Monday, January 23, 2006

Biodiesel Part II

I'm now running biodiesel

There's a place in Martinez, California that sells biodiesel called Golden Gate Petroleum. It's on the Shell refinery land (not the Tosco refinery), so there's a Shell sign above it even though they're independent. I talked to the dude inside and they said they're independent, they're just renting the land from Shell.

I filled it up and am driving it around. The car now smells like a fast food joint instead of smelling like a regular diesel vehicle.

The biodiesel pump had a sign above it that says "Safe, biodegradable, and non-toxic." I don't know how honest the non-toxic label is, but I'd imagine a biodiesel spill would do much less damage to the environment than a gasoline spill.

On the plus side, I'm not depending on foreign oil by running biodiesel. My fuel is either vegetable oil converted into biodiesel or the used grease from restaurants that has been refined into biodiesel.

My buddy I'll be buying the fuel from gets his oil from a restaurant. They actually pay him to get rid of it. I'll be paying $2/gallon. You know how much you're paying for gas, so I'm getting one heck of a deal. (Maybe gas is cheaper elsewhere but here in California, we're paying an arm and a leg for gas).

An honest review of biodiesel

That said, biodiesel isn't the perfect fuel. Biodiesel omits more nitrogen than your gasoline engine. It also smokes something terrible when it's cold. I have to warm up the car for five minutes in the winter morning before I could drive it. If I lived in Minnesota, I'd have to run 50% biodiesel/50% kerosene.

I also noticed I'm getting about four or five less miles per gallon than regular diesel, which I ran when I first bought this car. It's sluggish too until the car really gets warmed up. It ran more smoothly with regular diesel.

Now a 50/50 blend of biodiesel and regular diesel is better, still not as good as regular diesel, but runs much more smoothly in a California winter than the 90/10 blend I was running.

So, if you really don't want to use foreign oil, biodiesel is an alternative. I just wouldn't use it in a newer car and you need to keep in mind you won't get the same performance as regular diesel. If you can make it yourself, it's actually quite cheap because if you're licensed, fast food places will actually pay you to get rid of their waste oils, which you'll be converting into fuel for your vehicle. Keep in mind that this is waste to them and you're recycling it into fuel. How cool is that?

The other thing is gasoline isn't getting any cheaper nowadays. Imagine making your own fuel. If you're willing to do the work, you could save a lot of money. Or if you have a good hookup, it should still be cheaper than gasoline.


Blogger bsoholic said...

Cool... you don't need any special converter or anything for your vehicle?

Not sure that is even availiable around here though.

1/23/2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Now, if only our government would put more money into developing such alternative fuel sources maybe they'd refine biodiesel into something everyone could use and reduce some of the problems you experienced. But I'm not holding my breath. THe oil lobby is far too strong.

1/23/2006 9:53 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

The government doenst need to put money into it, they just need to avoid regulating it to death. People will develope it themselves given the chance to A: Make money and B: Save money.

1/23/2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

What a good idea! Maybe it will be refined eventually so those problems don't come up.

1/23/2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

I heard on the radio today that manure digesters, that can power up to 300 homes, are gaining in popularity. This solves 2 problems at the same time!

1/23/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Smelly, but I'm all for alternatives. However bad they may be for air pollution(?)

1/23/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

I saw an episode of TRUCKS! where they evaluated a home bio-diesel kit that uses fast-food waste and some commonly available chemicals. They claimed that it delived higher performance and mileage. Of couse, they had the same comments about cold weather issues. If I still had my F250 with the Power Stroke diesel, I sure would consider it. Too bad I can't refine my own gas!


1/23/2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger lime said...

i do like this idea and have thought about it for whenever we need a new car. either biodiesel or hybrid. I like the idea of recycling all that restaurant grease. and i really like not having to depend on opec. i am glad to know what your experience actually is. the whole cold weather thing gives me pause for thought since i am in PA. hhmmm.. food for thought all of it. thanks.

1/23/2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Gas is about $2.31 for low-test over here in Jersey. I haven't driven for about 6 months, so I haven't felt the impact of the high gas prices.

I got your package. Thank you! I'll be sending your package out in the next couple of days.

Do you mostly listen to Black Metal?? I'm not sure if you'll like my taste in music!! It's very Indian (dot not feather!). Zappa, too, for sure!! You'll see...


1/23/2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bsoholic - If you want to use straight vegetable oil, yes, you need a converter. If you want to run biodiesel, you can fill up any diesel engine (including those 18-wheeler diesel trucks) with biodiesel.

Biodiesel is not the same as vegetable oil. Some people go as far as convert their engine to run vegetable oil, since the original diesel engine ran on peanut oil.

Laura - It's not just the lobby. It's consumers. Consumers together have a lot more power than all the lobbies put together. If people would demand things, they'll get what they want.

Keep in mind that businesses are in business to make money, and if consumers just say "I'm not going to run my car on a petroleum based product," then you'll see oil companies start having biodiesel and vegetable oil divisions.

Exmi - I'm in it to save money. We're paying $2.39 currently for unleaded gasoline. It's not coming down any time soon. A friend of mine just gave me a tank full of biodiesel because he has so much. If I like it, he'll sell it to me for $2/gallon. That price is stable. Plus, my diesel car was a whopping $1500, and it runs well.

Bearette - The problem is engines have been running petroleum based products for decades, about a century in fact. Now when car companies start making engines to burn biodiesel efficiently, we won't have those problems. I'm guessing in 8-10 years.

Tshsmom - Manure has a lot of uses. It makes both good fuel and good fertilizer. Good to see someone is using it as fuel.

Saurkraut - yeah, it's a trade-off. They do produce higher amounts of nitrogen. All cars emit pollution, that's a given. Biodiesels emit some pollutants and gasoline engines emit others. The good thing about biodiesel is it smells good (in my opinion). But it smokes something terrible. See my reply to Bearette. When car companies start making engines that can burn this fuel efficiently, we'll have less problems with it.

Althouse - I got worse gas mileage. Maybe their engines are more efficient with it. Who knows?

But yes, you can make your own gas. People who complain about oil companies instead of complaining should be making biodiesel.

Lime - You probably won't want to use it in a new car, unless of course you don't mind replacing the fuel filter and fuel injectors. As much as I like the idea, it is known for clogging your fuel system.

If you want to use it, you're better off with a used car.

As for PA, it's fine during the summer, but you'll be hatin' life in the winter unless you mix it with kerosene.

Bhakti - Can't wait to get it. I think the only Black Metal that was on there was Cradle of Filth. HIM is very light for a metal band and Blackmore's Night is a Renaissance band. Nightwish is beautiful, give them a few listens before you decide whether you like them or not. Would love to hear your opinion on all that music.

Indian (dot, not feather) music is excellent for background music. If I'm drawing or blogging, it's good music to have on the stereo. Zappa's weird. Love the song Why Does it Hurt When I Pee?, but some of his stuff is too weird, even for me.

Can't wait to get it. :)

1/23/2006 7:46 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

It smokes? Like the same icky smoke you see coming out of those cars that people are driving around without being smogged? I wonder if people think you're doing damage to the ozone instead of doing your part? That would be ironic.

1/23/2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Sadie - Yeah, it smokes big time when warming up. After it warms up, it's fine. I'm sure the smoke is not a good thing, but like I said, it's a trade off.

The main problem with biodiesel is that car companies haven't devoted any brainwork to make it efficient. I'm sure with research, they can cut the emissions way down.

Sometimes consumers have to lead the way though and companies will follow. Look at American cars in the 70s. The gas crisis of the 70s is what put Japanese auto manufacturers on the map. Took Detroit years to figure out they need to make smaller cars, and they only figured it out when they started losing business to Japan.

1/23/2006 7:50 PM  
Blogger Cabe said...

Congress should pass a law requiring all restaurants to give all of their used oil to a bio-company within a given State. If we can get all of the truckers using bio-diesel...we wouldn't have a gas problem. It's a temporary fix, but we're desperate.

1/23/2006 11:00 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Cabe - Good idea. I know a guy who owns a bunch of trucks and he's going to make the switch. I'll have to ask him a few months from now how it's going.

1/23/2006 11:41 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

Isn't nitrogen one of the main components of the "greenhouse effect"?

I like that you use an alternative fuel :) you rock ZS.

1/24/2006 12:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Exmi: True - but government-funded research grants could help tremendously. Private citizens can do a lot, but give a grant to the American Chemical Society to try and chemically alter biodiesel (for example), would increase efficiency and decrease by products.

Zombie: True, but like Organic foods, even consumers who might want to purchase more organics can't afford to, and thus the demand appears not to be there... If companies can effecively force the bulk of consumers to remain with the status quo, they will.

1/24/2006 7:01 AM  
Blogger Mokuyobi said...

They started running buses in Vancouver that run on biodiesel. way to go.

1/24/2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Dusty - CO2 is the main antagonist in the Greenhouse effect. Yes, nitrogen is a culprit. All the greenhouse gases are low in a diesel except for NoX. Another reason I'm saying there is no perfect fuel. It's just an alternative.

Laura - Funny you bring up organic foods. This is a regional comment and will not apply to the rest of the country.

We have a weekly farmer's market year round, and twice a week during the summer. Organic food is the same price as non-organic food. That said, farmers are doing everything they can to get that CA Organic label on their food.

I think the same thing will happen with biodiesel. It will be big here in CA, but rare everywhere else in the country.

Mokuyobi - Yet another reason to love your city. Vancouver is cool.

1/24/2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger mckay said...

and i thought this was going to be about vin diesel. darn.

side note: my dad owned shell gas stations. he would've loved the concept and would jump at the chance to be either an investor or a factory owner.

1/24/2006 4:54 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

McKay - I ended up learning a lot about gas stations from an Egyptian friend of mine. He wanted us to buy a gas station together. Kind of wish I did.

He said that you make a lot of money, but work 70 hours a week.

1/24/2006 9:28 PM  
Anonymous gordon said...

That s why we invaded Iraq to steal there frunking kebab greasy spoon Resto cooking oil...any guy supporting the bush 2005 vers of 1940sgerman nazis is a fruitcake, burp.

1/26/2006 3:38 AM  
Anonymous kitty said...

gordon and zed im blogging in canada gonna start soon pleeese follow

1/26/2006 3:44 AM  
Blogger clothosfate said...

That is awesome. Your concietiousness makes me humble, it is NO surprise that you have so many readers... well maybe a slight surpirse, but a really good one.

I imagine biodiesel would be a bitch to run HERE in the winter!

I can't help but wonder how this will all pan out, I mean THEY make so much money off of foreign oil, and in this scenario (make your own fuel) where is the profit? I may be a bit cynical about this, but I know that there is an agenda here that will eventually require answering. I am only curious as to HOW it will be worked out.

Once again, YOU ROCK slayerman

1/26/2006 8:11 AM  

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