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Tractor Mower run on Biodiesel

What was the challenge?

Primarily reducing Field Studies Council Flatford Mill Field Centre’s waste by reusing cooking oil produced in food preparation into a biodiesel. The biodiesel would be used to run machines (push and ride on lawnmowers) especially during the summer months when there is a high need for garden maintenance; therefore reducing the consumption of diesel, as well as CO2 emissions. Biodiesel as a sustainable fuel source is more close to being carbon neutral (Life cycle GHG CO2 emissions for Petrol 14.2kg/gal and for Biodiesel 2.0 kg/gal).

Flatford Mill’s maintenance team estimated that the centre was buying 150 litres of petrol per year, and our catering team was producing 100 litres of cooking oil per year, the amount of biodiesel produced and therefore the amount of petrol bought would be approximately reduced by half.

The by-product of biodiesel manufacture, glycerine, would then be used with KS2 groups to make handmade soaps but it could also be composted.

This system would stand as a model for converting other larger machines to run on biodiesel and showcase the potential at using higher concentrations.

What did we do?

As part of the 2015 FSC Green Fund Flatford was awarded an amount of money for producing biodiesel. With this we were able to get a biodiesel processor and the first set of reagents to convert used cooking oil into biodiesel. The fuel produced from this is then used to run the lawnmower which has been converted to run on diesel.


  • Developing environmental and sustainability aspects of teaching and learning: As a working example of alternative fuels, it is be used in sessions to investigate the cost/benefits of alternative fuels, examining the practical applications of different carbon neutral methods (specifically with iGCSE groups).
  • Reducing our centre’s Carbon Footprint and Waste Produced.

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