One outback Queensland town has tongues wagging with an inventive solution to combat high fuel prices — and it smells like hot chips.

At the back of the Red Door Cafe in Cloncurry, in the state’s north-west, dozens of barrels of deep fryer oil sit next to a set of industrial vehicles.

The cafe is a social enterprise that trains and employs young people at its restaurant and adjoining warehouse.

Running the organisation isn’t cheap, there’s forklifts to fill with diesel and generators to power.

So managers did some research and discovered that the deep fryer oil they used in the cafe kitchen could be transformed into their version of liquid gold — biodiesel.

Some of the oil cans used in the filtration system can be seen behind the barrels.(ABC North West Queensland: Larissa Waterson)

“We had some of the oil from the cafe leftover and we weren’t sure what to do with it,” Red Door’s Paul Bashford said.

“It took us a period of trial and error for six months or so.”

Eventually, the team set up a system to convert the canola oil into biofuel.

“Essentially we’re just filtering all of the solids out of the oil and then we’re de-watering it,” Mr Bashford said.

“We’ve set up quite a lot of settling tanks so that process can happen naturally and then at the end we treat it to make sure there’s nothing organic growing in there.”

As the biofuel is thicker than average diesel and petrol products, the team runs it in their equipment at a 50:50 ratio combined with diesel fuel.

The filtered oil is combined with diesel before use.(ABC North West Queensland: Larissa Waterson)

Mr Bashford estimated the set-up, and the trial-and-error phase, cost the business a few thousand dollars.

But the money they’re saving as a result is well worth it.

“At the moment, with the price of diesel, [we’re] probably [saving] a fair bit,” he said.

“We’ve saved at least 50 per cent of our fuel bill and we do have other people who are interested in purchasing the finished product off us.”

This homegrown biofuel project is converting fryer oil into liquid gold, Paul Bashford says.(ABC North West Queensland: Larissa Waterson)

Saving other businesses

The biofuel isn’t just cutting costs for the Red Door.

Businesses around town now have somewhere to dump their oil waste instead of paying to have it trucked away.

Lors Chandler saves money by giving her oil waste to the Red Door Cafe.(ABC North West Queensland: Larissa Waterson)

Cloncurry’s Central Hotel owner Lors Chandler used to freight the hotel’s 40 litres of oil waste 120 kilometres to Mount Isa each week.

“Any used cooking oil is regulated waste so we had a lot of problems trying to dispose of that,” she said.

“In Cloncurry, there is nowhere, I know for a long time, people were taking it to the dump, which is just an environmental hazard.

“It’s a big expense and it’s a big inconvenience, pods of oil sitting around, you don’t have the space for it.

“Any expense at the moment is a burden … ultimately you’d have to pass that on in some way to your customer,” she said.

Extracted in full from: Outback cafe’s creative solution to fuel crisis is served with chips on the side – ABC News

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