I just watched Big Ideas for a Small Planet on the Sundance Channel – this one focused on Fuel. They highlighted vegetable oil, biodiesel, and ethanol. I’ll define each and lay out the pros and cons. They seem so similar, so it’s easy to get them confused. I wish they would have touched on the electric car… maybe next time.
Vegetable oil – Precisely. Collect used vegetable oil from local restaurants (Asian food is reportedly best), and put it in your diesel engine. Most cars that run on vegetable oil typically have a two-tank system, which uses diesel to start and allow the car to get warm, and then switches over to vegetable oil.
Vegetable oil produces less harmful pollution, and is originally made from plants, which absorb CO2, so it really is an environmentally-friendly fuel. It’s recycled, which means that nothing new must be created to use this fuel. You could literally deep fry a chicken, and then pour the oil into your car and drive home. Diesel engines were originally created to run on vegetable oil.
Diesel is also about 40% more efficient than gasoline, so the cars are efficient and utilize renewable sources for energy. Some companies, like Greasecar, sell a do-it-yourself conversion kit for around $1,000. Check out Grease Not Gas to learn about one man’s 15 cross-country trips to promote grease not gas. He spent nearly nothing on fuel for 200,000 miles! And don’t worry about freezing temperatures – that’s what the back-up diesel tank is for. Is this brilliant or what?
( I’ll highlight biodiesel and ethanol later today or tomorrow)