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Hardware Hacking Power Science

RV Processes Own Fuel on Cross-Country Trip 165

An anonymous reader writes "Frybrid has realized the dream of Dr. Emmet Brown's Delorean: putting garbage directly into your vehicle, and have it be turned into directly into fuel. This past fall, Frybrid installed a system into a 40' luxury RV that sucked up waste vegetable oil from the back of restaurants, removed the water and filtered it, and then burned the dry and cleaned vegetable oil as fuel. The family drove their converted RV from Seattle to Rhode Island on $47 worth of diesel fuel. Plans are underway for a smaller version of the system to fit in the bed of a pickup truck."
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RV Processes Own Fuel on Cross-Country Trip

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  • IF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:15AM (#17172232)
    If it ever catches on. Veg oil will cost just as much as gasoline.

    Already at many places you can't get it free anymore.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by zeromorph ( 1009305 )

      Yep, and the news will always report the international market price for french fries per barrel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Thats just it, it will not catch on and prices will remain low, or at least mostly free.

      As it is, Diesel is not a popular technology in the United States. Most consumers in northern states avoid it for fear of jelling in cold weather, and Diesel all-around has gotten a bad reputation for small vehicles. Consumers prefer Gasoline to Diesel. The only place where Diesel is strong is in the transportation industry as just about every transportation truck fleet is Diesel powered. Now, considering that consu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by turtled ( 845180 )
        Although slow, personal use of diesel is gaining ground. Honda has the Diesel CR-V coming to the states in the next model year or 2.

        Also, the more people talk about it, the more interest it will gather. Maybe not all people with diesels will convert, but it is more people aware of it. I have a close friend that I have helped him convert 2 diesels to run off of WVO. We live in the Chicagoland area. First was a 1985 K5 Blazer, the second is and he is currently driving, 2005 Chevy Silverado HD Duramax 25
        • Although slow, personal use of diesel is gaining ground.

          In the US, yes. In Europe, 50% of cars sold have diesel engines.
      • Re:IF (Score:5, Interesting)

        by timjdot ( 638909 ) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:13PM (#17174382) Homepage
        Talked to a guy who owns some trash trucks and said in NY there was a vendor who processed the oil and added additives so it ran in the trucks WITHOUT modification. Sold for $1.04/gallon and guy said he was saving $300/month PER TRUCK. NY state government shut them down. Said antitrust law makes it illegal to sell for less with like 4 cents below the established price. E.g. legally it is illegal to sell vegetable oil for less than diesel in the state of NY. I'm sure this is the same sort of nonsense going on in all states.

        Folks, the road to freedom is exactly like this article. Home power production. The aristocrats will continue to make competition illegal. Just take a look at how handily electric power was killed. Hobbyists in the mid-1990's were making cars which could go twice what Ford and GM were able to make. Surprise. Guess a garage is better than a lab! Not to mention the millions to billions of subsidies the country spends on oil and oil-related infrastructure rather than spending such on electric (induction charging stations, power rails, etc).

        Technology in this country is presently eliminated by large corporations and the government who works for them. Only by innovations and a concerted citizen adoption and cooperation can innovation be reborn in the USA. The vege-diesel is going to be a big problem for the lawmakers who work for the MNC's because the technology works. People are driving around in trucks powered by vegetable oil. And, yes, saving money. It's a fact.

        The government, at least in NY State, has outlawed this. What does that mean? Like Cubans are we under a regime who wants us to stay in the 1900's? Is this like so many science fiction novels where individuals are not allowed to excel. Yes. It exactly is. Soon, perhaps, the personal use of innovative technologies will be made illegal - for the corporate good of course.

        TimJowers http://www.serviza.com/ [serviza.com] Fully Loaded Innovation. Power on and GO!
        • That's one instance, and it sounds really stupid, but the rest of your points unfounded. A lot of electric cars have been made. They haven't failed because the big car companies did something bad to them. They failed up until now because they had very significant problems, and people are resistant to change.

          Now, Tesla motors is looking like it might be able to make electric vehicles popular. It has seemingly sold well, and is good for what it is. Obviously, it is not practical for most things, but it shows
          • Waste vegetable oil will never be a good source of energy for most cars. It is free or very cheap now because there is almost no demand, and it generally costs money to dispose of it.

            Which makes me wonder why the local restaurants don't go out and get something like this [treehugger.com] and reduce both their electricity and disposal costs. My only guess is that a) regulations prohibit generator usage or b) the maintenance costs for the generator are higher than the savings.

            • by timjdot ( 638909 ) *
              Vegetable oil disposal is a sticky item when starting a restaurant. A requirement. The best way to avoid problem with the local gov arms is to give it to someone else.

              The argument about electric cars can be ommitted. A quick search shows vegetable oil is far cheaper TODAY for those using it. The speculation about it would be more expensive if everyone did it is pure speculation. Of course it is probably wrong on face value when any economies of scale are considered but no doubt it ignores the cost of fighti
        • That item about the veg oil sales in New York getting shut down is the law being mis-applied. Antitrust laws are supposed to encourage competition and prevent a dominant company from doing sales tactics that would block potential competitors from entering the market. So regardless of the wording of the laws with regard to what can and can't be done, they are not even supposed to APPLY to small companies that are trying to enter into the market.

          The other problem with this is that it should only apply if th
      • Re:IF (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skynyrd ( 25155 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:07PM (#17176326) Homepage
        As it is, Diesel is not a popular technology in the United States. Most consumers in northern states avoid it for fear of jelling in cold weather, and Diesel all-around has gotten a bad reputation for small vehicles. Consumers prefer Gasoline to Diesel. The only place where Diesel is strong is in the transportation industry as just about every transportation truck fleet is Diesel powered.

        Too bad about the misinformed Northerners. Every place with cold weather that sells diesel fuel switches to "winter blend" when it gets cold. There's other technology to keep fuel from gelling as well.

        The reason the diesel has a bad reputation falls squarely on the shoulders of GM, who converted their small block Chevy engine to run on diesel back in the 70's. To say it was a steaming pile of crap would be unfair to the piles of crap. People hated them for good reason, and that's what people remember (as well as a handful of French diesels that sucked almost as much).

        If you get away from cities, the use of diesel is far more common. People who drive trucks for work, rather than show, have figured out that diesel is the way to go. My 7,200 pound 4x4 diesel powered work truck gets better mileage than my girlfriend's V-6 gas powered 2 wheel drive Ford Explorer. Better in town and better on the highway. My mileage drops by 2 to 3 mpg (down to 15-16 mpg) if I'm towing 5,000 pounds - but my friends with gas trucks get 6 to 10 mpg with the same load. Gas engines make great horsepower, but Diesels make great torque - and torque is what gets work done.

        Now that the US is changing the sulfur content of diesel fuel, we'll be able to get small, diesel powered Euro cars again, and it will be a good thing. A great thing. A friend of mine has a (roughly) 5 year old VW Jetta, and he gets 49 mpg at 70 mph. Better than a hybred, without the hassle of throwing away a bunch of batteries in a handful of years.

        Bring on the diesel!
        • My mileage drops by 2 to 3 mpg (down to 15-16 mpg) if I'm towing 5,000 pounds - but my friends with gas trucks get 6 to 10 mpg with the same load.

          and you probably tow it easier. I'm in the same (gas) boat towing my RV. If I had any idea that I would have been towing this thing when I bought the truck, it would have been a diesel. Now I just have to find $45,000 in the seat cushions to pay for the diesel pickup I want.
        • friend of mine has a (roughly) 5 year old VW Jetta, and he gets 49 mpg at 70 mph. Better than a hybred, without the hassle of throwing away a bunch of batteries in a handful of years.

          I don't know what is funnier, the fact that you misspelled hybrid or the fact that you got so much wrong.

          • Diesel vehicles get better fuel economy largely because diesel contains more energy. About 30% more, in fact.
          • The important question is not MPG, it's miles vs. emissions, both greenhouse (CO2) and smog-forming (NOx, SOx, etc
      • I guess the person sucking the unused grease/oil should make sure they are getting permission from the correct people before counting on this. Every restaurant i have worked at actually sold their used grease/oil to some chemical company. It didn't pay too much after the water was separated but I'm sure some cooperate office would notice it missing.

        Banking on this might become a waist of money if it even slightly catches on. I could see three or four people in a city hitting places up and eventually getting
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CrazyDuke ( 529195 )
      Quick quiz, what happens to overall fuel prices when supply increases far faster than demand?
  • Mr Fusion (Score:1, Informative)

    by caston ( 711568 )
    In back to the future the delorean was powered by Mr Fusion which was able to use any element or compound just about for fusion basically turning matter into energy.
  • So what's the mileage on this thing? It's have to be pretty amazing to beat the "save your families future on a can of tomatoes" of the Dolorian.
    • Dolorian [wikipedia.org] is Finnish dark metal band from Oulu. So they probably should be assessed by bpm (beats per minute).

      The Delorean [wikipedia.org] or better De Lorean DMC-12 on the other hand might be better assessed by rpm. Cheers.

  • ...input garbage directly into my browser, and have it turned directly into a "+5 insightful" comment ? So funny comment like this one... err... oops.. No way ? Sorry. ;)
  • Only in the USA (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChrisZermatt ( 892665 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:39AM (#17172388)
    The problem with this system is that it could only ever work in the good 'ol USA -- the only country where people produce enough used fry-vat oil!

    (by the way, they've been doing exactly this for years in other places, like Germany...)
    • Re:Only in the USA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ghc71 ( 738171 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:42AM (#17172606)
      Running diesels of cooking oil has been done in the UK enough for the government to threaten prosecution for it - since vehicle fuels are taxed at a higher rate than foodstuffs, this is seen more as tax evasion than an environmental initiative.
      • by unitron ( 5733 )
        "...since vehicle fuels are taxed at a higher rate than foodstuffs..."

        Those taxes are supposedly to cover the costs of building and maintaining the roads those vehicles travel over and wear out. Here in the states gasoline for agricultural machinery is often available without that tax added since the machines burn it working in the fields and don't have a direct impact on the roads.

        It seems to me that it would make more sense to put the tax not on the fuel used by motor vehicles but on the tires for them w

        • It seems to me that it would make more sense to put the tax not on the fuel used by motor vehicles but on the tires for them which wear out and have to be replaced in fairly direct proportion to road use.

          I imagine one problem with that would be that tires last so long that the government couldn't quickly adjust the tax to account for changes in the cost of road maintenance. So, they'd end up increasing the taxes far more than necessary in order to compensate.

    • The problem with this system is that it could only ever work in the good 'ol USA -- the only country where people produce enough used fry-vat oil!

      and works only until restaurants begin selling their waste fats and oils to commercial recycling plants.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      the only country where people produce enough used fry-vat oil!

      Good point - the old British inspired fish and chips just requires topping up what ever oil evaporates or ends up in the food and scraping out the sludge every now and again.

  • Mythbusters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:02AM (#17172464)
    They did this on Mythbusters, they took used cooking oil, filtered it, and put it into a standard Diesel truck. It ran perfectly normally.

    As they observed on the show, the only reason it's such a cheap source of fuel is because it's a waste product now. If people start using it as fuel, it will cost just as much as Diesel fuel does.
    • It would also be interesting (though non-trivial) to calculate the fundamental cost of producing vegetable oils. For example, agriculture here in Australia consumes huges amounts of diesel to till the land and bring in chemically processed fertilisers from Pacfic islands. That and what proportion of the esrth's food growing area would need to be given over to oil production to meet current demand.

      • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @08:13AM (#17173024) Homepage
        There's scads of papers on biodiesel, its efficiency, and cost.

        If petroleum goes up in price a bunch more, biodiesel gets to break even.

        The unmapped territory is that although it burns a hydrocarbon, 100% biodiesel
        doesn't increase atmospheric CO2, because that CO2 was removed from the atmosphere
        less than a year prior. It is cyclic in the short-term. Biodiesel could be a
        near drop-in replacement for gasoline in cars and solve greenhouse gas
        problems from automobiles. Of course, if you use peanuts instead of soybeans, and
        oil costs stay high....people bet billions on shifts like this, the shift
        to biodiesel would become reality if regular diesel wholesale prices get too
        high and we have a strong need to minimize emissions...both of which are
        very real scenarios. Both factors have shifted a lot since this white paper
        in 2002.

        http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/analysispaper/biodiese l/ [doe.gov]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thc69 ( 98798 )

          Biodiesel could be a near drop-in replacement for gasoline in cars

          Wow! Where do I sign up?

          While I was about to write some more smartassery regarding what I assume is a mistakenly placed "gasoline" where you meant "diesel", I came across something odd in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazi l [wikipedia.org] - "Although Brazil is a major oil producer and now exports gasoline (19,000 m/day), it still must import oil because of internal demand for other oil byproducts, chiefly diesel fuel (which cannot be easily

          • I sorta meant there could be a shift in engines to diesel engines, which would then replace
            gasoline engines, and gasoline fuel...

            In contemplating the greenhouse gas problem (or our budget deficit for energy), its quite a pickle. Cars burn predominantly gas. Gas requires oil - petroleum oil - for production. The USA doesn't make enough oil, so we necessarily send a LOT of US dollars to OPEC each year, and many OPEC members are openly antagonistic towards the USA.

            Do we really want to give our enemies a lot of
            • by thc69 ( 98798 )

              The ONLY reasonable ways out are
              1) electric cars
              2) biodiesel

              Either take out 'electric cars' or 'reasonable'. You could also replace 'electric cars' with 'ethanol'.

              I'd venture a guess that production of ethanol is approximately similar to production of biodiesel, in terms of cost and energy usage. That's just a WAG, though.

              Either way, I don't mind as long as I can continue to drive vehicles that are similar to what I like now.

              Electric cars and more nuclear plants is the most probable other solution.


          • Biodiesel could be a near drop-in replacement for gasoline in cars
            Wow! Where do I sign up?

            At the import car dealership. European passenger cars with diesel engines will become more widely available in North America now that petrodiesel dealers in the United States are switching to lower-sulfur blends.

            • by thc69 ( 98798 )

              Biodiesel could be a near drop-in replacement for gasoline in cars

              Wow! Where do I sign up?

              At the import car dealership. European passenger cars with diesel engines will become more widely available

              Sorry, that doesn't replace "gasoline in cars"; it replaces gasoline powered cars. Biodiesel isn't a drop-in replacement for gasoline; it's a drop-in replacement for dino-diesel. You could say that diesel cars are a drop-in replacement for gasoline cars, which is fine if you don't mind driving a little Volkswage

      • Biodiesel is a great way to get rid of used oil from restaurants, but it doesn't scale beyond the amount of oil that restaurants use. With used oil, the resource is not only free, but it's eliminating an environmental cost, and eliminating any disposal cost the restaurant would have to pay. I don't know how often you eat French fries, but basically it's only going to power small fraction of the cars and trucks in the world.

        With *new* oil, you need to look at the costs, both financial and environmental, of

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          The fact that you use corn as a sweetener over there is a bizzare indication of the power of the lobby groups - unless people have got used to the taste. Using a more expensive sweetener with a higher calorific value and a less sweet taste so you need more of it anyway - bribery trumps free markets and the corn lobby should not be given the opportunity to exert undue influence on biofuels through more bribery.

          If you are turning natural gas or oil into fertiliser (as we do with nearly all of it) to make oil

          • by unitron ( 5733 )
            Here in the U.S. one of the reasons corn is used as a sweetener is because sugar is so expensive. Sugar is expensive because U.S. sugar producers bought enough congresscritters to protect them from imported sugar. I think the chance to hurt Cuba's economy was also part of the equation.

            The substitution of corn for "real sugar" is also why Mountain Dew no longer tastes like Mountain Dew and a lot of candy isn't as good as it used to be, either. It's also a little scary how many other food products have had

            • As an Australian I didn't have a clue why people from the USA were always raving about how good Oreo's are - I think it has to be the corn sweetener since the new local variant tastes OK to me. Then again, tastes differ - you guys have banned the importation of Vegemite (black sludge from the bottom of a beer vat with lots of added salt - very good for you and tastes great to anyone that started eating it before they could talk).

              Ethanol from suger may not be deisel but it's another growable fuel, as well a

              • by unitron ( 5733 )
                I don't know if Oreos are made according to the same formula where you are as they are here in the U.S. and I don't know if they've changed it here since I was a child in the '50s and a teen in the '60s.

                I do know that I don't care for them all that much anymore (they were never my favorite, to be fair, but they used to be okay), but that may just be due to my rapidly approaching geezerhood.

    • Re:Mythbusters (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:28PM (#17177224) Homepage
      Old, old news in UKia: Police impound cars run on cooking oil [bbc.co.uk].
      • Has anybody looked into paying this tax directly? It doesn't sound like using the oil is illegal, just not paying tax on it.

        This sounds like the situation in Minnesota where they have die added to fuel that is sold for off-road purposes (e.g. farming equipment, construction equipment, generators, etc.). The gas-tax is incorporated into the price of on-road fuel and is used (in theory) to offset road construction costs. Since the off-road equipment doesn't use the roads, they don't have to pay the tax. T
        • You can pay a low rate of duty on biodiesel that you recover from used waste, but not on fresh vegetable oil that you buy directly for the purpose. That's being challenged [bbc.co.uk]. It all about revenue, not about the ecological issues.
  • by norite ( 552330 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:06AM (#17172476) Journal
    Diesel engines were designed to run on vegetable oil in the first place; Rudolph Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World's Fair in Paris back in 1900; His engine was running on peanut oil.
    In fact my own car has been adapted to run on vegetable oil, (either used or fresh) I collect used oil and filter it in my back yard, down to 5 microns. My car runs just great on it, absolutely no difference in performance, and I'm sill getting the same mileage, around 45mpg (US) or 55mpg(UK). My car's exhaust smells a LOT nicer (sort of a popcorn, or hot oil 'flavor'), and vegetable oil is a cleaner burning fuel, so emissions are lower. And of course, it's carbon neutral :o) I guess there are enough takeaways, restaurants and other food places in my town to power at least 100 diesel cars; in fact I have more oil than I can process right now, so I'm looking to expand my filtering operations.
    A friend of mine is doing the same, at his place of work, they have a canteen, and they're getting through more oil than he needs. the places that we're getting it from, are more than happy for us to take it away, because they have to pay to have it taken away, and we'll do it for free...

    now that I've gone veggie, I won't be going back. The heat exchanger kit that is installed in my car can easily be taken out and fitted into my next car. It's a win win situation:

    We're using a waste product that was grown locally

    It's cheaper (as in free!)

    We're not funding Big Oil, who are themselves supporting dodgy, corrupt, undemocratic and/or unstable regimes.

    There are some strong economic, political and ethical reasons to run on vegetable oil. For me, it's a no-brainer :o)

    • True, and there has been an industry (albeit small) that provides the hardware for some time. There is Frybrid from TFA, and in Germany we have Elsbett.
      Link to english website: http://www.elsbett.com/us/about-us/introduction.ht ml [elsbett.com]

      Elsbett used to build complete motors, today they mostly sell conversion kits for diesel cars (the US homepage seems to be a bit outdated there).
  • The rock band Piebald did this on their tour, over a year ago [bostonphoenix.com]. I'm not sure if they went across the entire breadth of the states, but I saw them in Seattle and they are from Boston.

    During that tour the singer made a lot of noise about greasenotgas.com [greasenotgas.com], which has DIY directions on how to do this to your own car. Very noble and indie rock altruistic of them. I think they haven't even been shown on the O.C. yet.
    • by farrellj ( 563 )
      Willie Nelson's tour bus has been running on Waste Vegetable Oil, a form of "Biodiesel" for a while now. Bill Maher has mentioned this a few times on his show Real Time.

  • by tap ( 18562 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:38AM (#17172592) Homepage
    When ever you read about someone with this wonderful used fryer-oil powered vehicle, they're always taking it on some cross-country trip. Is that because if they stay in one place they use up all the fryer-oil from the local restaurants?

    I'm only half joking about that. The people who advocate this stuff have the same program as the Verizon employees who can't understand the difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents. They just don't seem to grasp the orders of magnitude difference between the amount of corn oil this country produces vs the amount of crude oil it consumes.
    • When ever you read about someone with this wonderful used fryer-oil powered vehicle, they're always taking it on some cross-country trip.

      Because a cross country trip (like the one I took this summer [wellingtongrey.net]) is a damn good way to test it out over a long distance and a variety of terrains. Plus, it generates interest. What American doesn't love the idea of setting out on the open road?


    • by mmkkbb ( 816035 )
      Daily commutes don't make interesting news. My father-in-law has converted three vehicles to use waste veggie oil and still gets to fuel for free. This is not put forward as an end-all solution for our oil dependency. It's mostly a clever hack. Surely you can understand that as a Slashdot reader.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FFFish ( 7567 )
      And using corn oil instead of crude doesn't actually solve the problem of CO2 emissions. The problem being that we had all this carbon nicely sequestered underground instead of polluting our atmosphere. In essence we're taking the hot, muggy, lizard-friendly atmosphere of prehistoric earth back out of storage. Not exactly a wise move, that.

      Corn oil would be zero-sum (the plants fix carbon into their biomass, removing it from our atmosphere; burning the oil releases CO2 back into the atmosphere) except fo
    • If I install a deep fryer in the back of my RV, will I have finally solved the Perpetual Motion issue? The french fries are just a tasty by-product.
    • No one said this is an answer to the country's energy needs. There is no answer. There are, however, multiple partial solutions. A percentage of cars that can run on veggie oils. More effecient and cheap-to-make solar panels. Tidal force power plants. If each of them can take a tiny sliver of the energy burden of the country, it adds up over time to a noticeable difference.
  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:52AM (#17172644) Homepage Journal
    Can it travel through time when it reaches 88MPH?
  • 1: it sticks, your car will smell of chips or whatever

    2: you have to clean your filter A LOT, lots of impurities in used oil

    3: In most countries, you still have to pay tax on it as it's classed as fuel

    4: If you want to start it in cold weather you have to heat the fuel pipes to ensure the veg oil isn't too thick to be used.

  • Very silly article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @10:49AM (#17173720)
    This would only be good news if:

    • The current used vegetable oil was currently being thrown away, lubricating landfills I guess.
    • But it's not, it's already going into special dumpsters, which I suspect get dumped into recycling systems that filter the oil and resell it for non-human consumption by mouth uses, such as candles, ointments, plastic feedstocks, greases, etc....
    • there were a LOT of veg oil per person being used. But if you think about it, it's doubtful that you're using more than a cup of oil a day, which doesnt translate into a significant amount of energy. Most people use at least a gallon of gas a day-- offsetting that with a cup of veggie oil is not a big win.
    • And let's not forget a good percentage of that oil is effectively consumed in the process of shipping, filtering, and re-refining the oil.
    p. Perhaps it would be better overall to nip this "waste" in the bud, and we all cut back on our consumption of fried foods. Less waste and less "waist"-- a two-'fer
  • I love this idea and would like to implement it someday. But,

    1.) I don't own a diesel vehicle (yet), and
    2.) It was 1.9 F (-16.2 C) last night. The record low in Chicago is -22 F (-30 C). Does vegetable oil freeze?
    • by llefler ( 184847 )
      2.) It was 1.9 F (-16.2 C) last night. The record low in Chicago is -22 F (-30 C). Does vegetable oil freeze?

      It doesn't freeze, but it gels at low temperature. If it has water in it, it could freeze, just like gasoline. But diesels in general can require some pre-planning on really cold days. Dino diesel can gel too, that's why we have winter diesel. And it's a good idea to have a block heater to warm up the engine before trying to start it. My truck currently has a broken block heater and last week I had t
  • this ain't news.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by veganboyjosh ( 896761 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:39AM (#17174116)
    i didn't rtfa, but

    i had some friends who were traveling across the country on tour, in a rock band. they had converted their diesel van (a 15 passenger ford, if memory serves) for around 1500 bucks. the conversion tank/filter/box took up all the cargo space in the van, so they had to tow a trailer in which to put their amps, instruments, etc. the mileage still came out in their favor.
      i would not have believed it if i hadn't seen them pouring filthy used oil into the tank inside the van.

    some things they shared:

    american fast food is about the worst place to get used oil, as they use the shit out of the oil before tossing it. asian, and middle eastern restaurants were the best, cleanest oil they had seen so far.

    they got better gas mileage on the greasel than on the diesel.

    the van had a switch up front, with which to change the lines from the greasel to the diesel. apparently the veg oil doesn't burn hot enough, and it was bad news to leave the van overnight with the veg oil in the lines. so before shutting it down for the night, they'd switch back to diesel, and let it run for 10 minutes. then in the morning, they'd switch it back to veggie oil after it warmed up.

    the box in the back of the van did three things: it was a tank, in which to store the oil as it was processed, it floated out the water from the oil, (a sort of inline spit valve, not unlike on many wood instruments) and it filtered out the particulates. burnt fries, crispy shrimp tails, etc.

    the filter was at the front of the line, so it was basically a big thick sock (they got them at home depot, and had to change them about 1000 miles. it was designed for some other use, but someone figured out it's capability to clean oil, and put it in there) turned inside out. they had also bought some ordinary kitchen strainers, which fit over the hole in the tank, and would grab the huge particles before they made it to the filter. once the strainers clogged, they could lift them out and tap them on the ground to get the particles out. much easier than changing the sock like filter.

    they usually would go and ask for oil, but sometimes would need to refill after a show, which could be 2 or 3 am, so they'd just go poach it. most places paid to have the stuff taken away, so wouldn't care if you got caught taking it, but would generally assume you're up to no good if you were behind their restaurant in the middle of the night acting shady.

    with 4 guys in the band, they had a system down. some places kept the used oil in a 55 gallon drum. for this, one would scoop, one would prep the empty 5 gallon plastic tubs, one would lift the tubs into the van, and one would pour the oil into the tank.

    sometimes the places had the oil just sitting in the tubs they came in. one would either nab the full 5 gallon tubs, and put them in the van to be poured later, while another put empties in their place.

    the back of the van was messy/oily, but this was their first trip with the conversion, so were still dialing in their storage system/process. next time i see them, i predict the van'll be much cleaner. as clean as a touring rock band's van can be, anyway....

    i live in denver. they live in l.a. they drove from their home, up to vancouver, canada, and then over to denver, when i saw them. so far, on that tour, when i saw them, they had put one tank of gas in the van, and not even used the entire tank. this even includes a few hours running on diesel, as the water trap had some issues, and they had to drive around portland looking for someone who could fix it.

    i was totally impressed. i haven't driven in almost a year, but i was convinced that if/when i do buy my next car, it'll be a diesel.

    if anyone's interested in the conversion, and able to get to l.a., let me know, and i can put you in touch with the guy who did theirs.
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:08PM (#17174332)
    Every year we essentially throw away a lot of vegetable oil after cooking with it at restaurants. Much of this oil gets dumped out or just incinerated. Clearly we need to recycle this oil and burning it as a fuel is a good idea. Except for NO2 and particulates (which we know how to deal with) there is no pollution from using old vegetable oil for fuel in a diesel engine.

    However the problem is that there's not enough vegetable oil coming from restaurants to impact even slightly our national oil usage. So it is a cheap fuel source for a few people. That's all. What we really need is a way to create organic oils on a large scale from algae, plants, or some other way using only energy from the sun. If we could immediately replace all our fossil fuels with organic (as it carbon-neutral) oils, we could stop our carbon emissions completely, having an immediate, dramatic, and hopefully non-warming effect on our environment.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:30PM (#17177244) Homepage
    Been here, dodged the tax on that. Police impound cars run on cooking oil [bbc.co.uk].

Neutrinos have bad breadth.