Thursday, May 01, 2008

Used veggie oil better than bio-fuel?

Ever wonder how much used vegetable oil there is out there? One deep fryer at a single fast food restaurant can generate up to 50 gallons a week. Combine that with all the wonderful ethnic restaurants from Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Thai - and you've got yourself a steady flow of used vegetable oil.

OK, so what can you put that used vegetable oil into? Well after a really simple process of warming the oil up and filtering out some of the unwanted yummy crunchy particles left over from cooking fries and such, it's ready to go into a simply modified diesel car, truck or boat.

Not too many people know this, but when Mr. Diesel first introduced his Diesel engine way back when, it was actually intended to run primarily on peanut oil! Of course there were vested interests in reworking that engine concept to run on petroleum (Diesel fuel), but the truth is that engine can still run on good old fashioned vegetable oils.

We met up recently with a great company in Oakland, California called VegRev ( - they help folks convert their diesel cars and trucks to run on veggie oil. Essentially all that needs to get done is to add a few more heating elements to bring the veggie oil to 160 degrees or so to help it maintain its viscosity. (More details to come on a wonderful episode we're working on with the VegRev folks - where we make Tempura, Veggie Chips and Apple Fritters all in a deep fryer - where the used oil goes right into a car we drive off into the sunset!).

The main point is this, bio-diesel requires a lot more engine conversion due to the corrosive nature of the bio-fuels itself. It's also proven that bio-diesel is far less efficient to produce, and most importantly, bio-diesel is only an additive to existing petroleum! So you have like 85% diesel and 15% bio-fuel? At over $4.00 a gallon for diesel these days, does it make any sense to go this route?

Also, we hate to be redundant, but someone has to be on this topic it seems - bio-fuels are diverting food and protein away from hungry stomachs around the world, causing corn prices to spike and rice and grain prices to follow suit (from demand and speculation).

You know the best part about driving a veggie oil car? It doesn't provide but a fraction of particulate emissions and carbon dioxide than petroleum - and whenever you drive by, it leaves a hint of the restaurant (or veggie oil source) fragrance in the air! So you've got what the kids call the French Fry mobile! or The Egg Roll mobile, etc. Fun stuff!

A quick recap on the math:
Diesel fuel: over $4.00 per gallon
Used Veggie Oil: (after the car conversion and a few pennies on filtering bags)..uh $0.00 per gallon!

Peace, Love and Organics!

Hippy Gourmet Team

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