Vegetable Oil as Substitute for Diesel

By: Glady Reign

The current global warming issue has sparked great interest in the development of newer and cleaner sources of energy aside from fossil fuel. Fossil fuels are non-renewable and when fuels from this resource are burned, they produce harmful gases which trap heat in the atmosphere thus the greenhouse effect.

Recently, more and more industries including the auto industry are looking for new source of energy which can replace gasoline or diesel. Biodiesel and ethanol, along with hydrogen, are presently the most popular alternative fuels being developed. All these came from renewable resources and burns cleaner than conventional gasoline or diesel.

But another alternative fuel being cited by different auto experts is vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil can power a diesel engine without any need for modifications on the design of the engine. The main problem of this fuel is that it freezes above the freezing point of water which means that certain chemicals needs to added to it to keep it from freezing and blocking fuel lines.

One suggestion for those who owns diesel engined vehicles is to use waste restaurant grease to conserve on fossil fuel consumption. In fact, one driver has driven around Europe on a car that runs on vegetable oil that he managed to procure from restaurants along the way. Scottish Anthony Berretti accomplished the feat using his converted Fiat van.

Meanwhile, another company in Easthampton, Massachusetts promotes the use of vegetable oil as fuel. Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems, as the company is called, manufactures a conversion kit for vehicles to run on vegetable oil. In the company's nine years in business, they have already sold 3,500 kits and they have reported an increase in sales for the past few years owing to car owners looking for ways to cut down their fuel consumption.

Vegetable oil can come from restaurants that are more often than not happy to dispose of their used vegetable oil for free.

Aside from companies manufacturing kits to convert conventional cars to run on vegetable oil, there are also companies like Fry-O-Diesel which supplies the needed vegetable oil for motorists. Based in Philadelphia, Fry-O-Diesel has developed a technology to convert the foul brown grease from restaurant sink traps into usable fuel. The use of vegetable oil is a good step to reduce the amount of CO2 since the amount of carbon dioxide released by burning vegetable oil as fuel is countered by the amount of carbon dioxide that the plants from where vegetable oil are made of absorbs from the atmosphere.

Aside from Fry-O-Diesel, the North American Biofuels which is based in New York is also another company producing bio fuel from trap grease.

While the use of vegetable oil is beneficial to the environment, the amount of vegetable oil from restaurants all over the country is not enough to significantly replace diesel from fossil fuels. According to Steve Bantz, an engineer wit the Union of Concerned Scientists, out of the estimated 3.8 billion pounds of U.S. restaurant grease, 495 million gallons of biodiesel can be produced. This figure accounts only for one percent of the United States' diesel consumption. While that may be the case, the development of vegetable oil as replacement for fossil based diesel acts like by showing the direction where the alternative fuel industry is going.

Mileage and Fuel
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