My lovely wife and I spent a couple days over in Vermont. It was a busy time.
One of the things we did was to drop off about 100 gallons of waste vegetable oil at a bio-diesel facility.
For quite a few years we ran diesel vehicles on straight waste vegetable oil. In theory the process is pretty simple. I used a two fuel tank system, one for diesel and one for straight vegetable oil. The vehicle would start on diesel. As the antifreeze heated up it would circulate through a copper coil installed in the veggie tank. Heating up the veggie reduced its viscosity. When it came to temperature I’d switch to the tank with the hot veggie. I’d run veggie until we were done traveling for the day. A couple minutes before getting to my destination I’d switch back to diesel to flush the veggie out of the system. What you didn’t want to have happen is the the engine to cool off full of solidified grease.
Of course there was a whole system of filters and systems to keep the fuel lines insulated. My first installation was done with a kit out of Canada. After I understood the principles the next conversions were done with parts sourced from the hardware store. I could convert a vehicle for around $200, which was pretty darn low.
Over the years I converted 4 of my own vehicles and helped a few other people do conversions. The easiest conversions were a couple of Mercedes diesels from the 80s. Those engines were simple and bullet proof. I also converted a Ford F-250 with the old regular 7.3 engine. That was a pretty straight forward install. My last vehicle was a decommissioned ambulance based on a F-350 van. It had the 7.3 power stroke and that was pretty much at the technological limit for cheap conversions. In fact, there were issues with the lift pump that needed to be solved as the original was a bit weak when it came to pushing veggie oil.
Over the years I had established a network of restaurants that would let me take their waste oil. Sometimes they would put it back in the 4.5 gallon jugs it originally came in. Those were easy. Others I had to pump out of bins with a 12 volt pump into storage tanks.
The veggie oil I dropped off in Vermont was some of the last I had in storage. I finally admitted to myself that there aren’t going to be any more conversion vehicles. The newer vehicles are too finicky. Also, my sources of free veggie dried up. There were some companies that would actually pay a little money for it so I can’t blame the restaurant owner for switching to them. A couple other restaurants have since gone out of business.
Then there’s the consideration that it was a lot of work. We also don’t drive the kind of miles we used to. It was common to put over 50,000/year on the old Mercedes. One car had 100,000 miles when we bought it and we put an additional 400,000 miles, burning veggie about 95% of the time. We saved a lot of money running veggie.
So it’s kinda bitter sweet that I’m getting rid of the last vestiges of my veggie diesels. Life moves on.