Drivers along a stretch of Interstate 15 in Utah might be used to seeing biodiesel-powered vehicles, but the same stretch of road is becoming home to the raw materials used to make biodiesel.
According to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Department of Transportation has partnered with Utah State University to plant safflower, camelina, canola and perennial flax in a safety strip along the interstate. The seeds are then crushed to make biodiesel:
The unusual idea came from Dallas Hanks, a 44-year-old biologist who is working on his doctoral degree at USU. With an initial $50,000 boost from UDOT, Hanks aims to prove the 2,500 miles of state-owned highway right-of-way could yield an annual average of 500,000 gallons of 100 percent biodiesel.
By addressing efficiency, energy development and climate-change concerns, the project “has it all,” said Laura Nelson, (Utah Governor Jon) Huntsman’s energy policy adviser. “A lot of agencies are pursuing the conservation initiative,” she said. “This is probably the most innovative [approach].”
Officials expect the biodiesel will power the UDOT trucks and heavy equipment.