Dean Schmelter, who owns several chemical processing businesses throughout the Southeast, was speaking to his mechanic at Black Forest Imports in Mount Pleasant last summer. He was complaining about the high cost of fuel. The mechanic, being of sound mind, said, “You’re a chemist. Do something about it.” He did. And now, the Lowcountry is about to benefit from this man’s ingenuity.
According to The Charleston Post and Courier:
The Lowcountry’s first biodiesel plant will be built in an unused warehouse on the former Navy base, creating a local source of nontoxic, low-cost fuel that can be used in nearly any diesel engine and marking a further advance in what’s been a largely backyard industry in South Carolina.
While one biodiesel plant already is being operated in the Upstate by Carolina Biofuels, the North Charleston plant will be unique in that it will use waste vegetable oil from hundreds of area restaurants to eventually fill the tanks of school buses, automobiles, trucks and even shrimp boats.
Rudolph Diesel, founder of the diesel engine, originally created his spark plug-free motor so that farmers could power their tractors with oil from plants they grew. Nearly any diesel engine built today will run on straight vegetable oil, but the fuel system must be modified to heat the oil so it flows smoothly. This process is unnecessary with biodiesel.