DHS grad beats price at the pump by making his own biodiesel

For Dillon Deshotel, the phrase “pain at the pump” is merely a rumor these days, far into the rearview mirror of his Ford F-250 pickup truck.

The phrase, which refers to the fueling of one’s vehicle at fluctuating, and at times prohibitive costs, doesn’t apply to Deshotel anymore at least not most of the time. He doesn’t need the pump fuel — that’s because he makes his own.

Deshotel, now an alumnus of Destrehan High School after graduating in May, makes his own biodiesel, a skill he learned from his father, a Shell engineer and outdoorsman who has made it himself for the past decade.

It saves Deshotel considerable costs both directly and indirectly, starting at the price of his fuel, which he said comes out to less than a dollar a gallon.

“Throughout the years, I kinda just watched my dad make it, and this year for my senior project, I decided to do it based on what he taught me,” said Deshotel, who plans to study chemical engineering when he begins classes at LSU later this year.

“It really is a financial benefit, he said. “It’s cleaner for the environment and also cleaner burning for my truck.”Deshotel’s truck is 18 years old and still running after 200,000 miles. It’s been running on biodiesel for about 100,000 of those miles.

His biodiesel is made primarily with cooking oil, methanol and caustic, the first of those ingredients plentiful to Deshotel: his parents run a seafood restaurant, supplying a steady source of it.

At first, the process was a bit bumpy for him, as Deshotel attempted to make the fuel himself during a trial run — it didn’t go as planned and he had to start over.

Eventually, practice made perfect, and having his father’s expertise on hand assisted matters along.

“It gets easier as you do it,” Deshotel said. “You learn by making mistakes and knowing not to do it the again the next time. My dad’s done this for years and he can add a ‘Oh this works better’ (or) ‘that works better.’ He’s (done trial and error) for years with it and he’s collected the best equipment for it over the years, so it’s not really hard to do for us. For someone else, starting up, might be more difficult.”

Also, for most others, it would be impossible to fuel up with the biofuel, even were it created perfectly.

Biofuel only is compatible with diesel trucks, and moreover, only on older models of those diesel trucks.

“Not all vehicles are able to do it because of the way they modify engines to make them more fuel efficient,” he said. “They’re making things smaller and smaller, which makes it harder and harder to make them compatible with biodiesel.”His truck was passed down to him by his father, who had to search far and wide to find another truck of his own that would run on biodiesel.

Eventually, he came across a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado and had to make a trek all the way to Indiana to pick it up. “I mean my friends will ask about it, say ‘Oh cool, I want to do that,’ but you need a diesel truck, which none of them have,” Deshotel said. “Then, even harder, you need a certain model or year that (will run on the fuel). And nobody’s really out there looking to get old trucks.”

The environmental benefits add to his motivation to continue making the fuel.

“It gives off 70 percent fewer emissions than regular pressure diesel made out of petroleum,” he said. “It’s both safer in the truck and better for environment.”

 

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