Mexican researchers are in the Cowichan Valley working with the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-Op and other agencies to study the local use of biofuels. Pictured, from left, are Alejandro Castro, Alejandro Hernandez, Chantelle Carden McGeachy, Dr. Odette Lobato, Karla Fabila, Alejandro Espinoza and Brian Roberts. (Submitted photo)

Mexican researchers are in the Cowichan Valley working with the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-Op and other agencies to study the local use of biofuels. Pictured, from left, are Alejandro Castro, Alejandro Hernandez, Chantelle Carden McGeachy, Dr. Odette Lobato, Karla Fabila, Alejandro Espinoza and Brian Roberts. (Submitted photo)

Mexican scientists study local bio-diesel model

Researchers hope to find solutions to Mexico City’s pollution issues

A group of Mexican researchers is in the Cowichan Valley to study local, home-grown ways to help improve the air quality in Mexico City.

The group, led by Dr. Odette Lobato from Mexico City’s Ibero-American University, is taking part in an international research exchange with the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-Op, in collaboration with Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society and Vancouver Island University.

Their goal is to study the full economic, social and environmental cost of locally produced bio-fuels versus petroleum fuels, and the public’s perception of the issue, in the hope of expanding the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-Op’s distribution model in Mexico City.

The group is working at the Cowichan Energy Alternative offices and surveying current and past co-op members about their experience with using biodiesel.

Brian Roberts, president of the co-op, said the researchers chose to study the biodiesel model practiced in the Valley because it’s hard to find anything similar anywhere in the world.

The Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op has been supplying access to 100 per cent biodiesel made from recycled waste cooking oil collected from Vancouver Island restaurants since 2005.

“We formed awhile ago as a group looking for renewable alternatives to petroleum products in the Valley, and not many produce the biodiesel we make that is in such a pure form,” Roberts said.

“The sustainable model for our biodiesel is not seen anywhere else in the world. Mexico had a state monopoly on their petroleum until recently, but that’s ended and now they are looking for sustainable alternatives.”

Lobato said transportation is one of the largest sources of emissions in the world, and renewable biofuels are a growing part of a sustainable solution.

“In Mexico, we face these same challenges,” she said.

“Biodiesel produced locally from recycled cooking oils have social, environmental and economic values which can be hard to quantify. Our Customer Satisfaction Index will help us better understand the people’s perceptions of locally produced biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel. I’m very happy to be here in Duncan to increase our understanding and bring attention to this important subject.”

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