Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vegetable Oil Car

Huell Howser recently profiled Veg Powered Systems on his PBS show, California Green. Begun by husband and wife team Joel and Rebecca Woolf in Ojai, CA (north of LA), Veg Powered outfits diesels vehicles to run on vegetable oil. Their mission statement: "educating and assisting the diesel community in the use of vegetable oil as the true alternative fuel to diesel fuel. We feel it is time to change the landscape of our planet for the better."


Anonymous said...

If you can get the vegetable oil as a byproduct of other uses (e.g. leftover from potato frying by fast food joints -- some cabbies in Berlin do that) then that's great. If you have to specifically grow vegetables (soy or corn or whatever) to produce biodiesel, then you have a problem. 1. if you were to do this on a large scale, the amount of arable land would have to be vastly increased (you need to feed people _and_ grow stuff so that they can have transportation), leading to deforestation and all the other inherent problems of excessive agriculture; and 2. more importantly, the amount of energy put in to obtain the oil (planting, maintaning, fertilizing (producing the fertilizer, often a petrochemical byproduct) transporting the raw corn/soy, producing the oil in a centrifuge or by squeezing in a press) is almost equal to the amount of energy the resulting oil yields. Biodiesel, for selective uses and as a supplement to other sources, is great, but it cannot ever be an alternative for a country's transportation needs as a whole.


chanchow said...

Hey MK: I agree, it has to be used vegetable oil for the project to be tenable. The Woolf's are fueling their cars with used vegetable oil from restaurants around Ojai. They're also trying to get new vegetable oil that is passed its expiration date. The husband is also trying to get the contraption to work for things like back up generators. One idea of theirs to gather used vegetable oil from the restaurants on Catalina Island to power the hotels on the island.

Octopus Grigori said...

What about farts? There must be a whole load of wasted energy in those.

Anonymous said...

Oh yah! If we could hook up all those cow buttholes Al Gore was complaining about, we'd have renewable energy for the next few millennia.