Martin McNabb

Martin McNabb

Biodiesel guru keeps CO2 out of atmosphere

Environmentalist collects used cooking oil from Island restaurants to fuel his vehicles.

A Vancouver Island man estimates he’s kept close to 72 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere by running his vehicles on biodiesel.

Martin McNabb, owner of Harmonious Enterprises and semi-retired SD70 teacher, has been collecting used cooking oil from mid-Island restaurants for close to 15 years that he refines into biodiesel. He says over that time he’s probably saved more than $70,000 on diesel fuel.

“I started doing this because I’m an environmentalist,” McNabb said. “A big problem is greenhouse gases and global warming, so it’s CO2 going into the atmosphere. Biodiesel is carbon neutral so there is no net amount of carbon CO2 going into the atmosphere because it’s plant based.”

When he first found out a diesel vehicle could be run on vegetable oil, McNabb sold his Ford Ranger and bought a 1985 Mercedes sedan. He began by mixing his first batch of biodiesel in a bucket in his kitchen.

“I poured it in my tank and it worked,” he said. “It smells like french fries when you walk by.”

McNabb now makes the biodiesel on his property in Coombs, where he has what he calls a “tank farm.”

“I’ve got about 80,000 litres of capacity,” McNabb said. “I have to clean [the oil], so get all the french fry bits out of it and I have to take all the water out of it, mostly by gravity,” McNabb said.

The process, he said, takes about 24 hours.

The environmentalist is not alone in his pursuit for cleaner air, he is part of a group called BC Biofuels Network.

“There’s a bunch of people like me,” McNabb said. “We decided we should let people know we’re making a difference because everybody is concerned about global warming…and this is helping.”

The entrepreneur has recently commenced on a journey to recognize all the restaurants in the mid-Island region who have allowed him to collect their used vegetable oil. He brought each business a certificate marking their long-term partnerships.

If McNabb didn’t collect the restaurant’s used oil, it would have to be picked up by the oil recycling business, West Coast Reduction of Nanaimo, who he says often adds the oil to animal feed and ships it to China.

More information can be found at McNabb’s Green Release website.