09:21 Thursday 20th January 2011
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
ANDY HARPER: Yesterday we asked you whether you would change your driving habits to try and save fuel and money, given the current cost at the pumps. I made the point that I drive around 60mph now, on the motorway even, which I once upon a time didn’t do. And I don’t find that many people passing me, particularly in the mornings. So I would imagine that a lot of people are doing the same thing. And that was the response we got. But a lot of you said, well, one of the ways round it is to use cooking oil. I thought that was perhaps something which somebody with an old vehicle might do, or somebody who was just taking a chance, or somebody who was a bit mechanically minded. But we were so surprised by the number of you who said, yes, we do it. we know somebody who does it. We even had a colleague upstairs who said to us, my dad does it. Which I must say took us by surprise. So we thought we need to find out more. Who better to go and talk to an expert than Johnnie Dee? (TAPE)
JOHNNIE DEE: I’m in some very smart premises here, with Paul Davies from Fenland Bio Diesel Processors. I met you before in Outwell, in your back garden, in a shed.
PAUL DAVIES: That’s correct. Yes. I was working with my father over there at the time. Yes, at his place. We’ve moved into new premises in March now, nearly two years ago now.
JOHNNIE DEE: Remind us exactly what you do.
PAUL DAVIES: I make the machines that turn waste cooking oil or new cooking oil into fuel, biodiesel.
JOHNNIE DEE: And what is the expense of that, compared with buying unleaded or diesel?
PAUL DAVIES: Well the production costs are 21p a litre, including your chemicals, your electric, and your water. So at the current rate you can save yourself about £1.10 £1.15 a litre.
JOHNNIE DEE: Is it fair to say you’ve never been busier?
PAUL DAVIES: I’m a little bit on the busy side. Yes. It is absolutely manic at the moment. The machines are selling faster than I can make them, so yes. Business is very very good.
JOHNNIE DEE: And just remind us how you come about to make one of these machines.
PAUL DAVIES: Well years ago we wanted to save some money ourselves, the same as what everybody is basically doing now. And I sat down and designed a machine, and basically what you see in front of you is the fruits of that. Yes. Everything is designed here. Everything is to our specification. We’ve diversified in the last two years in a big way since we last spoke. We’re doing a lot of different ranges of machines as well now. So, yes, things are very very good.
JOHNNIE DEE: And where are your machines going to? (PHONE RINGS)
PAUL DAVIES: Phone’s going.
JOHNNIE DEE: Yes.
PAUL DAVIES: That’ll be another customer. They’re literally going all over the world. My furthest machine away at the moment are in South Africa. So everywhere in between, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, all over, all over.
JOHNNIE DEE: I’ll let you get that phone. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: We think the phone might have been our producer Mike Williamson ringing up at the time Johnnie was chatting there. But we will have more in the next quarter of an hour, when we find out exactly how it works. Because most of us are completely in the dark. Yesterday one of our listeners said I just go to the supermarket and buy cooking oil. That prompted Gary to say: the guy who uses new cooking oil must be cuckoo. A litre of new sunflower or similar new vegetable oil in most supermarkets is dearer than diesel. It works out at something between £1.50 and £1.60 a litre. I think the clue to all of this is it’s used cooking oil. More very shortly.
ANDY BURROWS: Earlier we heard how the cost of fuel is good news for one March company. Fen Bio Diesel Processors is run by Paul Davies, who is rushed off his feet making the machines which convert cooking oil to run vehicles on. He showed Johnnie Dee how it works. (TAPE)
JOHNNIE DEE: So I’m standing in front of one of your machies now. And this is an FBDP100.
PAUL DAVIES: Yes. That’s a 100 litre processor. That basically will make 100 litres of fuel in six hours.
JOHNNIE DEE: To describe to the listeners, it’s a little bit like a futuristic looking petrol pump cum soft-whipped ice cream machine, like you see at the seaside, isn’t it?
PAUL DAVIES: I wouldn’t like to whip ice-cream in it myself.
JOHNNIE DEE: It’s got a little perspex window at the bottom where you can see the oil presumably. But is the downfall that you’ve got to stand there for hours and hours tipping oil into it?
PAUL DAVIES: No no no no. The whole process only takes six hours from start to finish. So time at the machine is about 45 minutes, that’s throughout the six hours. But you’ve got to free yourself up for six hours. But for your average family car, if you can save yourself £55 every time you go and fill up, I think it’s worth losing six hours of your time once a week, isn’t?
JOHNNIE DEE: Is the downfall that you’ve got to be up the fish shop all the time as well, getting the oil for it?
PAUL DAVIES: No no no. I mean, it’s just a matter of really sourcing your waste oil from your local take-aways and restaurants and what have you, and once you’ve got your sources, just keep them and look after them.
JOHNNIE DEE: So you can get it virtually for free, the actual raw materials, do you think?
PAUL DAVIES: Yes. A lot of places you can still get oil for free, but a lot of places obviously have cottoned on to the fact that it’s now a valuable commodity, whereas they used to have to pay to get rid of their waste cooking oil. Now some places are charging for it. But it’s a nominal amount, so perhaps 10p 20p per litre, so that just puts your costs up that amount.
JOHNNIE DEE: Do I have to have my car changed, like converted to take this fuel?
PAUL DAVIES: No no no no. Absolutely no conversion required. Basically it runs virtually the same as normal diesel. The one thing that most people, or nearly all people say is that the first thing that they notice is the car runs considerably quieter on biodiesel than what it does normal diesel. Apart from that, there’s absolutely no conversion required whatsoever. You just stick it in and away you go the same as what you would regular diesel.
JOHNNIE DEE: So if I want to put an order in Paul, for the FBDP100, how much would that cost me?
PAUL DAVIES: they’re currently £1650 including VAT as a complete package. And you’ve got everything you need in that price apart from your chemicals and your oil. Basically the machine itself, if you make one batch a week, irrespective of the size of the machine, you’ll get your money back guaranteed within five months, at the current price at the pump, just purely in what you’re saving.
JOHNNIE DEE: And what sort of oil can you use?
PAUL DAVIES: Any vegetable-based cooking oil basically, be it rapeseed oil, bog standard vegetable oil. Literally any liquid vegetable oil is fine. (LIVE)
ANDY HARPER: Unbelievable isn’t it? It’s that simple. Fascinating stuff. That was Paul Davies from Fenland Bio Diesel Processors, talking to our man Johnnie Dee.
Fenland Bio Diesel Processors