Option #1 Biodiesel

Biodiesel – This option really interested me in the beginning.  The starting concept is that a diesel engine will run on vegetable oil with no modification.  The reality is that vegetable oil has a much higher viscosity (10-13 times thicker than conventional diesel).  The effect on your car is the same as the effect of grease on your heart an arteries – it clogs the lines and makes the engine work harder to process it.  This especially detrimental during startup when a car’s engine receives the majority of wear and tear.

Biodiesel addresses the problem by taking vegetable oil, adding a recipe of lye and methanol to produce a more stable, compatible product for the diesel engine.  Once made, just pour the concoction in your tank and go.  The benefits are a homebrew fuel source and reportedly a cleaner burning and more efficient engine (as stated by the good folks at Journey to Forever).

I thought about this for a while and had it pegged as my initial first choice.  The truth is I’m lazy and despite what you may think I don’t want to crawl around under a car doing a fuel modification when I could be playing with my daughter or eating a sandwich.

Ultimately though, my wife convinced me that this wasn’t the way to go.  Her argument was that although the vegetable fuel was a cool idea and had a lot of merit, people weren’t going to do it unless it were easy – that’s pretty much a universal standard (see the above for just how lazy I can be).  She thinks I’m much more likely to convince people to put a weekend’s worth of free time into an engine modification than to making a week-in week-out lifelong lifestyle change.  With that in mind I started thinking about the effort I was going to have to put in – every month – buying dangerous chemicals, mixing them in my garage, carefully storing everything, hoping I measured everything correctly, hoping things hadn’t gone bad, and I had to agree with her.

That said, I don’t think biodiesel is 100% off the table.  Once I get the car up and running and I’ve collected the data I want, I’d like to revisit this option for the sake of experimentation and report on that as well.  In the meantime, it’s on to option #2 – mechanical modification of the fuel delivery system.

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