When we drive, it smells like french fries. When most cars drive on the road, the exhaust that comes out of their tailpipes is pretty smelly. It’s the car’s way of farting, so it’s supposed to smell bad, right? Wrong! With cars that run on Biodiesel, their exhaust really smells like french fries, and not pollution.
What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel fuel is made from recycled vegetable oil, and it can fuel any diesel engine that has gone through a simple conversion process. Since there are lots of restaurants that serve fried food, there is lots of extra vegetable oil around. By recycling this vegetable oil into fuel for our cars, we are using 2 of the 4 R’s: Recycle and Reduce! We are reducing the need for petroleum diesel fuel, which is a non-renewable resource. We are also recycling the old vegetable oil that restaurants would normally throw away.
How does a Biodiesel Car work?
We learned how to make a regular diesel car into a biodiesel car more than twelve years ago. This little VW Rabbit used to only run on petroleum diesel, until we installed a biodiesel conversion kit in the engine, so it can now run on biofuel, as well. This conversion kit allows you to decide which tank you want to use while you are driving – your biodiesel fuel, or petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel cars actually have two gas tanks! No matter which type of fuel you are using, the car drives the same. Except for one big difference – the smell. When biodiesel fuel burns, it releases the food molecules that were trapped inside the oil when it was used the last time. The most common type of vegetable oil that gets recycled is used to fry food, like french fries. When we drive, the streets smell yummy!
Meet the EarthCapades Biodiesel Fleet
We spend all of our days driving around the country to give school assemblies about how to make better environmental choices. Driving so much is a strain on the resources of Mother Earth, so we moderate our impact by using biodiesel to fuel our cars. This is our 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon. She was really hard to find. Biodiesel started getting popular in the Bay area of Northern California, where we live, so it was really hard to find a diesel car for a while. We were looking everywhere, and finding nothing. So you know what we did? We drew pictures. Have you ever noticed, when you draw pictures of something you want, and you daydream about it, sometimes it happens right away? That’s what happened to us with our Jetta wagon. The day after we drew pictures, we found a new diesel VW Jetta with 7001 miles on it. This was really special, because to sell a car from another state in California, it had to have at least 7000 miles on it. This car came from Florida, just in time! Today, it has more than 200,000 miles on the engine, and 90% of those miles were powered by biofuel. We have driven across the country multiple times in this wonderful car.
Can you drive across the country with Biodiesel?
To be honest, it was much easier back in 2008. There were government subsidies supporting biodiesel stations, and we had no problem finding places to fill up our tank with biofuel. In 2012, we drove across the country again, and it was much harder to find biofuel. There were not as many biofuel stations. We had to do more hunting to find places we could power our car with recycled fuel. This is why it’s so important that our government supports renewable energy. When our elected representatives provide subsidies that help the environment, people and businesses receive money from the government to do things that help the environment.
You can help!
Find the US Senator that represents your state. Write them a letter through their website, and ask them to vote for environmental subsidies for biofuel.