BIODIESEL: fueling the green economy in Namaqualand
Biodiesel fuel station
​A new biodiesel business, Nam Petroleum, is producing cleaner and cheaper fuel in Namaqualand
Photo by © CSA/Green Renaissance
Malinda Gardiner

A local entrepenuer from Concordia, in rural Namaqualand is recycling used restaurant cooking oil to produce a cheaper, cleaner, greener fuel that emits half the amount of emissions than that of regular fuel

Once a month Earl Muller collects used cooking oil from Cape Town, the mine canteens in Kathu and at Black Mountain mine in Aggenys and turns it into cleaner, greener and cheaper biodiesel at his biofuel plant located in Concordia, Namaqualand.

Collecting the oils for making the biofuel, emits 4.8 tonnes of carbon a year.  Compared to the 9.4 tonnes that would be emitted by using 100% petroleum, even Earl’s sourcing trips are making a big difference to a better environment.

Economists say that recent fuel hikes are largely due to an increase in the international oil price, tensions in the Middle East and rising grain prices.  Earl’s fuel is 93 cents per litre cheaper than regular fuel and it provides the South African consumer with a much needed cost saving as well as creating jobs and keeping the environment clean.  Conservation South Africa, through the SKEPPIES small grants fund, funded the purchase of machinery needed to process the biodiesel.  The biodiesel facility produces 3000L per month and Earls vision is to increase his production and provide even more jobs for people in the area. 

“I believe that establishing a green economy in Namaqualand is important. Global warming is going to affect us all.  Emissions from vehicles running on fossil fuels alone causes global warming and I can make a difference.  My biodiesel is making a difference!” said Earl Muller.

Earl’s company, NAM Petroleum, produces the biodiesel from a blend of 50% biodiesel and 50% petroleum diesel.  The biodiesel product is made exclusively from recycled cooking oil, and is sold locally as fuel for vehicles, power generators and for small machinery. One of NAM Petroleum’s regular customers is Ikwela, a local recycling company from the nearby village of O’Okiep that uses this fuel for their waste removal trucks.

Prior to supplying NAM Petroleum, most suppliers were dumping oil at waste filling sites.  By turning used cooking oil into biofuel, Earl is helping to prevent pollution and the ill health effects of using old cooking oil.  Dumping used cooking oil is not good for the environment,  if it is not done properly, it can coat the feathers of aquatic birds and deplete the oxygen supply in water.  Cooking oil is often purified and re-used by food facilities despite this being illegal and carcinogenic.

Biodiesel is a biodegradable and nontoxic diesel fuel substitute that can be used in late-model (after 1992) diesel engines without any need to modify the engine beforehand. Biodiesel is actually good for diesel engines as it lubricates better than petroleum-based diesel fuel and has excellent solvent properties.
Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is biodegradable, non-toxic, and burns at a relatively high temperature.

The use of 100% biodiesel fuel can reduce the fuel economy and power of diesel engines by up to ten 10%. However, because it is physically similar to petroleum-based diesel fuel, biodiesel can be blended with diesel fuel in any proportion.

A by-product of manufacturing biodiesel is glycerine and Earl supplies this to another green entrepreneur in nearby O’Okiep, Robert Richards, who uses the glycerin to make soap from a sustainably harvested shrub that is indigenous to the area.

Top 5 Facts About Nam Petroleum's biodiesel
• emits 78% less carbon dioxide than regular diesel.
• eliminates sulphur oxide and sulfate emissions. (cause of acid rain)
• 56% reduction in hydro-carbon emissions
• Further reductions in carbon monoxide and soot
• 94% reduction in carcinogens

In true green spirit, Earl aims to reduce the carbon footprint of his business even more and is considering installing solar panels or a generator run on the biodiesel he produces, to provide in the electricity needs for his business.