Byline: David Jones
TERRY Moorhead would never claim to be an out-and-out environmentalist but he's doing his bit to help save the planet from catastrophic global warming and give the ordinary motorist a lift at the same time.
His start-up company Next Generation Fuels Ltd has launched a bio fuel made from recycled vegetable oil that has, he says, significant advantages in terms of lower environmental emissions compared to fossil fuels.
Mixed with diesel, the "green" fuel is already being used by a taxi firm and is being trialled by a local authority in North Wales in a range of vehicles.
"I am not a tree hugger, and I don't want to give that impression, but I have seven children and eight grandchildren and I think there has got to be something we can do about climate change and the need for alternative fuels. Anyone can see the escalation in diesel prices," says the former Army captain.
"The economy and the environment are the two key issues here - neither gets priority with us - they have to go hand in hand as equal aspects of the business."
He had been thinking about starting a fuel business of some sort and was doing some market research into the idea when he came across the concept of clean bio fuel at a seminar in the Caernarfon area.
"We thought it sounded a good product.
"That was two years ago, and from that point we started experimenting with different filters and pumps to find the right products."
Gradually, all the elements needed for a new business venture - an innovative product, a clear idea of the market to be addressed, a business plan, premises and funding - came together.
Moorhead collects his raw material - used cooking oil - from hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals, but also buys in bulk from brokers.
"We have local collections that are building up - Denbighshire has offered us the opportunity to collect from all schools in that county - but we also go to the brokers because we need a big supply.
"We inspect the oil before we take it from restaurants and the other establishments because obviously we do not want any solids in it. We will collect free of charge provided they guarantee it has not been contaminated in any way."
The oil, typically a blend of vegetable, sunflower and rape seed oils, is gravity filtered in tanks at Next Generation Fuels' premises in Llandudno before water and small particles down to one micron in size are filtered out - important if impurities are not to clog a vehicle's fuel line or injectors.
Organic additives are then added to improve the performance of the bio fuel which customers mix with diesel in typically a 50%, 25% or 5% mix, although Moorhead says he's successfully run a Mercedes on 100% bio fuel.
The reason for the lower, 5% bio fuel mix, is, says Moorhead, that car manufacturers will honour a warranty on a vehicle using a bio fuel of that concent ration.
"It is a fairly simple product to produce, but it's no good just buying a bottle of cooking oil off a supermarket shelf and pouring it into your tank, as I saw one man doing. …