Whenever we talk about biodiesel we mean the process of converting waste vegetable oil to an alternative fuel called biodiesel (or biodiesel conversion) which is then poured into unmodified diesel tanks in place of petroleum-based diesel. There is, however, another practice that comes to many minds whenever the term “biodiesel” comes up. This phenomenon involves the conversion of the engine rather than the oil, modifying a normal diesel engine to where it can run on unmodified waste vegetable oil (grease, fat, lard, etc.), in essence turning it into a “biodiesel engine”.
Thus the now famous and aptly named Grease Car. With greasecar as but one shining example of many, biodiesel engine conversion is gaining widespread appeal and it’s no wonder: imagine pulling up behind McDonald’s and getting all the free fuel you can carry! It’s true. Restaurants have to pay to get their waste vegetable oil carted away. People needing to fuel a biodiesel engine are doing them a favor – taking it away for free.
Many fast food restaurants, in fact, prefer if you establish committed relationships with them, coming by regularly to pick up a consistent amount. That way, they can adjust their contract with their actual waste disposal provider accordingly.
One New York City man has driven over 3,000 miles on his biodiesel engine modified 1985 Mercedes station wagon off of free fry oil he gets from his corner deli.
Biodiesel engine conversion appeals to many because it’s a process that only needs to be done once, where as actually biodiesel conversion must be performed every time the tank runs dry. With the burgeoning rise in biodiesel fill-up stations around the country, however, that advantage won’t weigh as heavily for long.
If you’re interested in having a biodiesel engine all your own, you can buy packaged biodiesel engine conversion kits to help you. These conversion kits come with full instructions and all the necessary equipment needed to modify any car with a diesel engine to run on straight waste vegetable oil.
You can even buy a more heavy duty biodiesel engine conversion kit built especially for heavy duty trucks.
Once a standard diesel engine is converted to a biodiesel engine, it can still run on regular, petroleum-based diesel (which is a very good thing – imagine being stranded at a service station because there’s no vegetable oil in sight!)
Waste vegetable oil used in a converted biodiesel engine must first be filtered to prevent clogging up the fuel lines. It’s recommended, in fact, to filter it more than once, through successively smaller mesh filters (they’re measured in “microns”, the smaller the number of microns being the finer the mesh). You can find filters of different sizes at most auto supply stores.
Now, there are many among us who, well aware of our own mechanical limitations, wouldn’t want to risk “messing with” our cars that way, and most of the biodiesel information in this website will speak primarily to these people, with such info as where to purchase biodiesel fuel and how to do your own biodiesel conversion. If, however, you feel empowered to spruce up your diesel engine into a “biodiesel engine”, more power to you. Either get yourself a kit or a thorough book on the subject and then get on your way. And whichever route you go, we wish you the happiest of travels!