Biodiesel was invented in the 1890s by Rudolph Diesel, when he created an engine that could run on peanut oil. Dr. Diesel experimented with vegetable oils in hope of finding a fuel that farmers could grow themselves.
During the World Fair of 1900, the French government commissioned the first public demonstration of an engine running on peanut oil. They wanted to find a fuel that could be used domestically in their African colonies. The first biodiesel plant in the United States, Pacific Biodiesel, was built in 1996 in Hawaii. It uses cooking oil and recycles it into biodiesel for cars.