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Innovation & Startups

Got grease, will travel. Fossil Free Fuel plans major expansion, hiring

A Braddock startup is taking its thriving biofuel enterprise to the next level.

Fossil Free Fuel's Colin Huwyler and Dave Rosenstraus are transitioning their business into two, possibly three business entities: a regional biofuel machine shop, a fuel distribution center and fueling stations.

A $600,000 grant from the DEP in partnership with Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities (PRCC) is helping the company create a full line of biofuel services and provide free vegetable oil collection to every restaurant in Pittsburgh. The grant is part of an $8 million alternative fuel grant awarded by the state.

Any business that generates waste vegetable oil has biofuel potential, says Huwyler, who is eyeing sources like PNC Park, Heinz Stadium and the new Consol Energy Center. Fossil Free's new 500 gallon vegetable-powered truck is ready to make the rounds.

A second business, Optimus Technologies, will continue the job of retrofitting diesel engines for biofuel consumption and create the components that go with it.

The third piece, PRCC's Clean Pump Initiative, will establish six biofueling stations in the region. The fueling stations are tentatively planned for Construction Junction, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank, Transportation Solutions, the Strip District, the South Side and Braddock.

"We're chipping away at this a little at a time," says Huwyler. "Right now we're targeting partners that are regional. As we expand, we'll set up fueling stations outside the region and connect the network."

Fossil Free Fuel has four full-time employees and is recruiting three to five people initially. The team will begin retrofitting Pittsburgh garbage trucks as well as vehicles for the Foodbank, Giant Eagle, Global Links and Transportation Solutions.

"It's interesting to see the evolution of the city from the mill and the industrial era," Huwyler explains. "The skill sets we're looking for are abundant in the region: welders, machinists, fabricators. Pittsburgh is a really exciting place to be."

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Colin Huwyler, Fossil Free Fuel

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