Soon, truckers may be able to fill their stomachs and their trucks from the same source. The Love's chain of highway rest stops is partnering with agriculture giant Cargill to turn beef fat into diesel.
On Tuesday, the two companies announced a 50/50 joint venture called Heartwell Renewables, as well as plans for a factory in Hastings, Nebraska, capable of producing approximately 80 million gallons of bovine biodiesel annually, beginning in 2023.
Cargill will provide rendered beef fat—known as tallow—as the basis for the fuel. The production process will yield a fuel that's chemically identical to petroleum diesel, according to a Love's press release.
The benefits will be lower carbon emissions, as well as a faster combustion speed, which can increase power and reduce maintenance needs, according to the company.
2014 Peterbilt 579
Love's didn't discuss availability, but said its Musket logistics arm would market the fuel. It seems reasonable that much of the beef-fat diesel will end up in pumps at the company's own fuel stations.
Biodiesel has long had a connection with fast-food restaurants—most notably in the reuse of waste cooking oil for biodiesel.
However, biodiesel has never gotten the same attention from policymakers as ethanol. That's likely because ethanol serves as a lower-carbon alternative to gasoline, rather than diesel. Policymakers have also lumped the two fuels together in the past, assuming policies that benefited ethanol producers would also benefit the biodiesel industry.
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The Love's/Cargill biodiesel project comes amid surging sales of diesel pickup trucks, as well as a very high rate of tampering with emissions equipment—often done by well-meaning owners who don't realize they're vastly increasing the pollution of their trucks.
Love's has also been supportive of electric cars, partnering with Electrify America to install charging stations at its rest stops. Those stations should come in handy once an anticipated wave of electric pickups arrives.