Diesel Fuel Prices: Vegetable Oil as Alternative for Diesel
No one has predicted that the price of fuel will go over $4 per gallon on the pump. And no one has ever expected that the prices will go down to below $2 per gallon in just a few months. With this erratic change in diesel fuel prices, you cannot help but wonder how much it will cost to fill up our gas tanks in the future. Will it go back to its record highs or will it remain on its current level? With answers still hanging on the balance, it is good to explore alternative fuel sources.
Vegetable oil. Why not?
You have to pay for diesel; vegetable oil is free. A diesel engine car can run on either but why are car owners hesitant to make a switch?
Ditching petroleum and running on vegetable oil couldn’t be simpler. For one, many car owners do not know anything about vegetable oil; its reliability and effects to the engine. But the main reason is: there is not enough vegetable oil available for everyone. Americans consume 140 billion gallons of gas every year. Restaurants throw 100 million gallons of waste oil annually. Assuming that all 100 million gallons of waste oil will go to gas tanks, simple math will tell us that there isn’t enough ? vegetable oil will only account to 0.07% of the annual gas consumption in the country. Besides, if every American will switch from gas to diesel, the problem of scarcity will rise.
We cannot disregard the importance of taking care of the environment when choosing alternative for diesel fuel. As for vegetable oil; it is biodegradable so it does not do harm on the environment.
We have mentioned reliability and effects to the engine of using vegetable oil. Should you be concerned?
A little history tells us that Rudolph Diesel had designed his engine to run on vegetable oil. He even displayed it on the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. But the vegetable-powered diesel engine didn’t prosper because petroleum diesel was more economical during that time. Thus, it is not surprising to hear that modern diesel engine vehicles can run on vegetable oil without a need for conversion.
However, conflicting testimonies of car owners who switch from petroleum diesel to vegetable oil make it hard to guarantee any given conclusions. Some claims that vegetable oil has no effect on the engine while others say that vegetable oil speeds up coking of the engine.
The question of reliability becomes a major issue.
Most owners try vegetable oil on older trucks and do not encounter any problem. Others spent on conversion kits so that their engine can “safely” run on vegetable oil. Others conduct certain filtration process on their vegetable oil before putting it on their gas tank. Some owners even mix fluids on vegetable oil to make it more viscous. We cannot really identify where, if there is any, a problem would begin. We can only speculate the possible factors that cause engine breakdown.
Pros and Cons
Waste oil is cheaper if not free.
Use reduces dependency on imported oil
May void warranty
Can only be used on older vehicles
Exhaust smells of chips (if you consider it a disadvantage)
Use may lead to coking engine when used improperly