Veggie Oil Tractor Conversion

Fuel Circle Fuel's Sam Merrett Converting the Tractor


The Green EDGE Fund provided an efficiency loan to have Sam Merrett of Full Circle Fuels convert one of the Grounds Department's tractors to run off of veggie oil.

Background premise:

Dennis Greive of the grounds department proposed that the college convert one of their Kubota tractors to run off of veggie oil, reducing consumption of a fossil fuel (gasoline) and thereby reducing carbon emissions. Oberlin College has ready access to large quantities of leftover vegetable grease from the dining halls, making this an ideal project. The savings in fuel costs allows this project to be funded through an efficiency loan.

Cost-benefit estimation:

Based on data provided by Dennis Greive, the Kubota tractor has consumed 643 gallons of fuel per year on average over the last three years. At current low fuel prices of $2 per gallon for diesel fuel, this equates to $1286 in yearly savings. At the recent high price of $4 per gallon, this would equate to $2572 per year. Initial equipment costs are calculated at $1,545.88 and initial labor costs at $1,350, with maintenance costs not expected to be high. The monetary savings per year of $1286-$2572 could be even higher if gas prices rise dramatically in the next few years. Simple payback would occur in 1.13 - 2.26 years or sooner, depending on fuel prices. 

Additional benefits:

Dennis is fairly certain that this will be the first tractor conversion in the Midwest, if not in the nation, making it a great publicity item for the college.

Project press:

The Chronicle-Telegram: Oberlin College mows down diesel usage (May 27, 2009)
Oberlin Source: College Tractor to Run on Vegetable Oil (May 12, 2009)