Savannah Tractor Powered by Turkey Oil

Posted on November 28th, 2009
Original post by: Savannah Now
http://savannahnow.com/news/2009-11-28/savannah-tractor-powered-turkey-oil

Now that your turkey is a picked-over carcass, here’s a win-win idea for getting rid of the oil that fried that bird: Wilmington Island farmer Bill Lynes wants used vegetable oil to power his tractor. The county wants to keep all that fat out of local sewers, where it congeals and creates expensive clogs. So they’ve teamed up to collect cooking oil at the Wilmington Island Recycling Center.

He currently collects oil from several local restaurants and a South Carolina nursing home, filters and centirfuges that oil to remove water and particulates, then pumps it into his diesel engine tractor. As an off-road vehicle, it’s a hassle-free use of a free fuel. Vehicles driven on public roads are required to pay road tax on their fuel, a process that’s difficult to comply with where free vegetable oil is concerned, Lynes said.

Lynes approached Chatham County officials several months ago with his idea of collecting used vegetable oil from residents. When they agreed to give it a try, he spent about $800 outfitting the Wilmington Island Recycling Center on Concord Road with a small storage tank just for the job.

Chatham County Environmental Program Coordinator David Nash loves the cooking oil collection not only because it’s a great local recycling effort, but also because the grease that could otherwise end up in local sewage systems is expensive to clean out.

“If you’re on septic, it will clog it,” he said. “If you’re on county sewage, it’ll clog up drains, and you’ll have a backup. It’s imperative not to put grease down the drain. It’s a slow killer.” “It’s like how you have a heart attack – plaque builds up slowly. Once it’s in there, you have a heck of a time getting it out.”

Lynes, who traded-in his Porsche race car when he bought his tractor, has been cultivating his three-quarter acre “town farm” for about a year on family land that once was part of a larger vegetable farm and before that a cotton plantation. He still works in Lynes Realty and Development Company, but he’s clearly a devoted gardener, too.

He barters his vegetables with local markets such as Davis Produce. Friends and neighbors get his chickens’ eggs. “I’m sort of in a learning process now,” he said. “I want to know what works, like bartering with people and giving stuff to friends.” And maybe, if it catches on, collecting used cooking oil.

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