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Brew Your Own Auto Fuel For 41 Cents A Gallon

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the would-you-like-fries-with-that? dept.

Technology 991

Iphtashu Fitz writes "Damon Toal-Rossi of Iowa City, Iowa had enough of the high price of gasoline, so it didn't take too much for his friend to talk him into switching to biodiesel, an alternative fuel based on soy or vegetable oil. But after a few months of driving 10 miles to a biodiesel fuel station he decided it was time to start brewing his own. It didn't take him long to find a recipe for biodiesel, and with used cooking oil that he gets for free from a nearby restaurant, he figures he's now getting 44 miles per gallon out of his diesel powered VW Golf and only paying 41 cents a gallon. According to the National Biodiesel Board the number of biodiesel stations in the US rose by 50% last year (to a whopping 200). The president of the American Soybean Association claims biodiesel has almost the same amount of energy as petroleum-based diesel, but cleans an engine's fuel injectors and cuts down on the number of required oil changes. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why diesel powered cars are making a comeback in the US."

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The Modern Liberal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9306945)

What It Means to be a Liberal.

The other day I found myself very puzzled.

I know what I believe, why I believe it, the philosophical foundations of my beliefs. I've studied everything from Karl Marx to Ludwig von Mises, from Friedrich Hayek to FDR, from Edmund Burke to Bertrand Russell, from Aristotle to Ayn Rand.

I understand modern conservative thought. I understand libertarian thought. I understand classical liberalism. What I can't begin to comprehend is modern liberalism. Maybe you can help me. As near as I can tell, to be a liberal:

You have to believe the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of funding.

IF there is a church that is valid, it has been pre-approved by the government.

You have to be against capital punishment but for abortion on demand ... in short, you support protecting the guilty and killing the innocent.

You have to believe that the same public school idiot who can't teach 4th graders how to read is qualified to teach those same kids about sex.

You have to believe that trial lawyers are selfless heroes and doctors are overpaid.

You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than nuclear weapons in the hands of the Red Chinese.

You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical, documented changes in the brilliance of the Sun, and more affected by yuppies driving SUVs.

You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being gay is natural.

You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.

You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature but pasty, fey activists who've never been outside Seattle do.

You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.

You have to believe there was no art before federal funding.

You have to believe the military, not corrupt politicians, start wars.

You have to believe the free market that gives us 500+ channels can't deliver the quality that PBS does.

You have to believe the NRA is bad, because they stand up for certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good, because they stand up for certain parts of the Constitution.

You have to believe that taxes are too low but ATM fees are too high.

You have to believe that Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, General Robert E. Lee or Thomas Edison.

You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides aren't.

You have to believe second-hand smoke is more dangerous than HIV.

You have to believe Hillary Clinton is really a lady and Rosie O'Donnell is not really a man who is jealous of Tom Selleck.

You have to believe conservatives are racists but that black people couldn't make it without your help.

You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.

Looking back on my list, it seems shallow, muddled, contradictory, divorced of logic and a bit sadistic.

Well, then. If that doesn't describe the modern liberal, I don't know what does.

Great... (4, Insightful)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306956)

...as long as you:

a) Have a diesel car.

b) Have somebody who will give you free used oil.

Not all of us live nearby KFC :)

Re:Great... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307035)

Actually, getting free used oil is easier than you think owing to:

a) Any restaurant that does frying has used oil. (Even that mom'n'pop boutique place you like to frequent)

b) Restaurants normally have to pay someone to have their used oil hauled away.

Re:Great... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307125)

"b) Restaurants normally have to pay someone to have their used oil hauled away."

Not anymore -- most restaraunts get money back for recycling purposes...some have even proscecuted folks that have taken their cooking oil because while it makes very little money -- it is still a few hundred $$$s a month for them.

Live? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307046)

"Not all of us live nearby KFC :)"

What do you mean 'live', buy one of their buckets and pour the gallon grease at the bottom right into your car.

I love the Colonial.

Re:Great... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307056)

Instead of vegetable oil, we should just scrape the goo off the pimpled faces of fat Slashdotters! Put those Cheeto-munching lardasses to work!

Aha... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307187)

You saw Kentucky Fried Movie too, eh?

More Great News About President-Vice Cheney (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307113)

Courtesy of The Guardian [guardian.co.uk]

Enjoy.

As always,
Kilgore

Email shows Cheney 'link' to oil contract

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday June 1, 2004
The Guardian

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, helped to steer through a huge contract for the reconstruction of Iraq's oil industry on behalf of his old firm, Halliburton, Time magazine reported yesterday.

The report, based on an internal Pentagon email, joins a steady stream of allegations of cronyism involving Halliburton. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Houston company has won $17bn (9bn) in contracts to rebuild Iraq, far outstripping its competitors.

Mr Cheney, who ran Halliburton for five years before he became George Bush's vice-president in 2000, has maintained that he severed all links to the company when he entered public life.

However, Time said it had obtained an internal email from a Pentagon official indicating that Mr Cheney's office had been intimately involved in awarding a multibillion-dollar contract for the restoration of Iraqi oil.

The email, dated March 5 last year, said that Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defence for policy and an avid promoter of the war, had approved a contract with Halliburton "contingent on informing WH [the White House] tomorrow".

The email says that Mr Feith received authorisation for the Rio (Restore Iraqi Oil) contract from the deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. The email, from an unidentified official with the Army Corps of Engineers, says: "We anticipate no issues, since action has been coordinated with the VP's office."

No other bids were sought, and Halliburton was awarded the contract.

A spokesman for Mr Cheney's office denied any connection to the contract. "The vice-president and his office have played no role in government contracting since he left private business to campaign for vice-president," in 1999, Kevin Kellems said.

But Mr Cheney has not severed his links with Halliburton. Last year, he received $178,437 in deferred compensation from the company.

Reports suggest that the process of awarding contracts has changed under the Bush administration. A report to the House of Representatives committee on government reform last week noted that $107bn in contracts had been awarded without open competition. Nearly three-quarters of those exclusive arrangements - worth about $88bn - involved work in Iraq, the report said. Halliburton has won a sizeable share of them.

Re:Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307117)

With the amount of fast food North America eats, our food craving obesity will be able to power the world via our left over French fry grease.

Re:Great... (5, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307131)

Bingo, it's great while there are only a half dozen people who try it per town. As soon as more than one person goes and asks an owner for their used oil guess what? No more free used oil. Crude oil prices are what they are because it's a traded commodity, not because it's hard to get or difficult to refine. What people are willing to pay is what dictates the price, not the threat of running out.

Create a demand and like everything else, prices will rise.

Not that I'm totally against the idea, but you can't base the impact on a real economy on a test case of a few people here and there.

Harumph. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9306986)

Faggy hippie fuels for faggy hippie cars for faggie hippies.

My next truck.. (3, Informative)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306987)

My next truck is going to have a diesel engine. Gasoline is simply too expensive. Diesel has always been less expensive with or without home-brewing it. My guess is that I'll be makign the purchase in two years or so.

Re:My next truck.. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307004)

Right now Diesel costs about as much as Mid-grade gasoline here in California. No one is really sure why this is, but it has to have something to do with people buying diesels to get out of paying the ludicrous gasoline prices. Diesel is cheaper to produce than gasoline so there is really no other explanation...

Re:My next truck.. (2, Interesting)

kabocox (199019) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307152)

Right now Diesel costs about as much as Mid-grade gasoline here in California.
I'd say check your taxes. I'd bet my 2 cents that there is a CA state tax on Diesel that is intended as a hidden tax on the trucking industry.

Re:My next truck.. (2, Informative)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307063)

You must not be very old...

Why, back in my day, I remember a time (Hmm... was it mid-80's or perhaps very early 90's?) when diesel was more expensive than gasoline.

Just prior to that time, diesel was indeed less expensive, and there was a big push for diesel cars from consumers... then suddenly it was more expensive and all the people who bought diesel cars were griping about it.

It was kind of a kick in the teeth.

How's it smell? (4, Interesting)

mdwebster (158623) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306989)

I've heard it makes your car exhaust smell like french fries ... Not that there's anything wrong with that ...

Re:How's it smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307043)

It smells like whatever you used to make the fuel. If you used waste oil from a french fryer from a restaurant, it will smell like fries.

Re:How's it smell? (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307090)

Which is why you get your grease at dunkin donuts or tim hortons. Mmmmm.... donuts.... EVERY TIME YOU DRIVE! ;-)

Re:How's it smell? (5, Funny)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307189)

Great, so then every cop in a 10-mile radius is magically drawn to your car. Even if you're not doing anything wrong it would still be unnerving as hell leading a parade of squad cars all trying to get a contact sugar high from your exhaust.

fat chicks (3, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307148)

Yeah, I have a problem. You may have fat chicks chasing down your car.



I know it's not PC to say that but oh well.

Re:How's it smell? (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307149)

I would get sick of smelling all those fries... Sides how does used oil clean fuel injectors?

French Fry Smell (3, Funny)

Danathar (267989) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306994)

Just think....

McDonalds could outfit all of their trucks with used French Fry Oil...and then evertime you saw one pass you'd smell that wonderful French Fry Aroma!

Seriously......They COULD do this!

Like they say about Linux... (5, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306996)

Biodiesel is only $0.41/gallon if your time is worth nothing.

Sounds like a fun project though. The warnings about the various poisons certainly got my attention.

Re:Like they say about Linux... (1)

dropoffx (648031) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307193)

Sure, it's 41 cents a gallon now. What happens when there is a huge demand for used cooking oil. Would that not drive the prices up comparable to deisel? It's good to see an alternative to our dependancy on gasoline. I just paid $2.30 a gallon this morning and it's only going to get worse.

Pollution (1)

AxsDeny (152142) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306997)

What is the amount of emission output on biodiesel?

Re:Pollution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307094)

Except for NOx (oxides of nitrogen), pretty low [soypower.net]

Re:Pollution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307166)

emission is a catchall for a lot of things. more detailed statistics can be foun on the biodiesel.org website.

from my understanding it's gotmore nox and less c02 (especially since the c02 is mitigated via the growing of the plants), but cancer-causing and smog-forming particulates are drastically reduced (something like 30-90%) again find the stats on the website or on the epas relevant pages.

It seems foolish... (-1, Troll)

trotski (592530) | more than 9 years ago | (#9306999)

.... with millions of people starving to death in the world, that we use food (soybeans, etc) to make fuel. It's really sad actually.

Re:It seems foolish... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307068)

with millions of people starving to death in the world, that we use food (soybeans, etc) to make fuel. It's really sad actually.

Nonsense. There is no shortage of food in the world: the reason people are starving is distribution issues. In most cases it's because their corrupt governments are siphoning off money from aid programs...

Not foolish at all... (5, Insightful)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307079)

People are not starving because there is not enough food in the world, but because in too many places the distribution system is not very efficient, or is actively perverted by armies, dictators, and other autocrats. If we can find a way to use inexpensive, renewable plant matter to generate energy, it will ultimately improve the lives of people all over the world, especially in those places too poor to buy oil right noww.

Re:It seems foolish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307080)

A band-aid for your bleeding heart:

The millions of people starving to death in the world are starving as the result of a food distribution failure, not a lack of production.

There's enough food being produced to feed the world several times over. Lots of it rots in the field and in your suburban grocery store.

Re:It seems foolish... (2, Insightful)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307091)

Uh, yeah. God forbid we deprive the poor starving masses of their USED cooking oil.

Re:It seems foolish... (1)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307099)

Actually, it is using used food (used vegetable oil) - so it's recycling. Also the $$ saved on oil could probably feed entire countries... and feed them more than just soy beans to boot!

Anyway, my next Golf will be a TDI.

Re:It seems foolish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307101)

we use food (soybeans, etc) to make fuel

Nonsense. They're free to eat all of the biodiesel they want.

Re:It seems foolish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307116)

While hunger is a problem that needs to be solved, this comment is like saying it's sad that we use water to shower with because many people don't have clean drinking water.

Re:It seems foolish... (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307139)

It seems foolish Nuclear energy is safer than fossil fuels and better for the environment than fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is more viable on the large scale than wind, solar, or tidal power, and its environmental effects have been studied better.

1) I'm pretty sure the reason people don't have enough food isn't that there's not enough to go around and 2)it's not foolish if you use waste oil (from, say, a deep fryer at a fast food restaurant) as your starting point. And it smells better, too.

Clean?! (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307007)

claims biodiesel has almost the same amount of energy as petroleum-based diesel, but cleans an engine's fuel injectors and cuts down on the number of required oil changes.

Have these people seen the crap-for-oil that comes out of most restaurants? That stuff is fully oxidized, saturated with carbon, mixed with salt, and diluted by water! How anyone could expect it to clean anything is beyond me.

the least of your worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307157)

Given your description of restaurant oil, and how nasty it may be on a car's engine, I take it you never eat in those establishments.

Re:Clean?! (2, Insightful)

crackshoe (751995) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307162)

Um... i've done a fair amount of frying, and I don't really see how one would fry with oil diluted with water, or, even if it was, if there would be a problem seperating the two. I, on the other hand, know nothing about the fry oil used in chain resteraunts, so hey, maybe its so.

Re:Clean?! (2, Informative)

werdnapk (706357) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307178)

You filter the oil first... if it's used from a restaurant then you'd filter it a number of times before actually using it.

Re:Clean?! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307194)

Petrol and cooking oil are not the same type of hydrocarbon (they don't have the same number of carbon atoms in the chain). For whatever reason, using high concentrations of biodiesel has a solvent effect. If you have a diesel car or truck that has been running on dino-diesel for a long time and suddenly switch to B100 (100% bio-d, chances are high that you'll have to get a new fuel filter because the bio-d will break up all the crud that has accumulated in the fuel tank and deposit it into your filter, clogging it.

And when using waste oil for bio-d, you do have to process and clean it before putting it in your car's fuel tank.

Car-B-Q (2, Funny)

charlieo88 (658362) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307011)

Cars running on recycled vegtable oil? Reminds of an old episode of wings, where everybody was driving around with a CarBQ cooking food on the engine.

The tax man cometh (5, Interesting)

hwstar (35834) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307012)

Don't be too surprised if you find a line on the 2004 state and federal tax return to declare the amount of fuel you brewed so that they can assess back road taxes.

Re:The tax man cometh (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307088)

If the IRS charges "road tax" for brewing fuel, they really need to clean up their naming conventions.

Not viable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307013)

There is not so much waste cooking oil, when compared with the fule consumed by Americas vehicle fleet. Lets not even discuss the enviormental horry that would be the result of trying to raise enough crops to produce vegtable oils for cars and trucks. There is simply nothing harder on the enviorment then the ag_industry.

Re:Not viable (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307147)

Forget about soy beans then and think about using hemp instead. Hemp has enough bio mass and grows practically anywhere.

Google (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307016)

cache [66.102.7.104]

That's great and all... (3, Interesting)

nebaz (453974) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307022)

But it really can't be a solution for everybody, can it? First of all not everyone has access to a restaurant to get used cooking oil, and last I checked, cooking oil is more expensive at the grocery store than gasoline (I guess it depends on where you live).

a few caveats (5, Interesting)

eisenbud (708663) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307023)

Biodiesel is cleaner in every respect except that it generates more NOx. NOx and particulates are the primary pollution problems with diesel engines in general, though the industry is making progress. Also, of course, the "free oil from the restaurant next door" solution won't scale, and will probably only last until some entrepreneur starts buying restaurant oil and reselling it to biodiesel manufacturers. That said, the fact that this closes the carbon loop is a huge win, not to mention the potential for energy independence.

tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307025)

Haven't some people brewing their own biodiesel been harassed by the authorities for not paying fuel tax? Or is that only people selling it?

Re:tax? (2, Interesting)

eisenbud (708663) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307061)

I read a news story about people in the UK making their own biodiesel and being harrassed for not paying fuel taxes, but I haven't heard anything like that in the US. Which is not to say that it hasn't happened or couldn't.

And that's why this isn't sustainable... (4, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307026)

with used cooking oil that he gets for free from a nearby restaurant

Nifty, but if we all went out and did this, the price would skyrocket. Hell, if only all the people who read this story on Slashdot went out and did this, the price would skyrocket.

All this story says is, "If you get free stuff, you can make other cheap stuff out of it." Regrettably, we're not solving any energy problems by starting with "If you get free stuff..."

(It's great the guy did this and I respect the hack that this embodies. But people shouldn't try to draw too many conclusions from this. All the cooking oil I've used so far this year (and I don't order many fried foods from restaurants so that's the majority of "my" share of oil) wouldn't hardly get me out of the city.)

Re:And that's why this isn't sustainable... (0)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307156)

Nifty, but if we all went out and did this, the price would skyrocket. Hell, if only all the people who read this story on Slashdot went out and did this, the price would skyrocket.


Wrong. Restaurants actually have to pay companies to haul off their cooking oil. We are doing them a favor. In theory, they should actually be paying us to take it off their hands. There are tons of restaurants all across America and they all generate waste oil.

Even if they were to charge because the demand would go up so dramatically, it would still be greatly cheaper than gas, which costs money just to make. Cooking oil waste is a byproduct.

one problem (4, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307028)

is that biodiesel gels at about 32 degress F. So, if you are parking your car outside in below-freezing temperatures, you have to mix it with petroleum diesel and/or add anti-gelling additives.

Re:one problem (4, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307126)

Even regular diesel fuel engines have trouble in freezing temperatures. Most diesel owners that live in cold weather climates have to plug the car into an electric heater at night if they want their cars to start on a winter morning. Of course there are also plenty of garage fires caused by people who installed the engine heaters incorrectly.

not so simple I dont think (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307029)



The first things that come to mind with this is getting rid of bi products. Initially when I saw this I thought they meant methane. Ala some type of waste, the right bacteria, and viala gobs and gobs of methane. For how onwers who have their own septic pits I dont see why this isn't viable. In addition many existing fleet vehicles are already configured to run on methane.

there are a couple links below.
http://www.viacorp.com/bio-gas.html

Free Used Oil (2, Insightful)

essiescreet (553257) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307030)

As soon as there's a demand, Mc D's or whoever will be selling this, too.

I'd switch, but my truck's almost paid off and I don't want to have to replace it. If our president would give me a $5,000 tax break to switch (instead of my boss a $30,000 tax break for driving an SUV, this is assinine) I'd switch.


Availability (4, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307032)

Biodisel is a bad solution to the oil problems in america. Why? Because if 50% of cars on the road today had biodeisel, then the price would skyrocket. Why? Although McD's produces a ton of greaseburgers, there simply won't be enough used oil to produce enough fuel for everyone. Wish I had the link to the stats... I'll google around and give the link.

Re:Availability (5, Insightful)

and by (598383) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307136)

Yes, but if everyone in America were to convert to using biodiesel, then there'd be an impetus to make it commercially on a large scale. Essentially, we'd have farms producing either vegetable or soy oil for use as fuel. You can make biodiesel out of fresh oil even easier than out of used oil.

And I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307038)

It was all related to the popularity of wrestler Kevin "Diesel" Nash, most recently seen in The Punisher as a gay Russian.

WooHoo! (1)

neowolf (173735) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307040)

I believe VW is the only car company to sell diesel vehicles in the US for several years now. I've been the proud owner of a TDI (diesel) golf for a few years. I've been laughing lately at SUVs pulling in for their almost-daily $40 fill-up. Diesel, in my area anyway, is currently 10-20 cents cheaper than regular unleaded gas, and I get almost 50MPG!

I've thought about bio-diesel, but there is only one consumer station in the Denver area, and it is about 15 miles (and 30 minutes with rush-hour traffic) out of my way. I'm hoping more stations will open up as gas prices continue to climb. Otherwise, I might start making my own as-well.

Biodiesel is Great (1)

jfholcomb (60309) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307042)

Biodiesel has some issues (no wonder) from our current federal government. If you want to use it over the road they insist on getting their taxes. It is however TODAY a great fuel for the marine enviroment. At the top of the boats that find Biodiesel attractive are sail boats. Yes they have small diesel engines... and the diesel makes a mess of the bilge. I have found $.60/gal to be more inline with the production costs if the oil is free.

Hidden Costs? (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307044)

"However, Murad said that because diesels release higher amounts of nitrogen oxides, or NOxs, than gasoline cars, the E320 CDI cannot be sold in the five states with the most-stringent emissions standards, including the large markets of California and New York."

It might be cheaper for you, but anyone who's taken an econ 101 course can tell you that diesel is "cheaper", not cheaper.

Fuel Taxes (4, Interesting)

Steffan (126616) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307052)

Does it take into account fuel taxes? As far as I know, even if you make your own fuel, you're still liable for paying the road use tax that is normally incorporated into the price at the pump.

This has been raised before... (2, Informative)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307055)

...plenty of times in the UK, where "gas" is now (GBP)1 per litre, or $1.83 per litre, or around $7 american for a gallon.

How much is regular gas in the US, and how much for diesel?

Re:This has been raised before... (1)

Dharzhak (124289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307192)

In the Detroit metropolitan area, gas is approximately $2.20/gallon and diesel is approximately $1.80/gallon.

With that kind of price difference, it's not hard to see whe people are starting to eyeball diesel again.

Hidden Costs (1, Redundant)

AgentOJ (320270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307059)

Though it seems that biodiesel is cheap compared to current gas prices, one thing to factor in is that making your own biodiesel has hidden costs. First off, not everyone will be able to get free used cooking oil (those who live in the country, for example...the time/biodiesel used to drive into town is something to consider). Beyond that, the preperation time for making biodiesel factors into the cost. Any time you spend making biodiesel is time when you could be working, and thus making money. One reason (and yes, I realize there are many others involved) that gas is expensive is due to the convienience. With a typical gas station, you drive up, pump your gas, pay for it, and leave. The gas has already been processed, transported, etc, which factors into the cost. So, though making your own biodiesel is a good way to save some money, you have to remember to balance convience and time into the equation, and determine if the savings are worthwhile.

Biodiesel blues (1)

miketo (461816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307069)

A neighbor of mine has been working on his biodiesel conversion project for quite a while. According to him, here in the US it's fairly difficult to find a consumer diesel vehicle that's (a) in good operational shape (never mind appearance) and (b) converts easily to using biodiesel. So while conversion projects sound cool, and I'm sure Mother Jones magazine proclaims they're the Second Coming, it may be better to get an auto manufacturer to build a vehicle specifically designed to consume biodiesel.

Of course this is anecdotal evidence, reported without actual knowledge or research on my part, and (wait for it!) YMMV.

Ass-diesel (2, Funny)

EaterOfDog (759681) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307070)

I don't know about bio-diesel, but if I can get a car that runs on methane, I could drive for three days on $10 worth of Mexican food. The adapter between my digestive system and the car might be uncomfortable though...

Another alternative (1)

pctainto (325762) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307073)

Heck, you can drive for $.00 per gallon by buying a conversion kit from Greasecar [greasecar.com]. These kits allow you your diesel off of straight vegetable oil.

I remember reading about some kids from Vermont converting a bus and going cross country and just stopping at fast food places along the way.

This guy's a dead man (2, Funny)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307081)

He better hire someone to start his car everyday. The oil companies won't put up with this.

Methanol (1)

darkharlequin (1923) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307097)

the limiting factor of cost is basically the cost of methanol since that is a 20%bv reagent in the biodiesel trans-esterification reaction. non-industrial quantities can be quite expensive. Racing fuel is like $40/5 gal i think.

Biodiesel - myth? (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307102)

If every gas-powered vehicle - and hell, my diesel burning furnace - ran on diesel tomorrow, would it even be feasible to produce that much biodiesel?

I mean I remember refining some vegetable oil to fire up the science teachers Golf as an expirement in high school. Pretty neat, but we used gallons of vegetable oil to wind up with a couple litres of fuel.

It seems to me we could clearcut every old growth and rainforest on earth, and still not have enough landmass to produce enough of this fuel.

I've also heard it's proponents spewing absolute bullshit. I believe it was Darryl Hannah (or some other washed-up 70s pinup) I saw on TV spouting off about her biodiesel powered car.

When she claimed it produced "no toxic emissions" I scoffed, when she said it produced no carbon dioxide, I just switched the channel.

You're still burning hydrocarbons, after all. Just not ones that have been in the ground a million years.

I don't pretend to have studied it, I have no idea how much oil an acre of corn/soy yields in a season. It doesn't seem feasible to me, else the farming lobby, who have the political and economic clout to CRUSH OPEC, would have done so by now.

How much does this guys 41 cents/gallon really cost if you dont get the oil for free?

Diesel Cars... (1)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307104)

Not that everyone is from the US here, but this could be remarkable for many users that are outside of the US where diesel is used more often for non-commercial uses.

However, a quick report I found [engineeringtalk.com] shows that there may even be a slight shift in the US market towards diesel. While it's interesting to say the least, I think it's due to the fact that since the US is in a SUV/Truck frenzy right now, the demand for bigger, more fuel efficient vehicles is very high.

What about hemp? (2, Informative)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307105)

I read somewhere that growing hemp could cut down on deforestation because it can be used as a paper fibre, and that oil can also be extracted from it, like soy.

So why not hemp-oil for cars?

Another issue (1)

r1ckt3r (302503) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307106)

You can't expect much if you live in moderate climates, bio-diesel isn't friendly whenever it dips beneath freezing. You can mix it with regular diesel at that point or kerosene, but that defeats the purpose IMO.

Mercedes New E-Class (4, Interesting)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307109)

Yeah, now that Mercedes has released it's new E Class with a CDI diesel engine you can have your cake and eat it too. Luxury, performance and fuel economy. With 369 lbft. of torque at 1,800 rpm it probably has better than average acceleration for a 4,000 pound car. Even if you don't use biodiesel this is a great fuel saver for luxury car buyers with 37 mpg highway and in the high twenties in the city.

http://www.edmunds.com/new/2004/mercedesbenz/ecl as s/100359251/roadtestarticle.html?articleId=101837

And you know what they use to control emissions in the US market with higher sulpher content fuels. A urea injection system... That's right... Urea is sprayed into the mix with fuel and air.

In TFA.. (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307112)

It says that there's pending legislation to give users of biodiesel a tax-credit. Is home-made bio-diesel subject to tax over there? Because it is here.

Is this energy efficient on the long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307120)

I'd heard that "gasahol" (as they called it in the 80s), the corn-based (ethanol?) fuel additive, while a nice use for this nation's massive corn surplus, isn't actually very energy efficient as more energy is used to plant, grow, and harvest the corn as is reaped from the corn itself as a fuel source..

Would biodeisel scale up in an energy efficient way? Does it supply more energy than it costs to generate? (I don't mean this in a breaking the third law of thermodynamics way, I mean this in an economic sense)

Re:Is this energy efficient on the long-term? (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307188)

Gasahol is a completely different animal. Ethanol fuel additives have an added feature of being very rough on your engine. I believe that it has a habit of destroying valve seals.

Not In California (2, Interesting)

gmfink (700093) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307122)

The state that could arguably use this interesting story the most will be shut out in another year. CARB has effectively outlawed diesel cars here, due to the higher amounts of NOx and particulates emitted from diesels over gas burners. So actually while this story seems green-natured, California would disagree despite obvious benefits. Are emissions the same coming from biodiesel as petroleum? If so, or they're actually worse, this doesn't seem to have long term viability.

Better way (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307123)

Instead of trucking jugs of smelly vegetable oil around town to your biodiesel production facility (which btw is probally in violation of your local zoning ordinances)... start "farming".

Get some low-maintenance animals like sheep or goats, however many your state says you need to become a "farm". Then buy conventional diesel or home heating oil at "farm" rates, which are free of most exise and sales taxes.

Humboldt California (5, Informative)

solarlips (98093) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307128)

I am an alumi of Humboldt State University, the area is known for its hippies and agricultural exports (cough). On campus we had the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT). CCAT is completely off the power grid and supports most any form of recycling, and green energy. CCAT gives demonstrations on how to create biodiesel, I believe they even have an old diesel Mercedes running off the stuff.

CCAT's website includes a recipe for biodiesel:
http://www.humboldt.edu/~ccat/biodiese l/frames.htm l

I've been told that most of the public trasportation in Berkeley, CA runs off of biodiesel (?).

I see one minor problem.... (0, Redundant)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307129)

There is a finite number of places one can obtain large amounts of cooking oil. While at the moment, it may be quite easy to talk a manager at a local KFC into letting you cart off for free what they would have to pay to dispose of, the problem arises that there will not be such widespread availability of waste oil as the popularity of home-brewed biodiesel takes off.

I can easily picture fierce competition over whom is allowed to get the oil from KFC this week, etc.

When it comes to growing crops to manufacture biodiesel, you have to ask how much energy will be expended planting, harvesting, commercially refining and transporting the finished product. Will it be viable?

Just wait until the government finds out (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307135)

They will be LIVID to not be getting their 50-60+ cents per gallon "cut" ;)

Hell hath no fury like government that sees something it isn't taxing (ie: getting it's "cut").

Patriotic Duty (1)

ardent (147548) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307143)

Support your nation's independence! Every american should eat at McDonald's once a day to guarantee our energy independence through vegetable oil!

according to the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9307171)

Mercedes diesels release higher amounts of nitrogen oxides, or NOxs, than gasoline cars, the E320 CDI cannot be sold in the five states with the most-stringent emissions standards, including the large markets of California and New York.

Umm he got the raw materials for free (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#9307184)

That doesn't count if you are GIVEN the raw materials..

True, biodiesel is potentially a great thing to reduce reliance on overseas oil, but this guy is NOT a good example to use.

In this case it would be no different if I was given potato scraps and made alcohol out of it for my regular fueled vehicle.
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