Local Businessman Working On Bio-diesel Station

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High prices at the pump and dwindling resources have many people searching for alternatives to crude oil. And one local businessman is responding by building a bio diesel gas station in Minden.

It all started about five years ago, when Don Bently of the corporation Bently, Nevada made a bold proclamation. He told a group of skeptical co-workers a barrel of crude oil would one day cost more than $100 dollars and it was time to start looking for alternatives.

"I asked the question, 'if oil is going to get that expensive, what should we do about it?' says General Manager Carlo Luri. "He told me, 'we're going to make our own fuel.'"

And with that simple concept, "Bently Bio-fuels" was born. After selling his electronics company to General Electric, 85-year-old Don Bently went to work on his masterpiece and began growing crops on his Minden property and extracting the oil. That oil, was then converted into diesel fuel. But manufacturing costs quickly started adding up, leading Bently to search for an alternative source of energy. His solution: recycling cooking oil from restaurants.

"It's locally made and it doesn't have to be imported," says Bently. "We do it right here in the western US."

Reactors break down the cooking oil into fuel. It's then purified and poured into a pump.

In 2006, Bently started selling his product to the public. Next September, he'll unveil a full-scale, solar-powered station featuring bio-diesel and ethanol.

A gallon of Bently bio-diesel is currently $4.35, which certainly isn't cheap. But general manager Carlo Lurri says the market is preventing the price from dropping any further.

"If we priced it significantly lower than the fuel would be sold almost immediately. It all has to do with the laws of supply and demand."

Vehicles running on bio-diesel typically get much better mileage than cars running on gas. So even though you're likely paying more for diesel, the value is roughly the same. Of course, the costs to make the product aren't exactly cheap either. Bently pays 50 cents a gallon for the used cooking oil and that price is expected to go up.