the Road to Marketing
Kemptville College researchers investigate
the feasibility of making biodiesel a household word
in Canada within the next few years
Recycled restaurant grease that doubles as organic
engine fuel isn't at the pumps just yet, but the drive toward
putting this kind of biodiesel on the Canadian market has
stakeholders revved up in anticipation.
Kemptville College professors Dean Donaldson, a specialist
in rural economic development, and Allen Hills, an engineer,
are on a mission to investigate the feasibility of making
biodiesel a household word in Canada within the next few
years. They're discussing marketing strategies with the
various stakeholders involved to form a common goal of incorporating
blends of biodiesel with regular diesel fuel, to lessen
the harmful effects of diesel on the environment.
"So far, we've seen a lot of positive acceptance,"
says Donaldson. "Consumers are very supportive of the
concept of using a renewable source."
And with recent reports that Toronto Hydro plans to fuel
its entire fleet of vehicles with a biodiesel blend this
year, it appears that support exists to take biodiesel to
the next level: marketing.
Biodiesel - a clean-burning fuel that is organically produced
from renewable resources such as recycled restaurant fat
and soybean or vegetable oils - is thought to be one answer
to environmental problems. But it has only recently surfaced
in Ontario as a realistic alternative to diesel fuel.
Donaldson's research focuses on working with stakeholders
to identify the barriers to marketing the fuel and examining
the potential choices that will fuel a commitment to manufacturing
and selling the biodegradable, non-toxic fuel.
Although pure biodiesel can be used in regular diesel engines,
Donaldson says it can't wholly replace diesel fuel just
yet because of its limited production and supply. He and
Hills are looking at the feasibility of scenarios involving
blended fuels - containing biodiesel in quantities from
two to 20 per cent - which still offer significant environmental
benefits and acceptable engine performance, even in colder
Donaldson says success at marketing a blended fuel containing
just two-per-cent biodiesel would require a 25-per-cent
increase in soybean production. That's more than 600,000
And a major obstacle in marketing biodiesel is finding
someone to distribute it, he says. Convincing the petroleum
industry to market a competing product isn't an easy task,
especially without government enforcement and with so little
concrete information widely available.
Although U.S. research boasts that the renewable resource
benefits the environment by reducing air pollution and greenhouse
gases - and it's been proven safe on engines - Canadian
investors would like to see researchers do more testing
in their own climate before they make any commitments.
For now, Donaldson and Hills are doing their best to bring
the ideas and expertise of various stakeholders together.
They will focus on arranging meetings with farm groups,
potential investors and officials in Ottawa to continue
to identify the barriers and solutions that will lead to
developing a plan that will put biodiesel to more widespread
"There are a lot of people who are making a commitment
to a cleaner environment, and biodiesel's a great way to
make that happen," says Hills. "Interest in biodiesel
in Ontario has really recurred just recently. It's gone
from 'nobody was interested' to 'nobody can keep up.'"
This research has been sponsored by the Ontario Soybean
Growers, the University's Hannam Soybean Utilization Fund
and the directors' funding program at Kemptville College.