • Used vegetable fryer oil is readily available at low to no cost, save for collection labor


  • More labor involved
  • 2007 and later vehicles can run on concentrations of 20% biodiesel or less
  • Gasoline engines cannot operate on biodiesel
  • Biodiesel has a higher gel point so winter blends will include a percentage of petro- based diesel.
  • Not readily available for consumers
  • Users are typically fuel brewers which increases ones responsibility to produce clean fuel 

Personal experience with Bio

MacadamiaNut_BI started producing biodiesel in 2012. I purchased two used processors and rebuilt them through much research and trial and error. I have successfully operated two Dodge Cummins trucks with 100% to 50% bio. I also drive a VW Passat with the TDI engine to commute to work some 105 round trip miles daily. I did have to change out two vehicles for earlier (pre 2007) built equipment.  The only issues I have had are changing the fuel filters more often and one plugged up dodge fuel pump which I replaced.

Concerning oil availability, I have 7 different restaurants I collect oil from and presently have more supply than I use.  My cost for used veggie oil is .21 cents per gallon when I average the free oil with those I pay a small fee.  This brings my total cost per gallon to .97 cents per gallon which includes all my variable costs excluding my time.  The processing equipment will pay for itself in less than two years. Depending on the degree of automation, these units cost me from $1,500 to $6,000.



One of the big advantages for me personally is reducing my demand for imported oil and all the issues this creates around the world. I have implemented numerous technologies in our home and farm to reduce our emissions, conserve resources and save money. Vehicle use has always been a sticking point as we have four vehicles and use them extensively with several businesses we operate. So it is quite enjoyable to pass by the gas stations, even if it does require more labor on my part.

Are Missoulians and the Bitterrooters ready for a Biodiesel co-op?

If this is of interest I would enjoy talking with you.  Many communities in Washington and Oregon have active co-ops where members can contribute at differing levels and all benefit from a steady source of bio.  Email me at

Dan Brandborg

GM, SBS Solar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *