Bio Diesel Primer
Your own renewable fueling station
I have been running Bio Diesel in my truck for over a year now. Bio Diesel is basically slightly refined vegetable oil that can run in ANY diesel vehicle with little to no modifications. The vegetable oil used can be virgin, but it is generally recycled from fryers at restaurants. Yes, the exhaust smells like whatever was fried in it.
The best part of running Bio Diesel is that no wars need to be fought over it: it’s entirely domestic, supports US farming, it’s totally renewable, and it cuts almost all aspects of a diesel vehicle’s emissions by more than 50-75%. (The exception is NOx which is about the same). You get slightly less mileage and power (5% decrease) from petro-diesel, but your exhaust smells a lot better and its actually easier on your engine. It is a bit more sensitive to cold starting than petro diesel, but this can be corrected with cold weather additives or by mixing with petro-diesel. You can mix and match it with petro-diesel from the pump as availability allows so you don’t have to worry about taking long trips etc. You can even top off a tank of Bio Diesel with petro-diesel and visa versa.
The cost of Bio Diesel ranges from 50 cents to over $3.00/gallon depending on how much effort you want to go through and what resources are in your area. You can actually make it yourself for about 50 cents/gallon, if you want to collect used vegetable oil from local sources and do some minor refining. Depending on your location you can get it from the pump with prices that range from $1.75 to $3.00 a gallon. Or you can do what I do and get it delivered in bulk for about the same price and have your own refueling station. (More details on all these options below.)
To start running Bio Diesel you need:
* A diesel vehicle: Diesel vehicles get great mileage (a modern VW Golf diesel gets upwards of 50 MP/G) and are generally the most long lasting reliable cars on the road with most engines lasting over 400,000 miles. Unfortunately in the US the diesel vehicle selection is a much slimmer than Asia and Europe, but this seems to be changing as the price of gas goes up, and diesel hybrid technology is developed. These days I run a full size Dodge pickup with a turbo diesel engine. Volkswagen sells all their models in diesel versions called TDI, which are excellent Bio Diesel vehicles. Ford, Dodge, Chevy and GMC all currently sell diesel versions of their large pickups and SUVs. There are also a host of older vehicles such as Mercedes, Volvo, etc that can be found on the used market in diesel. All work fine. Here is a great list of all US diesel makes and models.
* Prep your vehicle for Bio Diesel: Most vehicles you don’t have to do anything. For vehicles before 1985 however you may want to change out the fuel line to a modern flourinated plastic as the Bio Diesel could cause swelling in some older plastic lines. If the vehicle has been running petro-diesel for a long time you should be ready to change fuel filters in the first few thousand miles of Bio Diesel use, as Bio Diesel will flush all the petro-diesel residue from your system, and it will end up in your fuel filter. As this happens you will feel a gradual loss of power over a few days, this is the signal to change the filter. My truck had 150,000 miles on it when I got it, and I had to change the fuel filter once after the first 1000 miles on Bio Diesel, and again about 1500 miles later.
* Find a Bio Diesel source: The best place to find it in your area, and other info on it, is on the National Bio Diesel Board site. Currently I get mine delivered to my shop in the San Francisco Bay Area for about $2.75 a gallon from Yokayo Bio Fuels. They can also give you the barrels to hold it in and help you get all set up to pump it.
* If you want to refuel at home you can make your own gas station pretty easily. I purchased a clean 275 Gallon “IBC tote tank” surplus from a local chemical company for $80
Container Solutions. I hooked up an electric diesel pump from Northern Tool Supply and now I have my own gas station. Bio Diesel is classified as vegetable oil so its totally non toxic and does not require any special handling.
Alexander Rose’s Private Gas Station
* If you want to make your own Bio-Diesel or start a local coop, as many people have, there are a lot of on line resources that any Google search will turn up. There is now a nice 06/9/04