The next time you are driving the electric car you own on the Interstate and it seems as if you keep smelling french fries all over the place, the chances are good that one or more of the vehicles in our area is running on biodiesel fuel. This is usually cleaned up cooking oil hat has been used and strained so it can be used again.
Biodiesel vehicles, which use modified diesel engines for power, are reliable, if somewhat the odor is identifiable. With true Otto Cycle engines, there is no sparkplug to initiate the power stroke. Biodiesels can run on just about sort of waste vegetable oil product and the power output isn’t dependent on the type of fuel you use.
Generally, biodiesel vehicles, which are, for the most part, still built by hand by those who want to use the fuel, and electric cars have about the same power range. In other words, their run up to highway speeds is more on the leisurely side, which is understandable since electric motors tend to have vicious low-end torque. Though, as you move into the upper power bands, it becomes more leisurely. Biodiesel cars, usually developed from already existing diesel vehicles, are especially popular in the South and Midwest where GMC Sierra Diesels and Chevy Silverado Diesels need that special blend of Number 6 Oil and kerosene, also known as diesel. Actually, there’s a lot more kerosene than Number 6 or bunker oil in the mix. The heavier oil provides lubrication for big truck engines like Detroit Diesel Allison’s–the ones that power the huge 18-wheelers.
In this picture, the electric car is to the biodiesel vehicle what a hybrid is to a standard. They use essentially the same basic technologies. It’s just the end product that’s different. Take, for example, the many experimental hybrid diesel cars that many individuals are turning into biodiesel vehicles simply because cooking oil is still less expensive than a similar load of gasoline, and they also have the added advantage of the heat of their burn. Since diesels naturally run at higher pressures and temperatures than gasoline-driven (or hybrid electrics, for that matter), biodiesels have a built-in advantage over gasoline, their oxides of nitrogen output is less. It may seem like a small item, but it does eliminate the primary reason for a catalytic converter and all the fun things it brings, like a piece of equipment that quickly glows red and warnings not to park over beds of leaves.
The hybrid diesel car is another way to attack the problem of environmental pollution head-on, as well as the waste problem, because it makes use of the waste products of another manufacturing process. The only problem is that, like a more traditional gasoline engine, the vehicle does produce heat. Lots of it, as it is a diesel vehicle.
Given the availability of things like soy oil, canola oil or even used cooking oil, it is likely that the hybrid diesel car will have a strong roll in transport.