Sunday, May 30

biodiesel: a new use for McDonald's?

Definition: Biodiesel is a vegetable oil based fuel that can be used as a replacement for petroleum diesel in any diesel engine with little or no modification to that engine.

Trivia: the original diesel engines ran on peanut oil.

Biodiesel is new technology to me (this diesel substitute should be on every front page, and that absence is yet another indication of the conspiracy launched by the Bush administration and their oil cronies, no doubt). It couldn't possibly be due to (a) an inattentive media; (b) an inattentive Gene Bob (note the 1997 dates on many of these items) or (c) any inherent problems with biodiesel technology itself.

Deep thought #34: imagine a future where you pull into Wendy's to fill your fuel tank.

During Sunday morning's insomnia, I wandered from the National Biodiesel Board to The Veggie Bus (gotta love the paint job) to the Veggie Van (history lesson) to Grass-o-lean (rhymes with gasoline, eh?) to Boulder (Colorado) Biodiesel.

Update #1: Eric Bob reports that biodiesel's problem is cost: $3.20/gallon in California (making their $2.27/gallon cost for diesel seem attractive). I suspect availability is also an issue; just how much vegetable oil is available for refining? An article in today's Dallas Managed News said that even with $2/gallon gasoline here, it's much less than in Europe (where taxes take a larger bite). The highest price noted was $5.40/gallon in London.

I have not yet found a comparison in miles-per-gallon. Gotta wonder if vegetable oil is more|less efficient than diesel fuel? Interesting development: German-developed Sensor Improves Biodiesel Efficiency (September 2003)

Update #2: Biodiesel Boom Well-Timed (June 2004) highlights a guy making his own biodiesel for 41 cents a gallon. Okay, okay, a nearby restaurant gives him free cooking oil, rather than pay $1.50/gallon to have it hauled away. Yes, you caught me.
Aside #1: I lived in Boulder in 1982-3 while attending CU. I never found out why the University of Colorado is CU and not UC.

Aside #2: While spell-checking this posting, I was suggested [bedazzle] instead of [biodiesel]. Must be a lesson there.

Unrelated, except that it's in that "save the planet" category: Sustainable Resources (which will solve world hunger): kewl!

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