City, State Launches Biodiesel Facility

If you know Montgomery, you've no doubt heard of Mary B's Buffet and its famous fried chicken.

The restaurant goes through 350 pounds of cooking oil every week.  When the city asked owner Rick Monroe to donate used oil, he found the request a little strange.

"The city comes by every couple of times a week and sucks it out and puts it in their truck," Monroe explained.

The oily efforts, however, are all in the name of science.

A new biodiesel production facility takes the oil from local restaurants and turns it into something useful.

"I just had an opportunity to walk over there to [a] tractor [that's] running off of what we made," explained State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks said during a press conference at the facility's opening.

Instead of thick smoke, the new fuel smells a lot like french fries and burns cleaner.

Montgomery's mayor says the biodiesel is a benefit that will hopefully grow over time.

"As our steps become larger, the dependency on other fuel will become smaller and smaller," explained Mayor Bobby Bright.

It takes an 8-hour chemical process to refine the cooking oil into usable fuel for trucks, heavy machinery, and other vehicles.

However, with a way to combat rising fuel costs and improve the environment, city leaders say it's well worth the wait.

"The city, and city crews will be a major recipient of this asset," Bright explained.

It's an effort that leaves restaurateurs eager to help.

"I'm honored that I'm able to cut down on some of the expenses to the city," Monroe said.

Reporter:  Cody Holyoke