Green Operations

Fast-Food Operator Cooks Up Fuel for Truck Fleet

April 30, 2008

A Glendale restaurateur has tapped a different supply of energy than corn or hydrogen to fuel his business vehicles. McDonald’s franchisee Steve Lanini’s idea of a clean-burning fuel comes from an unlikely source: the old oil from the deep fryers at his McDonald’s franchises, according to

Though it’s now just a fleet of three Ford F-250 Super Duty diesel trucks, Lanini once had six trucks running on the remnants of his deep fryers. Lanini didn’t begin to take the concept seriously until hearing about the
Deer Valley School District’s beginning to run its buses on biodiesel fuel in 2000.

And after speaking with people experienced with using fryer oil for fuel, Lanini went to work. He drew up plans for a fuel tank and a corresponding connection system and gave them to a welder, who installed the equipment on a brand-new truck.

Once the oil has been used in deep fryers, it’s removed and stored in containers where it separates into a liquid and a solid. While the solid, known as glycerin, is used in cosmetics and lotions, the prize for Lanini is the liquid. After being run through several filters, it can go straight into a vehicle’s tank.

Lanini, who owns six McDonald’s outlets in the West Valley, said he has about 10 five-gallon tanks of the oil lined up at his home just waiting to be used.

The only drawbacks, he added, was that the oil has to remain hot while in use to prevent it from solidifying, and there’s a loss of about 10 percent of the vehicle’s power.

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