Thursday, July 19, 2007

veggie car update

the waste vegetable oil run car project is going smashingly well. i really should update about it more often. (and please continue to spam me with questions if you have any!) let me talk a little about the process from start to finish. start meaning that the (diesel) car already has the conversion kit installed and you are ready to get moving.

well let me back up a little. unfortunately most people are bummed that the car indeed has to be a diesel, they wrongly assume that any car can be converted. i also was a bit bummed for a few reasons. first i wrongly assumed that all diesel cars were unappealing - i envisioned driving some large f250 or something which is i then became excited at the idea of getting one of the many turbo diesel options available from volkswagon. but my ego was getting the better of me and i quickly realized that my goal was not a flashy, beautiful car bur rather one that treaded lightly on the earth and was practical. still when my husband came home with a 1982(!) 300D mercedes i tilted my head and wondered if i had gone too far with letting go of my ego. (not possible ps.)

we (meaning david) have (has) built relationships with 3-4 restaurants simply by going in and asking them if they would be willing to part with their grease once they change their fryers out, which typically is once per week. we have found that most places that are a chain are unwilling -- some even have contracts with collection agencies that pay them for their waste oil whereas most have to pay for the removal. the latter, after scratching their heads a bit, are usually more than happy to hand off their waste as it helps both parties. i will interject here a little bit of info on the oil itself. most any oil is usable -- canola, peanut, soy, etc. taco bell though, for example uses hydrogenated oils which can still be used but it must be heated up before running it through the filter. and all of the oil will need a little heating up in the winter since it will solidify with the cold temperature. a small fish pond heater will work just fine. so as i said, fryers are usually changed once a week or so and two places call us and let us know that they have used oil if we would like to come pick it up (and pick it up we do!) we are very adamant about picking it up promptly and occasionally eating at the restaurants we get oil from to keep everything copacetic. hey, it's free oil. it's the least we can do.

after bringing the oil home it has to sit for a week to let the water and oil separate (also helps the food bits settle to the bottom too, making filtration easier). that might sound like a long time but if you already have last weeks oil waiting then there is no lapse in available oil see what i'm saying? the oil is run through a small sieve to get the fries, onion rings, rice, chicken, etc. bits out. wouldn't want that trying to go through our engine! david bought a small electric pump and we use that to pump the oil from the collection barrel in our garage into the secondary tank he installed into the trunk of our car. there are two places for the waste vegetable oil tank to go on a car. the first is where we put it, under the trunk inside the spare wheel well. the second is inside the trunk itself. if you put it in the spare wheel well obviously you have no spare with you, but the pros are that you have a full size trunk space. we need the full trunk with the two kids and their strollers, etc.

a lot of people ask about the smell and performance involved with this sort of project. performance wise there is no difference at all. we have noticed no drop in horsepower or increase in "gas" mileage. smell wise it's no stronger than driving past a fragrant restaurant (and a yummy one at that!). i don't notice it at all usually but a car behind us in a convertible might. at this point we are getting about 15 gallons a week or so with even more in limbo waiting to be filtered.

overall i'd so this project again in a heartbeat. like all things the most difficult part is just making a new habit, but once you get it going it gets no second thought. it sparks some interesting conversation too.


rayray said...

oh, my friend had her birth with Summer, out of the cincinnati area. :) they're moving to columbus in the next couple months though... here's summer's site:

but yeah, it's so exciting, i'm so thrilled for her! :D it sounds like it was such an awesome experience :D

Crunchy Chicken said...

I think you've crossed from being "slightly" crunchy to "quite" crunchy with this project :)

Your kids are adorable.

Sarah said...

jenny, I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "Do I smell fries?" on it, and I thought of you. ;)

jenny mae. said...

crunchy - yes i think ive officially crossed that threshold, right?

sarah - two best bumper sticker ideas so far " why yes, i smell fries too!" and "super size it! i need the grease!" both totally stolen from various places and people