British Waterways has launched its first biofuel boat

Boat runs on chip fat

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If you notice the smell of fish and chips floating down the Grand Union Canal and wonder where it’s coming from, you might be surprised by the answer. You may have come across British Waterways’ first biofuel work boat, the Brentford-based Aylesbury.

British Waterways is trialling a new scheme that has the potential to convert many of its boats to run on cooking oil – a by-product of the restaurant industry. Using this type of biofuel has a varierty of benefits: it reuses a waste product that would otherwise be thrown away; it is kinder to the environment than diesel; and production is sustainable.

Aylesbury’s biofuel is made up from vegetable oil that has been treated with an additive to make it suitable for use. Converting the Aylesbury to run on biofuel was an easy process: the engine was simply drained of diesel and the filters changed.


Sam Thomas, Operations Supervisor, British Waterways London, said, “The treated cooking oil performs just as well as diesel and is a sustainable solution to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The oil does smell of fish and chips which can lead to some rumbling stomachs, but it’s a small price to pay for an environmentally friendly fuel source that fits in with the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Refurbished and converted to biofuel, Aylesbury works along both the Grand Union and Regent’s canals, from Brentford to Little Venice and Kings Cross, with the British Waterways waterway operatives on-board undertaking a variety of tasks including litter clearance from the water, repairs to the towpath and vegetation management.

July 23, 2009

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