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Re: [vox] [OT] Alternate Vehicle Advice
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Re: [vox] [OT] Alternate Vehicle Advice

Bill Kendrick wrote:

My neighbor either has converted, or was planning to convert, his diesel VW
into a biodiesel. I've seen many of them at WEF, as well.

How do fuel efficiency & emissions compare between regular diesel and
non-diesel, and regular diesel and bio-diesel?

I've been considering getting a diesel Beetle for my next car, so I've read up on some of this stuff, but not recently. As I recall, VW actually sells three different vehicles with diesel engines in the US: the Beetle, the Golf, and the Jetta. They're rated around 50 MPG on the highway. California discourages diesel-based passenger cars so they're not as common in CA is in other states, but I've seen both new and used ones for sale locally a couple years ago. Diesel cars are very popular in Europe, so this is all pretty mature technology.

Biodiesel is vegetable or animal oil chemically processed to remove some components that aren't present in "real" diesel fuel, such as glycerin. Real diesel has sulfer in it which is a big source of smog (not to mention the diesel smell); biodiesel doesn't contain sulfer so it generally burns cleaner. New federal standards on sulfer in diesel are coming into effect this year so this may become less of a difference.

As I understand it, you don't have to "convert" a car to biodiesel; you just start using it. You can buy a biodiesel/diesel blend at some stations, or some people make their own biodiesel from restaurant waste oil. It's supposedly about as difficult as home brewing beer, and costs about $1.40-1.60 per gallon assuming the oil is free. You can run a diesel engine on unprocessed corn oil, peanut oil, etc. but the engine will collect deposits over time; it may be that "conversion" kits are targeted at this kind of usage.

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