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Updated Automatically on July 24th, 2008
better gas mileage

Vegetable oil cars? They already exist! And we’re not talking about biodiesel here, we’re talking about driving a car that runs on a vegetable oil diesel fuel alternative.

Sure, you’ve heard about biodiesel, but what about vegetable oil cars? No need for transesterification or any other vegetable oil diesel conversion, these cars run on plain old veggie oil.

Well, mostly anyway.

Running cars on vegetable oil isn’t as radical an idea as you might think. Rudolf Diesel ran his first diesel engines on peanut oil and he was a big proponent of using his engine to enable farmers to grow their own fuel. But cheap petro-diesel quickly became the favored fuel and Diesel’s dream was pushed aside. Now with petro-diesel prices skyrocketing and environmental concerns looming, people are starting to think about running cars on vegetable oil again.

The main problem is that a plain vegetable oil diesel fuel alternative is much “thicker” than petro-diesel. It doesn’t flow as well as petro-diesel and it will thicken and solidify at a warmer temperature than petro-diesel. That makes it unsuitable for use in cooler climates and that’s why many people driving a vegetable oil car are “getting their veggies” in the form of biodiesel fuel. But wherever there’s a problem, there are always clever people creating solutions.

Companies like GreaseCar, Veg Powered Systems, Frybrid, and Golden Fuel Systems are making vegetable oil conversion kits for many diesel vehicles. Most of these kits add a second fuel tank to your car so that you can start the car on ordinary petro-diesel and then run it for a few minutes to warm it up. The conversion kit uses the engine coolant heat to warm up the vegetable oil tank. Once the vegetable oil is hot enough to flow easily, you switch over to running your straight vegetable oil diesel fuel alternative for the rest of your trip. When you’re ready to turn the car off, you switch back to petro-diesel for a couple of minutes to flush all of the vegetable oil fuel out of your fuel system and then turn it off. That keeps the vegetable oil from thickening in the fuel system and preventing the car from starting again in cooler temperatures.

All of this switching may sound like a bit of a hassle until you consider that many people driving vegetable oil cars aren’t paying for their vegetable oil! They’re using waste vegetable oil from restaurant fryers and filtering it thoroughly before they put it into their conversion tanks. The restaurants usually have to pay someone to haul away their waste vegetable oil and dispose of it, so they’re happy to give it away to savvy car owners who have installed vegetable oil engine kits in their diesel vehicles.

These conversion kits aren’t cheap. They usually cost between $750 and $2000, depending on the vehicle and the complexity of the kit. But when you consider that you’re probably saving well over $50 per tankful of petro-diesel with your free vegetable oil fuel, they may pay for themselves quickly and leave you driving cheaply while recycling waste vegetable oil into a clean diesel fuel alternative at the same time.

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Updated Automatically on July 24th, 2008
better gas mileage

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