Engines That Smell of French Fries! – Using Vegetable Oil as Fuel

Vegetable Oil as Fuel

Last week I was given some local potatoes and I made chips. Being such a healthy eating fanatic I feel like this is a real confession! Anyway after cooking and eating was complete I was left with an uncommon dilemma – what to do with the excess oil? Aware of its clogging and polluting effects I knew that I should not throw it down the sink or into the garden but how on earth was I going to get rid of it?

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A few Google searches later I found some answers. Excess cooking oil should only be disposed of by pouring it into a sealed container and throwing that away. Of course that garbage ends up in a landfill which isn’t very ecological either, but it’s better than it getting into the water supply where just one litre of oil can contaminate 1 million litres of water.

But there is another solution – making it into fuel. There is a lot of hype about biofuel these days and the race is on to make the most efficient alternative to traditional fossil fuel oil. These types of fuels made from vegetable sources may be heralded as the solution to the problem of diminishing oil reserves but they have also shown to have negative environmental and social effects. In order to grow enough plant fodder to make the fuels, forests are being destroyed and food prices everywhere are rising as crops sell for much more as fuel than food. Ultimately there has to be a compendium of solutions to our current energy crisis and surely one of these components is to recycle used vegetable oil and make it into fuel.

Using straight vegetable oil (SVO) as a fuel is a perfectly feasible option for a diesel vehicle which was actually originally designed to run on plant fuels. Because SVO does tend to clog at temperatures lower than 25 degrees farenhiet it is still necessary to use some diesel fuel at the beginning and end of each journey. This allows the veggie oil to heat up at the outset and avoids leaving it in the engine once the car is parked. However the amount of diesel used is a minimal amount when compared to usual consumption for a full journey and mskes for considerable savings. Running substantially on vegetable oil is also great for the planet as it reduces harmful emissions by up to 90%.

In order for a diesel vehicle to be able to run on recycled vegetable oil a simple conversion is necessary. An extra fuel tank is added to the vehicle and some switches are rigged up front so that the source of fuel going into the engine can be switched when necessary. A good filtration system is also an essential piece of equipment to strain out small fragments of food from the oil before using it. If using an older vehicle with rubber engine seals Effets Secondaires Kamagra Soft Tabs these must be replaced since biofuel has strong solvent properties. A few years ago I participated in conversion workshop run by the Sustainable Living Initiative in Dominica and was amazed to see that the process can be done in just one day. Owner of a veggie truck in Dominica, Jem Winston, says that the only extra work is in the flitering and “half hour of work every two weeks blowing air through the pipe at the gas station” With all the benefits, these things don’t sound like too much of a hassle to me.

Now my little once-in-a-blue-moon chip fat can hardly run a vehicle but a vast supply of oil can be obtained from restaurants, which are often glad to give it away for free. In larger nations many caterers dispose of their oil through specific oil recycle companies but in the Caribbean, used vegetable oil is far more difficult to get rid of conveniently so you will be doing them and the environment a favour to take it.

It is of course noteworthy to mention that these types of conversions often render the warranty on a vehicle as void. In the US the Environmental Protection Agency has classified this type of fuel as illegal but many people are still doing it without overtly advertising the fact!

Overall using vegetable oil as fuel really does seem to be a very positive option for saving money and the environment and it’s certainly a sign of uniqueness to drive around in a car that gives off the smell of French fries! When I have a vehicle of my own I certainly plan to run on recycled oil…I’d love to hear from anyone else who has done it already.

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