Department recognizes eco-friendly Marathon fuel business
by Chris Tittle
Public Information Officer/Marketing Director
The Monroe County Health Department has recognized Marathon Bio-Diesel as an eco-friendly business in the Florida Keys.
The company takes cooking oil from local restaurants and converts it into bio-diesel fuel before selling the fuel to businesses.
Jeffrey and Nancy Lillie own Marathon Bio-Diesel, which has been in business for 7 years.
“Restaurants used to pay to have their grease hauled off,” Jeffrey Lillie said. “Now, they can have it removed for free.”
Marathon Bio-Diesel workers collect the cooking oil and store it in 300-gallon containers that sit outdoors. The sun’s heat warms the liquid, separating oil from water. The oil is skimmed off and run through a filter before it’s mixed with methanol and lye to create bio-diesel fuel.
Glycerin, a byproduct of the filtering process, is used in soap, as well as compressed into a fuel source similar to wood logs.
“Everything is used,” Lillie said. “Nothing is wasted in this process.”
According to Lillie, bio-diesel fuel has 90 percent fewer emissions than other fuels and helps keep engines clean and lubricated.
While anyone can use bio-diesel fuel in any diesel engine, Lillie said that local fishermen are among his most frequent customers.
In keeping with their “From the Keys for the Keys” motto, the Lillies hope to bring at least 80 percent of local restaurants on board and work with county authorities to provide the public with special containers in which to store used cooking oil separate from other recyclables.
Currently, they have 1,200 gallons of bio-diesel fuel on site.
With more restaurants and the public contributing to the stockpiles, the Lillies hope one day to produce 4,000 gallons of bio-diesel fuel a week.
They would also like to gain Monroe County government as a customer and invite student interns to learn the science of this process.
The Environmental Health Division of the Monroe CHD runs a state-supported program that identifies and coaches businesses on practices that promote a healthy relationship between the community and its environment.
For more information, call (305) 289-2731.