Willie Nelson, Biodiesel fuel

On the Road Again means something new for the US country singer Willie Nelson these days – a chance for truck drivers to fill their petrol tanks with clean-burning biodiesel fuel.

Nelson and three business partners have formed a company called Willie Nelson’s Biodiesel that is marketing his fuel to truck stops. The product is made from vegetable oils, mainly soybeans, and can be burnt without modification to diesel engines. It may be difficult to picture the 71-year-old long-haired Texas rebel as an energy company executive, but his new role is in many ways about social responsibility – and that is classic Nelson.

“There is really no need … to start wars over oil. We have it here at home. We have the necessary product, the farmers can grow it,” said Nelson, who organised Farm Aid two decades ago to draw attention to the plight of US agriculture.

Nelson said he began learning about the product a few years ago after his wife bought a biodiesel-burning car in Hawaii, where he has a home.

“I got on the computer and punched in ‘biodiesel’ and found out this could be the future,” said Nelson, who now uses the fuel for his cars and tour buses.

Peter Bell, a Texas biodiesel supplier, struck up a friendship with Nelson after filling up one of the tour buses. Mr Bell said Nelson’s name would help the largely unknown fuel, typically bought by government agencies to promote environmental awareness, gain wider national acceptance.

“What Willie brings to this is the ability to communicate directly with a truck driver. That kind of community is hard for people to get to,” Mr Bell said. “When he starts talking these folks really listen to him … It’s like having Tiger Woods talk about golf clubs.”

Associated Press

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