Rob Del Bueno from Refuel Biodiesel explains how Emory University is his biggest customer and shows Chuck one of the first 24-hour biodiesel filling kiosks, where any biodiesel-driving customers can go. (Video by Hibbotte)


Chuck: Well, I’m interested in your particular operation and how you work it. Now who is your biggest customer right now?
Rob: Our biggest single customer is Emory University and they signed on with us very early on. They’ve been out on the leading edge of sustainability issues in our area for a while. And we had an employee who is actually a student from Emory. Actually, he was our first employee, who was a student at Emory, that helped facilitate a conversation with Emory about letting them know that it was technically feasible to collect the fryer oil from the cafeterias around the campus and their hospital network, recycle that into biodiesel, and then provide that biodiesel back to their buses that drive around, you know, for the students. So they operate 30, 40 buses every day, all day long, plus they operate probably 20 cafeterias. So we helped close that loop. And it was tricky because they have a third party food services company that handles cafeterias, and they have a third party company that manages their fleet operations and they don’t own the buses. They just pay for the service. So we had to make these connections between a food services company, Sodexho, who’s actually been very supportive of it, and First Transit, who manages the buses, and they’ve been supportive as well with Emory sort of in the middle. And our whole premise is that we’re gonna take a local waste source, we’re gonna turn it locally into biofuel and we’re gonna sell it to local users, the whole thing. And then, of course, all the associated economics going on all stays local as well, so.

Chuck: Well, Rob, we’re standing right in front of your unit here that fuels up some of your customers. So, you know, tell me about the pump itself. Tell me about this container that we have behind us.

Rob: Well, this is actually Atlanta’s only card swipe, pay at the pump 24 hour biodiesel filling station. None of the gas stations in town carry biodiesel and it was very important to me with our program to make biodiesel be available not only to fleet customers but to individual retail. That’s how I got into it. I wanted to run my car on it. And so, the problem is trying to convince a gas station to carry biodiesel is very difficult. They’ve only got a handful of tanks, a number of pumps. And they don’t necessarily feel that there’s a big enough market for biodiesel to allocate all their equipment or, you know, to that. So what we did is we put together our own little biodiesel kiosk and this is freestanding. It’s all in a box. It’s basically a gas station in a box. It’s got two tanks on the inside. We’ve got a card swipe reader here that anybody can use with their credit card. It’s unmanned. It’s 24 hours a day, and they can fill up with either B20 or B100 on their own and we don’t have this sort of overhead that a typical gas station has.

Chuck: Well, Rob this has just been fascinating to me. I think it’s so wonderful. You know, people talk about these things and discuss it, but you, my friend are doing it and I think it’s absolutely fantastic.

Rob: Thank you.

Chuck: And so thank you for your efforts and good luck with it.

Rob: Appreciate it.

Chuck: And I hope it spreads all around the world.

Rob: Me too.

Chuck: And I hope we get to play together sometime.

Rob: I’d love to.

Chuck: Okay.

Rob: All right.

Chuck: Absolutely great.

Rob: Thanks.

Chuck: Chuck Leavell for the Mother Nature Network.

In the Green Room: Chuck's biodiesel explainer, part three
Video: Chuck visits one of the first 24-hour card-swipe biodiesel filling kiosks.