Neste MY Renewable Diesel (left) burns cleaner than traditional diesel. (Photo: Courtesy of Neste)

In Pasadena, California, fire engines now run on diesel fuel made from animal waste fat and vegetable oil. It’s one of a growing number of municipal fleets, transit agencies, and other companies switching to this so-called renewable diesel.

Baines: “It’s identical to fossil diesel except it’s made from renewable matter. You can use it without any modifications to your engine … just drop in the fuel and off you go.”

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Jeremy Baines is with Neste, the world’s largest manufacturer of renewable diesel. He says producing renewable diesel causes far less carbon pollution than making diesel from fossil fuels. And it burns cleaner, so it produces less air pollution, too.

Over the past six years, Neste has sold more than a billion gallons of renewable diesel in the U.S.

Baines: “We’ve seen a real groundswell in people converting to renewable diesel in certain markets.”

For now, producing the fuel requires waste fats and oils from slaughterhouses and processing plants, so there’s a limit to how much can be made.

But Neste is researching the use of other raw materials including algae, microbes, and waste plastic. And that means more pathways toward climate-friendly transportation.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson

Diana Madson has been a regular contributor with Yale Climate Connections since April 2014. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition...