Biodiesel Saves Money and Environment


VW Beetle powered by biodiesel. http://www.bio-beetle.com

If you want to drive more sustainably you’re probably thinking hybrid, right? Think again.

Biodiesels give a big bang to your green buck, when compared to the hybrids now on the market. Just compare today’s price of regular gas to that of waste vegetable oil, which is nearly free.

Should you choose to go the biodiesel route running on pure vegetable oil, here are some basics to get you on your way to a fossil fuel-free lifestyle.

Benefits to Biodiesel

The benefits to Biodiesel, according to the Department of Energy’s renewable energy office;

  • Inexpensive to run
  • Nontoxic and biodegradable
  • Reduces dependence on foreign oil
  • Cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Oxygenated fuel (burns more completely than other fossil-based products)

If you are still on board with converting to a biodiesel/SVO lifestyle then you’ll want to follow these 5 steps;

Step 1 – Diesel vs. Biodiesel vs. Vegetable Oil

The term ‘biodiesel’ refers to a mix of two fuels; commercially produced petrodiesel and biodiesel. The combination is referred to as the “B factor”, which is used to denote the percentage of biodiesel contained within a petrol/bio mix. For example, biodiesel rated “B5,” “B20,” or “B100” contains 5 percent, 20 percent, and 100 percent biodiesel respectively. While many diesel cars and trucks can run on any blend of biodiesel, these percentages are important because some newer diesel engines have problems running on pure biodiesel (B100) for extended periods of time.

Used vegetable oil from french fryer is cleaner source of WVO.

A lot of people are running diesels on straight vegetable oil (SVO) right now, today, with no problems. In fact, as fuel prices rise, many people have been buying bulk veggie oil right off the shelves, for about a third less than diesel fuel cost at the pumps.

Tip: look for used fry oil from french fries.
It tends to be cleaner and easier to filter than other types.

Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) is just that, vegetable oil that has been used and is on its way to the waste stream. Your local restaurant is a good source for acquiring WVO. One suggestion is to create arrangements with a few businesses in your area to secure a rotating supply. Don’t panic if you can’t secure a solid source right off though. Unless you want to run on pure SVO, you can still use petrodiesel or even biodiesel in the meantime.

Step 2: Get a Diesel Car

The first challenge on your path will be finding the car you want to convert.  Diesel vehicles fell out of vogue for automakers during the 90’s despite their potential for higher efficiency than petroleum-based combustion engines. Finding a newer used car may take you some time and effort, if you want to go the conversion kit route. The good news is that major automakers are beginning to add diesel models to their offerings.

Waste Vegetable Oil Sanitary Filtration System

Biodiesel conversions kits are not necessary unless you are situated in a place with extreme cold weather or your car is a pre-1994 model.

If you fall into one of these two categories, like any other large purchase, it’s advisable to hit up online biodiesel communities before rushing out to make a purchase. You will want to shop around and talk to existing owners of converted cars. This is crucial for two reasons: First, prices for equipment and labor can vary greatly. Second, it’s likely there’s a specific kit that works best with the make and model car you’ve chosen.

I highly recommend that you connect with your local biodiesel community for this step. Good sources for conversion kit info can be found at greasecar.com and frybrid.com.

Step 4: Choose Your Install Method

You can perform the conversion yourself if you’re the mechanically inclined type.

In this case you’ll basically be modifying your car with three components;

  1. SVO Fuel Tank – a separate tank to hold your veggie oil;
  2. Hose/Seal Overhaul – older cars are notorious for breaking down after prolonged exposure to heated SVO;
  3. Fuel System and Heating System – SVO must be preheated before pumping it into the fuel system

If you want to hire a mechanic then you’ll will want to refer to your local biodiesel community for recommendations.

Step 5: Filter The Used SVO and Fill the Tank

Simple waste vegetable oil filtering system

With a WVO supply and a converted vehicle, you just need to purify your vegetable oil before filling the tank. The simplest of the many filtration methods is to heat the oil in a large metal container and then pour it through a series of cheap household filters. The ultimate goal is to remove any visible leftover food particles and debris before fueling your tank.

For more information on conversion kits and running a SVO biodiesel vehicle see:

http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Convert_a_Car_to_Biodiesel
http://www.solarliving.org/visit-us/biodiesel/
http://biodieselconversion.net/biodieselconversion

Enjoy your new fossil fuel free lifestyle!

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2 Responses

  1. Good post Chris! But more importantly, GREAT upgrade to your blog! Congratulations, it is much cleaner and more in sync with today’s blog styles.

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