Archive for July, 2006

Diesel Vehicles

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

If you’re shopping for a diesel, here’s a list of what I’ve been able to find on the market so far:

Vehicle Specs Price
Volkswagen New Beetle hatchback, convertible, GLS, GL, GLS TDI, Diesel, Gas $29,881
Ford F-350 truck, Harley Davidson, Lariat, XL, XLT, King Ranch, Gas, Diesel $139,771
2007 Volkswagen Eos convertible, Base, Gas, Diesel $21,005
2006 Volkswagen New Beetle TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6A) hatchback, TDI, Diesel $42,210
2006 Volkswagen New Beetle TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) hatchback, TDI, Diesel $42,800
2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6A) sedan, TDI, Diesel $22,000
2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) sedan, TDI, Diesel $47,895
2006 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDI 4dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) hatchback, GLS TDI, Diesel $20,655
2006 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDI 4dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) hatchback, GLS TDI, Diesel $19,465
2006 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E320 CDI 4dr Sedan (3.2L 6cyl Turbodiesel 5A) sedan, E320 CDI, Diesel $128,374
2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha Wagon 4WD 4dr SUV (6.6L 8cyl Turbodiesel 5A) SUV, Wagon, Diesel N/A
2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha Open-Top 4WD 4dr SUV (6.6L 8cyl Turbodiesel 5A) SUV, Open-Top, Diesel $27,745
2006 Dodge Sprinter High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $30,810
2006 Dodge Sprinter High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel $36,870
2006 Dodge Sprinter High Roof 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 118 WB, Diesel $29,050
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $35,725
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel N/A
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 140 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 140 WB, Diesel $34,775
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $32,885
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel $35,725
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 118 WB, Diesel $32,460
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 140 WB, Diesel $30,585
2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 118 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 118 WB, Diesel $34,775
2006 Dodge Sprinter 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 140 WB, Diesel $32,055
2006 Dodge Sprinter 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 118 WB, Diesel N/A
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 ST 4dr Quad Cab SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, ST, Diesel $36,590
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 ST 4dr Quad Cab 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, ST, Diesel $39,680
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 SLT 4dr Quad Cab SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel N/A
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 SLT 4dr Quad Cab 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel $28,378
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 SLT 4dr Mega Cab SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel $35,420
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 SLT 4dr Mega Cab 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel $21,605
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Laramie 4dr Quad Cab SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel $21,555
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Laramie 4dr Quad Cab 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel $44,805
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Laramie 4dr Mega Cab SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel N/A
2006 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Laramie 4dr Mega Cab 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel $19,580
2005 Volkswagen Passat GLS TDI Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) wagon, GLS TDI, Diesel $24,975
2005 Volkswagen Passat GLS TDI Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) sedan, GLS TDI, Diesel $27,275
2005 Volkswagen Passat GL TDI Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) wagon, GL TDI, Diesel $33,033
2005 Volkswagen Passat GL TDI Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) sedan, GL TDI, Diesel $36,975
2005 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) hatchback, GLS TDI, Gas, Diesel $20,140
2005 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M) hatchback, GLS, Gas, Diesel $20,335
2005 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS 1.8T 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M) hatchback, GLS 1.8T, Diesel, Gas $21,360
2005 Volkswagen New Beetle GL 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M) hatchback, GL, Gas, Diesel $21,005
2005 Volkswagen Jetta New Value Edition 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M) sedan, Value Edition, Gas, Diesel $16,445
2005 Volkswagen Jetta New TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) sedan, TDI, Diesel, Gas $27,620
2005 Volkswagen Jetta New 2.5 PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M) sedan, 2.5 PZEV, Gas, Diesel $18,065
2005 Volkswagen Jetta New 2.5 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M) sedan, 2.5, Diesel, Gas $19,385
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GLS TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) wagon, GLS TDI, Diesel, Gas $20,195
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GLS TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) sedan, GLS TDI, Diesel $32,137
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M) sedan, GLS PZEV, Gas, Diesel $20,545
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M) sedan, GLS, Gas, Diesel $24,085
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M) wagon, GLS 1.8T, Gas, Diesel $24,475
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GL TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) wagon, GL TDI, Gas, Diesel $38,815
2005 Volkswagen Jetta GL PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M) sedan, GL PZEV, Diesel, Gas $20,335
2005 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDI 4dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) hatchback, GLS TDI, Gas, Diesel $22,815
2005 Volkswagen Golf GLS 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M) hatchback, GLS, Diesel, Gas $22,355
2005 Volkswagen Golf GL TDI 4dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M) hatchback, GL TDI, Gas, Diesel $20,625
2005 Volkswagen Golf GL 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M) hatchback, GL, Gas, Diesel $19,005
2005 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E320 Rwd CDI 4dr Sedan (3.2L 6cyl Turbodiesel 5A) sedan, E320 CDI, Diesel $39,120
2005 Jeep Liberty Sport Rwd 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6M) SUV, Sport, Diesel, Gas $17,185
2005 Jeep Liberty Sport 4WD 4dr SUV (2.8L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) SUV, Sport, Diesel $34,921
2005 Jeep Liberty Rocky Mountain Rwd 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A) SUV, Rocky Mountain, Gas, Diesel N/A
2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade Rwd 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 6M) SUV, Renegade, Diesel, Gas N/A
2005 Jeep Liberty Limited Rwd 4dr SUV (3.7L 6cyl 4A) SUV, Limited, Gas, Diesel $18,295
2005 Jeep Liberty Limited 4WD 4dr SUV (2.8L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5A) SUV, Limited, Diesel $51,050
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $31,326
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel N/A
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 3500 140 WB 3dr Ext Van DRW (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 3500 140 WB, Diesel $39,710
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $23,975
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel $30,212
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 High Roof 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 118 WB, Diesel $31,723
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 140 WB, Diesel $33,991
2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo 2500 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 118 WB, Diesel $30,103
2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Roof 158 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 158 WB, Diesel $31,946
2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Roof 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 140 WB, Diesel $36,047
2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Roof 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 High Roof 118 WB, Diesel $33,800
2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 140 WB 3dr Ext Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 140 WB, Diesel $51,070
2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 118 WB 3dr Van (2.7L 5cyl Turbodiesel 5A) van, 2500 118 WB, Diesel $42,710
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab ST Rwd SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, ST, Diesel $40,065
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab ST 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, ST, Diesel $18,390
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab SLT Rwd SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel $22,680
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab SLT 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, SLT, Diesel $25,390
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab Laramie Rwd SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel $22,925
2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 4dr Quad Cab Laramie 4WD SB (5.9L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6M) truck, Laramie, Diesel $39,490

Vegetable Oil Fuel is Illegal

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

A few things to consider before installing your own vegetable oil conversion kit:

According the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) operating a vehicle with a non-approved fuel delivery system is a violation of Federal regulations. Although the EPA has never prosecuted anyone for operating a vehicle powered by vegetable oil, the regulations in 40CFR state that alternative fuel systems must be approved by the EPA in passenger cars and light trucks before they can be used on-road.

In addition, before installing a veggie fuel conversion kit, consider that alternatively fueled vehicles are subject to state emission requirements as well as Federal regulations which may prohibit the use of vegetable oil as a fuel source. California residents should take extra precautions as their laws are the most stringent.

A primary consideration for the EPA in aftermarket alternative fuel conversions is that they must not interfere with existing OBD II systems on a vehicle.

OBD II systems are required to monitor

  • Engine misfires
  • Oxygen sensors
  • Evaporative leaks
  • Other emission-related power train components that might impact emissions

Biodiesel (also known as B100, B20, etc.), as opposed to pure vegetable oil, is approved for use in motor vehicles by the EPA. It seems the sticking point for pure vegetable oil is the delivery system, simply because no one has applied for and been approved to sell a secondary fuel source conversion kit for vegetable oil.

Bulk Vegetable Oil

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
Download a free copy of the USDA report on Bulk Vegetable Oil Commodity Requirements now.

Lots of people are coming to this site looking for bulk vegetable oil. For some reason, “bulk vegetable oil” is coming up as a search term based on the article I wrote about entitled How Much Does Vegetable Oil Weigh?. Since that’s the case, I thought I would take a moment to list some of the consumer resources in my area where I can purchase bulk vegetable oil in large enough and economical enough quantities to fuel a vehicle. Here are the top bulk vegetable oil resources I’ve come across:

Distributors

These vary by region. I’m not having much luck finding a distributor that will sell anything less than a truckload of bulk veggie oil. For your area, you may want to check your local yellow pages or the internet to see what you come up with. There’s also a great resource on the internet that will put you in touch with potential suppliers at http://www.bulkoil.com/.

Warehouse Stores

Warehouse stores are quickly becoming one my favorites because they’re cheaper than the grocery store, don’t ask questions, and carry quantities that are designed for commercial use. I have both a Costco and a Sam’s Club near my house and both have a reasonable selection of bulk vegetable oil either by the gallon or the pound depending on what you’re buying.

Grocery Stores

These are the least economical, but are also the most prevalent. Wal-Mart is at the top of the grocery store list for their store-brand vegetable oil, but you can get something similar from the local Albertsons, Kroger, Sack N’ Save, etc. Aside from the price, you can also expect some awkward stares and a conversation with the checkout girl about how your car runs on bulk vegetable oil. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Biodiesel and Vegetable Oil are Safer than Gasoline

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

My wife and I were discussing the DieselEarth project earlier today with our one year old baby girl in the car. I asked her to give me a topic for today’s post and she recommended safety. After all, isn’t vegetable oil is safer than gasoline? She’s always been the smart one, so I put aside my preconceived notions and investigated the idea that diesel fuel in general and in particular using vegetable oil or biodiesel in a diesel engine is safer than gasoline.

Here are some important definitions:

Flash point: Tthe temperature at which a liquid vaporizes. Flammable liquids do not burn directly – the resulting flame comes from the vapor gas produced by the liquid. When a fuel source reaches its flash point it produces flammable vapor and has the potential to ignite given the proper conditions. This sounded weird to me because I always assumed that it was the liquid itself that was burning and gasoline, for example, would burn under any conditions. According to the chart below gasoline would be unable to ignite at temperatures below -40°C/-40°F. Please comment below if I’m incorrect on this – I’m not pretending to be a chemist :).

Ignition Temperature: The minimum temperature required for material to burn or explode. When a fuel source reaches its ignition temperature, it will ignite. Note that gasoline will ignite at 495°F. I live in Texas and I can vouch for the remarkable temperatures achieved in storage sheds, radiated by outdoor metal objects, etc. One of my mother’s friends recently received a serious burn after leaning her bare arm against the black metal aluminum screen door to her house. If you don’t believe gasoline can ignite under the normal conditions of a summer day, come visit me in Texas in July. It’s a bright 102°F today and expected to get hotter.

The results

To address the potential danger of one fuel source over another, we must first find their respective flash points and ignition temperatures. Fuels with a higher flashpoint will be considered safer because they will remain inert at lower temperatures and will need more heat to become gaseus and flammable. At the same time, fuels with higher ignition temperatures will be less apt to combust and cause a potentially dangerous situation. Remember, all three of the fuels tested will power an automobile with relatively the same efficiency.

Material Flashpoint Flashpoint Ignition Point Ignition Point
Gasoline -40 to -60°C -40 to -76°F 257°C 495°F
Petro Diesel 60 to 80°C 140 to 176°F 494°C 921°F
Biodiesel 100 to 170°C 212 to 338°F N/A N/A
Vegetable Oil 315°C 600°F N/A N/A

*Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the ignition point of either biodiesel or vegetable oil. After observing a direct relationship between flashpoint temperature and the ignition point, I’m fairly comfortable in assuming that biodiesel and vegetable oil would have ignition points reflective of their flash points. Again, I have no research to confirm this but I feel it’s a reasonable observation. Please let me know if you have any numbers to lend to the theory.

Alternative Fuels No Longer Alternative

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

So, I’ve been noticing an upward trend in the number of articles related to alternative fuels lately. I’m picking up on bits and pieces of information from everyday conversation, from the TV, the radio, internet etc. Maybe it’s because I now run an alternative fuels blog and am establishing myself as an authority on the subject and have become hyper-aware of the subject matter around me. There might be some truth in that, but I think it’s more likely that momentum on the topic is building (which is why I started this blog in the first place). What tipped the scale for me just recently is my new obsession with social networking sites like digg.com where users vote the most interesting/informative sites to the top of the list. Lately I’ve seen a definite upswing in the number of alternative fuel articles at the top of the charts which for me says to watch for the trend.

For example: Right now, digg.com is showing 3 of 7 articles under the Science|Environment section that directly relate to alternative fuels sources for vehicles. I also particularly like the 7th result which is an article about the rising popularity of environmentalism ;)

Digg results for alternative fuels

I highly recommend sites like digg, not only because of the neat articles and resources they make available to you, but also to increase your general awareness of emerging trends like this one for biofuel. Use it to pick stocks, buy real estate, whatever.

I really feel like something is on the horizon here. Not to metion that the National Fuel Index has diesel pegged at a solid $2.90/gallon (and if you read my earlier post on the weight and cost of vegetable oil you’ll remember that I predicted $3/gallon gasoline within the year).

This week when you fill up, keep in mind that the cost of diesel vs. vegetable oil from your local grocery store start to come to a head right around the $3 to $4 mark and keep your ear to the ground for the eco-grumblings.

Will Vegetable Oil Hurt My Car?

Friday, July 7th, 2006

Will vegetable oil hurt my car? This is the question that’s been plaguing me lately. If I drop a chunk of money on a diesel and run vegetable oil in it for six months, will it hurt the car or burn it to a crisp?

There’s really not enough long term data on this to draw a conclusion, but there are enough testimonials to make the experiment a reasonable risk. What I do know is that Rudolph Diesel (1858-1913) designed the engine initially to run off of peanut oil and actually exhibited it in France that way in 1898. The beauty of the diesel engine is in it’s simplicity and its robustness (if that’s a word). Ask anyone working in the engine room of a Naval diesel powered destroyer and they’ll tell you the random sludge that their engines can run off of.

Whether today’s automobile engines are as hardy as the 1898 or Navy models remains to be seen. A search on the internet turns up diesel car owners running on pure vegetable (not biodiesel) oil for one, two, five, and ten years. Some using it in farm equipment, buses, cars, etc. New cars like the stately E320 CDI from Mercedes may have more delicate components, but their fortitude is largely unknown because very few people want to test out fuel alternatives on thei $50,000+ pimp ride. We can find a reasonable enough string of older model Mercedes and truck owners to make the test worthwhile (hence the blog).

Some diesel owners claim that vegetable oil actually acts as an aggressive cleaner, scrubbing engine deposits and buildup from the engine. This also necessitates the need for non-rubber fuel lines as the organic ones are likely to disintegrate over time. Frankly, I’m not sure if an “aggressive cleaner” is better for the engine than the build up of oil.

For my money, here’s what I’m sticking to:

  1. A non-computerized fuel injection system
  2. Heated fuel lines and holding tank/switchover system to alternate diesel and vegetable oil,
  3. Clean, new vegetable oil and not the used stuff from restaurants,
  4. A car with a history of success on vegetable oil.

Demand for Older Mercedes on the Rise

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Something I’ve been dealing with as I car shop is the rising demad for older model Mercedes (the ones that run well on biodiesel and vegetable oil). It looks like the Herald Sun came to the same conclusion with their article Biodiesel fuels demand for older Mercedes diesels.

This just about says it all:

“The cars are all being bought locally and resold locally,” said Meinhold, owner of Euro-Spec Automotive Service Center Inc. in Fletcher. “But the people that are buying them are using biodiesel. The people who are selling them were not.”

This is further reinforced by the fact that there is only one Mercedes for sale on ebay within a 200 mile radius of my zip code! I’m thinking I better act on this pretty quick. With fuel prices climbing toward $3.00 in Texas, vegetable oil from the store is going to have a very competitive price tag soon. I’m on the lookout for a jump to over $3 by the end of July (and maybe for a time following the long Fourth of July weekend).

Check out prices in your part of the country with the national fuel index.