Wow, I never thought I'd be a supporter of McDonald's, given how I feel about fast food and that industry's ethical and environmental practices in general...but this is really great! It's really good to see a big company like this take the lead on using recycled materials for fuel. Let's hope others follow! Thanks for covering this, Ann...super-interesting stuff.
Elizabeth, I never eat at McDonald's or any other junk food outlet. Which is probably why I didn't know they'd started a huge biofuel program. I wouldn't say this has made me a supporter--they've almost single-handedly changed American agriculture, and not for the better (see a book called Fast Food Nation). But, as the reporter in the Green Prophet said last year, covering this story when it began, about the effects of all that methane from beef, "...McDonalds has to take these measures since their business has, overall, such a detrimental environmental impact." http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/07/uae-mcdonalds-greases-its-100-biodiesel-delivery-fleet/
Yes, I know how horrible McDonalds is and am familiar with that book...terrible, eh? And like you, I still don't really support them as a company. But even if they are doing this for business purposes and not altruistically, hopefully it will have a positive impact on the environment and biofuel endeavors...
Glad I'm not the only one who's read that book. What I'm hoping is that McDonald's program will serve as a huge test case for this kind of biofuel, and help shake out any kinks in the related processing or other technologies, as well as serve as a very public example that showcases what biofuels can do.
Theres some comfort in learning that they actually change the cooking oil every now and then. Not every falafel bar does this on a consistent basis.
It would be interesting to learn how much energy derived from conventional fossil fuel is required to refine the used oil into IC-engine worthy biodiesel. The saving might not be as great as it appears at first. In fact, un-refined oil could be used to generate electricity via steam turbines to power the deep-fryers, thus saving at the other end of the chain.
Many large companies like McDonald's have instituted sustainability programs--and then actually done something about sustainability, such as this--because of overwhelming consumer demand. At least, that's what the bioplastics and biofuels companies, and the research firms, tell me. Generally speaking, companies with sustainability programs figure out what steps they can take that will either eventually save money, or at least not spend more than they're doing with existing solutions, which makes sense. Because of this, a lot of good has been done, and new technologies have been invented and/or proven out. All good.
linus52, thanks for your comments. The article states that, in the US, the *average* participating restaurant recycles 1,450 gallons of used cooking oil per year. The total is obviously a lot larger than that.
Using a 3D printer, CNC router, and existing powertrain components, a team of engineers is building an electric car from scratch on the floor of the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago this week.
In November, a European space probe will try to land on the surface of a comet moving at about 84,000 mph and rotating with a period of 12.7 hours. Many factors make positioning the probe for the landing an engineering challenge.
NinjaFlex flexible 3D printing filament made from thermoplastic elastomers is available in a growing assortment of colors, most recently gold and silver. It's flexible and harder than you'd expect: around 85A (Shore A).
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