Gasoline prices rose every day from July 9-18, AAA reports. Some point to the political turmoil in Egypt and Syria as the cause, while others pin the blame on the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Mintel, a market research firm in London, found that hybrid and electric vehicle (EVs) sales in the United States grew by 73 percent from 2011 to 2012, mostly as a result of the increasing costs of fuel.
But hybrids and EVs are more expensive than their full-gasoline counterparts, putting them out of reach for many Americans. But for as little as $1,000, you can turn any diesel-powered vehicle into one powered by vegetable oil. And as crazy and unconventional as this idea may sound, it really is not that difficult to do, if you are committed to freeing yourself from the prison known as fossil fuels.
Buy Your Kit
This will be the most expensive part of the process, but it will pay for itself in a matter of months. OrganicMechanic.com and Greasecar.com both sell conversion kits specific to your type of vehicle. People with a boating license in Alabama and other states with water access can even consider converting their boat for vegetable oil power as well.
The kit will have every part you need, including a heated bio-fuel tank, vacuum gauges, an SVO controller (to switch between gasoline and vegetable oil power) and of course, instructions on how to install everything. Installation is somewhat of a specialized skill, so you may need to do some extra work to find a mechanic if you don’t have the tools and mechanical wherewithal to do the job yourself.
Get Your Vegetable Oil Fuel
A gallon of vegetable oil at a grocery store costs around $8, more than double the price of a gallon of gas. The oil used to power a vehicle does not have to be brand new. The key to the entire idea is to get your fuel from restaurants, schools and other businesses that would otherwise throw it away. These places usually pay someone to come haul away their used oil after a few days of cooking french fries, chicken strips and other artery-clogging delicacies in it. You can become a few businesses de-facto garbage person and turn their trash into your fuel.
Make certain the oil is nonhydrogenated (like canola), as cream-based oils will cause clogs in fuel injectors and filters. Paul Powers, who runs his Chevy 4500 Kodiak on vegetable oil, told Diesel Power Magazine that he prefers waste oil from Asian restaurants as opposed to fast food restaurants because its generally cleaner and higher quality.
Waste oil is not immediately ready to be used. It will need to be heated, liquefied and filtered. All the food crumbs, water and other contaminates will need to be removed to avoid damaging your engine. There is no cut-and-dried method of doing this, but the basic idea is to pump the oil from the contaminated supply to a new barrel that collects the clean, ready-to-use fuel.
Converting your vehicle will not only save you money in the long run, but will help lower your carbon footprint and free you from gas-price watching. It also reduces landfill waste and provides an instant conversation starter with just about anyone.