Thursday, August 12, 2004

More On Alternative Fuels

Ok, so I've been thinking a lot about alternative fuels and such lately since that little electric car of a couple posts back sparked my imagination. When you're looking for information on one fuel source or alternative you often run across information on other fuel sources. Well, this is another case of serendipity. I was looking into electric cars a bit and I ran across a movement that seems to have a fair number of followers. These people are converting all sorts of vehicles which originally ran on diesel fuel to run on vegetable oil. That foul stuff that restaurants dump out of their fryers powers a diesel engine just as well as the stuff that comes from the pump at the fuel station. This, at least until this gains popularity, provides a practically free fuel source for anyone willing to take it off a restaurant's hands, filter it, and dump it into a special heated fuel tank in their vehicle. Restaurants, of course, are generally glad to get rid of it, since they will otherwise have to pay someone to dispose of it.

I don't remember where I read it, but somebody recently predicted that the world's oil production would peak and begin to drop due to a dwindling supply around Thanksgiving 2005 (no I didn't make this up.) Now, this could be total BS propaganda or there could be something to it. The way I figure, It doesn't really matter that much if we're using vegetable oil. Waste not, want not, right? Now I know I'm ignoring the bigger picture here. If everyone was driving on veggie oil, we would obviously need a source other than used french fry drippings. Veggie oil would be set aside for automotive use, there would be less to go around, Food prices would go up, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, I'm not here to talk about that.

I'm here to talk about yet another hair-brained half-baked scheme of mine that will not likely ever be done but that I enjoy thinking about. So let me tell you about my veggie burner the way I would make it. I've had some experience with diesel passenger cars, having had friends with an old diesel VW Rabbit and an old Mercedes 240D. What's more, My father had a diesel VW Jetta and even offered it to me to replace my Ford Escort that I drove at the time when he bought a new car. All three of those were loud, smelly and painfully slow. As I understand it, modern diesel cars are actually hard to tell form gas burners and benefit from the better fuel mileage and simplified design inherent to diesel engines, but that's not the road I want to travel. Why worry about mileage when fuel is practically free. My veggie burner will have a big, loud turbo-diesel engine and transmission from a truck, van or bus. To accomodate such a monstrous engine I'd need a rather large vehicle to avoid ending up with a nose-heavy terrible handling slug. I think a late model Chevy Caprice (preferably with the police package) would do the job. The main fuel tank would be replaced with the largest heated veggie unit that would fit. A smaller diesel fuel cell would be added for cold start-up and an axle with a final drive more suited to the high torque, low rev engine would be used. That's about it. Now wouldn't that be fun? It would take me back to my fast food days.


At 4:04 PM, Blogger malfunction54 said...

Dude, what happens when it gets cold? do you get that whole vat of veggie oil all congealed? like after you fry up some onions and tofu in veggie oil? Would you get raccoons hanging out near your car to get a crack at that luscious fuel oil? Wonder if current folks' veggie burners smell like fries? Or worse, do they have that chinese food reek?

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Cafn8 said...

Well, yes, it does congeal. In fact, the tank has to be heated. I think the systems run an anti-freeze line to the tank to keep it and the fuel line warm. When you first start it up you run on Diesel then it switches after the system gets warm. I guess I would feel like a bit of a redneck going out to beat the racoons off the Chevy in the morning so I can go to work. About the smell, I guess you could choose whatever smell you want. I would probably choose pub grease.


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